If you walk the halls of IPR’s downtown campus and take in the small groups of students huddled around laptops with headphones or jamming on acoustic guitars, you could get the impression that music and media is all that IPR students have on their minds. But if you take a peek into Randee Edmundson’s Global Citizenship class, you’re apt to see another side of the IPR campus.
This winter Global Citizenship students had the opportunity to meet Twin Cities community residents who hail from around the world. The visitors provided rich discussions on a variety of global issues, and as students gained knowledge and perspectives of global and local connections, they researched and developed their own service learning action projects.
Uzoma Abakporo, MD and Carrie Vogelsang discussed access to good health care and nutrition, both locally and globally. Abakporo and Vogelsang are both in the Masters of Public Health program at the University of Minnesota. Abakporo is a native of Nigeria and is spending part of his time working to improve access to health care and treatment in rural Nigeria. He is also active locally in the area of health disparities due to race and socioeconomic status. Vogelsang works with expectant mothers and their children. Community cooperation for immunization was an important discussion initiated by students.
Waite House Community Cafe in the Little Earth neighborhood of Minneapolis welcomed IPR with a tour by Chef Austin Bartold. Chef Bartold discussed communities coming together to change the local food system by offering nutritious, affordable and tasty meals prepared from scratch every day. Youth after-school programs get an evening meal as well as a chance to learn the art of cooking healthy foods. We learned the Waite House offers a variety of education classes needed for pre-K through adult and that IPR students and faculty have a history of volunteering at the Waite House.
Kubisa Sosthene Muzenende is the founder and executive director of Let Africa Live (Laissez L’Afrique Vivre LAV), an organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that works with vulnerable youth to give them professional skills and help them reintegrate into society. He and his translator and local volunteer organizer, Peder Garnaas-Halvorson shared Muzenende’s story of growing up in DRC and his powerful struggle to build community and combat the suffering from war, loss of human rights and democracy in his home village.
In a journal entry, one student called the presentation, “The most powerful story I have heard.” Another wrote, “It made me open my eyes of what is really going on in the world.”
Rashad from The Islamic Resource Group (IRG) came to share his life as a Muslim Minnesotan. Originally from Bangladesh Rashad discussed Islam teaching and Muslims practices. Students had the chance to understand the often-misleading information on global Muslim demographics and the difference between religion and culture.
One student journaled, “I loved having Rashad speak. He was the first Muslim I have ever talked to. I loved learning about the Quran and the Islamic religion .”
Sustainable agriculture advocates Kevin Williams, curator of education at the Bell Museum, and Erin Rupp, founder and executive director of Pollinate Minnesota, visited to discuss the local and global impact of sustainable agriculture practices and conventional commercial agriculture in the United States.
Their presentation stressed the impact of agriculture on honey bees and wild pollinators. They pointed out that the story of the pollinators represents the beginning of a trend of long-term detrimental impact of unsustainable agricultural practices on global food systems.
Armed with these discussions and experiences, Global Citizenship students went out into their own communities to research and develop their own service-learning action projects. Students picked up trash, helped produce sustainable meals, and worked with middle school students.
When you combine the incredible creative talent, and production education, with the social conscious and community awareness that IPR students acquire during their education, Minnesota’s next generation of filmmakers, musicians, producers and graphic designers are armed to make a difference.
IPR Global Citizenship Instructor Randee Edmundson contributed to this post.