Global Citizenship on Campus

The first Seeking Global Citizenship Symposium brought a host of visitors to campus to pose questions about ethical partnership, activism, and inquiry.

Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) has forged strong ties with domestic and international partner organizations throughout its nearly two decades of existence. These partnerships have, in turn, built strong relationships between people on campus and a range of communities around the world. From April 9 through 14, the CPGC’s first Seeking Global Citizenship Symposium drew from a wide breadth of those relationships to bring together students, faculty, and visiting partners in dialogue to consider ethical and effective ways to build peace and community.

Fifteen distinguished guests from fourteen organizations in nine countries attended panels, facilitated discussions, and visited classrooms throughout a week characterized by new relationships and collaborative imagination. Years of prior interaction between the CPGC and off-campus initiatives paved the way for the symposium, which was the Center’s first effort to bring its many partners together on campus at the same time.

“When we have the network that we do, which deliberately engages a globally distributed set of people to work together on developing new thinking, but also making new partnerships, one of the challenges is that we rarely have the opportunity to all be in one space,” said Executive Director of the CPGC Eric Hartman. “And that was really central to the founding vision of the CPGC.”

Over the course of the week, the symposium included public events as well as those open only to members of the Bi-College Consortium, each one continually posing the underlying question of how colleges can partner with community organizations to simultaneously advance community goals and foster what the CPGC calls “global citizenship.” Throughout the community engagement that the CPGC supports, students are tasked not just with performing work, but grappling with ethical questions of what it means to be a visitor advancing the goals of a community.

“Making progress on global citizenship is this profoundly pluralistic thing,” explained Hartman. “It’s a really capacious ideal, and the ideal has at its core this notion that we’re going to better understand the dignity of one another as well as the incredible depth of diversity that is part of that, and find ways to live more humanely, inclusively, peaceably, and sustainably together.” (Continued after the gallery.)

While some events highlighted one specific intersection between campus and a community, two events on Wednesday and Thursday night brought all partners together with scores of students, faculty, and staff to holistically examine how to forge fruitful collaborations. These two events constituted, in part, a collection of programming for all of the nearly 60 upcoming CPGC-sponsored summer interns, providing time and space to consider what questions they want to bring to their impending internships. Some interns even got to meet and converse with partners from their host organizations. Chace Pulley ’21, for example, will intern at non-profit oral history publisher Voice of Witness, and during the symposium she was able to speak with Cliff Mayotte, the organization’s education program director.

“Getting the opportunity to talk with Cliff was such a treat,” said Pulley, who met with Mayotte on Wednesday night and heard him speak on Thursday on a panel on ethical representation and power in the context of documenting internship experiences. “I thought that he brought some of the best wisdom to the table… this idea that if you take a photo, you have to bring it back to the community to ask for consent, and you see that in oral history.

Interactions like these informed student perspectives about their upcoming summer internships, and visiting partners had an immersive experience with other activists, organizers, and scholars to situate their own work alongside other engagements with peace around the world. For many visitors, the symposium was their first time visiting Haverford, giving them the chance to engage in person with the people and campus that join them in collaboration.

Daniel Alvarado made his first visit to the United States in order to attend the symposium. He represented Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM), a Guatemala-based nonprofit that seeks and catalogues information about those who disappeared during the civil conflict in that country that lasted over three decades. Haverford and the CPGC began supporting the GAM’s Digital Archive Project last summer, which works to preserve and provide access to GAM’s collection of materials. Alvarado previously interacted with Haverford students, faculty, and staff by video call, but during the symposium was able to meet his collaborators face-to-face, including Mariana Ramirez ’20 who will intern this summer with support from the CPGC in Guatemala City to assist with GAM’s Digital Archive.

Ya en acercamiento la gente de la universidad me parece muy interesante de punto de vista de los estudiantes y de la seriedad con que abordan los temas y el trabajo [Now, going forward, I’m very interested in the people at the College, especially the students and how seriously they take their interests and their work],” said Alvarado, who shared his perspectives on archiving materials related to state violence during a talk last Tuesday, and visited multiple classes to speak with students. “Eso, al final, repercute en cómo fueras mejorar las cosas para servir a otros [This, in the end, has repercussions on how you will improve things to serve others].”

The symposium was made possible not just through the CPGC, but also through the staff and faculty who have collaborated with off-campus partners over many years. Assistant Professor of Linguistics Brook Lillehaugen has worked with language educator and activist Moisés García Guzmán for over five years to promote the flourishing of Zapotec, an indigenous language of the Oaxaca Valley in present-day Mexico. Guzmán teaches Zapotec to youth at CETis 124 high school in Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico near his pueblo of San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya. He has drawn from the structural linguistic knowledge that Lillehaugen has brought to their partnership and, over past summers, has hosted Lillehaugen and Tri-Co linguistics students for field studies. This summer, he will collaborate with multiple Haverford students for a documentary on Zapotec language and identity as part of the John B. Hurford Center for Arts and Humanities’ new Summer DocuLab program.

Yet, despite a history of working alongside Fords (with Bi-Co students, he and Lillehaugen recently created a digital Zapotec Talking Dictionary), Guzmán was finally able to be a guest of, rather than a host to, the students at the symposium.

“Why is it possible for our students to go there and learn and benefit in all of these incredible ways, and the [other way around] is so challenging?” wondered Lillehaugen. “I really love that one of my main Zapotec collaborators is going to be here… Even his physical presence in this space is important and an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of that too, that yes, he should be invited here.”

At the end of the symposium, many who gathered at Haverford also traveled to the University of Notre Dame for the 5th Global Service Learning Summit, a gathering of community development organizations and institutions of higher education to critically discuss community-campus partnerships and how they can best benefit students and communities. Nearly a week of meeting in collaboration with people involved in community work around the world gave a chance to all those involved to think more extensively about how to partner fruitfully and ethically.

“To me it’s been really helpful and really happy to interact with students and other activists,” said Guzmán. “It’s really encouraging to see that [other] projects are running, not only in Oaxaca but in different parts of the world. There is this activism, this force, that is engaging communities, that is creating records, creating information available to the public.”

Photos by Claire Blood-Cheney ’20 and Soha Saghir ’21.