Spring International Language Center Hosts Iraqi Youth Leaders
The Spring International Language Center recently hosted 23 Iraqi undergraduate students as part of an Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program. The program is aimed at cultivating future generations of Iraqi leaders by equipping students with leadership skills, promoting the importance of civic engagement and fostering an appreciation for ethnic and religious diversity.
The program goals were achieved through academic lectures, interactive workshops, service learning and leadership activities. Fayetteville mayor Lioneld Jordan hosted a seminar for the program about the role of humility in leadership. The ability to interact with and learn from Jordan gave students an inside look at the importance of leadership and civic engagement.
The students also learned about social entrepreneurship from social innovation director Rogelio Garcia Contreras, student-initiated community projects from center for community engagement director Angela Oxford and food insecurity from staff at Tricycle Farms.
"This program has been a great honor for us to host," said Alannah Massey, program coordinator. "It has allowed our community to learn from Iraqi youth and allowed Iraqi youth to fall in love with the welcoming and embracing community of Northwest Arkansas. Being able to facilitate cross-cultural education and connection is the best part of our work at the Spring International Language Center and the University of Arkansas."
Many of the Iraqi students said they found Americans to be friendly and helpful. They also found common ground with their American peers in confronting gender inequality, religious intolerance and generational communication.
Before coming to Spring International, the students participated in a pre-program conference at Wayne State University in Detroit. The students concluded their training in Fayetteville Aug. 1. They will complete a final week of training in Washington, D.C., before returning to Iraq.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and is administered by World Learning.
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