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USD Changemakers Prepare for Ashoka U Exchange in New Orleans

USD Changemakers Prepare for Ashoka U Exchange in New Orleans

The University of San Diego's designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus occurred in 2011. Gaining this distinction and being one of only 33 colleges and universities worldwide to be called this gives USD additional incentive to develop new and innovative projects and programs, to encourage faculty, staff and students to think outside the box and it gives USD access to a strong network of other top higher education institutions.

This weekend, 22 University of San Diego community members will be in New Orleans, specifically at Tulane University, for the annual Ashoka U Exchange. It's an opportunity for representatives from each Changemaker school, as well as representatives from around the world who want to learn and share ideas, network, and return to their campuses inspired and eager to implement and infuse the Changemaker mindset.

"The Ashoka U Exchange is the best opportunity to feature and highlight the great work being done at USD and to learn about best practices happening in the field," said Juan Carlos Rivas, assistant director of USD's Changemaker Hub.

Rivas, along with administrators, a cross-section of USD faculty — some of whom were selected as USD Changemaker Faculty Champions — and eight students will be at the Exchange for the workshops, discussions, inspiring speakers and program presentations. The event is hosted by a Changemaker Campus each year. USD hosted the Exchange in 2013. Past hosts include Duke University, Arizona State, University of Maryland and Brown University.

Having the Exchange hosted this time by Tulane and in New Orleans holds special affinity for USD. Chris Nayve, assistant provost of community engagement and director for USD's Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action, has been instrumental in developing a strong community-building relationship for USD all around New Orleans in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"The Mulvaney Center has taken over 100 faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners since 2008," he said. "Over the years we’ve established strong partnerships with many agencies and individuals. In reality, the folks in New Orleans have become our friends. Most of the work we've done has not been about building physical structures, but rather it has been about building relationships."

Nayve, who co-chaired USD's implementation of the Changemaker Campus and remains as advisor of community engagement for USD's Changemaker Hub, has overseen USD's annual Spring Break community engagement trip to New Orleans that often includes a pre-trip class to help students better understand the city's history, culture and people. Beyond that trip, Nayve visits New Orleans a few times a year to expand USD's relationships new and old. Opening this experience to a diverse USD population gives them all firsthand exposure to the work that's being done and to experience the depth of the community relationships that USD has genuinely formed.

"After Hurricane Katrina, while there was an urgent need for emergency first responders, during the rebuilding phase, the community also called for an equal amount of urgency to ensure that the ‘cultural and social first responders’ also returned," Nayve said.

Tulane hosting the Exchange likely makes this weekend more like a family affair for Nayve and others. USD has visited with Tulane's community service staff on past visits and has a strong relationship with the university.

"Tulane is a great partner in learning for USD to further engage in authentic and impactful ways with the community," Rivas said.

The exchange at the Exchange figures to be impactful for all Changemakers.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Photo by Will Crocker

Contact Information

Changemaker Hub
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110

Phone: (619) 260-4600