Hansen Summer Institute Fosters Conversations, Connections, Cooperation

Ron Bee stood amongst a crowd of people, looked around and wore a big smile. Everywhere he looked, everyone was engaged in conversation in small groups or one-on-one situations. Just about everyone present were meeting each other for the first time. Those who did know others had done so for only the past 24-36 hours since their arrival in San Diego on July 1.

2018 Hansen Summer Institute cohort

When asked if this was music to his ears, Bee nodded in agreement. The wonderful sound of chatter among people and them actively listening to each other was a refreshing sight. Yes, a few people were using their smartphones — but it was to shoot group photos with their new friends — but everyone was there, together, enjoying these fun moments on a pleasant evening in Mother Rosalie Hill Hall’s Inner Courtyard space.

Indeed, the camaraderie is already apparent among the 25 students — 19 international, six from across the United States — who comprise the ninth annual 2018 Fred J. Hansen Summer Institute on Leadership and International Cooperation cohort hosted at USD. The program will run July 1-23 with classes, field trips throughout San Diego and involve a student presentation about their respective countries from multiple aspects. Fun activities include attending the City of Coronado’s Fourth of July celebration, watching fireworks from the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice’s Garden of the Sea, participating in a ropes challenge course at UC San Diego, and doing a scavenger hunt at Balboa Park.

Bee, managing director of the Hansen Summer Institute, and Bonnie Lamb, the institute’s program coordinator, put together a wonderful three-week summer fellowship, which is sponsored by a generous grant from the Fred J. Hansen Foundation. Each of the three weeks has a specific theme: Week One is Identity and Diversity; Week Two is Identity and Conflict and Week Three is Overcoming Us vs. Them.

“This is an opportunity for international and U.S. students to build leadership skills and better cultural understanding to help form a more peaceful future,” Bee said. “Fellows receive hands-on training in team-building, public speaking, negotiation, mediation and working together to solve international problems. Leadership training includes meeting with political and business leaders to learn real-world skills and how to implement these skills at home after the program.”

This year’s cohort, consisting of 14 women and 11 men, are: Mohamed Abdelgawwad (Egypt), Akosua Apyeong (Ghana), Ftoon AlThaedi (Saudi Arabia), Darya An (Uzbekistan), Milan Cebak (Slovak Republic), Omar Cham (The Gambia), Elizabeth Charash (United States), Yik Wai Chee (Malaysia), Victoria Crynes (U.S.), Jillian Di Persio (U.S.), Alexandre Fernandes de Lima (Brazil), Ivanna Fitas (Ukraine), Tamara Harutyunyan (Armenia), Phyo Thura Htay (Myanmar/Burma), Maryia Hushcha (Belarus), Kristina Kostadinova (Bulgaria), Felix Manzi (Rwanda), Begimai Marlenova (Kyrgyzstan), Elise Moore (U.S.), Kingsley Nguyen (Australia), Areesa Peersaza (India), Brian Pagnano (U.S.), Brendan Schultz (U.S.), Sania Haider Shikoh (Pakistan) and Kirill Sosnin (Russia).

There are currently 194 Hansen Fellows alumni from 61 countries who remained in contact, provide a network of support, and have worked together on a number of social ventures funded by the Hansen Foundation. Bee and Lamb are joined this year by two alumni from the 2016 Fellows cohort — Isabella Fuscaldo Jalkh of Colombia and Jonathan Keenan from Buffalo, N.Y. — who will serve as associate coordinators for the 2018 Fellows.

Among a plethora of instructors who will work with the students, providing knowledge they can use to build their individual skill sets are those with USD ties: Ronald Bee has taught multiple courses in USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES); Father William Headley, a sociologist, counselor and Catholic priest, was the founding dean of USD’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies and a faculty member before his retirement earlier this year; John Hinck, retired Army Colonel, is a PhD alumnus of USD, an instructor within SOLES, and serves as a senior consultant and executive coach in USD’s Nonprofit Institute; SOLES Dean, Dr. Nick Ladany; Dr. Mark Peters, director for Mission at USD and a PhD alumnus of USD, will speak on social entrepreneurship; and Chris Yanov, a double graduate alumnus of USD in Peace and Justice Studies and International Relations, will host the cohort when it travels to meet with the founder and president of Reality Changers.

To learn more about the Hansen Summer Institute — which USD students can apply to for this unique summer fellowship — go to its website and follow them on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. There is also a LinkedIn alumni page.

— Ryan T. Blystone


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