MU faculty and students presented research at a conference in Salamanca, Spain this past May. The members of the Ubuntu Leaders Fellows Program and social work professors, Drs. Jennifer Frank, Laura Granruth, and Karen Rice, and education professor, Dr. Deborah Tamakloe spent the past academic year conducting and analyzing research. Rice also serves as the Ubuntu Leaders Fellows faculty coordinator and was the keynote speaker for the 30th Annual International Interdisciplinary Conference hosted by the Global Awareness Society International.
The theme of the Interdisciplinary conference was “Exploring Global Awareness & Sustainable Development to Build a Better World.” During her presentation, Rice highlighted ways to foster global citizenship through connectedness, primarily by identifying a human-rights-based approach.
The trip gave the Ubuntu Leaders Fellows professional experience in conducting research, presenting and networking on an international level. “I met many people from various fields who share a common interest in global awareness,” says Brittany Leffler, a graduate student who attended the conference and presented research. “I found that research isn’t nearly as intimidating when you find faculty mentors and collaborators who take a chance on you, see your potential, and help you grow,” states Leffler. “I learned so much about collaboration . . . from my role.” Leffler worked on a pen-pal project that studied loneliness, social connection, poverty, experiential learning and generativity. Leffler shares, “We used letter-writing as our research methodology and analyzed the content of the letters as well as pre-and post-tests as our data to study these concepts.”
In between the conference, faculty and students took the opportunity to explore the city of Salamanca.
“I loved being a ’temporary local’ and wandering into new neighborhoods, sightseeing, discovering, and learning about the history of Salamanca each day,” shares Leffler. “When we immerse ourselves into a different culture, we cannot help but see the world through a new lens and learn things about a new environment and the newly evolved selves we are in those environments.”
Leffler’s favorite memory from the trip was when the fellows were surprised with live music, dancing and festivities at the end of the trip. “I appreciated the opportunity to challenge myself to speak Spanish, discover the little neighborhoods and history of Salamanca, have conversations with the locals and try new cuisines!” says Leffler.
Overall, Leffler is grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow within the Ubuntu Leaders Fellows Program. “The women I work with are remarkable scholars and have become true mentors and friends, ones I hope to keep despite my recent graduation,” shares Leffler.
Want to learn more about Ubuntu Leaders Fellows program? Click here to learn more: The change agent (millersville.edu)