14 December 2020 at 9:00 am

Issues of race, heritage and identity connect students across the seas

At a virtual event, students from the University of Maryland (UMD) and AUT held the first of hopefully many conversations on what it means to identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of colour today.

A screenshot from the virtual event, which features students from AUT. Supplied by the University of Maryland.

There was a total of 87 participants, made up of members of UMD’s College Success Scholars’ Programme, a cohort of 100 Black and Latino men, and students of Jason King’s Māori Leadership course at AUT.

ENZ Director of Engagement – North America, DuBois Jennings, described the event as profoundly moving.

“It was incredible seeing the two cohorts of students sharing both their similar and unique experiences,” he said.

“This is exactly the kind of engagement Education New Zealand is looking for in terms of our goal of creating global citizens in New Zealand and developing mutual understanding between underrepresented students in both countries. We're excited to see what else can be done in the future and hopeful that this is the beginning of a long and meaningful relationship between UMD and AUT.”

UMD have expressed some interest in developing a programme based on this event that looks to develop inter-cultural competency and a better understanding of racial issues.

The success of this programme aligns well with ENZ’s goals in the United States of  repositioning New Zealand as a recognised leader in diversity, equity and inclusion.

“It also aligns nicely with the internationalisation stream of the New Zealand Government’s Recovery Plan,” DuBois said. “While borders remain closed, we are committed to building on our connections within the US, as we continue to find new opportunities for students and educators from the US and New Zealand to meaningfully engage.”

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