Recap: The Student Forum on Global Learning, an MLK Day Celebration Event

As part of MLDP, we encourage student participants to attend other Rockefeller Center programs in order to enrich their Dartmouth experience. On this occasion, Maureen Mentrek '16 attended the Annual Student Forum on Global Learning which was sponsored by the Rockefeller Center, and we invited her to write a guest blog post discussing her experiences.
On Monday January 20th, Dartmouth held multiple events to commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One such event was the fifth annual Student Forum on Global Learning. The day began with a keynote address given by President Phil Hanlon. The forum then broke into multiple student-led presentations to explore global and cross-cultural learning experiences that students had had through internships, fellowships, research, and study abroad programs. I attended three such presentations, each of which forced me to reevaluate my view of the global community in which we live. 

I first attended a presentation by Pawan Dhakal ’16 and George Boateng ’16, both current participants in the Rockefeller Center’s Management and Leadership Development Program. In their presentation entitled Deconstructing Community Service: Creating an Impact at Home, they detailed their experiences in volunteer work in education within their home countries. George had spent his summer working with youth in Ghana teaching technological skills in an effort to motivate innovation among the generation. George and I had spent much of the spring and a week of the summer before he left for Ghana in the Rockefeller Center’s Civic Skills Training, so it was especially meaningful for me to hear about the progress of George’s project. Similarly, Pawan had spent his summer in Nepal teaching computer skills to students in his home village. Both George and Pawan’s experiences stressed the importance of community and the unique opportunity that Dartmouth provides each of us to better our communities. I found myself thinking about the specific things that I may be able to do to improve Rocky River, Ohio, just as Pawan and George had done to improve Nepal and Ghana. 

Next, I attended Henry Paige’s Hip Hop’s Globalization and the Nurturing of a Planetary Humanism. This session looked at the spread of hip hop around the world and how different cultures make it their own while maintaining certain intrinsic aspects of hip hop. What struck me most was learning about the messages of humanitarianism, equality, and politics that are far more common in hip hop than I had previously believed. 

The final session I attended was Black Life on (and Off) the Record: Recovering Black Voices in a Global World. This session highlighted the original historical research of three undergrad students, Allison Pugisl, Jordan Terry, and Aaron Colston. Although I am considering a history major, I had never before realized the dearth of primary source information available on black men and women throughout history. Allison, Jordan, and Aaron had each dedicated a term of their Dartmouth careers to researching topics related to race, gender, and enfranchisement. Their work and the obstacles they encountered really called into question the amount of progress society has made throughout history in achieving equality. 

The entire day’s events left me thinking about our society and what work is still necessary to achieve Martin Luther King’s vision. Mostly, I was left hopeful and inspired. Dr. King once said that “change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle,” and it was incredible to see students like Pawan, George, Allison, Jordan, Aaron, and many others undertaking that struggle in an effort to enact change. 

--Written by Maureen Mentrek '16, MLDP Winter 2014 participant