Auckland University of Technology
01 Dec 2020

OMSE College Success Scholars Program, Education Abroad and Auckland University of Technology Virtual Conversation Recap

On November 18, 2020, the Office of Multi-ethnic Student Education (OMSE) College Success Scholars program and Education Abroad at the University of Maryland hosted a virtual conversation with the students at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Facilitated by Dr. Christopher Lester, director of OMSE, as well as Jason King, senior lecturer and Able Kururangi Johnston, student,  both of the Auckland University of Technology, the dialogue focused on the similarities and challenges facing both countries in the areas of politics, race and social justice.

The discussion opened with a video presentation produced by students in the College Success Scholars program. It highlighted the culture of the United States and New Zealand as well as the recent elections in both countries.

After opening remarks from the Auckland University of Technology, both groups engaged in Q&A during which they answered questions encompassing a wide array of topics including history and heritage, the global impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, and discrimination against indigenous people in New Zealand among many other critical topics.

The event concluded with appreciations and a waiata or “song” by the Auckland University of Technology and a commitment from both universities to identify future opportunities for exchange.

“It’s been such a pleasure to meet you, to hear your stories, to learn about your culture, to hear about your history, and to get some wisdom this evening from every person in New Zealand,” said Dr. Christopher Lester. “I now see and feel a special connection to everyone in the room. I think my students really feel connected to your students.”

Dr. Lester added, “We’re really excited about continuing our connection to you and feel very strong this evening to have this conversation with your students.”

The CSS program provides structured personal, academic, and professional support to Black and Hispanic/Latino males in order to ensure their full engagement in all aspects of university life, with an emphasis on retention, graduation and closing the achievement gap.

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