Spring Break in Geneva: Global Ambassadors Elevate Education

DGA Group OrientationDistinguished Global Ambassadors prepare for their Spring Break in Geneva, Switzerland led by Serena Newhall, Executive Director of CIFAL Atlanta and Lance Askildson, Vice Provost and Chief International Officer for the Division of Global Affairs.

Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) Spring Break commences next week, and some of KSU’s best and brightest are utilizing their time off to take their education to the next level while studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ten of KSU’s undergraduate students were nominated from each of KSU’s ten degree-granting colleges to participate in the Division of Global Affairs Distinguished Global Ambassadors (DGA) Program. Next week, they will visit the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland for a week-long series of youth leadership trainings facilitated by leaders of multiple agencies and departments within the U.N.

The DGA Program is a selective international leadership program administered under the auspices of the United Nations and offered through the Division of Global Affairs’ newly established CIFAL Atlanta Center.  During their stay in Geneva, students will train at the United Nations Palace in Geneva and develop both disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable development. They will share and apply the lessons that they learn abroad to benefit the KSU campus through designated projects and events upon return.

Serena Preparing Ambassadors for Travel
Executive Director of CIFAL Atlanta, Serena Newhall, preparing the Ambassadors for their week in Geneva at orientation. 

While in Geneva, the ambassadors will spend time both at the Palais des Nations and at the headquarters of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in training sessions led by U.N. Ambassadors, High Commissioners and the Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of UNITAR. Ambassadors will receive an introduction to the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will cover topics including road safety, environment, chemicals and waste management, peacekeeping, and health and well-being.

Students will develop projects over the course of the program and present their sustainability projects at the final session at the Palais. Nikhil Seth, the United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of UNITAR, will present the ambassadors with their certificates of completion on the final day of the program.

A customized training program at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva for spring break vastly differs from the usual college spring break trip, and the ambassadors are more than happy to surrender a wild week at the beach for such an opportunity.

Students Debate
Ambassadors practice debate similar to what they might experience in the United Nations.

Lisa Smith, a senior dual majoring in International Affairs and German Studies, looks forward to the opportunity to advance her literacy promotion project which will recruit KSU students to write children’s books for communities with literacy needs. Her books will specifically theme around the Sustainable Development Goals, and she hopes to publish and distribute them around the world.

“The DGA Program is an opportunity to go above and beyond traditional classroom learning so that I can come up with something that will be impactful in the community,” she said.

Kara Smith, a Psychology major in her junior year at KSU has studied abroad multiple times. She feels honored by her nomination for the program and looks forward to the opportunity to see the U.N. in action while representing KSU.

Kara Smith

“One of the most fascinating parts about this program is the ability to go and watch how things function on an international level. The U.N. is all the countries in the world getting together to discuss real issues and real solutions. I am excited to see that,” she said.

Smith will be working on her sustainability project aiming to eradicate gender inequality everywhere. She hopes to host a lecture series along with a charity drive that will help to alleviate some of the poverty issues that women face in the Atlanta area along with raising awareness for poverty issues women face locally and abroad. 

The ambassadors will return to KSU from their unique spring break in Geneva equipped with the tools to successfully push for change and improvements on campus and beyond. Their training abroad undeniably will help set the precedence for a university dedicated to increased engagement and prominence locally, nationally and internationally.    

To learn more about the Division of Global Affairs’ Distinguished Global Ambassadors Program, visit http://dga.kennesaw.edu/distinguishedglobalambassadorsprogram/index.php.