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Excerpt from "Contributing to Civic and Social Justice Through Exchange" from Global Ties US

IVLP: Human and Civil Rights for Marginalized Communities: A Regional Project for Africa

NPA: World Learning By Tommy Priakos, Program Coordinator

Global Ties Arkansas was selected to host a World Learning project for leaders from 10 African countries to explore various facets of human and civil rights organizations in Little Rock, Arkansas. The visit took place January 13-19 and coincided with celebrations for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which gave participants the opportunity to attend the Night of Unity Candlelight Ceremony and watch a spectacular fireworks display. At the celebration they met with Dushun Scarbrough, Executive Director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, who stepped away from media cameras to welcome our visitors. The cameras followed and the visitors were featured on the evening news for a brief minute on TV.

For this International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) topic, we felt that a visit to the Central High School National Historic Site was a must for the participants. This civil rights landmark commemorates the “Little Rock Nine” and desegregation following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. At the site, the visitors learned about the strife nine black students endured during the 1957 Little Rock Crisis, when federal troops were called in to protect and enforce the integration of the students into the then all-white high school. The museum includes a civil rights timeline and a video showing television’s importance in protecting the lives of the Little Rock Nine.”

Ally Thomlinson and Tom Masseau enjoyed talking to our African delegates on disability rights. Photo provided by Global Ties Arkansas.

One highlight of the project was when they visited with Sara Tariq, Ph.D. and discussed teaching diversity in the classroom. Sara hosted a youth summer retreat for high schoolers and college students from different backgrounds and faiths to help students learn how to appreciate diversity. At the meeting you could almost hear brains clicking on how the visitors could duplicate this type of retreat back in their home communities. The visitors also meet with Tom Masseau, Executive Director of Disability Rights Arkansas, and Ally Thomlinson, Director of Community of Champions for a panel on disability rights.

Global Ties Arkansas takes pride in sharing our community with international visitors. We pay close attention to the needs and interests of our delegates and their interpreters/liaisons and help tailor the program to be as relevant as possible to their objectives.

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