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Twenty-three deaf and hard of hearing leaders from 10 developing countries were at Gallaudet July 1 to 7 gaining essential skills that will help them improve their personal and professional lives and those of their peers at home. By participating in the Grassroots Advocacy International Leadership Training, these community-minded individuals were taught how to network with other potential leaders and advocate for their rights by a team of noted deaf role models.
This marks the second year that the program has been offered through the G. “Bummy” Burstein Leadership Institute (BLI) at the Center for Continuing Studies (CCS), which is under the auspices of the University’s Graduate School and Professional Programs (GSPP). According to BLI Director Simon Guteng, the first training was held in 2009 for 13 international leaders, and proved to be very successful.
Abaye Tesfaye, a teacher in Ethiopia, said he wanted “to teach deaf people and encourage them to come together,” following his international leadership training in 2009. Namiraa Baljinnyam, an educator from Mongolia who aspires to help her country’s deaf children develop their native language, also attended the 2009 program. “If I want to help students, I need to educate myself,” she said in a 2009 On the Green article. Baljinnyam is now a Gallaudet graduate student in the elementary deaf education and graduate certificate in early childhood education programs, and works as a graduate assistant in the CCS.
Many positive comments were given by participants who completed an evaluation of the 2012 program, as well. “I enjoyed the training every minute, and I want more in the future. It helped me recognize my strengths—and my weaknesses,” wrote one. “This was an exceptional training that we were craving to get. At last we got it and it is going to be useful in our advocacy issues,” another remarked.
Participation in the Grassroots Advocacy International Leadership Training program requires a commitment by the leaders to share their knowledge by training their constituents at home, said Dr. Guteng. He said that the intensive, week-long program ensures that participants leave with preparation for work in leadership positions, effective leadership skills to organize grassroots level deaf people into productive groups, a clear vision of strategic planning and goal setting, leadership styles knowledge and skills application, and human relations and emotional intelligence skills.
The 2012 participants proudly display their certificate of completion. Also pictured are trainers Dr. Madan Vasishta (front), Namiraa Baljinnyam (front row, left), Dr. Simon Guteng (front row, center), and Kevin Nolan (back row, right), and BLI Program Coordinator Azalea Davis (front row, right). (Photo: Matthew Vita)
The training utilizes a train-the-trainer approach. In addition to Guteng, training was led by Dr. Madan Vasishta, a part-time associate professor in the Department of Administration and Supervision who has more than 30 years’ experience as an administrator at schools for deaf students and has written extensively on deaf education and the rights of deaf people; Claudia Gordon, Esq., special assistant to the director of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and a Gallaudet trustee; Dr. Joseph Kinner, associate professor of history and a coordinator of the General Studies Program; Dr. Asiah Mason, manager of the International Relations unit within the Office of the President; and Kevin Nolan, outreach and support services coordinator for Children’s Hospital, Boston, chair of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s Statewide Advisory Committee, and vice president of the board of DEAF, Inc. of Boston. Dr. Carol Erting, GSPP dean, and Dr. Susan King, CCS associate dean, provided support for the leadership training.
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