For five weeks this summer, students from Gonzaga University’s Comprehensive Leadership Program (CLP) traveled to Zambia to learn from and alongside the people there.
The CLP allows students to learn more about themselves as people as well as the importance of leadership through different lenses; they eventually receive a minor in leadership studies.
Andie Rosenwald is a junior majoring in business administration and environmental studies. She took several leadership courses during her time at GU.
“The classes I take through CLP…give me the opportunity to be as authentic as I can be in any of my classes I’ve taken at Gonzaga,” Rosenwald said. “I really appreciate how we can connect and really think deeply about ourselves.”
Josh Armstrong is an Associate Professor in the School of Leadership Studies and directs CLP. He appreciates how leadership courses allow students to think about their place in the world and how they can actively pursue change.
“I like this [through CLP]students studying in all Gonzaga majors have the opportunity to see themselves as leaders and what influence looks like,” Armstrong said. “I truly believe that anyone can practice leadership.
Armstrong has also taken GU students to Zambia since 2007.
“When I first got my job at the School of Leadership Studies, I wanted a study abroad experience that would take people out of their comfort zone and give them a cross-cultural experience, because it had been very important to me when I was an undergrad,” Armstrong said.
This is the 15th year of the Gonzaga-in-Zambezi program; however, a break had to be taken due to COVID-19, so this summer was the first trip since 2019.
The trip took place from mid-May to the end of June. When the students first landed in Zambia, they traveled to the capital, Lusaka, where they spent a few days acclimatizing to the region. Then they took a bus to Livingston and visited Victoria Falls. They were also able to go to Chobe National Park and take a boat trip, as well as go on a game drive.
However, most of the time the students were in a town called Zambezi where they were able to meet members of the community and spend time with them.
“The main focus of what everyone was doing was just meeting people, learning about them, and sharing experiences with them,” Rosenwald said. “We learned more than we helped for sure.”
During their stay in the Zambezi, the students participated in a community project, which was the main means by which they were able to connect with the local population. Examples of their community projects include a business and leadership course, a basic computer course, and a health education course. There were also students who helped out at Zam City Sports Academy, an organization that promotes sports and recreational activities for young people.
Senior Audrey Buller was part of a group of students who gave computer lessons to members of the community.
“A lot of times after class, community members wanted to hang out with us and so we would go to the market with them, we would walk with them, we would go see part of the village with them, and so it was really cool. , “said Buller. “It ended up being just a way to meet new people.”
The whole study abroad experience has ultimately allowed students to form genuine and genuine relationships with the people of Zambia.
“I’m really glad I decided to go because I feel like I was pushed out of my comfort zone in a way that was very productive and really helped me grow,” said said Rosenwald. “We talk a lot about the ‘radical welcome’ the people of the Zambezi gave us. [In the future]I want the people I meet to feel welcomed, appreciated and seen by me as total strangers to me in the Zambezi.”
Buller added to Rosenwald’s point that most of her life she was just ticking off the things she had to do. But she learned to appreciate the little things, to be in the moment and to connect with people, according to Buller, which her Zambezi experience did for her.
“My hope is that [after the trip]students think differently about their place in the world and how they create change, and I think that can happen starting tomorrow,” Armstrong said.
For more information on the trip and to read personal reflections from the students, see the Gonzaga-in-Zambezi blog: http://gonzagainzambezi.org/.