International and inspirational

The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship hosted many high-profile speakers this semester

The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship (PFGCGC) at Drake University is committed to integrating an international perspective into the Drake student experience. One of the most effective steps toward this goal has been hosting prominent world figures and experts in various fields; guest lecturers this fall presented an exciting array of worldviews.

“This series brings considerable visibility to global issues and their relevance to Drake and the broader Des Moines community,” said Christa Olson, vice provost of international programs. “It is just one of several strong programs which contribute to the Drake mission of preparing globally responsible citizens.”

Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique, spoke on the Drake University Campus.

Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique, visited Drake’s campus on Oct. 12 as part of the PFGCGC fall speaker and film series. In total, the center hosted 16 events this semester.

Chissano was Mozambique’s second president, serving from 1986 to 2005. In recent years, he has worked with the U.N. and other international organizations. He also chairs his own foundation and serves on the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government.

“We were thrilled to host former President Joaquim Chissano,” said David Skidmore, the center’s director and professor of politics. “It was an honor to have someone so highly esteemed in Africa and beyond. He’s played an integral role in African development for decades now, and his message is important and especially relevant today.”

Chissano was not the only speaker, however, to discuss democracy and development in Africa. Roy Bennett, a Zimbabwean politician talked about his personal experience fighting for democracy, which often included jail time and eventually led to him fleeing the country.

In addition to lectures about Africa, the center also hosted a concert featuring the Striving for Eternal Life Choir (SFEL), made up entirely of young refugees from Burundi. Drake junior Vincent Niyokwizera founded the choir in 2009 to support refugee students that arrived in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008 and spoke little or no English.

“The Striving For Eternal Life Choir was one of the highlights of this fall,” Skidmore said. “Their stories of overcoming hardship were inspirational and their music was uplifting.”

Most of the choir’s members spent as many as 11 years of their youth in Tanzanian refugee camps. The choir’s strong faith is the inspiration for their music, which they perform around the Des Moines area and beyond.

Along with development and democracy in developing countries, many of the series’ speakers focused on U.S. security issues. International security expert Jim Walsh discussed nuclear weapons and Iran, and counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman spoke on combating terrorism and lessons learned in the past decade.

Some presentations featured an Iowa connection. Former U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn — who helped compile some of the first reports to Congress that framed energy as a national security issue — discussed security and its role in Iowa’s energy future. The series concluded on Nov. 10 with a celebration of the relationship between Des Moines and Stavopol, Russia. Russian education delegates were on hand along with Des Moines Public Schools officials for a public Q&A and presentation about their sister-city partnership.

For more information on the Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship, visit http://www.drake.edu/international/cgc/ or contact David Skidmore at david.skidmore@drake.edu.

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