ATLANTA – Mercer University's Tift College of Education will bring together a group of college student-athletes from two African countries with middle- and high-school students from the Atlanta area as part of a cultural immersion project in support of the U.S. Department of State Sports Visitors Program. The event will take place Sept. 22 on the lower field adjacent to the Business and Education Building on Mercer's Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta
Dr. Justin Ballenger, assistant professor of teacher education at Mercer, master's degree students in his “Culturally Competent Pedagogy” course and Dr. Zenobia Edwards and Dr. Tina Woodard, co-founders of award-winning local nonprofit organization I Am B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L., coordinated the event. It will promote empowerment and leadership skills among local girls involved with the nonprofit, and also provide college soccer players from Niger and the Ivory Coast with tools to tackle gender, self-esteem and confidence issues in their home countries.
“We are pleased to host this group of students to facilitate relationships with different national and ethnic groups to promote cultural understanding and dispel negative stereotypes,” said Dr. Woodard. “We will also teach and demonstrate through sports the nine B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. words – Brave, Energetic, Assertive, Unique, Tenacious, Important, Fabulous, Unequaled and Loved.”
“We will also equip the delegation with practical tools, confidence and a powerful network of professional women who are volunteers for I Am B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. to support the student-athletes' efforts to share their knowledge and skills with their peers and broader community when they return to their respective countries,” added Dr. Woodard.
The Sports Diplomacy Office at the U.S. Department of State conducts sport-based international exchange programs for athletes, coaches, administrators and others from the global sports arena.
The Sports Visitors Program, carried out through a cooperative agreement with George Mason University, brings youth athletes and their coaches to the U.S. for two weeks to explore American society and culture through the lens of sports – from playgrounds to professional leagues. Often groups visit schools to play and interact with peers, engage with organizations that implement sport-based after-school activities and volunteer with community groups while they are in the U.S.
The group of college soccer players and coaches from Niger and the Ivory Coast is visiting Atlanta from Sept. 18-23 during their two-week trip to the U.S.
For more information on the program, visit eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/initiatives/sports-diplomacy.
About the Tift College of Education
Mercer University's Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University's three Regional Academic Centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. The College offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Practitioner,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. education.mercer.edu