August 22, 2011
Chicago isn’t just known for its deep dish pizza, Oprah and Obama, windy weather, or bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. It is also known for its active disability rights community and the density of universities, community colleges and technical institutes throughout the city and region. And I discovered recently – it is a city fond of making new friends.
Recently, we held the Linking Knowledge workshop in Chicago to do friendship match-making between disability services, study abroad and international student services at some of the major higher education institutions in the region. Co-sponsored by AHEAD, NAFSA Region V, and World Chicago, this event capped out at almost 50 participants in the room all focused on one task: increasing the participation of students with disabilities in their programs.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you”, I overheard colleagues exclaim as they entered the room and took their seats. “Well, we had to leave campus to actually meet in person!” another whispered to her campus counterpart.
These colleagues were acting on a hallmark piece of advice – collaboration. Throughout the day, students with disabilities, keynote speaker Linda Mastandrea, and experts in the room shared their top tips for making systemic changes to break down barriers that prevent students with disabilities from having equal access to international exchange programs. At the end of the day-long training, “Nice to Meet You” became “Let’s Take Action” as they listed out priorities for change back on their campuses.
Stay tuned to the blog: we will be sharing Six Tips for Systemic Change that were presented at the workshop so that you, too, can make some new friends and take action on your campus.