Irish Ambassador to the United States, Daniel Mulhall; Benedict College President, Roslyn Clark Artis; and great-great granddaughter of Frederick Douglass, Nettie Washington Douglass, led the student orientation for the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellows on June 24, 2021, wishing them well and challenging them to aspire to greatness in leading our world.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs is co-sponsoring the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship to honor the 175th anniversary of the meeting between 27-year-old abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the Irish reformer Daniel O’Connell in Dublin in 1845.
Nettie Washington Douglass, Frederick Douglass’ great-great granddaughter, shared that Ireland is very, very special to her because it was so special to her great-great grandfather. “Meeting his hero Daniel O’Connell and spending time on the Emerald Isle, as he called it, left a lasting impact on him,” said Ms. Douglass. “I hope it will do the same for you,” she told the Fellows.
Daniel Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to the United States, explained why Ireland cherishes the heritage of Frederick Douglass’ visit 175 years ago and why Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship program is so important to Ireland.
“Having for most of our history been a country that was fairly homogenous in terms of our population, today one in six people living in Ireland wasn’t born in Ireland,” he explained. “From a nation of emigrants in the 19th century, exporting our people all over the world, in particular to the United States, we have become a nation now that welcomes people from all over the world. That is why it is important for us to celebrate Frederick Douglass’ legacy and celebrate the fact that Douglass was so warmly welcomed in Ireland.”
Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, president of Benedict College, congratulated the Fellows, telling them “You are the manifestation of the America that Frederick Douglass dreamed of...I would charge you to absorb like a sponge this opportunity. As you travel, engage freely, ask questions, make friends, build bridges, share your ideas, thoughts, notions. You matter.”
And Dr. Artis reminded the Fellows that after they return home from Ireland, they will be ambassadors for study abroad and must share their stories and experiences with their friends and colleagues. I am certain that they will.
I anticipate that during their time in Ireland, the Frederick Douglass Global Fellows will polish their leadership skills, expand their commitment to social justice, and, when they return home, communicate, just as Frederick Douglass did after his time abroad. I am certain this group of exceptional students will use their enhanced skills to communicate their passions and change our world for the better.
All of us at CIEE are honored to help the Frederick Douglass Global Fellows have an experience where they can, as Vice President Kamala Harris described when she met the Fellows in March, “come as they are, and leave as they aspire to be.”
For live updates from the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellows as they travel across Ireland, following in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass, please follow the hashtag #aspireto and the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship Instagram account.