CIEE and CMSI Celebrate the 2018 Frederick Douglass Global Fellows in Cape Town

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Earlier this week, the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) hosted a celebratory event in Cape Town, South Africa highlighting the 10 meritorious students from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) who were selected to be part of the second cohort of the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship program.  The Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, named in honor of the African-American social reformer, abolitionist, and international statesman Frederick Douglass, is just one of several initiatives of Project Passport, a partnership between CIEE and CMSI established to increase access to study abroad opportunities by facilitating dialogue about the value of international education at all levels of MSIs, including presidents, faculty, and students.
The fellowship covers all program fees and travel costs for 10 students -- chosen for their high academic achievement, communication skills, and service to others -- to participate in a four-week experiential education program designed to provide a global perspective and strengthen the leadership and intercultural communication skills of each participant, with a focus on developing techniques to apply these skills in their respective communities when they return to the United States.

“The impact of the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship program goes well beyond a life-changing experience for just 10 students,” said Paola “Lola” Esmieu, Associate Director of Programs at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. “As last year’s Frederick Douglass Fellows demonstrated when they returned to their home campuses, alumni of the program are encouraging examples for other students at Minority Serving Institutions and beyond.”

“These Fellows will have the distinct advantage of being surrounded by MSI students, who like them are seeking exceptional leadership opportunities,” explained Marybeth Gasman, Judy & Howard Berkowitz Professor of Education and Director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. “Thus, this fellowship is not only urging students to use their experiences to advocate for study abroad on their campuses, but also promoting the value of cohort-building.”

The celebration of the Frederick Douglass Fellows was held at the District Six Museum’s Homecoming Centre in Cape Town and kicked off with a roundtable discussion featuring several guest speakers including Mandy Sanger, Head of Education at District Six Museum; Bilgees Baker, a local entrepreneur and tour guide in Bo-Kaap; Ndifuna Ukwazi, an activist with Reclaim the City, a Cape Town-based desegregation and affordable housing development organization; Tony Elvin, Director of Associates SA and founder of Social Enterprise Consulting; and Keshia Abraham and Quinton Redcliffe of CIEE. This year’s roundtable topic was ‘Decolonizing Spaces,’ each session explored themes of violence, colonialism, and displacement through a democratic exchange of knowledge and experiences between American and South African scholars, academics, activists, and thinkers.

The event also included a keynote address from Nettie Washington Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s great, great granddaughter and Co-founder and Chairwoman of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, as well as Fowzia Achmat, a member of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association and the descendant of Sarah von der Kaap, an enslaved woman, who is one of the first woman property owners in Cape Town. After the sessions, guests were invited to dance alongside Silumko Koyana, an African Dance lecturer and instructor from the University of Cape Town with music by the Ekhaya Marimba Band.

“We are so proud of this second cohort of Frederick Douglass Fellows, and the collaboration between CIEE and CMSI that is providing tools that will help these outstanding students grow into globally conscious and service-oriented leaders,” said Keshia Abraham, Director of Strategic Initiatives at CIEE.

Students selected for the 2019 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship will study in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Applications are open and will close on October 1, 2018.
Read more about the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship program here

About the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions
The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) brings together researchers and practitioners from the nation's Minority Serving Institutions. CMSI’s goals include: elevating the educational contributions of MSIs; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSIs’ academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and strengthening efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities. For further information about CMSI, please visit

About the Council on International Educational Exchange
CIEE, the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization, transforms lives and builds bridges by promoting the exchange of ideas and experiences. To help people develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world, CIEE sponsors a wide variety of opportunities for cultural exchange, including work exchange programs, teach abroad programs, and a worldwide portfolio of study abroad and internship programs for college and high school students. Visit

Photos by Seed Lynn