Global Tufts Month aims to highlight engagement in global issues

Hannah Flamm, the Managing Attorney at the Detained Minors Project at the Door’s Legal Services Center, talks at an event Tufts Amnesty International held, convening a panel of experts to discuss the human rights violations occurring within American immigration detention facilities, during Global Tufts Month on March 1st, 2021. Ava Iannuccillo / The Tufts Daily

Tufts is hosting its annual Global Tufts Month this March. With this year’s theme, “Welcoming All Voices: Global Perspectives on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice,” the month is intended to celebrate Tufts’ global engagement, advance the school’s commitment to global learning and exchange and promote connections across schools on global issues.

“[The events] range from social networking to really academic, to action-oriented, community-oriented events and arts events,” Diana Chigas, senior international officer and associate provost at Tufts and professor of the practice of international negotiation and conflict resolution at The Fletcher School, said.

Chigas emphasized the role the month plays in bringing the Tufts community together, and explained the reasoning behind this year’s theme.

“We chose the theme because of the tremendous amount of work that’s being done on anti-racism … recognizing that there’s also an international dimension to that, a global dimension to that, and that many of the similar issues come up in a global context and many of our faculty and students are doing work at that level,” Chigas said. 

Global Tufts Month started in 2019 as Global Tufts Week, but according to Christine Hollenhorst, program administrator of the Office of the Provost, it was difficult to contain all the events hosted by the different schools within only one week. According to Hollenhorst, universities across the nation celebrate International Education Week, which focuses on study abroad opportunities.

Wanting to extend the week to avoid concentrating events in such a short period of time, Tufts decided to expand to a whole month in 2020, though the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way.

“It looked really promising, this time we had about 40 events spread out over the whole month … representing all the schools. And then we made it through about two events before COVID shut everything down on us,” Hollenhorst said. “So now we’re back, and we are ready to celebrate Global Tufts Month, hopefully with no interruptions this time.”

The Office of the Provost offered mini-grants up to $500 to members of the Tufts community who submitted event proposals. In allocating funding for 14 events this year,, the committee reviewing the applications prioritized events hosted by students and events that were a collaboration between students and faculty.

“We really get an incredible assortment [of event applications] from all over the university … people are really creative,” Hollenhorst said.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended in-person events, Hollenhorst emphasized the benefits of gathering virtually.

“If you applied for a $500 mini-grant, that really wasn’t going to be enough money to bring in a speaker from another country … they wouldn’t be able to travel to Tufts to participate in a one-hour panel,” Hollenhorst said. “I think that gives it a bit of an interesting element that we really can attract people from all over the world, maybe we couldn’t have done that before.”

Amber Asumda, a junior majoring in international relations, is hosting the inaugural Black Womyn’s Empowerment Conference with the Tufts Africana Center as part of Global Tufts Month.

“It’s a conference that’s for both undergraduate and graduate Black women throughout the state of Massachusetts,” Asumda said. “Our goal for this conference is providing Black women with professional leadership skills necessary to succeed not only in their academic careers, but also professionally.”

She said the conference will consist of workshops in law, public policy and medicine, and feature Nontombi Naomi Tutu, activist and daughter of Nobel Laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as their keynote speaker.

“If it were not done virtually we probably would not have been able to get [Tutu, who lives in South Africa],” Asumda said.

In the week leading up to the event, Asumda said she has spent over 20 hours organizing the conference.

“A conference comes with a lot of people and a lot of moving parts,” Asumda said. “We’re hoping to have a tangible network of Black Women Students around the greater Boston area.”

Although this year’s deadline to apply for mini-grants has passed, there is no deadline to host an event.

“We really want the community to host events and come up with events. So right now, the calendar has probably 20 to 25 events, but people will keep adding to that,” Hollenhorst said. “We put [Global Tufts Month] together, but this event belongs to everybody.”