Monday, Jul 15, 2019

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Students complete inaugural Ohio Southern Building Bridges Summer Institute [PHOTOS]

The first cohort of nearly 20 students completed the inaugural Building Bridges Summer Institute at Ohio University Southern last week.

The event brought together young people from area colleges and high schools for an immersive three and a half day experience focused on community building, engagement and self-reflection.

Robert Pleasant, associate director of student resource commons for Ohio Southern, said the Building Bridges Summer Institute was created to assist participants in navigating negativity brought by cultural divisions facing the country and local communities. 

“This unique and interactive experience provided students a safe environment to come reflect, build, and engage on issues surrounding the intersection of diversity and leadership,” Pleasant said.

Led by a team of trained facilitators, BBSI included sessions to help students identify their own culture, become informed about other cultures and behaviors, and engage in dialogue on current topics. Through hands-on activities, presentations and discussions, the institute provided a platform for culturally competent leadership development.

Pleasant said the program was created in response to student discussions about cultural barriers.

“The Building Bridges Summer Institute brought diverse students together, to gain understanding, appreciation, and value of one another,” he said.

Pleasant believes the experience will allow students to form lasting bonds that will lead them to development as “strong and effective leaders.”

Program topics included: cultural identity, worldview, unconscious bias and stereotypes, effective communication; and an examination of social and cultural issues.

OUS group table

Students participated in activities to promote acceptance and inclusion based on the South African word, “dumela.” The word can mean: I affirm you, I believe in you, I see great potential in you. Photo: Teresa McKenzie.

Web of Affirmation

As one of the closing activities for Building Bridges Summer Institute, students created a Web of Affirmation by tossing a ball of yarn to one another while sharing positive comments about the other person. Photo: Justin Fleming.

OUS Robert Pleasant

Robert Pleasant addresses the group of participants in the Building Bridges Summer Institute. Photo: Teresa McKenzie.


The students participated in snowflake affirmations, where each student wrote something positive and tossed their responses in the air. Photos: Teresa McKenzie.


Then, each student picked up the “snowflake” and read them aloud. Photos: Teresa McKenzie.