WorldView: A Language Blog

WorldView is a place for leaders in the fields of language education, global citizenship, immersion learning, and other topics central to the Concordia Language Villages mission to address issues important to their fields.

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The Dietrich Fellowship for Courageous Global Citizens

Published: August 6, 2019

We interviewed David Dietrich Oprava, a three-time credit villager and eight-year staff member at Waldsee, the German Language Village, who created the Dietrich Fellowship with the hope of inspiring CLV staff members who have proven themselves as leaders to take the next step in their personal and professional development. 

What is the Dietrich Fellowship?

The Dietrich Fellowship is an annual, merit-based financial award given to a current staff member of Concordia Language Villages (CLV) who has shown an exceptional dedication to global citizenry and language education and is a passionate, compassionate leader of others. This $25,000 award is given with the expectation that the recipient (hereinafter named “the Fellow”) will use the funds over a nine-month period (September through May) to circumnavigate the world to stretch their language and cultural capacities, and in so doing, take an active part in cultural immersion activities on at least three continents. These can be volunteering opportunities, internships, self-designed service projects, or a combination of all three.

Why did you to create this Fellowship?

I believe the world desperately needs people who will take the initiative to bridge any divide—to expose themselves to things new, foreign, even scary—and to learn from those experiences so they can go on to inspire others. That is why, two decades after I last worked at the Language Villages and with my own role models in mind, I have returned to sponsor the Dietrich Fellowship for Courageous Global Citizenship.

What do you hope the recipient will gain from the nine months traveling abroad?

The ultimate aim of the Fellowship is to enrich the life experience of the Fellow and to inspire them to become a positive leader in a world that needs courageous global citizens to bring us all together and move us all forward. They are expected to travel fully around the world, spend time on at least three different continents doing service-oriented projects, and most importantly, to return the following summer to share what they have learned with the Language Villages. Going further than language and cultural immersion in the Village setting, the Fellowship aims to allow current, dedicated staff members to experience the wider world through first-hand encounters. The Fellow will be asked to share their global experiences with the wider Concordia Language Villages world by contributing to the WorldView Blog. 

How did your time at Concordia Language Villages shape the way you look at the world?

During the eight summers I worked at Concordia Language Villages, there were two things I looked forward to most. First, the beginning of the summer, when old friends would come back together after a year apart. Those first few days and weeks were full of sharing the adventures we had pursued, lives we had lived, and places we had gone. It was a time to see how each of us had grown and to learn of new perspectives that would inform our teaching, caring and dedication to everything we do at the Villages. It was a time to explore the world through each other’s eyes. I also looked forward to the end of the summer: the beginning of September when a new chapter would begin. Approaching us was another nine months of going into the world and seeing how far we could strive towards each of our own goals. Whether it was study, travel or work, life was teaching us as we helped to shape the world in which we lived. Like the seasons, it was a cycle. Although that was more than 20 years ago, I still look back in amazement at the diversity of experiences and lives we all brought with us to the Villages. I think of the fellow staff members whom I admired, those I wanted to emulate, and those who inspired me most. They were brave: fearless to go places in the world I had only ever imagined. The things they did, the people they helped, the world they made better, gave me the confidence and desire to go out and do the same.

How will you choose the recipient?

Applicants must submit their completed application/presentation/creation to Concordia Language Villages by December 1st on the year preceding their expected Fellowship. A small group of qualified people will assess the applications, convene virtually, and narrow the field of candidates down to three finalists. Beyond demonstrated language and cultural competence and capacity, the following values guide the selection of the Fellow: courage, adventurous outlook, global curiosity, community building, leadership and followership, independence, and multicultural respect. It is imperative that eligible staff members who seek the Fellowship first, and foremost, secure the endorsement of their current Village Dean(s) via a nomination letter.

For more information on the Dietrich Fellowship, go to the Concordia Language Villages staffing page.  

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