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ODU Delegation, Led by Kevin Marbury, Teaches Leadership Course at Jamaican University

A burgeoning partnership between Old Dominion University and Jamaica's Northern Caribbean University (NCU) started with a chance meeting at a higher education conference in Trinidad and Tobago earlier this year.

Kevin Marbury, ODU's director of recreation and wellness, was introduced to a faculty member from NCU, who talked about opportunities for collaborative work between the two institutions.

"I got home to Norfolk, and the next day there was an email and phone message waiting for me, hoping to arrange a visit," Marbury said. "She was asking, 'What can we do to really develop this partnership?'"

Three months later, Marbury led an ODU delegation consisting of a faculty member, staff member and student to Mandeville, Jamaica, home of NCU, where the ODU group spent four days teaching a hands-on leadership course to a class of 26 communication students. The trip, largely paid for by NCU, could be the first of several back-and-forth visits between the two institutions.

From Oct. 9-13, the ODU group worked with students at the school, using experiential leadership programs employed by the Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP), housed at the ODU Student Recreation Center, to help students at the Jamaican school learn how to take an active leadership role.

In addition to Marbury, the ODU delegation included Eddie Hill, assistant professor of recreation and tourism studies, Bridget Nemeth, assistant director of OAP, and Amber Mills, a senior Spanish major from Alexandria, Va., and trip leader with the OAP. Tom Ameen, a sophomore mechanical engineering technology major and OAP trip leader, helped plan the trip but was unable to go because he fell ill just before the delegation left the United States.

To see a video of photos taken from the trip, compiled by Hill, please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZWM_r86_xE&feature=youtu.be.

The leadership program included a field exercise, where students worked in teams to accomplish difficult tasks. Part of the expedition was conducted at the Jamaica Zoo, "which was beautiful, but unlike any zoo I've ever been to," Mills said. "I didn't see any cages. The animals were just roaming around."

The experience was beneficial to the ODU delegation as well, whose members learned a great deal about applying their leadership lessons to a new audience.

The ODU team taught a leadership theory class, and Hill specifically has forged academic links with the academic hospitality department at NCU. He's hoping to collaborate with NCU next summer for a leadership camp program.

Nemeth said the ODU group was excited by the challenge that their Jamaican students turned out to be communication majors, as opposed to tourism or recreation leadership majors. She said the two groups were quickly able to form common bonds while they worked on applying the leadership lessons. And it appears to have made an impact.

"We got back to the United States and they had sent us messages, asking us to come back next spring and next summer, and they're planning a return visit to ODU," she said.

Marbury said the course the ODU group taught illustrates that the common lessons of leadership can be applied in just about any field.

"The thing that keeps coming back to me out of this is that this wasn't just a recreation program connecting to another recreation program that we were working with," Marbury said. "That really speaks to the reason why we're here, for global education and the development of people."

This article was posted on: October 31, 2011

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