Fond du Lac Formalizes Maori Exchange Plans

Feb 15th, 2003 | By | Category: 14-3: Your Heroes Are Not Our Heroes, Tribal College News
By Michael LeGarde

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Interim President Tom Davis and FDLTCC International Program Director Shirley Defoe review the memorandum of understanding with the representatives of the Maori: Rongo Wetere, Cheryl Stevens, Gary Aumati Hook, and Turoa Royal.

Faculty and students from the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC), the White Earth Tribal and Community College, and high school students from Fond du Lac Ojibwe School and area high schools will experience New Zealand’s Maori culture through a student exchange program, if all goes as planned. The exchange for the three Minnesota-based schools is being developed as part of FDLTCC’s International Education Program.

The presidents of three Maori colleges, the presidents of the two tribal colleges, and Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee Chairman Robert B. Peacock signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Aug. 1, 2002. The three Maori post-secondary institutions are: Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi, and Te Wananga o Raukawa.

If the college succeeds in raising the necessary resources, the exchange would fulfill a goal of FDLTCC Director of International Programs Shirley Defoe, who has visited New Zealand. “With all of the signatures, it’s now official,” she said. Students would travel to New Zealand to learn about indigenous cultures and give them a sense of the opportunities in other countries. The exchange would last anywhere from two weeks to a month. Students from the three Maori colleges would visit FDLTCC and the reservation in Cloquet, MN.

“I’m excited and thrilled at what Shirley has been doing in developing our programs on a global stature,” said Interim FDLTCC President Tom Davis. “The mission of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College is to provide higher educational opportunities for its communities in a welcoming, culturally diverse environment and to respectfully promote the language, culture, and history of the Anishinaabeg.”

The college wants to provide programs that promote global understanding, Davis said. Agreements are also being worked out with another New Zealand post-secondary institution and with universities in Australia, Ecuador, and possibly China.

“The opportunity to get indigenous people talking together and hearing each others’ stories is too great to pass up,” said Davis. “It’s a good chance to broaden our students’ horizons and would end up being good for all of the students who are involved with the FDLTCC, New Zealand, and Australian indigenous peoples’ exchange programs. Their language, culture, and education can teach us something.”

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