In October 2015, Fulbright Canada sponsored Rochelle Willier’s attendance at a week-long course on “Reconciliation, Conflict Prevention and the Promotion of More Inclusive Societies” offered by McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID). The program was designed to challenge participants to think critically about the role they can play in building societies that embrace difference and forge a path forward that is representative of diverse views. Central to this program is the understanding that renewed relationships, based on dialogue, mutual respect and understanding, are key to achieving long-term reconciliation and conflict prevention. This is directly relevant for improving relations between civil society and the private sector, as well as for improving the relations of both of these sectors with governments at the local, regional national and ultimately the international level.
As a Canada-US Fulbright Award recipient, I completed my Master’s Degree in Education (EdM) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). My EdM at Harvard embodied excellence in every way, from the daily inspiration of faculty to the intensely dynamic interactions with my international peers. I remember seeing Nelson Mandela receive his honorary law degree at the Tercentenary Theatre in Harvard Yard, hearing lectures at the Kennedy School of Government from authors Camille Paglia and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., learning about multiple intelligences from Howard Gardner, and sharing in the fervour of Noam Chomsky’s political activism at the First Parish church in Harvard Square. I was constantly motivated to be my very best and to achieve new heights in my own learning and the learning of others. While I had been an “A” student throughout my undergraduate studies, this environment demanded more than just academic discipline. It required true commitment to intellectual inquiry and a full ownership of one’s voice. At Harvard, I learned to be fully accountable for the quality of my contributions and how to enhance the larger group discourse through meaningful questions and informed insights.
As we celebrate International Education Week, I recall my days spent as a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Fellow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the 2010-11 academic year. My Fellowship paved the way for future professional opportunities within the health policy sphere. During my grant period, I was a student in the M.A. program in Critical Disability Studies at York University which is housed within the York University School of Health Policy & Management. During my graduate studies, I engaged in comparative health policy research, concerning the Province of Ontario (Canada) and the State of New York (United States).