Ekkie asked the faculty to meet with a visitor to MUDEC today. Dr. Jean Kitgen-Andrews has mutual friends with Ekkie and wanted to visit the Chateau during her travels to this area, travels inspired by her desire to return to her roots. The last time Jean was in Luxembourg was in 1953.
Jean is from St. Paul Minnesota where she has lived most of her life. She has been able to trace her family heritage back to the 1850s and 1860s when her family left Luxembourg in an agricultural crises much like the great potato famine that drove the Irish out of Ireland. During this time, Luxembourg lost one-third of its population. Jean is a retired nursing educator with a doctorate from Ohio State (no, I'm not going to say THE Ohio State University on my blog) who went to northern Minnesota to provide much needed nursing education programs.
I took the opportunity to meet with Jean and to host her at the Chateau because of notation in her biography that she has served the Minneapolis Center for the Victims of Torture for many years. (The Scholar Leader '06 Plunge is to Toronto and one of our experiences while there will be to visit the Toronto Centre for the Victims of Torture.) Jean provided wonderful background on the center that I had previously not known. There are approximately thirty centers throughout the world, having begun in the 1980s in Helsinki. Jean's role in Minneapolis is to coordinate volunteers. Volunteers are need for befriending, transportation, language acquisition, and much needed post-traumatic syndrome treatment. She explained that most of the victims of torture are highly professional, intelligent people who were not afraid to stand up against injustice in their own countries. Because they are courageous and outspoken, they became targets for emotional and physical torture. Their only option once labeled is to attempt to escape. This is the context and experience of the people we will meet in Toronto as the Scholar Leaders seek to understand the "American Dream" over history, in different places (Canada vs. U.S.A.) and seek to understand the meaning of this idea in modern times.
The gift of meeting with Jean was an expected pleasure but one that reinforced one of the things I believe about leadership - that it is often very humble and unassuming. Jean's purpose in her life has been to serve through nursing education and through responding to the needs of victims of torture.