June 17, 2008

Shaking up the world

Muhammad Ali is arguably the most famous person in the world. We just can’t get enough of his floatin’ and stingin’. Aside from his illustrious boxing career, of course, he has left a legacy more meaningful and lasting than any right hook could ever be. 

The University of Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice, more specifically the Ali Scholars Program, is dedicated to demonstrating Ali’s legacy in a more proactive fashion — not just in Louisville, but places across the globe. Seven students on the two-year scholarship program just returned from Senegal.

For two weeks, the Ali Scholars plunged into Senegalese society, attending lectures and traveling while working on a joint project alongside seven other Senegalese students from the Universite Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis. 

Alvin Herring, executive director of the Ali Institute, attended the study abroad program along with his colleague, Associate Director Stacy Bailey-Ndiaye. 

The trip provided the Scholars with an international perspective as they studied a multitude of issues, from economy and government to gender and environment. “It gave them the opportunity to look at social justice issues in a different economic and political reality,” said Bailey-Ndiaye. 

 During their first year, the Ali Scholars learn about social justice in their own community, which gives them the opportunity to consider how to have an impact on social peace as youth, Herring said. The second year of the program provides the scholars with an opportunity to immerse themselves in a foreign country. 

“It puts the issues they see here in a global context,” added Bailey-Ndiaye. “They see that it’s bigger than Louisville.”

A documentary of the Ali Scholars’ experience is planned for public showing this fall. The whole town’s invited. For questions call The Ali Institute at 502-852-6372. —Jess Mahanes