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LTCC instructor may join women’s delegation in South Africa

Cory Fisher

If Diane McMillan gets her wish, a new link between South Lake Tahoe and Johannesburg, South Africa will be established this spring.

As part of The Citizen Ambassador Program of People to People International, the Lake Tahoe Community College psychology and sociology instructor has been invited to visit South Africa in March with a women’s studies delegation.

With a focus on South Africa’s attempt to create a new democratic society and “end all forms of inequality,” McMillan says the event will bring women from South Africa and the United States together to discuss the successes of women activists, scholars and policy makers.

“We’ll definitely learn from their struggles, and they will benefit from our experiences,” McMillan said. “I can read all about it in a book, but to be there will be incredible. To be among other professional women with my same concerns is a once in a lifetime opportunity – especially in a unique country that is in the beginning stages of its struggle for equality.”

McMillan currently teaches Psychology and Sociology of Women, Social Problems, Introduction to Psychology and Child Development at the college. She is also a counselor at Tahoe Youth and Family Services and has worked with single parents, adolescents, families and women who were sexually abused.

“Not only will this make me a better instructor, counselor and citizen, it will bring more recognition to the college,” McMillan said. “This will show people that South Lake Tahoe is a progressive, enlightened town with an interest in human rights.”

Unable to finance the entire $5,000 trip alone, McMillan is seeking sponsorship from local organizations or individuals. While many large universities are able to send faculty members on similar ventures, community colleges rarely have the resources.

“Believe me, I’d pay for it all myself if I could, but I’m a single mom,” she said. “If it happens, I look forward to sharing my experiences with the community in whatever way I can.”

A nationwide search for professionals known in the field of women’s studies was conducted by Iris Berger, a professor of history, Africana and women’s studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York. McMillan was contacted by Berger in October.

Delegation topics will include:

— Strategies for ensuring women’s political representation and their effective participation in the policymaking process.

— Women’s health issues and how they’re being addressed by national health policy, grassroots women’s organizations and traditional healers.

— Legal and constitutional issues and strategies concerning women, gender and human rights.

— Role of women writers and artists in creating a new national culture.

— Development of women’s and gender studies programs and the status of women in educational institutions in South Africa and the United States.

In addition to Johannesburg, the delegation will also travel to Cape Town and Kruger National Park.

The Citizen Ambassador Program of People to People International was founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to improve communication between Americans and the citizens of other countries. Initially coordinated by the U.S. State Department, the organization became a nonpolitical, private-sector organization in 1961. Since then, Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush and Clinton have served as honorary chairmen. People to People arranges professional exchanges in such disciplines as medicine, business, law, education, agriculture, energy, finance, industrial technology and the basic sciences.

“How other countries see us fascinated me,” McMillan said. “I’m interested in what women and minorities in South Africa think of the affirmative action debate in California.”

Those interested in this topic or in sponsoring McMillan may reach her at (530) 577-0405, or write to: P.O. Box 11547, South Lake Tahoe, Calif. 96155.


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