Trinity University (Texas) Hosted Sports Diplomacy Exchange With North Macedonia

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni make cross-cultural connections through sports

San Antonio, TX, July 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Trinity University (Texas) participated in a collaborative initiative for sports education leaders from the U.S. and North Macedonia as part of the "Leadership through Sports Program." The University hosted 12 North Macedonian women's volleyball coaches from July 15 through 25 in San Antonio.

"This collaboration emphasizes the role of sports in developing leadership skills that these coaches can apply to their work in their home countries," says Jacob Tingle, Ed.D., chair of the sport management minor program and co-leader of the Trinity delegation. "Our goal was to foster greater respect for diversity and an enhanced understanding of our countries' respective cultures and approaches to sports education." 

PH International implements the Leadership through Sports Program with funding support from the U.S. Department of State/Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs/Sports Diplomacy Division in partnership with Trinity University. The July exchange at Trinity marked the first of two 10-day exchanges of the program, with the second set for March 2024, which will send 12 American delegates to North Macedonia. 

For the July exchange, the North Macedonian coaches, a diverse group of six women and six men with extensive experience coaching recreational and semi-pro girls' volleyball clubs, spent their time on Trinity's campus and traveling throughout San Antonio with the Trinity delegation.

"This program's success is due in large part to Trinity alumnae Emily Ellis (class of 2022) and Marisa Amarino (class of 2023), who contributed leadership and diplomacy to this program as key members of our team," says Angela Breidenstein, Ed.D., professor and chair of Trinity's education department and co-leader of the delegation with Tingle. "Their knowledge of volleyball, leadership in developing and enacting the program's curriculum, roll-up-your-sleeves enthusiasm for all of the technical aspects of hosting a delegation, and most of all, true understanding of personal connection and authentic care as key elements of diplomacy and hospitality have been tremendous," said Breidenstein.

During their 10-day visit, the North Macedonian coaches and Trinity delegation attended seminars and workshops on U.S. education (K-12 and university); leadership; sports and nutrition; and diversity, inclusion, and well-being. In addition to spending time with Trinity faculty, staff including University President Vanessa B. Beasley, Ph.D., the group met with representatives from the NBA San Antonio Spurs, the San Antonio Football Club (soccer), San Antonio Sports, the University of the Incarnate Word, Morgan's Wonderland, STRAPS, LEE High School and the International School of the Americas, the San Antonio Council of International Visitors, the City of San Antonio Office of Global Engagement, and with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. 

"The impact these trips have on my teaching has been massive. The one-on-one conversations with coaches, administrators, and young athletes about their athletic experiences, their fight for democracy, and their language, culture, and heritage helped reframe my understanding of freedom, equality, and inclusion," Tingle says. "As a result, I've worked hard to bring in readings and voices from a non-U.S. and a non-Western perspective in my classes and spend much more time teaching about relationship development and diplomacy as important leadership elements."

Breidenstein values these exchange programs for how they allow those involved to learn about different cultures and themselves through sports. "These experiences are important for Trinity because they provide meaningful learning experiences for students, faculty, and staff to learn with and from the delegates as well as our San Antonio community partners," Breidenstein says. "It is an important opportunity to see how we do things through new eyes and think about why we do things and how—being asked questions that spur inquiry and reflection."

"Given the power of sport to bring communities together, to collapse barriers, or to reframe personal philosophies, these diplomatic exchanges can help internationalize Trinity's campus in important ways," Tingle says. "Through hosting visitors, we are forced to see our campus and city through different lenses, almost as if we were first-time visitors. And that allows us to rethink, reimagine, and reframe the things around us every day."


Trinity University (Texas) Hosted Sports Diplomacy Exchange with North Macedonia