Amy Otis-De Grau, who is senior director of the Paul G. Fried Center for Global Engagement at Hope College, will present the address “Lessons from Abroad: From Being the Other, Seeing the Other and Loving the Other” on Tuesday, April 3, at 7 p.m. in Schaap Auditorium of the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center through the “Last Lecture Series” organized by the college’s chapter of the national Mortar Board honorary society.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The college’s Paul G. Fried Center for Global Engagement coordinates opportunities for Hope students to study off-campus both domestically and abroad, and is also a resource for international students studying at Hope. More broadly, the center aims to integrate the perspectives of international students and scholars into the campus community, to provide off-campus study opportunities for all students and to stimulate conversation surrounding cross-cultural and global issues.
Raised overseas, Otis-De Grau graduated from Hope in 1996 with a German major. She studied abroad in Germany during the spring of her junior year and on the college’s Faith Seeking Justice Mexico May Term.
She joined the Hope international education staff shortly after graduating, serving initially as office manager and coordinator of special programs. She was promoted to assistant director in 2002, associate director in 2006 and director in 2007. She was named senior director in 2017, when the center’s role expanded to include the college’s domestic off-campus programs and short-term off-campus programs. Through the years she has traveled abroad extensively, involved with both recruitment of international students and connecting with the college’s international partners.
During the 2001-02 academic year, Otis-De Grau studied at the Torchbearer Bible School in Holysbybrunn, Sweden. In July of 2007 she completed a Master of Arts degree in conflict transformation and peace studies at the School for International Training — a natural progression from her humanitarian aid work in Bosnia and Afghanistan. IES Abroad presented her with its Professional Development Award in 2009.
The title “Last Lecture” is rhetorical. The lectures are not literally presented as the last that the speakers will deliver at Hope, but are meant to highlight the advice that faculty and staff would most want to share if the event was indeed their final opportunity to address the college’s students. The speakers are asked to reflect on their careers and lives, and to think deeply about what matters to them and the wisdom they would like to impart.
The concept was inspired by the “Last Lecture” delivered at Carnegie Mellon University by Dr. Randy Pausch on Sept. 18, 2007. Pausch, a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty who had terminal pancreatic cancer — a fact known at the time that he spoke — presented “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” He died on July 25, 2008, at age 47.
Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community. Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 231 collegiate chapters with more than 250,000 initiated members across the nation.
Hope College’s Dianne Portfleet Alcor chapter has existed since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961. Renamed for former long-time faculty adviser Dr. Dianne Portfleet in May 2016, the chapter has received multiple awards at the Mortar Board National Conference during each of the past several years, including being named the top chapter during the national conference in July 2010. During the conference this past summer, the chapter received a “Golden Torch Award” and five “Project Excellence” awards.
The chapter also sponsored a “last chance talk” during the 1960s, inviting faculty to express their ideas under the hypothetical assumption that this would be the last opportunity to address the student body. The late Dr. D. Ivan Dykstra, professor of philosophy, delivered the first “last chance talk” in the spring of 1962.
The Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center is located at 115 E. 12th St., at the center of the Hope campus between College and Columbia avenues along the former 12th Street. Schaap Auditorium is on the building’s lower level near the southwest corner.