FHSU instructor, class advocate for refugees through marathon race in China

Jared Nielsen

HAYS, Kan. -- Jared Nielsen, Fort Hays State University instructor of leadership studies at Sias International University in Zhengzhou, China, recently ran in the ZhengKai International Marathon to raise money for and awareness of the international refugee crisis.

Nielsen ran the nearly 26-mile race in just under 4 hours while pushing his 21-month-old son, Andrew, in a stroller. The race started in Zhengzhou and ended in Kaifeng.

Nielsen taught four sections of the LDRS 310: Fieldwork in Leadership Studies course in the Department of Leadership Studies last fall. Students in the course exemplify leadership by planning, organizing and carrying-out a service learning project that will bring positive change to their community in a global or local context.

"We found that many people are not familiar with the refugee crisis or that people wrongly associate refugees with immigrants," said Nielsen. "I was able to present our plan to the students in my LDRS 310 course and show them that I believed in what I was teaching."

Nearly $3,000 was raised during the campaign for a U.S. faith-based community organization, Go to Every Nation (GoTEN), which provides assistance to refugees who are able to resettle in the United States. Nielsen estimated that the campaign has reached more than 3,000 individuals through class presentations, email, mail, events, social media and a recent article published by the media team of the ZhengKai marathon. More than 100 people participated by donating to the campaign that started in December 2016.

"The best aspect of the campaign was our student team, which was comprised of 13 FHSU students, six of the students being from the Leadership Studies Department," said Nielsen.

After getting back to Sias, a student told Nielsen, "Today you made me really understand what leadership is; there are so many theories of leadership, and no one is the best."

The student continued, "The best leadership is within the whole team to achieve the goal of the process."

"The students not only helped us raise the $3,000, but also managed the transportation, support and logistics on the race day. I am very proud of the work they have put in," said Nielsen.

For more information or to donate, visit http://run4refugees.org/campaigns/zhengkai-marathon/.

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