My recent experiences as International Higher Education Coordinator for the Global Education Collaborative and participation in the Bahrain Global Education Conference have left me with one conclusion.
We don’t need more international education programs. We need all education focused on international needs, goals, connections, collaboration and understanding.
One way to facilitate that is face-to-face interaction between multi-cultured international students. Key priorities, policies and practices are intertwined.
Students need to see each other for who they are and get to know and celebrate commonalities rather than differences. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen by just putting them in the same room or on the same campus.
The most successful programs I have seen put students into international collaborative teams focused on solving common problems. One of those initiatives is the Humphrey Journalism Fellowship program here at Cronkite which brings mid career professional journalists from many countries here to study, collaborate, communicate, create and develop international relationships within a specific community.
In short we learn from each other.
Recently I spent several months leading a “professional learning community” as we explored citizen journalism. The students and teachers were all in Kyrgyzstan. I was in Phoenix.
During this time violent ethnic unrest erupted in the country. My participants were from both sides of the conflict.
As we explored reasons and solutions we began to understand and learn from our shared experiences. I’m not sure we solved anything but our uninformed fear and distrust of each other disappeared as we learned about each other.
So, my priorities would be connect, collaborate, communicate and create. My practice would be to do anything in my power to provide an environment that facilitates connection, collaboration and creative work. My policies would be to question everything and modify anything that impedes connection, collaboration and creativity.