I used to live abroad and so I know how much those experiences revolutionized my thinking about the world. I want that to be the same for my students. Currently, I am on a leave of absence from teaching at MU so that I can teach abroad again and introduce my own kids to the thrill of learning in a new culture. As a teacher educator, I hope this experience will shape me in new ways as I am experiencing what my teachers in training will be.
So far, I have directed the Middle School play, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, have chaperoned 6th grade students on a three-day service/cultural learning trip to Lake Nakuru, and started a men’s book club, a middle school Philosopher’s Club, and a men’s Bible study. This is on top of teaching middle school Social Studies and high school English.
I have learned to see time in a new way. Time goes at a different pace here in Africa and I am learning patience when events do not start on time and getting almost anything done here takes longer than I am used to. I have also been learning the different ways my students from different cultures learn, what they value, and how they relate to each other. It’s amazing how different it can be and how important it is to laugh at myself when I don’t quite get it right.
Global education is important because it helps remove one’s misconceptions of different cultures and teaches one to be more flexible and forgiving when your ideas of what is the right way to do things is upended. It’s a valuable way to have a deeper understanding of the world. Any faculty or staff should consider getting involved with Global Education as it helps to dust off the cobwebs of their teaching and can even invigorate it! They and their students will never be the same again after these kinds of international experiences.
I hope more MU faculty and students will take the plunge to learn and to teach abroad, especially in more challenging locations as it could be a vital part of their growth and development as individuals. I especially encourage teachers to go for an extended time with their families. I will find it hard to leave Kenya as my children are thriving in ways I did not imagine would be possible.
I am from Jamaica. I came to Millersville for work opportunity (Director of Global Education). Prior to that, I spent 16 years living and working in Michigan.
I initially came to the United States to pursue an Engineering degree, but quickly fell in love with higher education and the desire to assist in easing the path for fellow international students that would come after me. After graduation, I was offered the opportunity to lead the planning and building of a newly formed International Center, and felt privilege to be a part of that up until 2016 when I came to MU.
I have been in the U.S. a long time, but I would say that the concept of “time is money” and personal space was something that I learned about early on… sometimes I still struggle to not fall into an island rhythm of doing things.
I think that as a country, Jamaica was born out of the struggle and pain of slavery. As a people, we are proud of our heritage and the impact that our small island nation has on the world culturally, especially regarding food, music and dance. My favorite Jamaican saying is “wi likkle, but we tallawah” which means “we are small, but mighty.” We leave an impression anywhere we go. I am an Ambassador to Jamaica for those who will never visit my home country, or have never met my fellow citizen.
When I was an undergraduate student I was undecided and I took a general education class on Chinese history. The professor was the advisor for the Asian Studies Majors and he convinced me to declare based on my interest in the class. This turned into me studying Japanese, studying abroad in Japan and China, teaching in South Korea after graduation, and then led me to work in International Education following my graduation from graduate school.
One of my favorite projects to work on is the CHEPD 1+2+1 program. The Sino-American Cooperation on Higher Education and Professional Development 1+2+1 program is a dual degree program. CHEPD is run by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Center for International Educational Exchange (CCIEE) under the Ministry of Education in China. As part of this program, I work with a consortium of 100+ Chinese universities and 25 US universities to offer programming and opportunities for faculty and staff exchange. I’ve been working with this particular institutional partner for three years and I have made many friendships around the world related to this one program.
I learned that a group of people who are passionate about international exchange can create amazing programs in a few short years when universities and organizations pool their resources. Learning from the AASCU and CCIEE representatives gives the coordinators like myself a look into how global politics play a role in micro level exchanges.
There are thousands of international companies in Pennsylvania and even more, with our short distance to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York City, our students have opportunities to work with a lot of international companies, businesses, consulates, etc. that students must gain global skills to be competitive with their peers for these careers. Our faculty and staff on campus must also teach these skills because of this demand on increasing international and global positions.
I went to university with a lot of students that were not able to do an international experience while they were a student and spent years talking about how they regretted it. DO NOT let opportunities pass you by. Even after graduation, I had opportunities to work abroad which led me to where I am now. Go for it!