Category Archives: Faculty

Stories from international and globally engaged faculty.

Dr. Jason Petula – Global Interest

Image above: Most unique trip – South Pole, Antarctica

First trip with students – Ix Chel Farm, Belize

Early in my teaching career, I made a bold decision.  I took my life savings – three figures at the time – and purchased a one-way ticket to Peru, with the plan to travel home by land.   The adventure fundamentally changed my identity and I learned more in those 8 weeks than my entire formal education.  So profound was the experience, I vowed I would try and create opportunities for others to experience authentic travel.  When the new school year started, I founded a non-profit. The next summer I led my first group of middle school students on an environmental education trip to Belize and Guatemala.  It gave me great joy to see the students develop global competencies from the trip, such as inquisitiveness, social flexibility, and self-confidence.  I think exploring the world made me a better teacher, as I could provide students first-hand experiences, rather than learning from a textbook.

First MU course taught abroad – Stockholm, Sweden

A wonderful collaboration between Millersville University and Internationella Engleska Skolan (IES) has expanded over the years.  IES is a school system in Sweden that provides students English immersion and an American style education.  The partnership started when alumna Nicole Doty – an IES teacher – came to campus for a recruiting trip several years ago.  Nicole’s visit resulted in an invitation to my department, and our students, to visit her school in Stockholm, to consider what was possible.   The school visit was amazing – thanks to my colleagues Dr. Powers for making the trip a reality and Dr. Neuville for introducing me to the school’s administrators. This past January, I returned to IES with Millersville University education majors to complete the capstone course of their Integrated STEM Education Methods (ISEM) minor.  Essentially, the ISEM students designed two units of instruction and then had the opportunity to teach the units to 4th and 5th grade students.  In a sense, the study abroad trip to Sweden is an opportunity for our students to consider working abroad, as IES comes to our campus every spring recruiting teachers for their schools, which are expanding across Sweden and into Spain and England.  This upcoming January, another cohort of Millersville University students will travel to Stockholm to complete their ISEM minor.  The next phase of the collaboration is to offer student teaching as an option in IES schools.  The project is special to me because it reveals how multiple stakeholders can collaborate to create a program that adds value to our students’ university experience.

Playing Kubb (aka Viking Chess or Skulls & Femurs) as a team building activity

The Internationella Engleska Skolan (IES) Project and associated study abroad programs is similar to growing grapes.  Serious gardeners do not plant seeds in the ground and expect amazing yields.  Instead, they first work the soil.  Then, the seeds are planted, pruned, and prevented from fruiting for a few years; this is so the plant’s energy is devoted to the development of strong roots.  Only years later are grapes ready for harvesting. The IES project is flourishing because of the faculty from the Early, Middle, and Exceptional Education Department and support from the Office of International Programs & Services.

The logo for the Imagine the Possible campaign captures the very spirit of the Office of International Programs & Services: Together – Image the Possible.  Last spring I was struggling to find a way for students to join me at a conference in Europe.  A student walked by and inquired about the conference, which was an international gathering of polar scientists and educators.  The student returned the next day with three other students.  They wanted to go, but the cost of attending was prohibitively expensive.  Together, we connected with the team at the Office of International Programs & Services and they helped us make it possible.  The students hit an absolute grand slam with their presentation at the conference.  The compliments from attendees were so remarkable I wrote them down: These are college students, not professional teachers?  Are all teacher candidates at your university like this [great]?  My response to the last question was, “Yes.  What you see here at this conference is my entire university.  It is a university of excellence and its greatest resources are the people – students, staff, and faculty.”  Then, the President of Polar Educators International (PEI) invited the students to present at their conference next year at Cambridge University.

Millersville University students presenting at the POLAR2018 Conference – Davos, Swittzerland    

The world is rapidly changing.  Millersville University graduates are no longer competing for jobs with graduates from neighboring universities.  Our alumni are competing against the world.  The Office of International Programs & Services can facilitate students engaging with high impact practices; i.e., global studies, capstone course and projects, internships, etc.  I personally am happy to help anyone interested in study abroad or internationalizing their curricula.  Give me a call – together we can imagine the possible.

Dr. Tim Shea – Kenya

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Patriece – Global Interest

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Christina – Global Interest

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.

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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.

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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!