GenX women in higher ed from around the globe

Posts Tagged ‘International’

Beijing April 2009

In Images on 2010/03/25 at 09:00

Meg and I took a business trip to China last spring and I am reminded of it now that it is spring again in Boston. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some photos from our time there. It was magnificent in so many ways and we are both eager to return.

This first set of photos is from our four days in Beijing.  Much of our work there revolved around students, universities, relationship-building, and recruiting. We spent one day sightseeing with our fabulous hosts and colleagues and in that day we went to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

Beijing  – meetings and between meetings. As Meg mentioned in an earlier post, many of our meetings took place around a table of food such as those highlighted in the photo below.

The Great Wall (outside Beijing)

The Forbidden City – Beijing

Mary Churchill and Meg Palladino

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Reimagining Education in Chicago: CIES 2010

In Conference Highlights on 2010/03/10 at 09:00

Last week, I was in Chicago for the 54th annual Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference. If you are not familiar with CIES, the society was founded in 1956 and focuses on the “international study of educational ideas, systems, and practices.” It is a really nice interdisciplinary mix of traditional academics (predominantly social scientists), practitioners in the field, and graduate students from all over the world.

I first became aware of this organization when I hired Michelle Morais de Sa e Silva to teach a course on Comparative Education. Michelle is a Brazilian PhD student at Teachers College at Columbia and she’s fabulous – we are hoping to have her write for University of Venus very soon. She is a bit busy at the moment – she is about to defend her dissertation and she is also the proud mother of a four-month old baby boy! Michelle was a key organizer of last year’s CIES in Charleston, South Carolina and she strongly encouraged me to attend and present. I did and I loved it. It is a fantastic group of academics and practitioners who are passionate about education – from early education (preschool) through post-secondary Ph.D. programs.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Reimagining Education” and rather than paraphrasing, I will include the blurb from the website below:

  • We are living in times of rapid ideological, societal, and economic change where new ways of thinking are likely to emerge that may radically transform the way we design and implement education. The central promise of universal education, to produce a more just and peaceful world, has yet to be realized. Nevertheless much has been achieved. We are constantly developing new ways of knowing and doing. Emerging paradigms allow us to envision a better future.

I attended some really thought-provoking sessions – from large invited lectures and panels with big names in the field to smaller sessions with graduate students providing the highlights from their research. My highlights below:

  • Invited Lecture on “Reimagining Teacher Education

Preparing High Quality Teachers for Everyone’s Children: An International Perspective Kenneth M Zeichner (University of Washington)

The Take-Away: Zeichner focused on four current trends: 1- commodification and corporatization of teacher education; 2- de-funding of public universities; 3- hyper-rational accountability that undermines quality; and 4- attacks on multi-culturalism in teacher education. His thoughts for the future: 1- multiple pathways to teaching are good; 2-writing off college/university-based teacher preparation is a mistake; 3-we need to invest in education schools while promoting innovation

  • Invited Presidential Panel – Global Higher Education Futures: The UNESCO Trend Report

Phillip G Altbach, Boston College

Discussants:

Nelly Stromquist, University of Maryland

Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela, Michigan State University

David P Baker, Pennsylvania State University

The Take-Away: Four amazing presentations. As a trained sociologist, Baker’s presentation spoke most directly to my own background. Baker, paraphrasing Talcott Parsons – The university is at the center of postindustrial society – if this is true, what are the obligations of the university as a public good? Baker also reminded the audience that for the majority of us, our livelihoods exist because of the hopes and dreams of 18-21 year-olds – pretty sobering and grounding.

  • Regular presentations:
    • Engagement of Intercultural Communication and the Relationship of Global Competency on a U.S. University Campus (Florida State University Very nice presentation on the disconnect between intercultural communication and global competency. Evenson’s work focused on interviews with conversation partners at FSU which paired American and international students. She found that international students are pretty eager to make friends with Americans but don’t really know where to begin.
    • US teacher recruitment from the Philippines–Another neoliberal attack on education Rhoda Rae Gutierrez (University of Illinois, Chicago). Great presentation from Gutierrez on the recruitment of teachers from the Philippines to teach in urban areas in the U.S. She spoke to the conflicted position of teachers unions and the negatives and the positives of this financially-driven arrangement.
  • My panel had some fantastic presentations and I was honored to be with the presenters:
    • Panel — Negotiating the Global, the National and the Local in Higher Education
      • Global competence and higher education in the U.S.: Deconstructing the global university. Mary Churchill (Northeastern University)
      • Land-grant extension as a global endeavor: Connecting knowledge and international development.Christopher Collins (UCLA)
      • Professional education and interdisciplinary fields: The role of global “boundary objects” in the emerging open systems of the post-Soviet academe. Anatoly Oleksiyenko (The University of Hong Kong)
      • The global, the national and the local in Mexican’s higher education system: Neo-liberalism penetrating from within. Patricia Gaviria (University of Toronto)

Hope to see you next year in Montreal!

Mary Churchill

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Independence Day

In Vistas from Venus on 2010/03/05 at 09:05

Arriving in a new country on a national holiday could be either wonderful or terrible. On the Fourth of July, the whole city is like a circus: fireworks, parties, parades, music, heat, chaos. It is not for the timid.

One summer, a group of Turkish students came to the University for a special six-week program. It was my job to manage the program that they were attending. I had to set up the courses, hire the instructors, arrange their housing in the dormitory, arrange an airport pick up, provide a welcome orientation, and advise them during their time at the University.

By their choice, the students were arriving on the Fourth of July. The students’ arrival on a national holiday was a planning challenge in many ways. It was more expensive to hire the airport pick up service. University offices were closed, and dormitory check in staff had to be specially arranged. I had long planned to be out of town for the holiday weekend, so I asked a colleague to go to the dorms and meet the students when they arrived on campus. I planned very carefully; I felt confident that everything was prepared for them. I left town for the weekend.

Late in the afternoon on the Fourth, I got a call. “Where did you send the students? Are they at the zoo?” Huh?

I learned that the students had called their parents and said that they heard lions and tigers roaring, and that they were nowhere near the University. Calls were flooding in from upset Turkish parents. The students were scared. I panicked, but there wasn’t much I could do. My supervisor went to investigate.

Indeed, there were tigers!

There was a circus on campus, set up in the parking lot across the street from the dormitory, and the tent blocked the view of the rest of the University. I hadn’t anticipated that.

Managing programs for international students has a unique set of surprises. I didn’t think to check for circuses in my planning, and I am sure that we did not meet students’ expectations when we delivered them to one.

But the students survived. By Monday morning, when I returned to work, the circus was gone, and my brave students were happy. They experienced a wild welcome with anticipation, fun and confusion, similar to our forefathers as they landed at Plymouth. They had a lovely view of campus, a common first adventure on America’s holiday and they were ready to start classes.

Meg Palladino

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When Entering the Village, Obey the Village

In Vistas from Venus on 2010/02/26 at 09:00

Every fall, I teach a course at a Japanese women’s university.  These young women come to the US from their University in Tokyo to study English and American culture.  When I step on to the campus, it is like stepping into a different world.

Each one of the students seems to have the same haircut: long hair with long bangs, a few streaks of lighter blonde breaking up the black.   They are all wearing colorful Crocs on their feet, sweat pants and hoodies.   They are all 19 years old, and they seem to have similar names: Yuka, Yoko, Yuki, Yukari, Yukiko, Yukako, Yuriko, Keiko and Reiko, Mio and Miho.

They appear cheerful, shy and polite.  It takes a long time for their personalities to emerge, and for me to know them without a name tag, or if they change seats in the classroom.

Each student is perfectly punctual, and everyone has done her homework.  They giggle together quietly, or sing songs until I close the door.  A hush descends on the class that is difficult to lift.  For 90 minutes, I talk and they listen. I ask them questions, and I have to fish for answers.  Unless I call on students by name, my questions will be met with silence.  They want to be called on.  They never volunteer to speak.

In this environment, my usual casual, communicative teaching style doesn’t work.  If I ask the students to work in groups, they speak Japanese.  If we try to have a conversation, it consists of me asking questions, and them answering the questions.  I become a lecturing, drill and kill, round-robin instructor.  I feel like I am doing a terrible job, and not connecting with my students at all.

But at the end of the semester, they are sad that the class is over. I finally know their names, and I know that Yuka has a pet turtle and Yoko likes snowboarding; Reiko loves reading, while Keiko is a fantastic singer.  They know about my family, how I spent my weekends, and the last movie I saw in the theater.  We have a party with cake, and everyone takes pictures.  The students cry, and tell me how much they loved my class.  I get high evaluations on my teaching, and I realize that I am going to miss them.

To teach is also to learn.  Even though we are in America, I am in their territory.  I am the Outsider.   I need to change to meet their expectations, or I will not be successful here. Teaching these students has taught me to dig a little deeper and look for more subtle differences than those that I would find in my other classrooms.

Meg Palladino

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