Value of IFDS & Testimonials
Below are testimonials written by participants after their seminar experience. If you would like to speak with someone who has participated on one of our faculty seminars, contact email@example.com .
Post-War Development and Reconciliation in Cambodia and Vietnam
I decided to apply for this particular IFDS seminar for a variety of reasons. My interest in IFDS seminars rests primarily on the opportunity to study and explore “non-western” areas of the world from an academic and personal experience perspective. Specifically, my chosen seminar relates to several areas of teaching and course creation interest, especially since my weakest areas of scholarship are Asia and Southeast Asia. This year I participated in the Vietnam/Cambodia experience.
My objectives for participation in the program centered on experiencing firsthand many of the issues I teach my students about involving the state of Southeast Asia and American history, presence, and influence there. Although I have studied the region “from the outside in,” I had little understanding of society, economy, politics, and culture from inside these countries. My overall objective was to gain different perspectives on issues involving Vietnam and Cambodia and their position in the world today. Through this experience, that’s exactly what I did. Additionally, I am in the process of developing world history curriculum and my experiences with CIEE have greatly contributed to my curriculum content. Rather than covering events in minute detail, these classes look at larger social, political, economic, and cultural issues in an effort to illuminate the varied realities of peoples world-wide. Additionally, as I mentioned, I am including a great deal of this experience in my classes on Modern American History, which brings a perspective to an American history class that is often missing; the perspective of the “Others,” the ones on the other end of American events, a necessary element for outstanding American history education. Finally, I am conducting a 6 part series that includes three student focused lectures and 3 faculty/staff seminar experiences. A surprising development has been the personal requests for lectures, seminars, and brown-bag experiences outside of my series from departments and divisions across campus. Vietnam and Cambodia are more enticing to my colleagues than I imagined and I believe, based on my presentations, you may have more applicants from our community college!
There are several ways I feel my participation in this CIEE seminar is benefiting myself, my colleagues, my campus, and my students. Our institution is part of a community college district serving two individual colleges. Our campus, Spokane Community College, is generally perceived as the vocational, technical, professional half of the district. Seventy percent of the programs on our campus are vocational/technical, but hidden percentages tell the most about our constituency. Over sixty percent of our students are registered in A.A. degree programs that are part of articulation agreements with local 4-year institutions. That means approximately 5500 students at our college expect to continue their education through to a two year degree and possibly transfer to a larger university. Because of the historical perception of SCC as vocational/technical, however, we often sit in the shadows of our district when it comes to international exchanges, study abroad programs, and on-campus activities. While in Cambodia, I was “struck” with inspiration and have recently begun the creation of alternative Winter, Spring, and Summer breaks for our student body. Our students, because of their majors and often their personal situations, do not expect to leave the country. 10 weeks or more in a European country in a traditional study abroad program does not appeal to our largely non-traditional population; they simply can’t do it, financially or physically, because of life situations. One or two weeks, however, spent in a developing area helping those that need it most is something I believe our students can wrap their minds around. Less time and money commitment helps, but with such a significant vocational, professional, technical student population, our possibilities are broader than more traditional institutions. My college, as well as the city of Spokane, is getting on the bandwagon for this project, and it was all inspired by a visit to Handicapped International in Siem Reap.
Only recently has SCC been able to support faculty in international travel experiences and most of these have been based on participation and presentation at international conferences. Based on growing positive campus experiences, I hope to continue our burgeoning trend of international activities on the world educational stage. My contributions resulting from this seminar are a new and unique facet to our campus activities. Specifically, although faculty members benefit greatly from conference experience, the short time periods and limited focus of conference interaction result in a limited benefit upon the return home. Conference participation allows us to share paper and presentation experiences with colleagues and enhance our classroom teaching, but fails to provide the kind of immersion and in-depth study offered by IFDS programs.
Another beneficial facet of this experience has been the “networking” connections I made with faculty across the US and internationally. Living, traveling, and learning with other scholars interested in the same issues fostered relationships that can benefit every participant long after the end of the seminar. I am still in contact with at least half of my seminar group and our Cambodian facilitator, as well. The information I have received from these new friends has been invaluable to me personally and professionally.
As mentioned above, SCC’s administration is very supportive of faculty efforts to broaden the campus perspective in relation to international issues. The mostly immediately affective element is the series I am currently offering. In speaking with our division dean about this opportunity, a plan for a seminar series emerged that would culminate in a panel discussion, all based entirely off of my seminar participation. During this Fall quarter, I am organizing and executing several seminar experiences for faculty and students that involve prior readings, interactive activities, and lecture experiences all based on the knowledge gained during my trip. There will be a panel discussion finale that presents Vietnam and Cambodia today in light of Western historical and current presence and relationship. I believe it is possible to come to a more complete understanding of what Western and American presence in other regions means both for the “hosting” region and for the US from both positive and negative perspectives. Our campus was the lucky recipient of a major NEH Challenge Grant that, along with matching funds, allowed us to create a Center for the Humanities that gives us a unique venue for campus activities and large-scale programming. We were the only community college in the country to receive an NEH Challenge Grant of this size and as a result, SCC has a Center unlike any other in the region. Combined with SCC’s resources, the long-terms benefits from this seminar participation are great and as one of the lucky few on our campus to have this opportunity, I hope to inspire colleagues to seek these experiences themselves, continuing our campus’ growth as a cutting-edge globally-focused educational environment. Thank you for your indispensable help in achieving this goal.
Chile & Argentina: Economic Reform, Regional Integration, and Democratization
Community College of Aurora, Colorado
Globalizing Faculty: The Paramount Approach to Globalize Students
Late at night one winter evening last year, I sat on my couch with a cup of hot tea, dog by my side, soft light, music in the background and my Spanish textbook. As is customary for me, I relaxed browsing the textbook used in my Spanish course, pondering how to approach certain topics. Given the thrust to teach culture as prompted by one of the infamous “five C’s” from the National Standards for Foreign Language Education, I had come to embrace a section of the textbook that offered short explanations of cultural significance for various Spanish-speaking countries. During the term of the course, I had attempted to infuse the curriculum with bits and pieces of culture: the quinceañera tradition in Mexico, guayaberas worn in Cuba, paella and gazpacho as hallmarks of Spanish cuisine, and what I came across that fateful evening: mate yerba, the traditional drink of Argentina.
I wondered what mate yerba might taste like, having never tried it. I wondered what Argentina might be like, having never visited it. As in the tradition of many foreign language educators, I found a picture of mate on-line and copied it for my class. Later that week, I passed out the picture and students, using a cooperative learning activity, read the short passage about mate in groups. Given my fundamental lack of knowledge about Argentina in general and mate in particular, I used the target language passage more as a means to practice oral proficiency than to discuss mate or the culture of Argentina. Similar to how we suggest that our students use the strategy of circumlocution when they struggle to find all the words they need to express themselves, I had done the same. I had taken a rich, cultural topic and simplified its complexities due to my lack of knowledge. I felt like a fraud.
Ironically, within a week or so of that experience, the college I work for suggested that faculty apply for an International Faculty Development Seminar (IFDS). The seminars, specialized for faculty by the non-profit organization Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), are offered only once a year. In general, they are organized as two to three week intensive, specialized, hands on experiences that focus on a particular theme related to a particular place in the world via a combination of lectures by world renowned academics and professionals along with field experiences. Should I be selected, my institution would provide funding that would allow me to participate.
A few days later, I decided to peruse CIEE’s options and found that, if selected, I could travel far and away. I pondered traveling to Uganda to study interdisciplinary approaches to public health or post-war development in Cambodia and Vietnam. What about new business economies in India, traveling to France to discuss Muslim communities in contemporary Europe or revolution and neo-liberal reform in Nicaragua? The choices were limitless…and then I saw it: “Economic Reform, Regional Integration and Democratization in ARGENTINA and Chile.” I immediately applied.
The thrust of my school was clear and evidenced by our new school-wide maxim: “Life-long learning in a global community.” Virtually every faculty meeting during the past year somehow included a discussion on how to “globalize” our curriculum. While the term “globalization” could be analyzed relentlessly, faculty and administration at our institution recognized that, in its most simple form, the term suggests making global or worldwide. Certainly, broadening curriculum to account for global realities and, as a result, “globalizing” our students, is not limited to my home institution. One need look no further than the recent passing in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act that will greatly augment the number of American students studying abroad. According to Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, promoting study-abroad programs will “help provide the next generation of Americans a deeper understanding of the cultures and histories of other nations” (McMurtrie and Bollag 2007). The passing of the Study Abroad Foundation Act aims to provide better resources to allow students who want to pursue study-abroad the opportunity to do so and, as a consequence, serves as a means to globalize American students.
We need look no further than the community college for which I work to see that students do want these types of experiences. Before investing resources in developing an immersion program for our students, the World Languages Department proctored an anonymous survey posing the question about whether students would be interested in participating in an international experience. Given the exceptionally demanding and chaotic lives of community college students, most of whom work full-time and have a family, a better understanding of whether or not to even consider planning a program that would take students out of the country for two weeks to a month was essential. Of the 60 beginning Spanish students surveyed, 55, or 92%, enthusiastically responded that they would be highly interested in participating.
Government, students and faculty are not the only populations vested in globalization efforts. Non-profit organizations, such as CIEE, have seen a dramatic increase in studies on the relationship between study abroad and the globalization of students. As researchers Vande Berg, Paige and Deardorff comment, “…studies of student learning abroad date back at least as far as the 1950’s [however] interest in that research has grown at an extraordinary rate since the mid-1990’s” (13). In addition, CIEE’s noted international conference includes an array of sessions such as “Moving People, Changing Mindsets: Building Intercultural Competence Through Study Abroad” and “Like Diamonds, Study Abroad is Forever”; all of which allude to the impetus of CIEE and other likeminded organizations to globalize curriculum and students (Council on International Educational Exchange 6, 8).
Yet, one piece seems missing, particularly for the foreign language instructor: globalizing faculty. In order to globalize our curriculum and our students, we need to first globalize ourselves. In the 21st century, language educators are required to teach much more than language. We teach study skills (“How do I memorize all of that vocabulary?”), academic skills (“I never even learned what an adverb was in English.”), semantic skills (“Let’s use the informal pronoun to address her in this case.”), life skills (“Yes, tardies count; punctuality is a part of life beyond this classroom.”) and a plethora of other skill sets. One additional component to our teaching that has recently reached heightened awareness and vanguard is the teaching of culture. Without directly experiencing the culture(s) of the language we teach, how can we effectively teach it? How can we expect our curriculum and our students to become more global if we are not? Quite simply, we cannot.
I had to drink mate to be able to describe it to my students in a way they would remember and in a way that would entice them to try it for themselves. I had to live Argentina firsthand before I could attempt to take an artificial setting, such as a foreign language classroom, and replicate a cultural nuance the vast majority of students were most likely not familiar with. I had to experience Argentina’s customs and traditions myself to avoid taking a cultural reading from the textbook and converting it to a pronunciation lesson, or even skipping over it entirely, due to my lack of familiarity. In essence, I had to globalize myself. Only then could I seriously attempt to do the same with my students. Consequently, globalizing faculty is a prerequisite to globalizing students and curriculum.
I have since returned from my life-changing seminar to Chile and Argentina. I drank mate each and every opportunity I had. Above and beyond the many cups of mate I consumed, I learned more about Chilean and Argentine history, customs, politics, economics, linguistics, and culture than I could have ever imagined in a two and a half week time span. Just to name a few highlights:
- Mate in a traditional Argentine café where internationally recognized Jorge Luis Borges wrote some of his masterpieces surrounded by the sounds of the enchanting dialect of Buenos Aires.
- Descending a dark industrial elevator hundreds of feet down and three miles deep into a mountain in the Andes at the largest and oldest active copper mine in the world.
- Listening intently to every word of an intimate lecture by Judge Juan Guzmán, who indicted former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, for human rights abuses under the Chilean military dictatorship.
- Sitting in a room at the headquarters of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo as one mother described the disappearance of her son some thirty years ago in the middle of the night and her group’s unprecedented efforts to find the estimated 30,000 who disappeared alongside her son.
- Visiting a former clandestine detention facility in Santiago, Chile where former medical student and inmate, Pedro Matta, described in detail the horrific torture he endured for months prior to be exiled for over a decade.
- Dancing the night away to a local Chilean folk singer while drinking pisco and eating local favorites.
- Strolling the jam-packed streets of Buenos Aires on an architectural tour that connected the city’s regal architecture of the past with its economically troubled present.
- Walking the hallways of Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda’s home named La Chascona and witnessing his eccentric, creative mind through his remarkable former residence.
- Exploring one of Buenos Aires many dismal, stray-dog infested shantytowns inhabited by many former middle-class, educated citizens who lost everything in the economic crash of 2001.
- In contrast with my pre-departure knowledge, I could now teach an entire seminar about Chile and Argentina. While I acknowledge that after a two-week stay, I am far from an expert, in contrast with my familiarity prior to the seminar, I am infinitely more globalized. As a result, I am substantially more qualified in our national endeavor to globalize curriculum and students. Indeed, the current problem I envision is quite contrary to my prior dilemma: to infuse each lesson with culture without neglecting the primary goal of my courses: second language acquisition. In conclusion, globalizing faculty promotes global students. If faculty are not globalized, how can we teach students from a global perspective? Faculty, in particular foreign language faculty whose daily work is global in nature, require these experiences to teach culture, bring classrooms to life and inspire our students to globalize their own lives outside of our classes.
Vande Berg, Michael, Michael Paige, and Darla Deardorff. “The Research Results Are In: Now What Do We Do With Them.” Rpt. in Challenging Assumptions: Evaluating Study Abroad’s Past, Fashioning Its Future. Council on International Educational Exchange. Maine: 2007. 13.
Council on International Educational Exchange. Challenging Assumptions: Evaluating Study Abroad’s Past, Fashioning Its Future. Maine: 2007. 6, 8.
McMurtrie, Beth and Burton Bollag. “U.S. House Votes to Help Colleges Expand Study-Abroad Efforts.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 6 June 2007.
Chile & Argentina: Economic Reform, Regional Integration, and Democratization
Professor of English
Illinois Wesleyan University
I realize this may sound extreme, but it’s a sentiment several people in the seminar in Chile and Argentina expressed: it was truly life changing. I find myself describing it in that way to colleagues and friends, and several others from the seminar shared that same perspective when we e-mailed one another in the weeks after our return to the U.S. As I try to account for what was so compelling, I have to say that the opportunity to meet with so many principal players in the dramas of both countries as they’ve made the transition from dictatorship to democracy was amazing and profoundly moving: from Juan Guzmán, Pedro Matta, and José Zalaquett in Chile, to the Madres and Abuelas of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. Even our translator in Argentina, human rights activist Patrick Rice, has a personal history that is as shocking as it is profoundly moving, and I say this as a person who has spent time in other countries in South America and who brought to the seminar at least some knowledge of the atrocities suffered by the people of Chile and Argentina during these horrifying times in their recent past. When I tell colleagues that we visited Villa Grimaldi and ESMA, they are stunned, and when I describe to them some of the efforts being made by community activists in places like barrio Los Piletones, they are impressed by the innovative strategies and the tenacity with which the lawyers and volunteers working with local groups have been able to improve living conditions. That we had access to such important persons and places is a privilege I am still processing and will probably continue to do so for a long time to come.
In the meantime, however, I am doing all I can to advance awareness of international studies and travel among my colleagues and students at Illinois Wesleyan, with a particular focus on CIEE programs.
- My trip was featured in IWU’s International Office newsletter for August/September.
- On September 17, the director of our International Office, Stacey Shimizu, and I made an hour-long presentation about CIEE programs and about my trip to encourage other faculty members to participate in them. Approximately 20 of our colleagues attended. (We were the first of the series, so attendance was a bit thin. We knew that would be the trade-off, but we wanted to make the presentation as early in the semester as possible so that those interested would still have ample time in which to apply for faculty development funds to support such a trip.)
- On November 16, I will make a formal presentation to the entire faculty and interested students in our “Faculty Colloquium” Series on the work completed and on the work still in progress that is associated with my project. I should note that faculty members compete for one of the four spots in this annual series, so it was an honor to have been selected, and it was a measure of Illinois Wesleyan’s commitment to foregrounding international faculty development opportunities. I’ll be talking about Isabel Allende’s short story, “The Road North,” situating my analysis of it in terms of my traditional scholarship and in terms of the personal circumstances that led me to the project (and to Chile and Argentina with CIEE!). I’ll be encouraging others to risk going beyond their usual comfort zones intellectually and personally to take on such endeavors. I am currently in discussions with the Director of our School of Theatre Arts to see if I can also include in my presentation a 10 – 15 minute staging of a portion of the play I am writing as a result of the seminar. That I can even type the words, “the play I am writing” is—not incidentally—extraordinary! I’ve never done such a thing before, and it’s been a consuming passion since my return. Not only was the seminar itself a powerful force in compelling me to try this; one of the other seminar participants was especially encouraging. I don’t know if I’d have had the nerve without that gentle nudge from a fellow traveler!
- I have been in touch with Margaret Novy and Emily Hipchen, who are organizing a conference at the University of Pittsburgh in mid-October concerning adoption studies. While I am unable to attend the conference this year, I’ll be submitting my article to them for consideration for publication in the special annual they will be editing. I also plan to submit my play when it’s completed for possible production as a part of the conference next year. It draws particular attention to the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo.
- Next semester in the English 170 course, “The Short Story,” which I teach at least once a year, I will include “The Road North,” and I will be able to bring to my students a much fuller appreciation for the historical context in which it occurs.
- I have spoken with our president’s special assistant and with colleagues in our Latin America Area Studies Program to lay the groundwork to invite José Zalaquett to Illinois Wesleyan for a lecture on his work as part of Chile’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
In short, I have been re-energized intellectually and personally as a direct result of the CIEE Seminar—an experience I could not have had without the support of the Ping Foundation. I will continue to make every effort to advance the cause of study abroad among our students and to encourage faculty development among colleagues.
Thank you again for your support of my work.
Ghana Today: The Challenges of a Developing Nation
Department of Political Science
Truman State University
First, let me thank CIEE and the Ping Fellowship review committee for the wonderful opportunity to travel to Ghana and participate in the IFDS “Ghana Today: The Challenges of a Developing Nation.” The Ping Fellowship’s support made it possible for me to participate, as my university’s ability to fund this type of travel is extremely limited. I am grateful to have received this support and thank the Ping Fellowship review committee for awarding me this fellowship.
The seminar was a tremendously valuable experience, not in the least because of the expertise and experienced expert leadership provided by Dr. Michael Williams. The program of lectures and site visits he put together seamlessly combined highly informative lectures with opportunities to observe and experience Ghanaian politics and society. The seminar provided a stimulating experience that has motivated me to continue to read and learn about Ghana. I will be looking for ways to return to this beautiful and thriving West African country for further study. The opportunity to visit Ghana during the year of its 50th anniversary of sovereign (postcolonial) statehood made the experience all the more meaningful.
As a result of my personal very positive experience, I have suggested to colleagues that they apply for CIEE seminars and pointed them to opportunities that, in my judgment, connect well with their areas of interest and expertise. In addition, I have always been a strong advocate for study abroad programs, but can now speak more knowledgeably about study abroad in Ghana.
Impact on courses
The political science curriculum at Truman State University is structured and sequenced. Students complete seven required courses in a recommended sequence. This leaves only four electives. This structured and sequenced curriculum has many advantages for student learning, but also entails that it makes more sense to enhance existing courses rather than to design new ones.
Two of the courses I teach annually are part of the sequence (the Introduction to Political Science and the Introduction to International Relations). Both of these courses reap the benefits of my participation in the seminar. In addition, one of my elective courses, entitled “Women, Gender, and Politics,” has benefited. This last course is cross-listed with the Women’s Studies Minor. What follows is an outline of the teaching materials I have developed, or am still in the process of developing, for each of these courses. Although there is some overlap between the materials for the different courses, each has its own emphasis and is placed within the context of the syllabus of the specific course.
Introduction to International Relations: I am currently teaching this course and have incorporated my experiences in Ghana into the material taught thus far. There are additional modifications to the course I am in the process of implementing.
Most introductory treatments of international relations include a discussion of the history of the international state system. The course I teach is no different. As a result of my participation in the IFDS “Ghana Today,” however, I have been able to include more tangible information about one specific example of a country that experienced colonialism. Ghana’s landscape includes tangible evidence of both the first and second wave of imperialism, the seminar’s suggested readings included an insightful historical treatment of Ghana’s experience with European colonialism, and the lectures also provided ample material that helped me teach this segment of the course in a much more appealing (and less theoretical) way. I now can point to landmarks and historic events, and I also have better knowledge of the degree to which the struggle against colonialism persisted throughout the entire period of colonization. In short, I have been able to enhance this segment of the course with tangible details from Ghana’s history.
I am still working on integrating material from the seminar into the course segments on globalization, the world economy, and the challenges of development. I have ample theoretical material, but my participation in the seminar permits me to incorporate information on, and examples from, the specific case of Ghana. My goal here is to bring the subject matter to life on the basis of a combination of what I learnt from lectures and reading, as well as personal observation during the seminar’s excursions.
Introduction to Political Science: I will teach this course during the Spring semester. Most modifications to this course are currently still in the planning stages. One segment of the course concerns globalization. I teach this with a specific emphasis on the North-South dimensions of globalization. Ghana’s economy and its position in the global economy will serve as the case study used to illustrate the concepts.
Another segment of the course examines the challenges of development within the context of globalization. Ghana will serve as the core case study. The focus will be on domestic aspects of economic development, with attention to social and cultural changes that accompany development, as well as the challenges of democratization. I have a wealth of notes and additional readings from which to draw, as well as pictures I plan to share with my students.
Women, Gender, and Politics: I am currently teaching this course and have incorporated elements into this course that result directly from my experiences in Ghana.
In discussing the challenges faced by women in developing countries, I have drawn upon both lectures and site visits to enhance this course. The lecture by Dr. Okosua-Darkwah was especially relevant for my purposes here. I am in the process of reading some of the materials she suggested and will continue to make further enhancements to this course. In addition, the site visit to the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE) and the visit to the market in Kumasi provided experiences that have given me tangible examples to use in class discussions.
Finally, I enhance each course’s lectures with visual materials in the form of pictures I took while in Ghana. Most of my students have not traveled much. It is rare to find a student who has traveled to a developing country. I have found that pictures in books have much less impact than presentation in which I use pictures I took myself and about which I can tell personal stories.
Impact on Research
My past research has focused on development cooperation from the perspective of aid donors. Part of my reason for participating in the seminar in Ghana was that it offered an opportunity to learn more about development, as well as the relationship between aid donors and recipients, from the perspective of a recipient country. The seminar has encouraged me to think in new ways about the role of development cooperation (and aid) in the achievement of development objectives.
I am delving into a new literature to further develop my ideas and hope to eventually publish work that focuses on development issues from the perspective of developing countries and various constituencies within those countries. I am specifically interested in the role of women in development and in the impact development has on women’s lives and gender roles. The seminar has permitted me to delve into this subject matter and to begin to formulate research questions that seem more relevant to real-world problems than the questions I might have pursued without the benefit of the learning I was able to accomplish during the seminar.
As I indicated above, the Ping Fellowship provided important support for my participation in the IFDS “Ghana Today.” The experience was immensely valuable for me personally and will continue to have an impact on the lives of the students passing through my classrooms: I have made improvements to segments of my classes and have planned specific additional improvements, as detailed above.
I do wish to note that the impact of this experience is not limited to these specific examples. I continue to develop further knowledge not just about Ghana, but also about other developing countries. In the future, I hope to have the opportunity to participate in additional CIEE seminars and enhance my teaching and research even more substantially. I am grateful to have received the support of the Ping Fellowship and thank the review committee for awarding me this fellowship.
Ghana Today: Challenges of a Developing Nation
Sandra L. Sprayberry, Ph.D.
Robert Luckie Professor of English
Going into the CIEE Seminar “Ghana Today: Challenges of a Developing Nation,” I hoped to accomplish three goals: (1) to gain some knowledge about a West African country and culture so that I could begin comparative analysis with what I already know about south African countries and cultures (2) to incorporate what I would learn about Ghana into two courses I teach—Plural America and Introduction to Human Rights—and (3) to explore postcolonial issues related to my upcoming sabbatical project—a comparative analysis of postcolonial issues in African, Irish, and American Indian literature. I also hoped to explore the possibilities of taking a group of students for a travel-study experience in Ghana.
Although I was originally awarded a Ping for the seminar in Senegal and although goal 3 would perhaps have been more clearly related to the Senegal seminar, which was going to be led by an expert in my area of academic focus, I still accomplished the goal relatively well. At my request, and outside of the parameters of the seminar, Dr. Michael Williams, our seminar leader, organized a meeting between the literature faculty in the seminar and Dr. Edward Sackey, a literature professor at the University of Ghana. At that meeting, we discussed postcolonial issues in African literature and also possibilities for faculty exchange among Ghanaian and American literature faculty. I plan to explore both of these issues as I begin my sabbatical preparations. While in Ghana, I also bought some books that will help me with my sabbatical research. The text Understanding Post-colonial Identities: Ireland, Africa, and the Pacific (ed. Dele Layiwola, 2001), which I have begun reading, is promising in that regard. My sabbatical plans are coming to a clearer focus thanks to my seminar participation.
I learned a good deal of basic information about Ghanaian history, economics, politics, health, and culture that will be indispensable to my expansion of my Introduction to Human Rights course, which I will teach again in the spring of 2008. For my Plural America course, which I will also teach in the spring of ’08, I learned some information that I will definitely incorporate into the course study of the slave trade. Experientially, our seminar tour of Elmina Castle was invaluable. Even given my limitations as a white person in the 21st century, I have an added emotional dimension to my knowledge.
I also established some important contacts for a possible travel-study course in Ghana. I had a meeting to discuss my ideas with the CIEE resident director in Ghana, Mr. Kwasi Gyasi-Gyamerah, and also with the seminar leader, Dr. Williams. Because our college has a long history of service-learning and a newly established and funded Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action, I plan to offer my students a service component to their study whenever I take them abroad. I was particularly excited by the possibilities at Nima. During our site visit to the Anani Memorial International School, the principal there, Mr. Kofi Anane, outlined the needs for projects related to buildings and instruction at the school. I have since been in e-mail contact with Mr. Anane, and I am certain that this is the project I would want my students to undertake.
Furthermore, I established a very important contact with a fellow seminar participant, Barbara Nesin, a professor of art at Spelman College. Although I knew from my past participation in CIEE seminars that I would make important professional contacts with my fellow participants, I had no idea that I would make an important artistic contact. A poet, I have long wanted to collaborate with a visual artist, and Barbara and I are exploring the possibilities of collaborating on a multi-media project focused on our shared experiences in Ghana. An added benefit of this contact is that our institutions are in a consortium, The Associated Colleges of the South. One of the foci of the consortium is a diversity initiative to promote multicultural and institutional exchange. The project that Barbara and I are planning will hopefully accomplish both.
Our campus is currently discussing both a curricular project to develop a minor in Human Rights and also a global project to develop a Center for Global Human Dignity. I am the only person on my campus who teaches in the area of African studies, and so my participation in the Ghana CIEE seminar—which would not have been financially possible without the Ping Fellowship—has, without a doubt, contributed to my expertise. I am involved in both discussions. Thank you so much for this fellowship.
Ghana Today: Challenges of a Developing Nation
Shawn Townes, Ph.D.
I would like to express my sincere thanks for the substantial financial support granted me by the Ping Fellowship which enabled me to participate in the CIEE Faculty Seminar “Ghana Today: Challenges of a Developing Nation.” The seminar was an invaluable experience that has prepared me in a number of ways to perform tasks within my college community in order to meet our goal of “Excellence through Inclusion.” Although our college has run a number of successful campus abroad programs to Europe, Asia, and South America for the past twenty years, the continent of Africa has, unfortunately, been largely ignored. Having an academic background and teaching experience in Cultural Theory and Communication Studies, I was given the charge to build campus abroad programs to Africa, to develop and lead the first program to Ghana in 2008, to explore student/faculty exchange program opportunities with African Universities, and to develop curriculum to support these programs.
The ability to travel to Ghana and immerse myself in the culture most definitely increased my knowledge base, which up to that point had only been obtained through reading about the country’s history, culture and people. I returned exhilarated by the experience and am not only able to bring fresh perspectives to the classes that I currently teach but the knowledge gained has unquestionably prepared me to lead the Ghana Campus Abroad Program in August 2008. The familiarization of regional areas, visits to significant cultural sites, and the lectures provided by university faculty and CIEE’s seminar leader will greatly inform the planning and procedural issues relating to our campus abroad. Additionally, the experience allowed me to see firsthand the similarity in challenges faced by Ghanaian society and the African-American community. Issues such as “brain-drain,” the HIV-AIDS epidemic, and unemployment, crime, and family instability were examined. These issues are currently addressed in my existing courses (Intercultural Communication and Gender Communication) but now having studied how Ghanaian society is grappling with the same maladies I am better able to draw a comparative analysis which is essential to accomplishing a major goal of the program for 2008, to help students see themselves reflected through the “Other.”
The ability to meet and converse with Ghanaian faculty and administrators was tremendously helpful in initiating contact and beginning discussions about the possibility for a student/faculty exchange program between our college and the University of Accra. From my initial connections made at the university, a relationship has been established between administrators from both colleges and our Vice President of Student Development and Instruction will be accompanying our group in August 2008 with the specific purpose of advancing the discussion and finalizing details to bring our plans to fruition.
Realizing that such a venture can only be successful if there is curriculum in place to support such efforts, I am currently developing three courses “African Diaspora,” “Africa: Global Connections,” and “Ebonics: The Racial Politics of Language.” Dr. Michael Williams’ (CIEE seminar leader) lecture on the African Diaspora augmented my research on the ways in which Africans, though dispersed and scattered, have managed to retain their traditions and fuse their identities in a new world. His critical analysis of elements of African history and culture, such as, forced and voluntary migration, religion, language, folklore and the examination of the similar experience(s) of African peoples throughout the world was one the most the powerful lectures offered. It helped me to understand the importance of a holistic approach to this topic.
Examining African contributions and exports to the world, such as agricultural products, minerals and other material goods, as well as knowledge and cultural expressions is the focus of “Africa: Global Connections” course. Though trade interaction has also allowed African societies to benefit from imports from the outside world, such as information and other technologies the course will examine imbalanced trade agreements, which create and sustained poverty in many countries. A special emphasis will be given to Africa's contributions to and trade with North America. Additionally, media representations and stereotypes of Africa will be discussed, as well as the popular images of Africa held by Americans that are based on stereotypes, which offer fragmented, often inaccurate images of Africa. The curriculum, will purposefully confront stereotypes and misrepresentations of Africa that are popularly held by many Americans and others throughout the world. The concept and development for this course was greatly influenced by the lectures given at the University of Accra.
In the course “Ebonics: The Racial Politics of Language” I highlight the African roots of African American speech and its connections with languages spoken elsewhere in the Black Diaspora. In addition to Ebonics having been profoundly influenced by African languages, this course will address how it has also undergone the kinds of simplification and mixture associated with Creole formation in the Caribbean and elsewhere. The evolution of this distinctive language variety and how thoroughly it is intertwined with African American history and linked in many ways with African American literature, education, and social life will be examined. Many laypersons and academics, black and white, regard it as a sign of limited education or sophistication, as a legacy of slavery or an impediment to socioeconomic mobility. The course explores the validity of such arguments but will also extend the discussion to the politics involved in speaking Ebonics and consequences of using a “contrastive analysis” method, which involves drawing students’ attention to similarities and differences between Ebonics and Standard English.
Without the assistance of the Ping Fellowship it would have been extremely difficult for me to attend the CIEE seminar and to make the advances that I have in terms of building campus abroad programs to Africa, developing our first program to Ghana, exploring opportunities for student/faculty exchange programs with African Universities, and developing curriculum to support these programs. So, it is with my sincerest gratitude that I write this report and hope that I will be considered for future fellowships from the Ping Fellowship Program, as my work has only just begun.
Cybercities: Exploring the New Business Economies of South India
Dr. Jothi V. Kumar
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) is a public, comprehensive, land-grant university committed to fulfilling its fundamental purposes through exemplary undergraduate and graduate instruction, scholarly and creative research, and effective public service. The challenges of preparing our students to meet the complex needs of the global society necessitate that these exemplary and relevant educational experiences are inherently global in nature and interdisciplinary in focus. My interest in attending the International Faculty Development Seminar (IFDS) in India, June 1-12, 2007, was to:
- Develop study abroad opportunities for chemistry majors
- Find international exchange programs for both chemistry faculty and students
- Recruit international students to our chemistry program
- Explore and expand research opportunities in nanocomposites
- Involve chemistry students in the global cluster program that is currently under development at A&T
I was unable to meet some of the Chemistry Department Chairpersons when I was in India because it was summer holidays for them. But, I met with the Chair, Dr. Tamilarasi, of Chemistry Department at Queen Mary’s College in Chennai on two occasions and talked to them about an exchange program and collaboration. They needed some chemistry textbooks and virtual laboratory manual. I have already sent the manuals along with CDs and waiting for the list of books they need. They have nominated a student to our program and she is in the process of completing her application package.
I met with Professor Mariappan Periasamy, Dean of Chemistry Department, at University of Hyderabad (UH) and discussed student exchange and research collaboration. He is also interested and engaged in biofuels research which is same as mine. University of Hyderabad has a well established foreign exchange program in humanities and business school. Dr. Vasudeva Rao and Ms. G.V. Kavitha, hosts of this IFDS program, are in-charge of that exchange program at the University of Hyderabad. They will help me in the future on any exchange of students and/or faculty between NC A&T and (UH).
I will soon be making a presentation about my trip to this IFDS to Global studies group as well as chemistry students and faculty. They will then make up their minds to go on an exchange program at UH. US students can take courses in UH and transfer the credits to any US institutions of Higher education. Also, I noticed a lot of students stayed back and worked for those high tech companies in India.
Apart from learning about the new economies of the high tech revolution in India, this trip introduced me to micro-financing and how it is operated by non-Governmental officers (NGOs) in India. The high tech revolution has divided India into two: rich and poor India with the middle class shrinking. There are people who are making million rupees per month and others who barely make Rs.1000. With as little as Rs. 10,000, a family of four can start a small business at home, get financing from the NGOs, and live comfortably while repaying the loan from the NGOs. These businesses are usually started by the housewives and run very successfully. While I was there, I had an opportunity to help a young man start his own business. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I plan to continue working on this micro-financing concept during my retirement.
Another important lesson learned from this trip is the value Indians have put on EDUCATING the children who are abused under CHILD LABOR. There is a lot to learn from those DEDICATED individuals who gather, mentor, and educate the children (of uneducated parents) in small remote villages in and around Hyderabad. This program run by M.V. Foundation prepare the students up to 7th grade and then main-stream them into public education at the high school levels. It was nice to see some of the graduates of M.V. Foundation volunteer to mentor the children in those small villages as well as financially help them. Some of those graduates are currently working in the high tech companies and serve as role models to these children.
One of the negatives of the high tech revolution in India is to do with its effect on culture. Potential brides’ and bridegrooms’ families DO NOT WANT their children marrying any one who is working in the call centers and some of the high tech companies. The reason is the demand put on their time and inflexible work hours. Eastern culture does not allow DIVORCES much. Westernized life style while preserving the eastern culture has become very challenging to many of the families.
Agriculture, one of the major sectors, needed for the survival of many in India has been neglected to a point that the farmers are demanding a separate state where they expect their Government to support them. This is changing the political environment in that country.
Banking has eased up on transporting US dollars (up to 10,000) in and out that country. Inflation has gone up and the real estate market is beyond reach for most of the Indians. The infrastructure to support the high tech revolution is not in place yet. This has created transportation problems in that country.
Exposure to the above enriched my experience and I plan to educate people around me with these lessons. All-in all, I thoroughly enjoyed and got educated on this trip. Thanks to Ping foundation for supporting me in this travel.
Building a Multiracial, Multicultural Society in South Africa
Patricia Owen-Smith, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies
Director, Service Learning/Theory Practice Program
Director, Women’s Studies Program
Oxford College of Emory University
In the spring of 2007, I was awarded the Ping Fellowship that supported my participation in the Summer IFD Seminar: Building a Multiracial, Multicultural Society in South Africa. This seminar initiated my current sabbatical for the 2007-2008 academic year and is providing support and much of the framework for two scholarly processes that I am focusing on for this year: (1) the co-editing of a collection of articles on teaching from a multicultural perspective, and (2) the revision of my courses in both Psychology and Women’s Studies so as to expand the multicultural perspective I currently use. Specifically, this particular seminar experience in South Africa is contributing to and influencing my scholarship in the following ways:
Classroom Impact – The IFDS South Africa experience has deepened my understanding of what it means to “build a multiracial, multicultural society” to the extent that I am in an excellent position to construct a classroom experience that promotes this understanding on the part of my students. I returned from the seminar with a substantive global perspective that only an experience of this type affords. As a result I am better able to integrate this perspective into my daily work with students both as an academic advisor and as a teacher. As an advisor, such an experience also positions me to guide students in terms of careers in public and international service.
Program Impact – As Director of both the Service Learning and Women Studies Programs, I have a significant amount of influence on curricular design and structure. Both of these programs have as their fundamental underpinnings an emphasis on social consciousness and social justice issues. The IFDS experience afforded opportunities for collaboration and exchange with those who already have and will continue to assist me in expanding and deepening our approaches to these issues. Certainly, Quinton Redcliffe contributed significantly to my deeper understanding of multicultural and social justice issues.
Institutional Impact – The mission statement of my university’s Center for Teaching and Curriculum includes a commitment to assisting our students in learning “to think critically and synthetically and reflect ethically and personally on ideas and experiences.” While most faculty members and administrators are certainly committed to these important goals, they often lack confidence in their ability to construct a campus and classroom ethos that contributes to this type of learning. The IFDS experience provided a new way for me to think about the ways that I might assist our institution in honoring the mission statement and the university’s commitment to the ethical and personal growth of our students. Certainly no factor contributes more to this type of growth than a multiracial and multicultural perspective. As a result of the IFDS I have assumed responsibility for leading the faculty and administration in the integration of this perspective.
Community Impact – Our College resides in one of the most impoverished counties in our state. Illiteracy rates are the highest in the state, and we have one of the largest percentages of immigrants without work in this county. While we are slowly beginning to work closely with the local community in a variety of ways to ameliorate some of the more critical problems, there is still a fundamental gap between the academic world of the college and the world of the local community residents. As academics, we often find ourselves lacking the practical skills and the cultural understanding to work with the local community. I believe that the more exposure we have to perspectives different from our own, the greater the potential for improving the welfare of others. My experiences in South Africa have provided me with a deeper understanding of the cultural and systemic barriers that the privileged rarely see. In other words, the IFDS seminar has broadened the lens that I use to view these issues.
National Impact – I was designated as a Carnegie Scholar in 2000-2001 and now enjoy many opportunities to speak to colleges and universities around the country. One of the most enduring areas of concern on the part of faculty members is the lack of understanding in terms of how to teach to a diverse community of students. The IFDS afforded me the opportunity to become more thoughtful and intentional in a national discussion of diversity as it intersects with teaching and learning. I attended the seminar with Dr. Isa Williams who is also located in an Atlanta area college. We have a long history of collaboration and often present workshops and papers together on both the national and international level. Our intention is to continue our collaboration with more emphasis on multiculturalism and to construct a series of presentations one of which will be to the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Specifically, we are interested in focusing on experiential learning and multiculturalism.
I would like to thank those responsible for awarding me the Ping Fellowship. I feel very privileged to have received this award and will be mindful of the responsibilities and obligations that accompany it.
Civil Society, Politics, and Religion in Turkey
Mary Ellen Weir
Belmont Abbey College
I fondly recall my IFDS in Turkey this summer, June 19-30. And, my appreciation to CIEE and the Ping Fellowship I received to take the trip grows as I realize, in hindsight, how enriching the experience was for me. I am bringing this experience to my Belmont Abbey College campus in both formal and informal ways.
In my application for the Ping Fellowship, I outlined the activities I wished to bring to campus upon my return. First and foremost is to give a presentation to faculty on my IFDS. I was hoping to have this presentation during the Fall semester, and began working on the presentation after my return from Turkey. The presentation is complete, but various scheduling problems prevented me from offering the presentation in the Fall semester, as I would have liked. However, I am scheduled to present in the Spring Semester, February 6, 2008, to be exact. I will give the presentation at the faculty’s monthly “Second Wednesday “ lecture series.
I am actively encouraging my faculty colleagues, and several administrators, to investigate IFDS. When I received CIEE’s website announcement of IFDS for Summer, 2008, I sent an email to all faculty and administrators, with a short note telling them of the value of my experiences. Two faculty members (we have a total of 55 full-time faculty) have approached me for further information; one is interested in the Jordan trip, another in the India “business” oriented trip. I also informally reported the success of my trip to the college’s president, who is very enthusiastic about IFDS, and has promised to attend my presentation in February. I have discussed my IFDS experience with our Academic Dean, who, like the president, is very supportive and has pledged to encourage faculty participation in IFDS, as a way to support the increasing “internationalization” on our campus.
In my classes, I frequently mention some of my discoveries from my trip. Just yesterday in my Great Books 320 course, I mentioned the head-scarf issue in Turkey, and our meeting with a Turkish feminist group about this issue. (We are reading and discussing Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and the impact of feminism worldwide). One of my anticipated activities on my Ping Fellowship application was to include Turkish literature in my World Literature course, which I had been listed to teach in the Fall semester. However, the inevitable pre-semester course schedule-shifting resulted in my not teaching World Lit. this semester. I will probably rotate to teaching it in the Fall, 2008, which is actually better, so that I can research Turkish literature over the summer.
I informally work with Belmont Abbey’s Director of Study Abroad, since I have great interest in our college’s expanding study abroad program. I have shared my trip with him, and we continue to discuss various international venues for our students. We have discussed furthering our Study Abroad opportunities to Turkey, but no action has been taken at this point.
I am very grateful to CIEE and the Ping Fellowship. CIEE’s International Faculty Development Seminars are of very high quality, expertly conducted, intellectually enriching, and just plain fun. This is what I have been telling my colleagues at Belmont Abbey College. Our campus continues to expand its thinking about internationality and continues to grow in its Study Abroad possibilities for both students and faculty. I think my experience with CIEE has helped with this growth, and again, I am thankful that I was able to have my experience in Turkey with the help of the Ping Fellowship. Hopefully, in the future, other Belmont Abbey faculty members will have experiences such as mine.