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First International Training Program cohort impressed to develop international studying alternatives for teenagers | WMU Information

Contact: Erin Flynn

The primary cohort of the International Engagement Program studied overseas in Portugal over spring break in 2019.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The world is extra linked than ever, and Western Michigan College’s International Engagement Program (GEP) provides college students the chance to not solely uncover it however construct management and international abilities to make them extra marketable of their future careers. The primary cohort simply accomplished the four-year program, forsaking instruments that can open a world of worldwide studying alternatives for Ok-12 college students.

“I witnessed firsthand these college students’ progress from the experiences they have been uncovered to individually and as a cohort, how they be taught to be versatile and adaptable and the way this helps to develop their emotional intelligence. This sort of publicity to the world assists within the improvement of a person’s information of themselves,” says Dr. Paulo Zagalo-Melo, affiliate provost for international training.

This system formally launched in 2018. College students within the first cohort took international research courses collectively throughout their first 12 months and accomplished research overseas experiences in Lisbon, Portugal and throughout Eire.

“The International Engagement Program at WMU actually impacted me as a result of it allowed me to study different international locations and expertise totally different cultures, which isn’t one thing I bought to do lots of beforehand,” says Kara VanderKamp, of Kalamazoo, who graduated in April with a bachelor’s diploma in public and nonprofit administration.

“It is one thing that is actually necessary to me as a result of I like different cultures, I like to journey and I’ve all the time wished to see the world. And Western’s given me an amazing alternative to do this,” provides Nick Besta, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who graduated in April with bachelor’s levels in anthropology and communications. “I bought to study international locations and truly be there and see it, which I feel is a lot extra beneficial than merely studying about it or listening to a lecture. It modified me and made me need to go to different locations and continue learning.”

A cartoon classroom featuring a character pointing at another character holding a globe.

Classes developed by the GEP cohort embody the house international locations of a number of worldwide college students at Western.

Whereas the COVID-19 pandemic hampered some plans for long-term research overseas, a core group of scholars from the 2018 cohort continued to this system’s closing section: A capstone mission targeted on increasing international training in Ok-12 lecture rooms to advertise cultural understanding.

“It is really easy at a spot like Western—with our intensive research overseas program and the globalization courses that we have been capable of have—to work together with worldwide college students and to expertise different cultures. However excessive schoolers and center schoolers do not essentially have that chance,” says Owen Kilpatrick, a music training and saxophone efficiency pupil from Lansing, Michigan. “It’s actually significant to have the ability to share what we have gained from worldwide journey in a format like this that is simply accessible to anybody, whatever the sources they’ve accessible, and to encourage them to do their very own explorations of different cultures.”

GEP college students designed an modern digital curriculum utilizing Google Classroom slides. They interviewed a number of worldwide college students at Western and created a slide for every of their house international locations—locations like Egypt, Bahrain, Nigeria and the Dominican Republic. Along with an interview with the featured pupil, every slide consists of quite a lot of alternatives to study that exact nation and tradition, from clips of conventional music to books and art work.

“From a social research perspective, we’re making ready college students for a globalized world through which we won’t even think about. If we won’t join college students to different cultures and folks and philosophies outdoors of their sphere now, then we’re not doing an enough job as educators making ready them,” says Dr. Brianne Pitts, assistant professor of educating, studying and academic research, who served as a collaborating school mentor on the mission.

The group introduced its mission to a gaggle of academics within the Kalamazoo space who shared the teachings with greater than 850 college students, starting from kindergarten to eighth grade. Greater than 90% of the academics indicated that they had taught lower than 10 classes on international research from their supplied curriculum earlier than implementing the teachings developed by Western’s GEP students of their courses.

“Exposing elementary college students to different cultures, to different folks, it is a massive plus. I actually respect this initiative of making consciousness and in addition appreciating different folks and different cultures,” says Tongriang Daspan, a Western pupil from Nigeria who participated within the mission.

Nearly all of academics who engaged their college students with the GEP lecture rooms stated they’d suggest the sources to their colleagues or use them in their very own lecture rooms sooner or later. The cohort introduced its work, “Worldwide Bitmoji School rooms: Growing Understanding of College students’ International Views,” to college students and educators from around the globe at Western’s first ever International Management Convention in April. Group leaders hope to see their efforts expanded and new voices and experiences added by future GEP students.

The Program

The International Engagement Program is designed for a cohort of scholars to develop collectively by means of a four-year curriculum, forming connections with a various group of friends in disciplines throughout campus, growing cultural competencies and constructing international consciousness. The curriculum consists of:

  • Yr 1: International studying for all—College students are linked to friends overseas by means of international lecture rooms and take part in a digital research overseas. There is no such thing as a program charge for the primary 12 months, and all college students who efficiently full it earn a $500 research overseas scholarship.
  • Yr 2: International collaboration—College students full a worldwide management and advocacy course; take part in workshops targeted on group constructing, collaboration and management; and journey with their cohort for a summer season research overseas program.

  • Yr 3: Past the classroom—Contributors full a long-term, unbiased research overseas program.

  • Yr 4: International management—College students full a mission administration course and collaborate on a culminating group mission in partnership with a world group.

Students stand in front of the ruins of an ancient structure.

Dr. Paulo Zagalo-Melo joined the cohort on their journey to Portugal in 2019.

“The publicity (college students) need to cross-cultural experiences, worldwide views and the commonality of worldwide challenges helps them perceive the world they stay in,” Zagalo-Melo says. “Regardless of the place they are going to be for the remainder of their lives—Kalamazoo or anyplace else within the U.S. or the world—they should perceive the globe’s interconnectedness, the ability of interdisciplinary problem-solving and the potential influence of particular person and collective selections. This information and skill-building may help them make extra knowledgeable selections of their private {and professional} lives.”

College students construct camaraderie in a cohort with friends outdoors their very own main or faculty, exposing themselves to totally different views whereas additionally having a neighborhood to develop and expertise the world.

“Our first journey to Portugal was actually fascinating, as a result of we bought to work together with totally different companies and academic establishments there. That form of confirmed us what the distinction within the financial construction is there in comparison with what we’re used to and the way the rising tourism trade affected individuals who had been dwelling there,” Kilpatrick says.

College students additionally had the good thing about having Zagalo-Melo, who’s from Portugal, as their tour information. One notably memorable expertise for Kilpatrick got here when Zagalo-Melo beneficial a neighborhood jazz membership the place he noticed an up-and-coming musician play.

“As a musician, it was cool to journey round a international nation after which to listen to music I am form of acquainted with however otherwise. And there have been footage on the wall of various musicians who had visited and I acknowledged a few of them, in order that was fairly cool.”

VanderKamp loved taking within the historical past of the locations the group visited each in Portugal and Eire.

Besta stops for an image at Cabo da Roca, probably the most westerly level of mainland Europe.

“Seeing the previous church buildings and among the previous buildings which have been there because the Medieval instances, it is wonderful to consider all of the historical past that occurred there. Issues that took centuries to construct are nonetheless standing,” she says. “It positively made me respect different cultures extra. Now, I am truly in search of out these experiences. Just lately I took a two-week journey to Germany with my cousin, which is one thing I’d have by no means accomplished earlier than touring with the International Training Program. I really feel way more snug touring.”

“It virtually turned like I used to be extra impressed to do one thing than I had been initially,” provides Besta. “I feel it actually reveals how a lot international training may help somebody develop.”

Whereas supreme for incoming college students, the International Engagement Program is open to college students of all ranges. Extra data, together with apply, is obtainable on the Haenicke Institute’s webpage.

“Seeing these first GEP graduates and listening to in regards to the influence this system had on them and their journey at WMU makes me much more enthusiastic about the way forward for this program,” Zagalo-Melo says.

For extra WMU information, arts and occasions, go to WMU Information on-line.
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