By: David J. Smith, March 22, 2017
Today I had the pleasure of visiting Collin College in McKinney, TX. I met with students, faculty, and administrators to support their efforts at advancing international education. Collin College has determined that promoting global education is an important objective and now is the time for action.
I worked with students in one session where we explored notions of peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Using the “Peace Not Peace” exercise, students considered their personal views of what constitutes peace. I also shared with students and faculty international education strategies including study abroad through the Fulbright Program, and international experiences such as Peace Corps. I met with faculty to consider approaches they might use including course development, reaching out to the college’s local international community, and how global education can promote college completion and workforce development.
A highlight of my visit was meeting with students who are part of the “Welcome to America” club. The aim of the group is to make internationals feel welcome in the U.S. and at Collin College. Native-born American members shared their desire to learn about international cultures and others’ experiences. One student talked about the fact that all Americans where immigrants at one time. Internationals appreciated the sense of community that they gained from being part of the group. This effort is an important one today, as the national discourse often questions the contributions of immigrants and their right to be in the U.S. In addition, the current administration has proposed unprecedented financial cuts in State Department supported exchange programs. “Welcome to America” is an effort that should be replicated in every college.
Collin College is commended in making international education a high priority. We are at an important crossroads in the U.S. Many are questioning the value of global education and the contributions of those who immigrate here. This is unfortunate. As a response, we need to continue to argue how learning about the other immigrants and welcoming them to the U.S. enriches our lives as well as theirs. For community college students in particular, international awareness and engagement is the key to future success in their personal and professional lives. Global engagement is the ultimate means to a peaceful and just society.