|Air Date: August 26, 1997||Program 9734|
(This text has been professionally transcribed, However, for timely
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MARY GRAY DAVIDSON, Producer: This is Common Ground, a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. This week we look at how American community colleges are preparing students for the global community and market place.
CAROLYN MEWHORTER, Coordinator, International Education, Fox Valley Technical College, Wisconsin: So very often our students graduating will be going into an employment area where they indeed will be dealing on the international scene, whether it's in customer services or working next to a supervisor who is coming in from possibly another country and another culture.
CLYDE SAKAMOTO, Provost, Maui Community College, Hawaii: I believe that we are now in the most hopeful time we've been in over the last, I'd say, oh, four decades or so. And I think that we need to focus on this hopeful period of time to assure that we are moving in the direction of connecting students with these kinds of insights that they indeed have opportunities that other students in recent times have not had.
DAVIDSON: Community colleges and global education on this edition of Common Ground. Common Ground is produced by the Stanley Foundation. I'm Mary Gray Davidson.
Community colleges have changed dramatically in the past decade-and-a-half. While people tend to think of community college as simply a place to update job skills, many schools are simultaneously preparing their students for the global workforce. They see that the world has come to the communities they serve. My three guests today are strong advocates of global education on their campuses. Carolyn Mewhorter is Director of International Studies at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin; Clyde Sakamoto is Provost of Maui Community College in Hawaii; and Paul Goddard-Patel is Assistant Principal at Bilston Community College in England. Carolyn Mewhorter of Wisconsin says her school got serious about international education in the late '80s.
MEWHORTER: We had decided as a district in the state of Wisconsin that international would be one of the goals, or becoming more involved in things international would become one of the goals of our college. We work directly on behalf of, not just our students, but business and industry, that customer who hires our students across the state of Wisconsin, whether it's internationalizing the curriculum or helping business-industry, providing technical assistance to what they're attempting to do in the area of international trade or whatever. International is a part of the responsibility of a community college, and in our case a technical college in the state of Wisconsin.
DAVIDSON: And Clyde Sakamoto, what is Maui Community College doing in terms of creating internationally minded students?
SAKAMOTO: Well, we're generally trying to create an international environment that for one thing, invites international students to Maui, to Hawaii, to study. We've had over the years a number of students from Macao, Hong Kong, from the Far East, from Japan. And we've also had students from South America, from Europe as well. And our general tenet is that a student who grows up in the world today needs to know what's happening around the world and everyone's really living in a global context. There's discussions everywhere you go about the global market place. And so we need our students on Maui to be able to interact with students from other parts of the world, and we're trying to create the kind of technological infrastructure—the World Wide Web, the Internet, telecommunications—to allow our students to gain access to these kinds of learning opportunities so that they grow up with an appreciation of what's possible around the world as well as what's happening in terms of implications for their respective careers and interests.
DAVIDSON: Paul I'm going to get to you in just a moment to talk more about Britain's education system, but I'm curious among American community colleges, is creating an internationally-minded student body a matter of exposing them to students from abroad or are American community colleges incorporating language programs? What exactly does it mean when we're talking about global education at the community college level?
MEWHORTER: It means all of those things. It means providing an opportunity for international students to be on your campus and also providing opportunities for your local or resident students to have an experience studying abroad if that fits into the program. It's all of those things, as well as internationalizing the curriculum so that you take a traditional course and you introduce international components or the opportunity for more international knowledge within, in that curriculum. It's all of those things.
DAVIDSON: Clyde, is that the way you view it also?
SAKAMOTO: Absolutely, and I think that given the level of sophistication now that's available with these larger airplanes being developed and greater facilities available in telecommunications via the Web or the Internet, phone bridges, international video conferences that are available from time to time, there's more of an opportunity now for students in countries around the world to be able to exchange ideas, to explore solutions to problems, and I think it's a very fertile environment that students, not only in this country, but in other countries need to be aware of and take advantage of.
DAVIDSON: Paul Goddard-Patel from England, where do community colleges fit into the British education system? Our audience here is primarily American and are familiar with community colleges within their own communities. But is it similar to the American community college system?
PAUL GODDARD-PATEL, Assistant Principal, Bilston Community College, England: Yes, I think in terms of its position in the education structure, the further education sector, as it's called in England, is very similar in its positioning and its mission to the community college system that you have here in America.
DAVIDSON: Is it primarily a technical, vocational type education, or...
GODDARD-PATEL: Well, there's some 450 colleges in England and there are some very different groups of colleges there. Some of them are focused on technical education but increasingly they're focused really on life-long learning, if I was to use a phrase. That is, providing opportunities for people to come back into education, who for one reason or another have been excluded. And part and parcel of that is, of course, providing technical education, because that's what some of those people want. But a lot of it is also providing basic skills, providing facilities for women returners, for single mothers, and those sorts of groups that have traditionally been excluded. So that's really our focus, particularly in the urban areas of England.
DAVIDSON: And I understand that your school in particular, which is located in Bilston, north of London, is actually reaching out to other countries of the world to incorporate a community college model elsewhere. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
GODDARD-PATEL: Yes, I mean I think perhaps I could come back to the question that you were talking to Clyde and Carolyn about earlier. I mean, it does seem to me that the most important element of international education is actually helping students to understand that they exist now in an international context. And that once that is woven into the fabric of the educational provision that many of the other specific things like language training and so on will follow. Because people will understand why they need those rather than try to bolt them on as an add-on extra. The additional thing perhaps that Bilston is doing is that we're involved in, particularly in the countries of Eastern Europe with very large projects in Russia, Rumania, Poland and Uzbekistan, in various aspects of developing education and training there, and taking the community college model, adapt it to the local circumstances, to those countries.
DAVIDSON: Do community colleges exist in those countries currently, or did they previously?
GODDARD-PATEL: No they don't. And part of what we're doing there is to help develop, with those people, appropriate models for their particular circumstances.
DAVIDSON: This really seems to be breaking new ground, because I went to college about 20 years ago and at that time I think it was well understood in our four-year institutions here in the United States that being exposed to other cultures, studying abroad, was important to one's education. But I don't recall that being the case with community colleges. This really is new ground, isn't it? Is my perception accurate?
SAKAMATO: I think it's been an evolutionary process. It's simply a matter of it now being more important than ever before, and it's now more obvious a need that more community colleges are participating in than ever before, but there have been community colleges on the leading edge of international education initiatives for, oh, three decades and more. And so I think it's been a matter of our colleges, being community based as they are, working with community businesses that are involved in international economic activity. And because that's the case, our students in these communities around the country, they need to have an appreciation for the context of all of the products that they're producing, being sold and being purchased, being marketed in this international environment. And the fact of the matter is that we are to a large extent in competition with manufacturers anywhere in the world today providing services. Companies in the U.S. need to be aware of what the competition and service provisions may be out of anywhere that any kind of a product can be produced.
DAVIDSON: Carolyn Mewhorter, I see you nodding in agreement...
MEWHORTER: Yes I do agree. Clyde referred to meeting the needs of the community. Some of the needs of the community in terms of business and industry have indeed become global. If we look at, in northeastern Wisconsin, where I have the greatest familiarity, we have any number of businesses who are heavily involved in international trade or have companies on site in other countries. So very often our students graduating will be going into an employment area where they indeed will be dealing on the international scene, whether it's in customer services or working next to a supervisor who is coming in from possibly another country and another culture. So that to prepare them to be a part of the global society, it has now become a need, I think a community need, that community colleges should be addressing.
DAVIDSON: Could any of you give me some specific examples of students you might have known who really put this into play? Who used their experiences on the community college when they left? Clyde Sakamoto from Hawaii.
SAKAMOTO: Sure. Well, the fact of the matter is that we've got the visitor industry in Hawaii that is really the most prominent industry that supplies our state coffers with the kinds of revenues that allow all of the state services to be provided, and so....
SAKAMATO: ...so as the tourist industry thrives or doesn't, our economy flourishes or doesn't. And so, we have students in hotel operations, culinary arts programs, that are enrolled simply to take advantage of career opportunities in the industry. We've also got international students coming to Hawaii to learn what, in some circles, may be viewed as a state-of-the-art tourism visitor industry, kind of education that now is exploring initiatives around eco-tourism, around customer service that is very much internationally oriented as well as locally, culturally based, so that the students wind up receiving the kind of education that has as a framework, an appreciation for how important that international visitor is with all of the expectations, experiences those visitors may have.
DAVIDSON: Paul Goddard-Patel what do you see students from your college doing upon graduation that has an international focus, that has really used that education?
GODDARD-PATEL: Well, I think the important thing is that students come out of our college with an understanding of the international context in which we're all now operating, as Clyde said. And I hope that, that's sort of becoming more woven into the fabric of the education system, rather than being a bolt on—it's something that should be part of every course. When you're teaching English, you should be thinking, "How can I make international education part of this English course?" Likewise with biology, which is my original subject, but it's how can you weave international work into biology that you need to think about, and they're are ways of doing that if you think about it.
DAVIDSON: We'll pause here for a short break. You are listening to Common Ground, a service of the Stanley Foundation. My guests today are Paul Goddard-Patel, from Bilston Community College in England; Clyde Sakamoto from Maui Community College in Hawaii; and Carolyn Mewhorter from Fox Valley Technical College in Wisconsin. I talked with them during a meeting of the American Council on International-Intercultural Education. The Council is an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges. The Stanley Foundation which sponsors Common Ground is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts a wide range of programs meant to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs. Printed transcripts and audiocassettes of this Common Ground program are available. At the end of the broadcast I'll give you details on where you can order tapes and transcripts or to request reports about community colleges and global education.
DAVIDSON: I'm curious whether students come to the community college expecting to receive more internationally-minded education or is this something that you're kind of guiding them in? Carolyn.
MEWHORTER: This is a wonderful question. It will be in the community college's best interest, I think, in the future to be able to market themselves in just that way; that in addition to the excellent educational opportunities they provided in the past, this is something that they're adding to that list of things that they provide to the student and to the community. I look forward to doing that at the local level or within the state of Wisconsin, through the efforts of the committees that are in place to promote or expand upon international education. I think it will become very, very important to have on your resume or on your vita ultimately, that you have some basic understanding and knowledge of cultures and possibly even languages other than your own, so that you'll be more employable in this global society down the road.
DAVIDSON: Clyde Sakamoto do you find students actively seeking out an international education?
SAKAMOTO: I think more and more. If we look back simply a few years ago, we were in an environment where the major international concern was the threat of thermonuclear holocaust. And since that time the Berlin Wall has come down, there have been any number of phenomenon that have occurred around the world; international trade has increased, there are agreements between the U.S., Canada, Mexico; the whole NAFTA emergence has materialized. There's more economic and political activity around the world. We're now expanding NATO access to Eastern Europe, and collaboration with Eastern Europe now is a reality. And that's going to, I think, suggest to an increasing number of students that possibilities in terms of travel and experiencing the world are now more available than ever before, and I think as a result of the new realities, if you will, of what's transpired in the very, very recent past. I believe that we are now in the most hopeful time we've been in over the last, I'd say, oh, four decades or so. And I think that we need to focus on this hopeful period of time to assure that we are moving in the direction of connecting students with these kinds of insights that they indeed have opportunities that other students in recent times have not had.
GODDARD-PATEL: I think Clyde's absolutely right there.
DAVIDSON: Paul Goddard-Patel.
GODDARD-PATEL: The most spectacular example of that very recently of course, is the handing over of Hong Kong by Mrs. Thatcher, because she's the one who signed the deal, to the Communist Chinese. No wars, no fights, but an international agreement. But I mean I don't think that, that kind of progress, which has been made in the last decade or so will just simply happen on its own. It actually needs further work amongst all of our populations because the forces of parochialism are ever there. And if we're not actually doing something to push those frontiers back, they'll sort of close in behind. And, I mean in our area, we start with students, where we have an in-built advantage in the sense that about a third of our students are first or second generation students, either from India or from the Caribbean, and that automatically gives you a kind of international perspective. But I mean, if you don't really keep working at the broader international perspective then the forces of parochialism close in behind you and you get students who see things in boxes. And that's part of our job, I think, is to make sure that doesn't happen.
DAVIDSON: Well, this is very interesting because I think we started out talking about mainly how international education makes community college students more employable, but we've moved into how this actually would contribute to perhaps greater peace and security. Is that how you see it Carolyn Mewhorter?
MEWHORTER: Yes, yes. Absolutely. I know that unlike Hawaii or the United Kingdom, or England, Northeast Wisconsin does not have the privilege of experiencing as much diversity, cultural diversity, as other places, so that the opportunity to go, even if it's for a very brief period of time—for example, several of our students have most recently gone to the Netherlands on an academic or student exchange—and I tend to think that there are some similarities between a Dutch community in Northeastern Wisconsin and the Netherlands, but for the traditional student at our technical college it was a first time ever opportunity to go to another country, to another culture, to hear another language being spoken outside of their own private household perhaps. And so these efforts, and I think that peace does accompany the exposure. We are a site school for students from the Caribbean and Central America, and they have done a great deal, they're being on our campus has done a great deal to make our students more open to and aware of cultural differences. So all of these things I think ultimately do increase the opportunities for peace.
DAVIDSON: Clyde Sakamoto.
SAKAMOTO: Well, I think that we're in a period, because of a combination of phenomenon, including all of the technological developments in telecommunications and in airline transportation, and in higher education and public education infrastructure development around the world, that students have an opportunity to have their curiosities responded to unlike any other time before. Students can now ask questions of students in other parts of the world and get their questions answered from students who have the perspective of living in whatever situation they may be in, be it a Middle Eastern issue, be it an issue in Southeast Asia, And I think that students are now empowered in a fashion that they have never been empowered before, in terms of having access to tools that will allow them to be better prepared to address issues that are going to materialize that haven't been thought about today, but will certainly confront them in the future. And so, it's a very exciting time, I think to be involved in education internationally because of the availability of these kinds of technologies and educational learning opportunities.
DAVIDSON: Certainly just with the Internet and the World Wide Web, even in Appleton, Wisconsin, if you have access to that technology, it can bring you touch with the rest of the world.
MEWHORTER: Well, and sometimes it's the responsibility of the community college to create that interest. The knowledge that the technology is there and the interest to go in search of it, so that's an important reason for being involved in international education.
GODDARD-PATEL: Although I think you touched on an important point there obliquely, Mary, that if you've got access to—there are a lot...
DAVIDSON: That is a key...
GODDARD-PATEL: ...of people who don't for one reason or another have access to, and it's no use, us as community colleges, as the people who actually go out and take education to those people, simply sitting in our colleges saying "here's our course, or here's our equipment, you can use it." You actually have got to actively take it out into the community. So that for example in Bilston, we've taken education out into the Gurdwaras and temples of the local Indian population and we got about 30 or 40 sites where we're actually, you go to people where they are and where they're comfortable because there's a barrier that those of us who work in colleges don't really fully appreciate. Actually walking through that front door for people who are feeling nervous and lack confidence is a major step for them. And if you can get round that step by taking the provision to them then that's something which genuinely makes the thing available to them. I mean simply having courses and saying "These are our courses come if you want to," doesn't actually, in reality make education and training available to quite a number of people.
DAVIDSON: I'm talking to the three of you here at a meeting of the American Council on International-Intercultural education and Paul Goddard-Patel from England talked about what his school is doing to share their experience across borders and I'm wondering if our two American guests here, Clyde Sakamoto and Carolyn Mewhorter, if you see American community colleges working with schools abroad in helping develop their international education. What do we have to export, perhaps, in terms of education?
SAKAMOTO: Well, I think an increasing number of community colleges in this country have formed consortia of institutions interested in collaborating around international education issues. Our organization numbers about a hundred colleges. And the American Council on the International-Intercultural Education has as it's mission to expand the international activities for our colleges around the world. And as a result there have been any number of initiatives from ones in India more recently, to community college developments in Thailand, in Nepal, in various parts of the world, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, that have in part been informed by what's gone on in this country. And the community college phenomenon, I think, in the United States, is fairly unique around the world in terms of our open access to students despite their academic preparation. They're invited to join the kind of process that allows them to advance their personal and career objectives and I think that it's one that because of its community support and curriculum development around community needs for business and industry, the kind of developments that has really caught the attention of a number of different countries around the world. And so we're seeing increasing levels of interest in countries. China is very interested in replicating adapting to some extent the whole notion of technical education connected with economic development. And so, so it's a very exciting time.
DAVIDSON: Carolyn Mewhorter.
MEWHORTER: There are changes going on across the world where people are no longer going to be able to do what they have traditionally been doing. Changes have to occur. And the community college has done a lot in working with the displaced homemaker, for example, the dislocated worker, as our economic needs have changed and people have been displaced from jobs they've held for many, many years. So in addition to the other things that community colleges do, they have that ability to build future employment opportunities and provide the training for people, or the retraining for people that allows them to continue to be economically productive or economically independent. And that certainly has value when you look at things that are going on in many countries where everything is changing.
DAVIDSON: Paul, did you want to add to that?
GODDARD-PATEL: I think, I mean I think the community college systems in both the U.S. and the U.K. and indeed in other European countries have got some tremendous strengths, some things that are of value to other countries. I think one of the dangers that we need to be constantly aware of is that you can't simply transplant the system from one country to another. You've actually got to do it in quite a sensitive way, not go into a country saying "Look, here's the answer. We've done it all and what you need to do is this." You actually have to adapt the kind of provision that you make in the countries that you're working with to their local circumstances and to develop it in partnership with them so they've got ownership of it. I mean it's got to be their system that's adapted and tailored to their needs, not some external system that's been developed for other countries particular requirements that's been plunked on them.
DAVIDSON: My guests have been Paul Goddard-Patel, Assistant Principal at Bilston Community College in England; Clyde Sakamoto, Provost of Maui Community College in Hawaii; and Carolyn Mewhorter, Director of International Studies at Fox Valley Technical College in Wisconsin. For Common Ground, I'm Mary Gray Davidson.
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