Global engagement spins as the world changes

The Office of International Education has adjusted to the new normal by finding ways to meet the demand for global student engagement.

The last two years have been filled with international travel restrictions that affect where and how students can access international study opportunities. The Office of International Education (OIE) has adjusted to the new normal by finding ways to meet the demand for global student engagement.

“Global learning at Georgia Tech has never stopped,” said Lorie Johns Páulez, Director of Education Abroad at the OIE. “During the pandemic, we used some remote learning options so that we could continue to offer international opportunities to students, even though we couldn’t physically go anywhere.”

As travel restrictions evolved, the IBE collaborated with dedicated educational leaders to make plans and various backups to study abroad in case of last-minute changes in international travel guidelines.

“We had to find ways to offer programs and also have a way to cancel them with minimal impact,” said Johns Páulez. “We’re basically trying to predict the unpredictable by setting up start-stop systems where students wouldn’t lose money if we had to cancel a program.”

Each summer, Tech typically has about 55 faculty-led study abroad programs. This summer the number dropped to 26, but more are expected to return by 2023.

“We have over 1,000 students in those 26 programs, so things are coming back and we’re on our way back to high levels of engagement because students want to go and our faculty is dedicated to global education,” said Johns Páulez. “I attended a couple of FASET orientation sessions to talk with students and their parents. Everyone was very eager and excited about international opportunities, whether it be living in learning communities on campus or studying abroad.”

Participation in Tech’s live learning communities is also picking up.

“We’re basically back to normal in terms of campus engagement,” said Allison Noffsinger, OIE’s director of campus internationalization. “Despite initially having few requests, the I-house living learning community is now full. So we have many exchange students from all over the world who will be living with our degree seeking students. We also returned to pre-pandemic levels in the Global Leadership Living Learning Community, with 122 students for next year and another 20 students on the waiting list.”

Johns Paulez and Noffsinger said that working on international programs during the pandemic has been challenging, but it left them with some important takeaways.

“The biggest lesson I learned is that we are more resilient than we think,” Noffsinger said. “In general, humans are more resilient than they think. No matter what comes our way, we’ll find a way to get past it, around it, or through it. And we’ll get through it.” prospering in the end.”

Commitment to global engagement strengthens your return

Although the pandemic caused international travel restrictions to change frequently, students’ interest in studying abroad never waned. Neither did the commitment of faculty and staff who wanted to make sure students had a global experience. Study abroad programs this summer include the Scheller College of Business Leadership for Social Good program in Central and Eastern Europe, the AE Limerick Summer Program and the inaugural Study Abroad and Global Innovation Project in South Africa and Namibia.

The Leadership for Social Good program is a 10-week program that takes students to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary. The program introduces students to global civil society and the challenges of creating and leading effective and sustainable social enterprises. Students work with and learn from social innovators in Hungary and track their impact across the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This year, 13 students with a variety of majors are working with seven non-profit organizations and social enterprises.

“We were canceled for the last two years, so it’s amazing to be back and to be able to continue these collaborations with social sector organizations doing inspiring work in Central and Eastern Europe,” said Dori Pap, Director General of the Institute of Leadership and Leadership from Scheller College. Social Impact and director of the study abroad program. “Our students are learning what it looks like to improve the human condition on a global scale by working closely with community partners on the front lines of social impact. From responding to the needs of Ukrainian refugees in Hungary to promoting the welfare of Roma children and employing people with disabilities, these organizations provide our students with a unique opportunity to practice their leadership skills through various projects.”

Several of the students, including business student Gehrig Harris, wrote blog posts on LinkedIn about their experiences and the challenges that helped them grow. After hitting a wall with his study abroad experience, Harris realized, “I have the power to not only finish my assignments, but also make them great. And I can make my own fun in my own time. I realized that my time and my company are valuable.”

The AE Limerick Summer Program is a collaborative effort led by faculty from Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering and the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering with the Department of Mechanical, Aeronautical, and Biomedical Engineering. from the University of Limerick. Students take 12 hours of core courses at the junior or senior level, effectively saving a semester of on-campus classes or allowing for an internship.

Lakshmi Sankar, Regents Professor and Sikorsky Professor in Aerospace Engineering, has been the Faculty’s Program Director since its inception in 2013. He is one of four faculty members who travel to Limerick each summer.

“In the first year there were only six students enrolled, and we were only able to hire two professors to teach 12 credit hours,” Sankar said. “Student numbers have grown steadily and average over 45 students each year (except for the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021). Now we offer eight or nine courses, and students can choose four or five.”

This summer, the Office of Minority Educational Development (OMED) launched its Global Innovation and Study Abroad Project to improve equity among student experiences by expanding access to global experiences and increasing pathways for underrepresented students. connect globally in their STEM and post-graduation activities. The program is part of a $250,000 Strada Grant awarded to Georgia Tech through OMED. Students participate in global research and internship programs or international academic programs in Africa.

The inaugural cohort of seven students spent three weeks traveling and learning in South Africa, exploring Johannesburg (Soweto) and Cape Town (District 6, beaches, gardens and townships). The students then flew to Namibia, where they explored the culture, land and history of Windhoek, Swakopmund and Mount Etjo, listening to leaders, activists and teachers. Topics included apartheid, genocide, the political economy of South Africa, land politics and displacement, human rights violations and a case study of the LGBTQIA community, race and education, infrastructure (education , transport, communication and housing) and climate. change.

“This experience exceeded expectations in every way,” said Sybrina Atwaters, director of OMED. “Expanding knowledge through this experiential learning opportunity was transformative for all stakeholders: students, staff, faculty, hosts, institutional leaders, and funders.”

According to the students, this was one of their most important experiences at Georgia Tech.

“Without that, I never would have had the experience of studying abroad in my college career,” said Jada Crockett, a civil engineering student. “With the coronavirus cutting my freshman year short and extending to now, I had pretty much given up, telling myself I might travel abroad after graduation if I could find the funds. I am very glad that this was not the case because I learned a lot about myself during this whole process. My perspective on life, goals, and interpersonal skills changed for the better, and I will always be grateful.”

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