WORLD Students Participate in Global Leadership Summit

by Gabby Cassidy

Over Spring Break 2019, WORLD ambassadors Zoe Weaver and Caylyn Gunby attended the Global Student Leadership Summit in Boston, MA.

This conference, for students who had participated in study abroad and other international programs, had a goal to help them develop skills as successful global leaders. It also focused on students from diverse and underrepresented populations, such as first-generation, racial/ethnic minority, students with disabilities, high financial need, LGBTQ+, etc. Many face obstacles acquiring educational and leadership opportunities.

Throughout the conference, Weaver found herself learning more than she expected from the sessions. She was pushed to see the bigger picture of education abroad.

“I was pushed to see my study abroad as a time that I developed personally and was finally able to articulate the challenges of my trip to those who would understand. Then, after listening to others tell their own stories, I realized that we each had a unique experience that created the larger picture of diversity abroad.”

The connections she made with other students helped her to understand her own experiences and the education she received while studying in South Korea and Taiwan. Weaver also learned about the importance of diversity in study abroad and was inspired to do more here at Stetson. She expressed her desire to connect with the Black Student Association, the Asia Pacific American Coalition, the Caribbean Student Association, and other multicultural organizations to develop more initiatives to get their members involved in study abroad programs.

“Although being a woman brings its own challenges to international travel, I further developed an understanding of my privilege during this conference as an able-bodied, white, American student. Through this understanding, I began to build a standard for myself when it comes to becoming an ally both abroad and domestically to students who lack the opportunity to do the same as I.”

Gunby felt that the conference was a great professional opportunity for her. The panels and speakers had a profound impact and helped her feel confident in her plans post-graduation. The chance to connect with graduate schools and professionals, as well as other students in her same positions, helped her to reflect on her identity and improve her confidence in speaking about her experiences.

“Being able to speak with professionals who are now in International Education, who taught English abroad through JET, Fulbright, and TAPIF made me feel like I was taking the right steps towards a career in International Education or International Affairs.”

Gunby would like to bring more networking opportunities to Stetson’s campus for international careers. Events such as the Global Citizenship Fair and Acerima could benefit from having a keynote speaker or speakers from minority groups.

“The keynote speakers at the conference were inspiring and helped all of the students get involved and excited about the activities.”

Overall, her experiences at the Global Leadership Summit helped her to grow professionally as well as to have more confidence in her abilities and plans for the future.

Enrollment in Scottish Experience up 37%

Student enrollment peaked during the fourth annual study abroad Scottish Experience, a collaborative of the University of the Highlands Islands Inverness College, Stetson University, Utah Valley University, and Jacksonville University. A total of 33 students participated in courses taughted by faculty from UVU, Jacksonville, and Stetson.

A centerpiece of the study abroad program is an embedded case study component where groups of students act as consultants to Scottish businesses and organizations to address an issue of pressing need.

Students and faculty take a quick break after presenting the outcomes of their case studies to business and organizational leaders.

Stetson’s Inaugural International Faculty Development Seminar Draws Diverse Disciplines to the Dominican Republic

A total of 10 Stetson University faculty and the WORLD Team descended on Santo Domingo during May 13-18, 2019 to learn how to better prepare students to learn abroad. Faculty hailed from business, education, humanities, social and natural sciences.

The seminar comprised classroom sessions on topics ranging from risk management and internationalization to curriculum integration and course assessment. Field trips to heritage locations and natural landscapes, such as the old colonial sugar mills and Three Eyes National Park, helped faculty consider the role of “place” in course design as well as how to balance high and low intensity learning experiences for students.

Los Tres Ojos (Three Eyes National Park) is a 50-yard open-air limestone cave located in eastern Santo Domingo.

Response to the seminar has been quite positive.

I feel so fortunate to be part of the journey we were on together. I feel that our relationship went to the next level…The moment we started together and ended pleasantly, it was a lesson in every moment and I am confident that this training will be helpful for all in launching our faculty led programs in future.”

Yes, echoing my colleagues for a wonderful opportunity and collegiality. Thank you WORLD and thank you everyone who participated 😍”

Thank you all for such a unique and valuable experience in DR. I would be happy to meet for regular lunches sharing ideas about the next steps in organizing faculty-led study abroad trips. Special thanks to the WORLD. You are a great team of professionals!🤗”

I’m continually amazed at and proud to be a part of Stetson’s wonderful community.”

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About the Stetson International Faculty Development Seminar

The IFDS program at Stetson University honors the longstanding commitment and dedication of Drs. David and Leighan Rinker to international learning. The centerpiece of the faculty development program is an immersive five-day experience where Stetson faculty participate in study abroad. The overarching goals are to equip Stetson teacher-scholars with best practice strategies for how to use location to deepen content, elevate student engagement and intercultural learning, develop safe, compliant and academically-rich study abroad programs, and promote Stetson’s value of global citizenship.

WORLD partnered with CIEE to co-offer the seminar. CIEE is a premier provider with significant expertise developing and implementing international faculty development seminars and study abroad experiences for students,. Contact for more information.

WORLD Ambassadors meet regularly to sharpen their peer-mentor skills

WORLD Ambassadors work with Wendy Viggiano, program coordinator for international learning, to sharpen skills for supporting and advising new international students.

Stetson’s WORLD Ambassadors serve as intercultural peer mentor-leaders to support diverse campus internationalization efforts, including new international student orientation, Study Abroad promotional activities, and events to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue.

WORLD Ambassadors comprise international students seeking a four-year degree at Stetson. As international students themselves, WORLD Ambassadors take the lead in significantly shaping the structure, presentation, and promotion of acculturation, education, and academic support at Stetson University.

Study finds lots of room to improve in international alumni relations

Survey respondents’ self-assessment of their institutions current global alumni engagement efforts. Source: Academic Assembly/Intead

A majority of US college administrators say that their institutions are not doing enough to connect with international alumni, and nearly two-thirds report having no dedicated staff time for global alumni relations.

These are some of the top-line findings from a new study released today by Academic Assembly and Intead. Global Alumni Management for U.S. Institutions: The State of the Field in 2017 gathers responses from 103 administrators at American colleges and universities for a first-ever national benchmarking survey of best practices in international alumni relations.

The overarching observation in the study is that there is considerable room for institutions to improve their engagement with international graduates. As the following chart reflects, most respondents do not rate their institution’s current efforts very highly.

The survey respondents most commonly cited “insufficient time” (51%) and “inadequate budget” (28%) as the main impediments to expanding their institution’s global alumni engagement. Nearly one in three respondents (30%) also noted “insufficient internal leadership support” as a significant issue.

If these results represent a baseline for international alumni relations in the US, they come as no surprise to Mitch Leventhal, former vice chancellor for global affairs at the State University of New York, and now chairman at Academic Assembly: “In my decade serving as a senior international officer I never once heard a colleague indicate anything close to satisfaction with their alumni outreach efforts, while I heard many bemoan the seemingly disinterest of their president and/or alumni association in investing any resources into leveraging this valuable asset.”

At the same time, the survey respondents identified strong awareness of a number of key benefits to greater engagement with international alumni. Chief among those, as reflected in the following table, was the role that alumni can play in international recruitment. Indeed, more than 50% of responding administrators said that they felt that global alumni management was “very important” to their international recruitment and branding efforts.

“It’s not just what happens to [the student] as a 22-year-old graduate,” says Gretchen Dobson, one of the primary authors of the report and the vice president of alumni and graduate services with Academic Assembly. “It’s about their lifelong relationship with the institution.”

Respondent perceptions of the value that global alumni offer to the institution. Source: Academic Assembly/Intead

Other important benefits noted by respondents include: increased fundraising opportunities and expanded connections to employment opportunities and professional networks for alumni and students.

“The purpose of international alumni relations is to leverage the support of this potential group of brand ambassadors,” says the study report. “The cumulative effect of this will increase your global brand projection, boost enrolment and fundraising, and create new employment opportunities for current students and recent graduates. It’s about making good use of the powerful resources you already have.”

The way forward

Ms Dobson, who led international alumni efforts at Tufts University for a decade and now consults and writes widely on the subject today, offers a straightforward path to better global alumni relations.

First, put some good, basic data systems in place to capture information about international graduates. Next, start small and build from there – in other words, do what you can but make international alumni part of what your institution does. Finally, recognise the importance of buy-in from senior leadership.

The study picks up the question of data management in calling for an entirely new classification for foreign graduates: transnational alumni, a term that recognises that international graduates may go on to further work or study in the US, in a third country, and/or return to their home country over time. “Capturing this kind of nuance requires a commitment to internationalising your [data] systems and annually inviting alumni to update their contact information,” says the report.

This is a distinction that makes a lot of sense to Anne Hayner, the associate director for alumni relations with the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. International networking and engagement with foreign graduates are both central to the institute’s programmes, and Kroc has a long-established and active network of global alumni as a result.

Even so, Ms Hayner points out that any institution can begin to strengthen their efforts in this area, even with modest budget or staff resources. “Start with the students you have [on campus] now,” she says. “Connect with them and make sure they feel connected to you. Then have a way to capture and update contact information over time whether that’s a simple Google Form or whatever else.”

On the question of engaging with an alumni network, Ms Hayner again offers a straightforward approach: “Ask people what they need or want,” she suggests. “For example, part of my job is to help the students professionally network. So we keep them advised of what people are doing in the field through professional or alumni profiles, and we help them to stay connected to faculty or research resources so that they can stay on top of contemporary scholarship in the field.”

The benchmarking study echoes the value of starting small and demonstrating success as a means of building linkages within the institution as well as the buy-in of institutional leaders. In practice, global alumni initiatives may originate from different points within the organisational chart, most often from the international office or the alumni or advancement office. The report cautions, however, that, “International alumni relations can’t be managed in a vacuum…Reasonable expectations must be set for interdepartmental cooperation, and a reasonable budget must be allocated. Ideally, a cross-functional team from admissions, advancement, international programmes, and career for grassroots alumni engagement.”

Needless to say, the study is focused on the current context for global alumni relations in the US. However, readers in many other host countries will no doubt recognise many of these same characteristics and perspectives within their own institutions. With that in mind, it is fair to say that the findings and recommendations in the benchmarking report offer important insights for international educators around the world.

For additional background, please see:

Article from ICEF Monitor, posted December 6, 2017

Stetson in Cuenca, Ecuador in 2018

Stetson’s Latin American Studies Program is offering a 4-week immersion experience in the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, Ecuador May 12-June 10, 2018.

The program cost of includes:

  • a one-unit B course (LAMS 200) taught in English by Dr. Sitler that will focus on the diverse cultures of Latin America and, in particular, on the 4 distinct cultures of southern Ecuador (Hispanic, Cañari, Saraguro, Cholo)
  • lodging in the home of a local family
    all meals
  • language exchanges with Ecuadoran university students
  • numerous group excursions such as hiking in El Cajas National Park, El Chorro del Carmen waterfalls, Incan ruins of Ingapirca,  the Cañari Amerindian town of Tambo, and
  • two nights (one a home-stay) in the fascinating indigenous community of Saraguro, a group of Native Americans moved there from Bolivia by the Inca in pre-Columbian times.

Program participants can also take a Spanish course (highly recommended) at the appropriate level for an additional cost.

Cuenca is one of the safest and cleanest cities in Latin America, and because of its elevation (around 8,000 ft.), it is refreshingly cool in May and June in spite of its proximity to the equator.

The Universidad de Cuenca, where courses will be held, is a large public university with around 16,000 students, many with a keen interest in getting to know students from the United States.

For more information, photos, and videos, join the Stetson in Ecuador 2018 Facebook page and/or contact Dr. Robert Sitler. Be sure to watch the video that includes many of the places included in the program on Youtube.

Stetson celebrates United Nations International Day of Peace

For almost a year, Roxanne Lewis of WORLD: The Rinker Center for International Learning, has been discussing Peace Day events at Stetson University. Together with Lindsey Graves of the Interfaith Initiatives and Kevin Winchell of the Center for Community Engagement, they executed a full day of activities aimed at examining ideals and threats to peace. Here’s a recap of our inaugural Peace Day event.

Ringing the Hollis Center Bell for Peace — 10 a.m.

United Nations International Day of Peace at Stetson University kicked off with a ringing of the Peace Bell in the same spirit that the U.N. heralds peace each year. The Hollis Center bell rang 10 times, once for each continent and once for each of Stetson University’s campuses and centers.

Qi Gong with Sensei Morris Sullivan — 10:30-11 a.m. | Hulley Tower
Sensei Morris Sullivan led a group of participants through the traditional practice of Qigong (Chi Kung), a form of martial art or medical or spiritual engagement. Participants learned basic traditional movements that integrated physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions. Qigong expands and moves life-force/energy, Qi (pronounced chee), throughout the body. Surprisingly simple to do, the Qigong exercise generated much interest in Sensei Sullivan’s Thai Chi sessions offered in the Hollis Center each week.

Ball Pit/Labyrinth Walk — 11 a.m.-2 p.m. | Palm Court/Hulley Tower

A ball pit was assembled to encourage conversation and self-exploration. Participants took turns settling into the pit and selected a ball with printed questions to be used as conversation starters. Questions ranged in scope from “What is your favorite holiday and why?” to “What is the one worldwide issue that has to be fixed first?” One enthusiastic participant declared the ball pit experience was “a highlight of her time at Stetson so far!” One administrator posted on Facebbok , “Today, I spent 10 minutes in the ball pit with these awesome humans…I did not want to get out of the pool. It felt like such a loving and safe refuge in our crazy world.”

Peace Wall — Throughout the day | Multiple venues

An 8×4-foot Peace Wall was created by the Stetson community to represent the community’s desire to live and work in a place of peace. Students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to leave a message of peace on the plywood wall. The Peace Wall will be on display at WORLD, the Cross-Cultural Center, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life on a rotating basis between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drop by to view it and add your peace message.

Lunch + Conversations: Cultivating Personal Peace, Conflict Resolution, and Women in Peace and Conflict — 12-1 p.m. | Conrad Hall

Participants enjoyed a catered lunch and facilitated conversations on one of three topics. Sensei Morris Sullivan led Cultivating Personal Peace, Kevin Winchell facilitated Conflict Resolution, and Amber Finnicum-Simmon led Women in Peace and Conflict. Almost 50 students and staff engaged in passionate, provoking, and respectful discussion on emotionally-charged topics. Students grappled with concepts that challenged values and worldviews. This event attracted the largest crowd of the day’s events.

Four Directions Ceremony with Stetson’s Organization for Native American Revitalization (SONAR) — 1:15-1:45 p.m. | Sorority Row Gazebo
Stetson’s SONAR conducted a traditional Four Directions Ceremony. As decedents of Native American tribes, SONAR students invited participants to form a circle which is symbolic of the world. They asked for blessing and peace from the four cardinal directions — East, South, West and North — and from Father Sky and Mother Earth. The ceremony is a ritual clearing bad spirits and evil and a call for peace and security. One participant said she felt this program was “deeply spiritual, authentically executed and extremely well presented”.

Meditation Flash Mob with Stetson’s Mindful Meditation Club — 5:30-6 p.m. | Stetson Green
At 5:30 p.m., Stetson’s Meditation Club took over Green with a Meditation Flash Mob. Club members posed cross-legged or in prone positions on the ground and began a mass meditation session. Passersby were encouraged to join. The event emphasized the importance of personal peace and wellbeing and highlighted a growing group of students engaged in consistent practice of serenity.

A Call to Action: Waging Peace — 6-7:30 p.m. | Rinker Welcome Center

The culminating event of Peace Day 2017 featured a five-person panel on pressing issues of Peace – personal, global and in daily work. Panelists agreed that peace is requires hard work from engaged, motivated people. Following the presentations, participants recorded how Stetson community members foster and grow peace. Ideas collected will be integrated into programming by WORLD, Interfaith Initiatives, and the Center for Community Engagement. Panelists included Jora Young, retired staff at The Nature Conservancy; and from Stetson University: John Richardson, public safety officer and U.S. Military Veteran;  Eman Fathallah, Fulbright Scholar of Arabic and instructor of Arabic; Maxwell Droznin, AmeriCorps VISTA and community engagement coordinator; Kevin Winchell, associate director of community engagement; and moderator Rajni Shankar-Brown, associate professor of education and Jessie Ball duPont Chair of Social Justice.

Peace Day 2017 occurs at a great time because on September 26, 2017, we will celebrate and examine our core values during Values Day. We are excited about welcoming our keynote speaker, acclaimed author and media entrepreneur Irshad Manji to discuss “The Diversity Dilemma“.

A number of activities counted as Cultural Credit events.

Annually, International Peace Day is observed across the globe on September 21. The General Assembly declared that date as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among nations and peoples. For more on Peace Day at Stetson, contact Roxanne Lewis, international student and scholar services coordinator at WORLD: The Rinker Center for International Learning.