Htoo Htoo Wah is the head of the English Department at the Myanmar Institute of Theology, a leading Christian higher education institution in Myanmar. After spending four intense weeks as a visiting scholar at Northern Arizona University, he had a moment to reflect on his experience of U.S. higher education.
Last month I met with Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, the new Minister of Education and Research in Norway, who was in Washington, DC, for the annual Transatlantic Science Week organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. We spoke about higher education internationalization in Norway and the priorities for academic collaboration with the United States. Mr. Røe Isaksen, who holds a MA in Political Science from the University of Oslo, also spent one year in the United States as a student at Carl Junction High School in Missouri.
In September, IIE announced that it is launching a new course designed to train Ministry officials and university representatives in Myanmar on how to create and manage an effective international education office. The new course, “Connecting to the World: International Relations for Higher Education Institutions,” will be an "essential step to enable universities in Myanmar to connect with institutions in the United States and other countries so that they can build institutional capacity and prepare their students to meet current workforce needs and support rapid economic development." This project is part of a broader IIE Myanmar higher education initiative which seeks to help the country rebuild its higher education capacity.
Greg Galford, an Associate Professor of Interior Architecture from Chatham University, had never really thought about Indonesia two years ago, but was set to travel there in April 2011 as more or less a tag-along faculty member. IIE had selected Chatham to join a cohort of six U.S. and six Indonesian colleges and universities that would dedicate two years to developing institutional partnerships and increasing U.S. study abroad to Indonesia. When at the last minute the senior administrator leading the effort was unable to travel with Greg, he found himself solely responsible for representing the university, anxious about what would be expected of him in Indonesia, and hyper concerned about making the short layover from Seoul to Bandung.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Standing in the destruction left by Superstorm Sandy, Eddy Satriya was deeply moved by the efforts of local residents, volunteers and officials to rebuild Breezy Point, NY in the Rockaways. Having known several people affected by the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, Satriya truly realized the full impact of his time in the U.S. “I can imagine the worst night that the people in Breezy Point faced when the hurricane hit since I also met people in Aceh, Indonesia after the tsunami," he said.
A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in a classroom at MIT surrounded by about thirty Indonesians. My mind was wandering since everyone was speaking in rapid Bahasa Indonesia and, sadly, my Indonesian language skills are limited to “hello” and “thank you.” On the upside, I noticed the half-erased math equations on the chalkboard—something about “r” and squares and Greek letters—realizing that Bahasa might not be the most confusing language in the room.
Recently, I accompanied 32 U.S. college and university representatives on a whirlwind study tour to Brazil. Covering five cities in six days, this remarkable group of faculty, staff, and administrators bonded over bus rides, pão de queijo, and the wealth of opportunities presented by the Brazilian higher education system.