You probably have never heard of the Global Platform for Syrian Students. I hadn’t heard of them either until about two years ago when the President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, Dr. Vartan Gregorian, introduced us.
It was a real lesson in globalization. The airplane announcement went something like this:
"The local authorities have asked us to spray the cabin to prevent the spread of disease by mosquitos. Please do not breathe in if you are allergic to spraying. And due to the recent outbreaks of Ebola, MERS, H1N1, and bird flu, please report to local authorities upon landing if you have any of the following symptoms: ..." You can imagine the list.
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.
In the middle of June, when the team at the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund realized we were facing a third Iraq emergency—as well as requests for help from scholars in many other parts of the world—Senator Leahy of Vermont reminded us why we do this work. He told the story of a man walking along a beach where many starfish had washed ashore. The man was picking them up one by one and tossing them back into the ocean. A passerby noted that there were many hundreds and that the effort was pretty much futile. “Not to the one I just managed to throw back,” replied the man.
A team of us spent part of last week in Jerusalem to present the 10th IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East. You can read about this year's winners, those from past years, Vic's reasons for creating the prize, and the symposium we convened on "New Faces and New Hopes" on our Goldberg Prize website.
I’m well aware that beyond international education circles, the Institute of International Education is not exactly a household name. So you can imagine my surprise when, on my first trip to Libya in 2006 to explore restarting scholarship programs with the country, I met numerous people who were intimately familiar with IIE. I will never forget my first meeting at Libya’s National Oil Company, when a gentleman greeted me in near-flawless English. It turns out that he had studied in the United States in the 1970s on an IIE-administered scholarship program. Not only did he have fond memories of his studies and the university that hosted him, but he regaled us with stories of his arrival to the United States and the warm welcome he received from his IIE program officer, whose name he remembers to this day.