NEW YORK, May 6, 2014—The Institute of International Education will lead a one-day workshop and convocation event focused on expanding international academic collaboration in Myanmar. The event serves as the culmination of "Connecting with the World: International Relations at Higher Education Institutions", a new course which provided comprehensive instruction for Myanmar university participants on how to set up and manage an international office. This meets a critical need for their universities as they form partnerships and engage in exchanges and projects with higher education counterparts around the world, to build the skills to support the country’s economic growth.
Myanmar and U.S. government officials and Myanmar university rectors will speak at the commencement ceremony, and will recognize the participants’ accomplishments. At the workshop, the educators and policymakers will discuss long-term goals for their universities, and how higher education can support the country’s broader development goals. They will also lay the groundwork for a first-ever association of international education administrators to support the universities as they go forward with their new international activities.
IIE developed the course in collaboration with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Northern Arizona University, the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and Knowledge Platform, a next-generation learning company, with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation. The U.S. Embassy provided important guidance and support on the ground, and the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) has been another key partner. The one-day workshop and convocation event is supported by ELS Educational Services, Inc. and hosted by Yangon Technological University.
Fifty-six participants from Myanmar, representing 32 universities and four government ministries, took part in the twenty week course. The lessons covered topics ranging from hosting a foreign delegation and facilitating student and faculty exchange, to developing institutional agreements and the role of an international office within a university. Thirty five international education professionals from around the world volunteered to work with the Myanmar participants as “virtual mentors,” engaging in weekly email correspondence about course assignments, sharing experiences, and discussing cross-cultural exchange.
Greet Provost, a mentor based at the University of Mississippi, said, “I am filled with awe for individuals in transitioning countries, who continue to strive forward, who remain ambitious, and who unwaiveringly believe in—and work towards—constructive change.”
This final workshop aims not only to assist participants in synthesizing knowledge gained over the twenty weeks of the “Connecting with the World” course, but also to prepare for their new roles on campus. These individuals will be the point person for international activities at their university, acting as an external liaison with other national and international counterparts. IIE will continue to work with them through the coming year through its IIENetwork membership program, to offer resources and information that will help them succeed.
This path-breaking course is part of IIE’s Myanmar Higher Education Initiative and is a direct outcome of the U.S. higher education delegation that IIE’s President and CEO, Dr. Allan Goodman led to Myanmar in February 2013. IIE created this course to meet the need that Myanmar officials expressed during the delegation’s visit for assistance in rebuilding higher education capacity in order to meet the country’s many ambitious development goals.
In his congratulatory message to the graduates, Dr. Goodman states, “the smart thing is to have this training occur as has happened here, at the beginning of the period of openness, because the international academic partnerships you will now develop will hold the seeds of good relationships for your universities and ours for many years to come.”
Based on the success of this pilot project, IIE is exploring how to meet additional training needs in Myanmar, as well as opportunities to continue and expand the “Connecting with the World” course in Myanmar and other countries.