Monthly Archives: June 2017

Global Perspectives Shared At the Swiss Embassy in Washington DC

Another exciting opportunity to gather with the VT and Swiss Global Perspectives Program (GPP) Cohort 2017 in Washington, DC to present about Higher Education as a Public Good.  It was great to be able to have most everyone attend our presentation at the Swiss Embassy on Friday, June 23rd. There were a few who were not in attendance, but were missed and remembered!

Throughout the entire trip, I have gained an overview of how higher education is set up in some European countries and how I compare or contrast this to my working knowledge of how higher education is set up in the USA. Personally, I see education as both a private and public good.  Private, in the fact that your education should be about increasing one’s own knowledge and understanding; yet, public because higher education as a whole should be for the betterment of the communities in which it serves.

Our GPP cohort was broken into three groups to discuss perspectives in the following areas:  Massification of Higher Education: Smart Solutions for Open Global Higher Education; Global Higher Education in the Post Truth Era: Importance of Fact Finding and Critical Thinking Skills; and Communicating Science in Global Higher Education.  Each group posed interesting thoughts and questions on ways for us to think both globally and forwardly.

We also heard the guest speaker, Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, President of Association of American Universities, give her thoughts on the current landscape of higher education. She charged us with being innovative, creative, and flexible in ways we teach students to apply and use knowledge.  Dr. Coleman stated that innovation and creativity can create new pathways for higher education in the global landscape.

Overall the meeting was powerful, enlightening, and served as a reminder of how we all face similar challenges no matter where we are in the world. As the GPP 2017 cohort “circled up” in our chairs one last time, we shared what we learned, what we wished were included, and a recommendation to help make the next trip better. Even though I may have some recommendations for things different, I do not wish one single experience was different. The trip has given me insight and caused me to think differently about me and the education system moving forward. So, perhaps, the trip was perfect. Perfect in that it allowed seamless things to happen, but also allowed for blips or imperfections that kept us all grounded.

No, I do not believe I would change a thing.  Except maybe I would have had one more gelato before I left…. 🙂

Thank you goes out to the Swiss Embassy for hosting us, and as always feeding us well! Thanks also to our Swiss cohort members for traveling our way for this meeting. May you have safe travels back to Switzerland!

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So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good-bye

I am all packed up and waiting for my ride to the airport in Zurich. It is unbelievable that 18 days ago I started out on this journey. This learning adventure has been unforgettable.

When I made my first blog post about being selected, one of the EDCO and GGP Alumni reached out to me in a congratulatory message with a hint that this would be a life-changing experience. Indeed it has. I am hoping to take some time to reflect and continue to share about my trip once I return home.

It was sad to leave the GPP ’17 cohort a few days ago, but we’ve been keeping each other up to date on our continued travels or return and acclimating home. The few days spent with my traveling friends helped transition to a slower pace…barely. We still took in some sights and ate more foods.

Nevertheless, I am ready to get back home to my family. It will be great to sleep in my own bed after a long, hot shower. I am looking forward to the welcoming arms (and paws) of those I love.

Thank you to our host schools in Switzerland, France, and Italy. Thank you to the staff at the Steger Center in Riva San Vitale. Thank you to an old friend of a new friend that showed us around a few towns in Switzerland we did not see on our tour.

It has been my pleasure and I have learned a great deal. In the song that titles this post (from The Sound of Music) one line sums it up:

I leave and heave a heavy sigh goodbye.

Its So Hard To Say Goodbye

As I write this post, I sit in the quiet solitude of my two bedroom apartment on the first floor of the historic church where I have been living for the past week. It is the top of the hour and the bells ring to alert me of the time; or perhaps today they chime in remembrance.

My three roommates left shortly ago and my other GPP friends have either boarded their respective trains heading back to home, labs, family, or are off on the last remaining legs of their adventures here in Europe. One left last night. Our GPP friends from Basel and Zurich left yesterday before dinner after our workshops and dinner. Slowly our numbers are dwelling as we depart.

Shortly, I will leave with two of my GPP friends for one more visit to Zurich before heading back to the USA. Before I can really reflect deeply about this whole GPP experience, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that this journey has been so much richer and full because of the people with whom shared it with me. We’ve shared a lot. Trains, food, vans, food, trams, meals, drinks, places, food. Stories, sights, food, universities, gelato, and food. Yes, there was a lot of food involved!

I wish all safe travels as some of us part ways today. I wish everyone rest, joy, and love. In all of the preparations for this study abroad fellowship, nothing quite prepared me for the kinship that would build so quickly with these folks. My GPP cohort, my Ticino Familgia.

Indeed it is hard to say good by to the lovely Steger Center Villa, Daniella, Michelle, Luigi and the rest of the amazing kitchen staff, Riva San Vitale, and Switzerland. It is even harder to say goodbye to these amazing and remarkable GPP people, even though I know we will all meet up again in a few weeks when we present to the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C.

So now it is time for me to collect my things and head north be for heading west. These moments will long be remembered. Thank you Dean Karen DePauw for such a life-changing and enriching experience!