Friedman’s perspective is that the 21st century we inhabit operates on a more of a level global playing field than ever before in terms of business and commerce…and I would argue in terms of higher education opportunities as well. Friedman suggests that geography is no longer necessarily a driver or detractor to personal success; that a continual updating of skills, healthy curiosity and empathy and a willingness to learn and adapt are the keys that distinguish winners.
As our students are studying and working abroad, I am witnessing this trend firsthand and see how opportunities for global learning are transforming and enriching their lives.
For the past two years we’ve had a group of students travel to Ecuador www.csusm.edu/global/studyabroad/ecuador.html to study medical anthropology with Dr. Bonnie Bade, department chair and professor of Anthropology. These students live in indigenous communities and visit hospitals and clinics where they witness and practice both traditional and clinical medicine. They learn, for example, about medical ethno botany from Quechua farmers. Bonnie tells me that, “our students learn about other ways of thinking, doing and being. They think about new ways or relating to the environment and creating community. It opens their minds.”
The chair of our nursing department, Dr. Denise Boren takes nursing students to Swaziland each year to see patients in clinics and homes and learn about the issues that impact healthcare delivery in southern Africa. Nursing instructor Lien Ngo-Nguyen took a group of nurses to work in Vietnam this past summer. And, for the past several years we’ve sponsored a group of students who have visited a non-adopting orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to observe biological, sociological and psychological factors that foster or inhibit human development. They come into the situation with a specific set of assumptions based on an American perspective and consistently report that the experience is “life changing.”
These are just a few examples of international learning and service opportunities http://www.csusm.edu/global available to CSUSM students. Stay tuned as we continue to develop new programs that expand global awareness, insight and perspective. I enjoy hearing from you and hope you will feel free to email me at email@example.com.