• HE internationalization: Working with cross-border professionals

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    TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

    Part 1
    BEFORE “internationalization” became a byword in higher education, there have been opportunities for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to avail of services of foreign professionals who are schooled from different parts of the world. They could be sponsored to stay in an HEI, for short or long periods—where “short” means a day to weeks and “long” means several years. This is advantageous for provincial HEIs. Unlike the widely known universities in the capital region, provincial HEIs may not have the resources or connections to forge partnerships with foreign institutions, neither to court student/faculty exchange nor send faculty members abroad for further studies. Having been in provincial private and public HEIs for some 50 years and more, I note that it may not be as difficult to realize internationalization in sectarian schools as it is in public and non-sectarian HEIs. Sectarian refers to Church-affiliated—Catholic or Christian (not that Catholics are not Christians, but these are the more popular terms in use). Blessed with study grants and fellowships to experience what’s on in cross-border higher education, I tried some viable means to “internationalize” HE instruction, when I assumed the post of academic vice-president in 1976 in a sectarian university and a decade later, as head of four chartered HEIs. Having foreign volunteers, visiting professors and retired professionals is much more possible today.

    Were our attempts “internationalization”? At that time, the term “internationalization” was not in our vocabulary. All I wanted was to share my academic experiences across borders particularly the culture of the Oxbridge and other centuries-old schools in the UK. Looking back, what we did in inviting foreign professionals somehow seemed to have helped in “the process of integrating an international, intercultural, or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of post secondary education.” (read Jane Knight, “Updating the Definition of Internationalization” in https://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.Php/ihe/article/viewFile/7391/6588). We feel the learning gains of our students and faculty members about other cultures—material and ideal—were nonetheless authentic, straight from the horse’s mouth.

    UN volunteers. Philippine bilateral agreements usually make available to our country volunteers of other countries’ citizens to assist us in certain life areas. They “work on international development programs with local partners that address basic needs in health and sanitation, education, governance, etc. Volunteers could be in their mid-20s, usually single; with UN volunteers, there’s no upper limit. We had at Xavier U, or the Ateneo de Cagayan, a British couple, Mr. and Mrs. George Hampton, both in their early 70s.Angela (Paddy) Hampton, who wrote on Irish poets, taught British Literature; George taught school management at Xavier U’s Institute for the Development of Educational Administration (IDEA). For their year’s stay, the university provided housing but the rest of the expenses for their upkeep were shouldered by the UN. After they left, corresponding as I usually have been doing with links I have forged, I would post mail them holiday and birthday greetings or any news of interest. Years later, on a British Council study grant at Surrey University, I spent Palm Sunday with them in Lymington, a port town on the west bank of the Lymington River on the Solent, in the New Forest district of Hampshire. We had lunch by the sea. Sixteen years later, I learned George was in a nursing home. When my email was hacked, I lost all contact with them.

    Other foreign volunteers. Foreign volunteers available to the Philippines, among others, are the Japan Overseas Service Volunteers (JOCV),the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) of the British government, and the VSO Bahaginan. The Bahaginan “recruits, trains and sends skilled professionals to work in partnership with organizations in Asia, Africa, etc. The post their employees on short-term volunteer placements.”<http://uhappyevents.com/vso-bahaginan/> (I recall recommending to the Bahaginan, Ms Bernadette Meliton, a UP major in English graduate and secretary of CHEd’s Teacher Education Technical panel which I then headed. She was posted in the education ministry in Cambodia. On her return to CHEd, she served for a time as a secretary in the commission.)

    Availing of foreign volunteers. With computer technology just being introduced in our country, I had the then Bukidnon State College (now a university as BukSu) request for Japanese volunteers in the late 1980s.Then Mika Furuchi (now Mrs. Maeda) and Akimtshu Nagai managed the school’s pioneering laboratory for computer applications and programming. We were quite proud then. Next to Xavier U, we had computer lessons from Grade One to College, beginning June 1995. Our deans and directors, along with others in the campus were not behind in computing skills. Eriko Mansi Arai, now Mrs Guro, came up with an operating system from “student admission to assessment.” We housed the volunteers in a unit next to the duplex where I lived. Their upkeep, except project-related travel, was taken care of by the JOCV. The college received donations of instructional materials and equipment along with the computer education project. Dante Victoria (now VP-Administration) then a new alumnus who served as immediate assistant to Akimtshu Nagai to learn the volunteer’s technology, was given a year at Okayama, Japan, for further training. The JOCV covered travel, insurance and upkeep expenses.

    Twenty-eight years after, Mika with her family surprised me with a “sentimental visit” to Cagayan de Oro where I stay, then sped away to Malaybalay for old times’ sake. Recently, I was informed we will have Mika visiting us this August.

    Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph

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