No man is an island: School partnerships for internationalization

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WEB references define globalization more often in a business context – such as “the tendency of businesses, technologies, or philosophies to spread throughout the world, or the process of making this happen.” Sometimes referred to as a globality, the global economy is characterized as “a totally interconnected marketplace, unhampered by time zones or national boundaries.” This interconnection undergoes a “process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and mutual sharing, and other aspects of culture.” Integration, mutual sharing – these capture the lines from John Donne – “no man is an island.” Internationalization is what our reaction is to this tendency or to this process.

Given this tendency or process, shouldn’t we academics aim to have ourselves and our stakeholders, especially our students, acquire an informed understanding and take advantage of the maximum good that these “businesses, technologies, or philosophies” that “spread throughout the world” can bring upon us? What do we do about globality so that each of us will not left to be “walang balita,” meaning, uninformed and be “out of place?” What do we do to retain our places in this world comfortably, find our niche and keep it? When we adopt technologies that reach us or that we try to reach, do these technologies not jar our sensitivities? Do they conform to our way of life as Filipinos? What adjustments do we have to do? Do we adopt them in toto? In this regard, the word “glocal,” has somewhat gained mileage in the vocabulary of those, like me, are charged in their respective institutions to find ways and affordable means to internationalize our faculty, students, staff and the other stakeholders in our catchment areas.

Preparing ourselves and our students for globality which can indeed affect our future means for one, increasing employability of our students, training and honing them in competencies that are necessary for them not only to live comfortably but to be upright and useful to society. With varying philosophies spreading throughout the world, we need to strengthen our moral fibers so that the lure of gold doesn’t translate to greed. Keeping our integrity would be the better for us all. For us academics, internationalization becomes both a professional and personal “commitment, confirmed through action, to infuse international and comparative perspectives throughout the teaching, research and service mission of higher education.” Thus we may say that internationalization “shapes institutional ethos and values and touches the entire higher education enterprise.”

<http://www .merriam-webster.com/dictio nary/ethos.> With proper excuse to our quoted source, we add that the lower rungs of the educational enterprise may need as much re-shaping, re-designing, for our young to be better prepared for the habits of mind necessary to face globality.


Meanwhile, in this regard, and for our young, we also pin our hopes on the K-12 – its philosophy, its approach, its design and implementation. (You may want to read: “Comprehensive Internationalization: From Concept to Action” – a report of the National
Association of Foreign Student Advisors or NAFSA -See more at: < http://universityoutlook. com/topics/international/defining-internationalization-vs-globalization-within-higher-education
#sthash.F35wTImp.dpuf.>

In this interconnecting world, no longer can any entity much more schools be an island unto themselves. Thus, these days, we hope to see more partnerships sealed between and among schools as well as with cultural, spiritual, civic entities, etc. and the likely instrument is either a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Both are formal agreements between two or more parties to establish official partnerships, expressing mutual accord on an issue . . .” and is “not legally binding but . . . carry a degree of seriousness and mutual respect, stronger than a gentlemen’s agreement.” <https://www.google.com/search? q=what+is+a+memorandum+of+understanding&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8> <http://www.business dictionary.com/definition/memorandum-of-understanding-MOU.html#ixzz3yhZzrU wd>

How does such an agreement look like? A simple typical MOU/MOA begins with the names of parties that are entering the agreement, referred to each, as the “First Party,” and the “Second Party.” Next, is a concise description of what the project is about — the activities, and goals, intended outcomes of the project and target clientele for the partnership. These having been clearly expressed, the obligations or terms of reference (TOR) of each of the agreeing parties are enumerated. The TOR aim for each party know its obligation/s for the agreed project to be accomplished. These obligation/s are the summarized responsibilities of what each of the parties will do as part of the MOU such as specific types of actions, activities, or information- sharing and when. The terms are worded with enough clarity for the actions that each party has to do. Sometimes, there are more than two parties covered by such agreements. In this case, there would be three signatories. Whether there are two or more parties, each signatory representing his/her Party (his/her school) would have at least one witness also to sign the agreement.

There is always mutuality in the terms of reference of a MOU or a MOA – for what has been agreed upon to become a reality, both parties are both “givers” and “receivers,” partners. Indeed, as John Donne wrote, “no man is an island, entire of itself.” Just as there is more dependence of countries on one another, since actions of one can, even in a small way, impact on another, so also do schools need to connect, link, partner to better cope with what globality brings about. (To be continued – conducting a MOA/U signing ceremony)

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon,PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature. She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Britain and Japan. She is now the Vice-President for External Relations and Internationalization of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro) after serving as its VP for Academic Affairs for six and a half years concurrent to her ten years as dean in the Graduate Studies of the same university. She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.

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