Reflective Blog Post

From this mentorship, I’ve developed a number of job-related skills and increased my knowledge of a university global center’s responsibilities. I acquired advanced power point skills, and have learned how to plan special events, manage receptionist duties, and handle office politics. I’ve also gained a greater understanding of the study abroad advisement process including study abroad scholarship opportunities. In addition, I’ve become good friends with my mentor and have thoroughly enjoyed working at UNG’s Center for Global Engagement.

Final Presentation PPT

CGE Staff  (courtesy of JW)

To get the most out of my mentorship, I always approached every assignment with a positive mental attitude. I reorganized the director’s filing system. Initially, I thought this would be a boring task however; as I got more involved with it, I realized that it allowed me to read through the contractual relationships with other universities to better understand study abroad programs. In addition, I’ve always looked for ways to promote the CGE’s services. I referenced them on social media, as appropriate, and I also staffed the CGE study abroad booth at a new student fair to answer questions on the Federal Service Language Academy (FSLA). My enthusiasm resulted in a summer job with the CGE’s FSLA program. This summer job will be great experience and will look good on my resume.

FSLA Booth.jpg

FSLA Booth (photo courtesy of K.R.Dionne)

For me, mentoring with the CGE helped expand my awareness of opportunities for study abroad and funding. Therefore, I will be able to select the best educational options to prepare me for a career in international business. I think every student should participate in some form of HMP before going to college. It provides insights about potential career paths. HMP can help a student discover early on whether they’re heading down the right path or not before they spend a lot of money in college.

March 14th Assignment: Tips for a Great Presentation

I just viewed an outstanding video titled “Be a More Confident Public Speaker.” You can view it by clicking on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tShavGuo0_E

The creator of this video does a great job of modeling the recommendations that she offers in the video. For instance, she suggests that a speaker open with a “hook” – perhaps a compelling fact, statistic, or story. She does this when she states that over seventy percent of the population fears public speaking and there is even a name for this fear: glossophobia!

When I give my presentation on study abroad, perhaps I can open with a statistic about how few American students study abroad vs. students from other countries. I would like a hook that demonstrates the compelling need to make study abroad more affordable, and therefore more accessible, to a greater number of American students.

The video also presents a three-step model for preparing a speech called the “Triple-P:” 1) Prepare, 2) Posture/Physicality, and 3) Pander. At the preparation stage, you should know exactly what and how you want to communicate. For the second stage, a confident posture or presence will demonstrate that you have control of the room. The last stage will ensure that your audience feels comfortable with you and they can trust what you say.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the content of my presentation, but not as much about the style of communication and non-verbal aspects. I want to come across as knowledgeable and professional, but not stiff. I hope that my audience feels that my research and conclusions are valuable to them and the clients they serve. If I achieve this goal, then I will feel that I’ve given a great presentation!

February 1st Assignment

For my Capstone Project, I’ve been focusing on real inquiry. I want to create greater accessibility to study abroad opportunities for the students at my university. I hypothesized that cost was the biggest barrier to participation, but I decided to verify my conjecture through research.

I interviewed the Global Center’s Director and he confirmed that cost was the greatest concern for students and parents. I also researched the topic through on-line, scholarly journals. Authors of these articles claimed that perceived and actual costs were a valid inhibitor of study abroad.

For Real Inquiry, I’ve started a benchmark study of ten southeastern universities. I’m gathering data from their global center web sites to ascertain what type of scholarship and financial support is provided to prospective study abroad candidates.

My Global Center Director considers these other institutions to be his “competition” and is very interested in what I learn from my benchmark study. You can be sure that I will post the results to this blog once I complete my evaluation!

January 11th Assignment: Interview

I recently interviewed the Director of my university’s global center. My capstone project is about determining ways to make study abroad more affordable, in order to make it more accessible to a greater number of students. My goal for the interview was to get an overview of the university’s Study Abroad function, as it currently exists. Questions and answers are summarized below:

  1. What are the objectives of the Study Abroad function? Study abroad is a critical element of students’ education since so many career options now have a global component. The Study Abroad Advisors guide students to opportunities that will promote language acquisition, cross-cultural awareness, and networking. Reflection: I agree with this response and would like to add that a Study Abroad Advisor can provide tremendous support in ensuring that a study abroad experience has a positive outcome for a student.
  2. How do you determine where to offer Study Abroad programs? The best way is when a faculty member has an interest in a region and establishing a relationship with a specific institution. Each year, we create about five new study abroad programs. Reflection: Programs are more likely to have departmental and the Dean’s support when they are faculty-driven.
  3. How do you decide what organization (such as the Goethe or Confucius Institute) to partner with? College departments survey students and when new groups are identified, we investigate them and find out if we share similar goals. Reflection: Many of these organizations offer scholarships for study abroad. A review of these quasi-governmental and NGO organizations may reveal additional sources of funding for students.
  4. What is the typical location or region for study abroad students? European countries, specifically France, Germany, and Italy. Reflection: This makes sense for military students since there are bases that they can visit in these countries with study abroad programs. However, in terms of affordability, Europe is pricey. I should examine currency and cost-of-living rates to identify more affordable destinations for students.
  5. What are your plans to expand these locations? There is a large push to expand the military locations and offer more foreign exchange between military academies. Also there is increased interest in international internships and service learning opportunities. Reflection: It makes sense to expand in ways that help to make students career ready.
  6. Why do students study abroad? It is fun and they can get college credit while expanding their world views. Reflection: It’s helpful to understand student motivation before devising a solution.
  7. What keeps students from studying abroad? Primarily the price and finances; followed by parent anxiety, military commitments, time, terrorism, etc. Reflection: The Director confirmed that price in the greatest inhibiting factor for students interested in studying abroad. So if I can find ways to make study abroad more affordable, more students will pursue these opportunities.
  8. What support do you provide for student safety during study abroad? Student safety is our #1 priority. We conduct site visits and have a staff member or representative of the university on site. In case of emergency, we have a communication protocol that will include extracting students from a foreign country if their safety is jeopardized. Reflection: I anticipate that I will have to find a balance between affordable and safe study abroad options.
  9. How do you market study abroad opportunities to students? Mostly through social media. Reflection: It seems like it would be beneficial to students to communicate with them early in college, so that they’ve planned ahead how study abroad will fit in their course schedules. Consider information for new student and transfer student orientations.
  10. Post-study abroad, what do students cite as the most meaningful part of their trips? The Welcoming Ceremony, life-altering experiences, and the connections they make. Reflections: Consider communicating post-trip comments to the student body so it came help students envision how study abroad will benefit them.

 

This interview helped me get an overview of the Study Abroad function. I think it will also be worthwhile to visit the web sites of other university study abroad centers to see what support they offer their students to make Study Abroad more affordable. This could be of tremendous value to benchmark the study abroad function. After all, information is power!

January 5th Assignment

What is driving my research?

I want to find out how to make study abroad more available to a greater number of students. The greatest barrier to study abroad for most students is the cost. So my essential question is “How can I develop affordable study abroad options?”

Studying abroad is an invaluable experience that can improve students’ foreign language skills and widen cross-cultural awareness. However, according to NAFSA, only one percent or approximately 300,000 students study abroad each year. This is likely due to the high costs of study abroad programs. Making studying abroad more affordable will increase participation.

Tools: I plan to expand the Center’s online resources and create a pamphlet that features scholarships for study abroad. The pamphlet would be a general overview while the online resources will be more detailed (sorted by language, major, etc.).

Inquiry: I will source this information by doing primary research that will include: 1) A survey of prospective study abroad students, 2) A summary of federal and institutional study abroad scholarships, and 3) A competitive benchmark of other university global engagement centers.

In the next week, I plan to discuss this with my mentor to discover what research the Center has concerning study abroad.

November 30th Assignment

Essential Question: How can I develop affordable study abroad options?

Why did you select this as your essential question?

Many students aspire to study abroad, but the cost may deter them from completing a study abroad experience. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, only one percent or approximately 300,000 students study abroad per year.

Study abroad can improve students’ foreign language levels and cross-cultural sensitivities—all skills that are highly prized in today’s increasingly global economy.

What excites you most about finding the answer to this essential question?

Federico Fellini said, “A different language is a different vision of life.” Studying a foreign language and then traveling abroad exposes one to different ways of life—expanding one’s world view to become more cross-culturally aware and well-rounded.

I am excited to develop affordable study abroad options so more students (including me) study abroad and become “global citizens.”

Do you feel that this question accurately reflects a desire/need that you have to find out more about this topic? Absolutely! I want to have multiple study abroad experiences while in college. I would like to better appreciate regional differences between westernized and developing countries; and visit several continents. To accomplish this, I will have to devise affordable study abroad (and possibly internship) options.

December 7th Assignment:

Career Assumptions and Job Skills

I am pleased to report that generally, my assumptions about my mentorship have been confirmed. I expected the Center to focus on helping students become “global citizens” and I’ve enjoyed meeting international students and students with an interest in study abroad. However, I was surprised that most of the study abroad students are preparing for careers in political, educational, or medical fields. I thought all students would be interested in study abroad. The Center is working to expand the number and diversity of students that study abroad by sponsoring fairs and multicultural events; and promoting study abroad scholarships.

To be successful in an international career field, it is important to have exposure to other cultures, which of course, is one of the benefits of study abroad. Also, excellent verbal, written, and interpersonal skills are essential to avoid cross-cultural confusion or conflict. In addition, fluency in multiple languages can be an advantage.

I’m really glad that I’ve had this opportunity to gain exposure to a university’s global center. Advances in technology have made the world much smaller and will require all occupations to become globally sophisticated.

November 16th Assignment: Social Intelligence

I just read an interesting article about “social intelligence” on Tim Elmore’s blog, “Growing Leaders.” Here is a link to the article:

http://growingleaders.com/blog/first-soft-skill-develop-students/

Social intelligence is defined as “the capacity to effectively negotiate complex social relationships and environments.” The term was first coined by noted American psychologist, Edward Thorndike, in 1920. Essentially, it is the ability to develop healthy relationships.

The article cites Daniel Goldman’s book “Social Intelligence.” Goldman states that social intelligence includes: empathy, attunement, social cognition, concern, self-presentation and influence.

Elmore claims that younger adults are too self-absorbed and do not acknowledge authority so they come across as arrogant and lacking a work ethic. He attributes this to lenient parenting and over reliance on technology at the expense of social interactions. Elmore states that younger adults would do well to acquire social intelligence at work because it will help them make better first impressions and improve working relationships.

One thing that spoke to me in this article is the idea that younger adults who use social intelligence to their advantage will differentiate themselves in the work place. To me, social intelligence indicates intellectual and emotional maturity. I feel comfortable in many situations, but sometimes in hindsight, I wish that I had communicated more effectively.

In my internship, I plan to observe the interactions of my co-workers to learn who appears to be more socially savvy. Then I will adapt some of their social skills to match my style. Hopefully, just being attuned to these subtleties will improve my relationships (generally and in the workplace)!

November 9th Assignment

In the last month, I’ve been busy preparing for International Education Week which occurs during the week of November 16th across all four campus locations. This is also the last week before Thanksgiving break, so as you can I imagine, this has been a very hectic time filled with exams and major projects.

I’ve completed a myriad of duties, including soliciting local businesses for donations for prizes that can be used during International Education Week; finalizing the International Jeopardy Power Point presentation; contacting student groups to encourage participation in the Jeopardy game; and figuring out the logistics connected to the game, since I will be hosting the event.

I want to give a big “thank you” to my teacher of “Introduction to Business and Technology.” She taught us skills that have helped me in this internship. For instance, skills involved in business conception, planning, and promotion—how to take an idea, such as the International Jeopardy Game and get it off the ground. Also, all students had the opportunity to become Microsoft-certified as part of the course, and the technology skills I learned were very beneficial in the preparation of the International Jeopardy presentation. Lastly, business etiquette tips that were included in the course were helpful in negotiating office politics. Overall, I’m looking forward to a great turnout for all International Week events!

November 2nd Assignment

My internship site has been a “partner in my education” in several ways. I frequently work in the reception area, so I have become familiar with the types of clients handled by the Center and their needs. This has led me to a broader understanding of the Center’s global service offerings, as I learn to respond to common client questions.

In addition, the staff at my site have been very willing to give me overviews of their functional areas, and this helps me see how all the areas work together to meet the global engagement needs of the university and its students.

I have been active in International Education Week event planning and execution. Plus, I am managing all aspects of the International Jeopardy Game, which is a key event for this week. The intention for this game is that it both educates and entertains. The presentation is very sophisticated with audio and video files, so I had to develop advanced Power Point skills to produce the project. This presentation is a capstone-level project!

I’ve met many of my goals through these accomplishments and I want to get an even greater in-depth appreciation of the study abroad, internship and scholarship offerings available to students. I’ve helped out the Director of the Center by re-organizing his filing systems, and this has given me exposure to program proposals and institutional agreements. This has been a good introduction to the issues that must be covered in such proposals and agreements.

Overall, the internship is proceeding according to my expectations. I’m still learning and enjoying the opportunities to meet international students and other students who are looking for ways to engage globally!