IIE Networker - Fall 2008 - (Page 45)

Knowledge Network Study Abroad Developing a Study Abroad Program in Benin: SUNY Oswego By Marcia M. Burrell, Barbara Garii, and Joshua S. McKeown The State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego) offers one of the largest study abroad programs in the SUNY system. Regularly sending abroad over three hundred students per year, for a participation rate of over 20 percent, the college has made international education a strategic focus. Overseas study is being presented as a core part of the undergraduate experience. Despite its long history in study abroad, SUNY Oswego has offered primarily traditional study abroad programs, mostly to western European destinations. Prior to 2008, the college had never sent students to Africa. However the two trends in international education most impacting study abroad nationwide (as tracked by Open Doors) also converged at SUNY Oswego: the dramatic increase of faculty-led short-term programming and the diversification of study abroad destinations to non-European countries (IIE, 2007). The first Oswego student group to set foot on the African continent landed in Cotonou, Benin in January, 2008. Two faculty members and the college’s Director of the Office of International Education and Programs accompanied fifteen students to the West African nation. The program was the result of nearly ten years of steady, respectful relationship-building between important stakeholders in both countries. The unique relationship started with a single, senior faculty member from SUNY Oswego’s School of Education whose research in the Republic of Benin led to the now decade-long partnership between the Benin Ministry of Education and the upstate New York campus. Lunchtime at a public school in Cotonou, Benin SUNY Oswego's first study abroad group to Benin, January 2008 Faculty Development and International Dialogues In June 2006, seven faculty members from SUNY Oswego’s School of Education conducted three weeks of professional development training for primary and secondary school inspectors in the Republic of Benin. The school inspectors, responsible for overseeing curriculum and teacher professional development throughout Benin, are in the process of transforming their Frenchbased curriculum to a system that better addresses Beninois culture and the demands of a developing nation (Issaou, 2006). The official language of Benin is French. However, nearly all students enter school speaking only a local language such as Fon or Aja. The Oswego faculty offered mini-workshops providing school inspectors with a variety of teaching perspectives and methodologies, very different from those the inspectors had experienced in their own teacher training programs. The Oswego faculty members were also active listeners and learners, seeking to understand how the inspectors used their relationships with teachers and local communities to strengthen bilingual educational practices. Soon after this successful summer exchange, an agreement was reached to create opportunities for Beninois to visit the United States and for more Americans to visit Benin. The U.S. faculty participants had been enriched by the school inspectors’ level of enthusiasm and desire to engage in conversation about both the American educational system and the Beninois system. As a result of this relationship, SUNY Oswego developed a grantfunded professional development program for American teachers and Benin Ministry of Education officials. The professional development program supported ten Beninois school inspectors

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2008

IIE Networker - Fall 2008
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
The International Dimension of Higher Education: Status, Challenges, and Prospects in Africa
Internationalization in Africa In Relation to Other World Regions
Measuring International Student Mobility Trends: In and Out of Africa
IIENetworker University President’s Interview Series A Conversation with President Mohammad H. Qayoumi, California State University, East Bay
Country Profile: Nigeria
Scholars & Research
Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative
Joint Degree Programs
Advising Students
Study Abroad
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Fall 2008