IIE Networker - Fall 2009 - (Page 30)

REGIONAL FOCUS: THE CARIBBEAN Bridging Borders: A Project for the Development and Diversification of Higher Learning Institutions in the United States and Haiti By Patrick Guilbaud and William Davis IMAGINE A COUNTRY rich in human and cultural resources striving to build a strong educational foundation so that its best and brightest children do not need to leave its shores to study, work, or create new businesses. Th is is the foundational vision behind the U.S.-Haiti Higher Education Partnership, an initiative funded by USAID-Haiti through Higher Education for Development (HED) to develop international linkages between U.S. and foreign universities. Th rough the initiative, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is partnering with L’École Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti (ESIH) to strengthen educational capacity and provide an opportunity for five outstanding Haitian scholars to obtain undergraduate degrees in the United States. Building international partnerships, developing bi-cultural learning experiences and co-constructing academic curricula represent only a partial list of the achievements of the program to date. Students, professors and staffs at both Virginia Tech and ESIH are taking full advantage of the new learning opportunities presented by the partnership. All of the participants are thus gaining a richer and deeper perspective about the benefits of cross-cultural linkages between U.S. and Caribbean higher education institutions. Student Progress, Faculty Development The collaborative partnership between Virginia Tech and ESIH has multiple levels and varied purposes. Two fundamental aspects of the collaboration consist of training of five undergraduate transfer scholars in computer science (CS) at Virginia Tech, and strengthening CS academic capacity at the Haitian university. After arriving in the summer of 2008, the Haitian scholars have successfully completed one year of two on their way to earning B.S. degrees at their new university. The scholars, who completed the equivalent of an associate degree before their transfer, are actively involved in numerous on-campus organizations at Virginia Tech, including the Association of Women in Computing and the National Society of Black Engineers. Despite the difficulties of transferring to a new university, they have all excelled academically. Two of the scholars made the Dean’s List in their fi rst semester at Virginia Tech. Another won a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference. Only one year into their academic careers at Virginia Tech, the undergraduate scholars from ESIH have successfully integrated themselves into the academic and social fabric of their new university. In addition to the five Haitian scholars, computer science and EFL professors from ESIH made three training trips to Virginia Tech. Thus far, the ESIH faculty members have participated in specific course-related workshops, attended courses and planning meetings, obtained access to course documents from syllabi to readings, and exchanged learning strategies based on mobile technologies and virtual reality. Nine Haitian professors have spent a total of seven weeks collaborating with computer science and EFL faculty in building more comprehensive courses and familiarizing themselves with current trends in syllabi, course development, readings and outreach. This broad-based level of training aids is modernizing the computer science curriculum at ESIH and providing marketable services for the Haitian community and the private sector. Through the program, each participating faculty member from ESIH is paired with a corresponding colleague at Virginia Tech working in the same area. The paired groups then have the opportunity to stay in contact The U.S.-Haiti Higher Education Partnership enables five Haitian students to obtain undergraduate degrees in the United States. between visits and workshops, providing the foundation for long-term collaboration between the individuals and their respective departments. “The project has created an open door to the North American educational system. Before, ESIH’s international academic network was exclusively oriented towards Europe,” explained Patrick Attié, Vice-Rector of ESIH. This new opening and the engagement it portends to bring will benefit both institutions, offering Virginia Tech and ESIH faculty opportunities to obtain broader perspectives in their areas of expertise while increasing international connections. Diverse Involvement and Applications The educational linkages between the universities extend beyond student scholarships and faculty workshops. Graduate students at Virginia Tech also work on the project. Students of varied academic backgrounds contribute to the program by serving as peer-mentors to the Haitian students, assisting in training activities for the faculty members from ESIH, participating in Haiti-oriented outreach efforts, creating and developing online databases for information available to faculty in Haiti, sharing 30

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2009

IIE Networker - Fall 2009
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Public Diplomacy and Academic Exchange: Policy Priorities of the New Administration
Student Mobility Trends in Latin America
Promoting Inclusiveness in Higher Education in Latin America: A Policy Response
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
Student Recruitment in the Caribbean: New Strategies for Cooperation
Bridging Borders: A Project for the Development and Diversification of Higher Learning Institutions in the United States and Haiti
Recent Challenges to Study Abroad in Mexico: Economic Crisis, Security Risks, H1N1
Special Feature: International Education Initiatives in Latin America
New York City and Sao Paulo, Public Policy and Business: A New Dual Degree Partnership
The Browser: Advertisers' Index
IIE Program Profile: The IIE Regional Office for Latin America

IIE Networker - Fall 2009