IIE Networker - Fall 2010 - (Page 35)

FULBRIGHT Out of the Office and Into the World: A Personal Perspective on the Fulbright International Education Administrators Program By Jenny McGill International education exchange is the most significant current project designed to continue the process of humanizing mankind to the point, we would hope, that nations can learn to live in peace. —J. William Fulbright IN 2006, I received a grant to participate in the Fulbright International Education Administrators (IEA) program to Germany, a group seminar on Germany’s higher education system. Along with the other grantees, I spent the first full week in Berlin, and in three weeks my group visited six cities, stayed in five hotels, and toured nine universities in Germany and the Czech Republic. Each location we visited began with a city tour, which provided us a basic and useful awareness or our surroundings. And, perhaps unsurprising for Germany, our seminar was thorough, organized, punctual, and well planned. The Germany program offers up to 25 travel grants, and Fulbright coordinators work tirelessly to organize logistics, gain access to universities, and plan excursions. A series of daily presentations provided an introduction to Germany that prepared us for our site visits to area universities. These seminars covered five integral areas: the German political system, the German system of higher education, German cultural and structural differences, the impact of the Bologna process on European nations, and opportunities for current and future U.S.-German-Czech student exchange. The program is unique and adapted from year to year, as approved by the Board of the German-American Fulbright Commission. Our site visits incorporated a variety of educational institutions: vocational schools, universities of applied science (Fachhochschulen), and traditional state universities. In particular, we visited each institution’s offices of international affairs and student services. University representatives delivered well-prepared presentations on their institutions, followed by consultations with university employees, students, and volunteers. This gave us hours to gather information and network. We were lucky, considering our shortterm excursion, to have the chance to observe educational history in the making. Our group happened to be in Germany when the government announced the finalists for its Excellence Initiative. This was a year-long competition among universities for German government funding. At the outset of what is predicted to be a period of dwindling state funds, tuition hikes, and growing expenses for German universities, the tension was high. Awards were granted in the amount of 1.5, 6.5, and 21 million euros, given annually for five years, depending on the category. We had previously met the staff of several of the universities involved in the competition, so when the results were announced, we were torn between joy for some and sadness for others. What a whirlwind! This grant is an intensive fact-finding mission that will have a positive impact not only for administrators, but also for students and institutions. The catch? Be eligible and apply. The minimum requirements are employment at a two- or four-year college in an administrative capacity for over three years, in a position involving foreign student admissions/advising, study abroad, Participants in the Fulbright International Education Administrator’s (IEA) Program studied a comparative analysis of the German and U.S. educational systems, the Bologna process in the European Union, and practices of institutional international offices for student services. Visits were made to nine universities throughout Germany and the Czech Republic. or international exchanges. In addition, you need to be responsible for contributing to the international programs and development of your institution. Recently, the program was opened to alumni affairs and fundraising personnel. In addition to Germany, the IEA program also offers seminars in India, Japan, and Korea. Visit www.cies.org/IEA for details. The journey was invaluable. Consider the company: sharing meals with brilliant colleagues was an opportunity to hear coast-to-coast perspectives on current academic issues and upcoming educational trends. We now form a network of grantees and communicate throughout the year, continuing to share thoughtful essays, project ideas, and humor. While in Germany, I was able to step out of my usual role of helping foreigners adjust to academic and cultural life in the United States. I got lost in the city, took the train in the wrong direction, navigated in a foreign environment—and returned with renewed empathy for the transitions my students experience. As international educators, we must always remind ourselves to operate with intercultural lenses. For our institutions, we need fresh ideas for program activities and curricula. For our profession, we need to foster exchanges and peer interaction across institutions. The International Education Administrator’s program accomplishes all three of these goals. The program exceeded my expectations for knowledge acquisition, cross-cultural learning, colleague networking, and uni■ versity partnerships—don’t miss it. Jenny McGill directs the International Office at Dallas Theological Seminary. This article first appeared in the Fulbright Funnel Issue 2008-02. Reprinted with permission. 35 http://www.cies.org/IEA

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2010

IIE Networker - Fall 2010
Message from Allan E. Goodman
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
Ten Years On: Bologna’s Global Dimension and Its Limits at Home
A New Europe: Creating the European Higher Education Area
What’s New in Brussels? Visions for the EU and the European Higher Education Area
Trends in English-Taught Master’s Programs in Europe
Promoting Higher Education in Spain: The Creation of the Universidad.es Foundation
The Joint European/International Doctorate: A Strategic Tool to Enhance Worldwide Institutional Collaboration
More Europeans Seek Undergraduate Degrees in the United States
European Schools in America, American Schools in Europe: Outposts Along the Path to the Global University
Out of the Office and Into the World: A Personal Perspective on the Fulbright International Education Administrators Program
Applying European Approaches to U.S. Higher Education
Advertisers’ Index
IIE Program Profile: IIE in Europe

IIE Networker - Fall 2010