Sycamores aren’t confined to classrooms on the Terre Haute campus, as numerous opportunities open global perspectives — here and abroad.
Globetrotter — that’s the best word to describe Kirk Moore, ’16, from Koforidua, Ghana. The passport of this criminology and criminal justice graduate student is stamped with more than seven countries across Africa, North America and Europe. Just this year, Moore traveled on a three-week faculty-led trip to five eastern European countries for an immersive experience in widely different criminal justice systems — the perfect career-prepping opportunity to enhance his understanding of the field through global perspectives.
Moore’s recent adventures are just one example of the “global classrooms” available to Indiana State students. These opportunities are made possible by the hard work of many contributors, including the Center for Global Engagement (CGE). The center helps all Sycamores — international or domestic — experience the world’s cultures while abroad or on campus.
“The Center for Global Engagement is the hub for international activity,” said Chris McGrew, the center’s director. “Some of the pillars of this university are engagement and diversity. The center plays a direct role in implementing them for our students.”
Sycamores like Moore — who has traveled to the United States to study and other countries during his time as a Sycamore — has used many of the services provided by the Center for Global Engagement. And with all that CGE does, that’s a pretty long list.
As an international student, he’s received immigration support from the center for navigating the extensive policies and procedures required for foreign scholars. He’s also found help for managing cultural and social adjustments and finding on-campus and community resources. His European faculty-led trip, a short-term global experience centered on a three-credit course, was facilitated with assistance from the center, too. Plus, adventurous students can utilize the center to find long-term study abroad programs at universities abroad.
Currently, around 12 to 15 faculty-led trips occur each academic year and study abroad opportunities are available in 50 countries and more than 350 universities. Each year, 150 to 200 students go on faculty-led trips, while 50 to 100 students pursue a long-term study abroad experience.
“For students, global travel is very important in any career,” said Zachariah Mathew, assistant director of the center. “I always come back to marketing as an example. If you want to sell basketballs in China, where there are many people who are becoming wealthier, you don’t just start exporting basketballs. First, you would run basketball camps to teach them how to play basketball. Then you could begin to sell your product in this new market you’ve created. For somebody to think in those terms, they need to understand that China is different. Going to that country is important to that understanding.”
The services of the Center for Global Engagement are by no means limited to just students. With their expertise and experience, CGE staff can advise faculty members on creating new global experiences for students or help facilitate their own travel to teach or collaborate on research at other universities. Faculty can benefit in similar ways as students by experiencing other cultures and perspectives.
“We have amazing researchers who have done some amazing work. Research is time-consuming and complicated — it’s easy to close the door and narrow one’s focus to the work,” Mathew said. “But the most benefit from any type of research comes when one can understand how cultural differences may impact the research. A solution to a problem in the United States might not be viable elsewhere because of those cultural differences. It’s really important for researchers, as well as students, to gain that cultural understanding through global experiences and connections.”
Other key initiatives of the center include increasing international student recruitment and global awareness about Indiana State. Presently, the campus is home to international students from 82 countries that make up around eight percent of State’s student population. Their presence enriches learning experiences — both in and outside of the classroom — as they interact directly with other students to exchange knowledge about their cultures, histories, perspectives and ideas. Plus, State’s international students carry on the university’s tradition of community engagement in the Wabash Valley.
“(International students) have done a lot in the community,” Moore said. “I taught African drumming, for instance, at Sarah Scott Middle School. It was amazing the questions these kids were asking. The only thing they knew about Africa was what they saw on their TV — you know, that it’s a poor place, a dark continent, this and that. I got weird questions like ‘Do you guys live on trees?’ and ‘Do you have a lion as a pet?’ When you bring people like us to this community, it helps people understand other people and places. International students can open the horizon for everybody.”
Global experiences, on-campus and abroad, are all possible thanks to the work of offices like the Center for Global Engagement. And those experiences are opportunities no one should pass up, Moore said.
“Not only does travel experiences like the ones at State broaden your horizons, they also give you an understanding of your environment and what, why and how people do things,” Moore said. “It changes your sense of humanity, your train of thought, and even your relationships with friends and family. If you don’t travel, you can lose the opportunity to develop a part of yourself that you could really regret. So go somewhere. Change your environment and change your mind.”
Read more about Sycamores’ global experiences:
- Linked In — Scott College of Business Professor Aruna Chandra taps her global network of scholars to show her students a new perspective on how the world works.
- Language Builders — Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants get the opportunity to teach overseas, observe educational differences between here and home.
- Building Abroad — Sometimes the best lessons — even for an accomplished scholar like Alethia Marrero — come when you push outside your comfort zone.
- Indian Immersion — Sycamores learn about social entrepreneurship by immersing themselves in India’s vibrancy and hospitality.
- Sustainability Here and Abroad — Indiana State students learn about sustainability efforts while on a study abroad trip to Thailand this spring. At home, Blue continues to capture accolades for its ‘green’ efforts.
- Caring Abroad — Sycamores traveled to Ecuador to work in a health clinic, where they checked vitals, administered tests and filled numerous prescriptions for about 100 patients a day.
- Love, Diversity, Pain — President’s scholar Bryant Clayton is on his way to changing the world after studying abroad for a semester in South Africa.
- Seeing the World — Communication student Esther Musau, ’16, taps her fellow international students and tells their stories and first impressions of America through a video project.
- Globally Engaged — Indiana State students — both domestic and international — navigate cultural differences to make new friends and the most of their time visiting their host countries.
- Building Hope — Jocelyn Gregg showed her Sycamore spirit of service by working a week in a Kenyan medical clinic helping patients with a variety of conditions and illnesses — from allergies to lymphoma.
- #TheExperience — Members of the Indiana State University soccer team served as goodwill ambassadors for the United States and their university during a 10-day visit to Morocco.