|Central Arizona College International Exchange Program|
As the world of the 21st century emerges more clearly, it becomes increasingly apparent that people around the world have become and continue to become more interconnected than at any other time in history. As a result, international education must step forward and serve the people living in the political, economic and cultural world of today and tomorrow. Student Study Abroad Programs and Faculty Exchange Programs are designed to expand knowledge and increase student and faculty excellence through intercultural learning and teaching experiences. International programs have proven to provide students and faculty excellent opportunities for personal growth, cultural understanding, and a unique exchange of ideas.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently stated, “The challenges of the 21st century cannot be addressed by government alone and, therefore, our public-private partnerships with non-governmental organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and communities are more important than ever in effecting public diplomacy. Indeed, educational institutions have always played a key role in opening minds and creating global awareness, and have traditionally been among the State Department’s strongest partners . We have the opportunity to highlight for the citizens of other countries the value of experiencing an American education and American culture firsthand, and to demonstrate to American students the value of studying abroad and interacting with international students . . . . Through the process of international education, we can look forward to a more peaceful and prosperous future together.”
Former Secretary Rice presents a valuable summary of the current crossroads in education, one that is particularly important for the community college. Traditionally the two-year institution has maintained a fairly regional scope of interest in both instruction and student body. Certainly this has been the supposed mission of the community college. However, as times change, purposes do as well. The question then becomes how to address this sometimes daunting yet exciting challenge and that is the focus of the following concept paper.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, “Close to 100,000 international students attend community colleges, about 39% of all international undergraduate students in the United States.” Though students who are enrolled in community college international programs are a variation to the traditional two-year college student body, the diversity that is inherent in the community college mission in general allows for the inclusion of students from other countries. The potential for such an inclusive movement is of historic proportions. The community colleges that have already moved to include international dimensions to their programs seem to have found a good deal of success.
The best way to initially begin a viable international program appears to lie in the establishment of an active student, and even faculty, exchange program with foreign colleges and universities. Such programs can be narrow and program specific or broad ranging and institution wide. However, experience has proven that such arrangements can be quite expensive for the host institutions, at least initially. So to overcome this financial imbalance and capitalize on the large global market of students, technology can and should be used for delivery of classes, as well as cultural interaction. Advances in technology have essentially connected all peoples of the world and in so doing have allowed colleges to reach students on a worldwide basis.
Given these circumstances, Central Arizona College is poised to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the global economic and social changes that are rapidly taking place in the world.