In an effort to expand study abroad program offerings and promote Brookhaven College as a destination for international students, Grant Sisk, dean of the World Languages Division, and Rodger Bennett, vice president for academic achievement and student success, traveled across Asia in March.
The two-week sojourn led Rodger to the college's Multinational Academic Program for Study Abroad partners in Beijing and Shanghai. He evaluated the programs from the perspective of a MAP student, sitting in classes and touring the sites.
Meanwhile, Grant traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to meet with potential MAP partners and establish contacts in the area. Grant also presented a guest lecture on American Literature, 1945-present, at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Though lasting relationships with international organizations will require more time, energy and patience, Grant and Rodger set the groundwork for continuing negotiations, which they hope will culminate in working partnerships with the schools, organizations and businesses. That, in and of itself, made the trip successful.
However, Grant recognizes that the trip's success goes beyond business.
Face-to-face time overseas benefits students and the potential international enrollment rate at the college, but it also serves as a form of diplomacy between the U.S. and other countries.
"There is nowhere in the world that a U.S. citizen can go without facing prejudice; everyone we meet has a preformed opinion of us," Grant explained. "In my experience, I think the prejudice is often more or less favorable towards us, but what we say, what we do and how we behave is always being evaluated."
Encouraging a positive view of the U.S. is much easier to achieve while out in the world, making meaningful connections; education is a great pathway.
"International programs are a great way to both strengthen Brookhaven College and also help form others' perceptions of the United States. Every world leader was a student somewhere at one time."