After taking some days to rest and eat some good food I’ve been able to reflect on the IVLP Experience and what I have learned over the 3 week trip.

As a student and employee of higher education it’s easy to forget or not think about how many players there are in education: lobbyist, community organizations, industry, religious organizations, states/provinces, federal governments, etc. It’s really fascinating to be able to stand on the outside and see how all the players come together to create policy that drives education.

Some highlights of the trip for me:

- meeting with the American Indian Studies program at UCLA and the United American Indian Involvement, Inc. in LA to discuss their community work. Loved learning the history of both programs/organizations and how they see their work engaging community.

- meeting with the Office of Community Engagement at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta and how they are creating a campus culture based on community involvement. Really interested in their program called the Edge Connection.

- Visiting Clark Atlanta University and learning the history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Toured their beautiful library filled with amazing art and photographs.

- Education is Freedom in Dallas which is a non-profit organization that does amazing outreach to under served populations in the urban high schools.

A couple of interesting points:

- the inclusion and awareness of Indigenous learners was varied across the states we visited. For example; in LA it was high but outside of that it was very slim/invisible, including at the Federal level.

- the role of lobbyist and non-profit organizations in education policy, outreach and achievement. Enjoyed getting a broad overview of American governance before the program so to understand where everything fit in.

Overall, the program was an incredible professional and personal development experience. I was able to travel with amazing people who have become friends, see some of the sights the US has to offer and learn about great work that people are doing every day. I have learned a tremendous amount that will definitely help me in the future!

After a whirlwind 3 weeks that ended with me catching an earlier Friday night flight home (and sprinting through the Detroit airport to do so!), travelling approximately 10,700 miles and meeting an amazing group of people - IVLP on Higher Ed is complete!

Meetings in Kalamazoo, Michigan!

Kalamazoo College - International Programs

- out of a school population of 1800 - 70% of students study abroad or have an international internship or externship. 

"Globalization - movement of people, ideas, goods, diseases, etc. and Internationalization - higher education’s response to that reality." (Barbara Hill)

Western Michigan University - Faculty of Education

- discussed their success connecting students to the local community through partnerships, practicum placements, and small class sizes

- discussed the challenges of education policy from the government as teaching standards/test results are tied to STEM and harder to quantify with the humanities. 

Western Michigan University - Disabilities Services

- world known Blind/Low Vision PhD program - rehab training to work with people with low vision needs 

Peer Mentor Program - paired students with same disability and program, allowing them to work together on a peer basis to support the incoming/freshman student

Western Michigan University - Haenicke Institute of Global Education

- discussed their desire to become strategic with international partnerships vs. being opportunistic

- challenge of getting international students to campus with the changing and increasingly difficult visa laws 

Kalamazoo Promise

- full tuition scholarship offered to all high school graduates from Kalamazoo public schools who: live in the district of Kalamazoo, maintain GPA and gets high school diploma then goes to a state university or college

- trying to build a culture of higher education in Kalamazoo and attract people with the same values to the area

The Western Michigan University’s Band after the basketball game! These guys were really entertaining throughout the game!

Touring Western Michigan University’s Engineering Faculty and was able to personally try out a shaking table. 

Meetings in Atlanta!

Atlanta University Center Consortium, Inc. 

- association that consists of four private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Clarke-Atlanta, Morehouse College, Spelman College and Morehouse School of Medicine)

- discussed a wide range of topics including: resource sharing (central library), autonomy and governance, community engagement and vision (Connections), history of HBCUs and financial aid.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

- an accreditation/quality assurance body for colleges and universities in the Southern USA, which is a peer review process for schools to maintain for federal and state funding

- discussed the impacts of MOOCs and Competency Based Assessment as challenges for accreditors since learning outcomes are harder to measure and transfer credits without credit hours attached. 

Kennesaw State University - Office of Community Engagement

- recently received a Carnegie designation as an engaged campus, discussed challenges of balancing research and impact and maintaining the accreditation 

- great panel discussion with both faculty and staff where we learned about current projects and future hopes around a common language 

Emory University - Access, Disability Services and Resources

- met with the enthusiatic director who gave us an overview of the history of disability legislation in the USA and a current picture

- discussed the importance of building relationships and alliances across campus to make sure they are easily accessible to all who need their services (faculty, staff and students).