Remarks from the 2014 Appalachian Global Symposium

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Appalachian Global Symposium
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Plemmons Student Union, on the campus of Appalachian State University

Remarks by Sheri N. Everts, Chancellor

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the Global Symposium and Global Leadership Awards Luncheon, and my thanks to each of you for your support of global learning and international programs across our campus. Join me in offering special thanks to our wonderful musicians today.

We know that the high school seniors and their families, who are considering Appalachian, expect students to have an increased global perspective during college. It is a fact that our graduates will leave campus to live and work in an increasingly connected diverse world.

It’s not enough to be globally aware anymore. Our students need the knowledge, skills and experiences to become informed and productive citizens of the state, the nation and the world. At Appalachian, our students are engaging in multiple and varied experiences – both at home and abroad – to increase their knowledge of global issues, regions and cultures, improve their intercultural skills and demonstrate global citizenship. Appalachian believes this to be so critical for our students’ success that all of our global learning opportunities were coordinated into a Quality Enhancement Plan, which provides an assessment opportunity for our accrediting association.

In an article for Forbes, social entrepreneur Dana Mortenson says, “Globally competent individuals possess and apply certain qualities and abilities to learning and engaging, including: an appreciation for cultural differences, ability to understand and consider multiple perspectives, capacity for highly critical and analytical thinking, comfort with ambiguity and change, and understanding of the complexity of global issues. Global competence is rooted in our changing reality and is constantly evolving with the world.”

Putting a real world perspective on the issue, in March 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke in Beijing about the importance of global education saying, “That's how you realize that we all have a stake in each other's success – that cures discovered here in Beijing could save lives in America; that clean energy technologies from Silicon Valley in California could improve the environment here in China; that the architecture of an ancient temple in Xi'an could inspire the design of new buildings in Dallas or Detroit."

From a UNC system perspective, The UNC Board of Governors first adopted internationalization as a strategy in 2002. Its goal is to promote an international perspective throughout the University to prepare citizens to become leaders in a multi-ethnic and global society. In December 2007, a major finding of the University of North Carolina Tomorrow Commission report (PDF 22.40M) confirmed that Global Readiness is vital to the future of the University and the state, and recommended that UNC increase partnership, programs and preparedness of graduates to compete in the global economy.

The 2013 strategic plan for UNC, "Our Time, Our Future" encourages continued international engagement efforts, with a particular priority on further developing partnerships in China, India, Brazil, Mexico and in the continent of Africa.

Recently, Appalachian’s Board of Visitors (BOV) met on campus and the lunchtime program featured The BOV International ACCESS Travel Scholarship. Appalachian has a 25 percent participation rate for study abroad, a much higher rate than the national rate of 14 percent. This rate earned our university a fourth place ranking among comprehensive master’s level institutions. The number of Appalachian students selecting to study abroad for academic credit has been growing steadily from 680 in 2008-09 to 1,047 in 2013-14.

However, the BOV discovered that the percentage of ACCESS scholars who participated in international travel was drastically less. For these North Carolina scholars whose family income is below the poverty line, travel abroad was most often out of reach. During the luncheon we heard from four students who received travel scholarships: two who traveled on short-term trips and two who traveled on long-term study abroad trips. The students’ stories were moving and uplifting as they shared how their travels opened up a whole new world and new ways of thinking about their studies and their futures.

I share this to illustrate how deep and broad the commitment to global learning is at Appalachian. I commend our Board of Visitors for making this life-changing opportunity available to more students.

Of course, there are many programs that happen right here on our campus and in our community. One program in particular brings an international partner, our campus and the Watauga County Public Schools together. Appalachian received a third grant totaling almost $400,000 from the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, to continue an exchange project between public schools in Watauga County and Taxila, Pakistan.

Directed by Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development, and Dr. Arshad Bashir, a Fulbright doctoral graduate from the educational leadership program in Appalachian’s Reich College of Education, the program is the only one at a U.S. institution to receive funding from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad for the cultural exchange that helps bridge the gap between the U.S. and Pakistani cultures through educational and cultural exchanges.

International Alternative Service Experiences allow students to explore and serve alongside an international community. In Spring 2015, students will travel to: Costa Rica to work and learn the importance of sustainable development; the Dominican Republic to work with the organization Service for Peace in the community of El Cidral; to Ecuador to provide an English camp for both young children and high school students; Guatemala to help build a classroom that will change lives; Jamaica to work with students in Basic and Primary schools; Nicaragua to work with children in a variety of activities that stimulate an interest in learning while also working on light maintenance projects that will better the daily lives of the children, and; Puerto Rico to learn about sustainable economic development that exists alongside the sustainable management of tropical forests.

As I close my remarks, I would like to share a brand new point of pride. It was released Monday that Appalachian is ranked fourth nationally among comprehensive master’s level institutions for the total number of students who studied abroad for credit during the 2012-13 academic year, according to the recent Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Appalachian also is ranked second for the number of students who studied abroad for credit on short-term, faculty-led programs during the same period. This is a great accomplishment and I commend the Office of International Education and Development as well as our faculty, staff and students.

This campus is full of stories that illustrate how we are engaged in moving from global awareness toward global competency… and even global citizenship. The programs I have mentioned today involve students, faculty and staff and show how each of us can be global leaders. I commend our colleagues who are being recognized today for initiating, developing and supporting opportunities for global learning.

Thank you.