As the work force becomes increasingly global, exposure to international experiences and cultures is becoming a key part of any university education.
From advertising to veterinary medicine, faculty at K-State have taken that to heart, working to bring cultures together, foster understanding and literally have an impact in other countries.
Here are some recent highlights from just a few of the countless projects where K-Staters are having a global impact:
* David Hodgson, an anesthesiologist and professor of clinical sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine, is presently on his third trip to Afghanistan, where hes training future Afghan veterinarians at Kabul University. When Hodgson made his first trip to the country in 2007, he found the students ill prepared and the universitys curriculum and textbooks hopelessly out of date. Since then, hes been teaching students the most current methods of diagnosis and treatment, and hes helping to develop a more current curriculum in veterinary science. "The real thing that is going to change Afghanistan is going to be education," Hodgson said. "The thing that really keeps me going is the enthusiasm the students have and the real desire to want to learn. If I didnt think that I wasnt having an impact, I wouldnt go back."
* Swinder Janda, professor of marketing, prepares his students for the real world by taking them to globally prominent companies. "Since business is increasingly global, it is important to expose students to global perspectives," he said. "By traveling abroad, students gain a much deeper perspective related to how economies of nations are interconnected. It enhances their world-mindedness, which is increasingly critical in todays global environment." To date, 130 K-State students have benefited from Jandas programs. Over the last several years, he has taken undergraduates in his international business class to several European cities, including Munich to visit the BMW Corporation, Paris to visit the Fashion Exposition, London to learn about the Ogilvy Advertising Agency, and Brussels to attend seminars at the European Commission. Last winter, graduate students studying emerging markets traveled to China with Janda to study the cultural and business climate and learn the skills needed to interact and negotiate successfully with Chinese businesses. As the Paul Edgerley Endowed Professor in Global Business, Janda also brings prominent global business scholars and practitioners to campus, advances exchange partnerships with foreign universities, and facilitates study abroad experiences for K-State students. He also spends considerable time on internationally oriented research, having published four peer-reviewed articles in the last year. "Since business is becoming increasingly global, these programs are an absolute necessity to adequately prepare our students for the real world once they graduate," Janda said.
* Bill Hargrove, director of K-States Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment, is bringing Pakistan and Kansas together. Earlier this spring, he coordinated an experiential training program for 11 college-age men from the Fata region of Pakistan. The students were enrolled in English language classes, lived in student housing and ate at Kramer Dining Hall with other K-State students. While at K-State and in the U.S., they had a variety of experiences aimed at building their awareness of American culture and government and their knowledge and skills in leadership, volunteerism and community development. They were exposed to more than 20 faculty members from a variety of disciplines and a wide variety of students. "Stereotypes of Americans as anti-Muslim and militaristic and Pakistanis as Islamic terrorists were shattered through direct personal interactions and development of lasting friendships," Hargrove said. The lesson, however, wasnt only for Pakistani students. "K-State students were impacted by the friendships that they developed with the trainees and learned about Pakistan and Muslim culture in a part of the world that is in the news every day," he said.
* Bill Meredith, director of K-States School of Family Studies and Human Services, has developed an exchange program between South China Normal University and K-State. This year, nine undergraduates from the university in Guangzhou, China, are at K-State, with 10 more to be added each coming year. In exchange, one K-State student is presently studying abroad, and many others considering the opportunity. "It is hoped that more K-State students will spend a semester at South China Normal University to learn Chinese language and culture and that others will go for shorter periods," Meredith said. Faculty and graduate students in the marriage and family therapy and early childhood education programs also have gone to the university to conduct research and give presentations. "Marriage and family therapy is an emerging field in China and K-State is doing its part to help that field grow," Meredith said. "The Chinese are adopting more Western ideas relative to early childhood education. The School of Family Studies and Human Studies is well situated to help them and, in the process, our faculty and students learn from them as well." Meredith also is working to establish a Confucius Institute on campus, which would coordinate efforts to spread Chinese language and culture at K-State.
* Neil Dunn and Julie Pentz of K-States dance faculty have introduced American and West African cultures through dance. In 2004 Dunn met, studied and performed with Bernard Woma, director of the Dagara Music Center and artistic director of the Saakuma Dance Company in West Africa. What started out as a friendship turned into the K-State African Ensemble and an exchange program. In 2008, Dunn and Pentz, K-States dance program director, took a dance student to study at the Dagara Music Center in Ghana. The time at the center was spent studying the music and taking part in several social dances, as well as being involved in other cultural activities including wedding ceremonies and Kenti weaving. Woma and Evelyn Yaa Bekyore, a dancer in the Saakuma Dance Company, then came to K-State to share West African dance with the universitys dance students and the Manhattan community. "This was a wonderful opportunity for K-State students and the community, who were able to get concentrated interaction with Bernard and Yaa, who are not only natives to the culture, but also touring professionals in the art," Dunn said.
Photos: From top to bottom: Pakistani students visiting K-State perform a folk dance; David Hodgson works with veterinary science students in Afghanistan; and graduate students studying emerging markets visit China. (Courtesy photos)