Language is important

The language that we use is important especially the words and what they imply.  We know this and we can cite many different examples.  I will offer only one perspective that resulted from my readings about faculty in higher education recently.  Not surprisingly, I regularly read the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education and other similar venues about higher education.  My comments which follow are not a criticism of these publications but should be viewed as a commentary about how we in the academy continue to use familiar words and phrases that while accurately portraying a current situation do therefore perpetuate these notions as if they are “fact” and can’t be changed in the future. Two examples follow.

The first of two phrases that I read and hear colleagues use is the “two body problem”.  These words are commonly used to describe the situation in which two individuals (e.g., spouses or partners), or at least one of these individuals, seek faculty positions in higher education.  Since the 1980s, words like spousal hire, partner accommodation, and more recently dual career hires have been used.  An underlying assumption was that this was a “challenge” or “problem”.  I agree (and have argued favorably on numerous occasions) that indeed higher education needed to become aware of and proactively address the fact that increasingly so couples desire career opportunities for each individual and therefore, often two faculty positions. This phenomenon has increased over time and has become a reality facing higher education.  And thus rather than call it “the two body problem” which immediately casts the situation negatively as a problem, perhaps we could use language that reflects a positive attitude and encourages action.  The message sent and received is very different if we change “problem” to “opportunity”.  Inside Higher Education has made positive strides forward in this arena through the featuring “dual career” couples (reflecting via photos a full range of diversity) and their opportunities to seek dual careers as evident on their website.  This sends a message that two careers are possible rather than a problem.

The second phrase and one that is relatively new is “the baby penalty“.  Dr. Mason (former Graduate Dean at UC Berkeley and current faculty member) and her colleagues have studied and authored a recent book in an attempt to answer the question of whether or not babies matter.  Their research shows that babies do matter and make a difference in the lives of female academics.  Honestly, I don’t find this surprising because I think intuitively we know that having babies and raising children does impact one’s lives and more so for females than the males.   While the data do support a “negative” impact upon the female faculty member in a traditional sense of academy, the data are also a reflection of the way higher education is currently structured and not the way that it could be.  Families and babies should not be referred to as a “penalty”.  In the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Mason stated that it is time to ”… demand family policies that will at least give them a fighting chance to have both a successful career and babies.”  University leaders could use the data to insist that higher education actually make structural changes and more fully embrace families and work-life balance in our colleges and universities.  This truly is an opportunity and perhaps a mandate for change.  Let’s begin by modifying our words because language is important.

 

Summer Solstice, Solar Impulse and Swiss Embassy

The summer solstice occurred on the same day as the final event of the 2013 Global Perspectives Program (GPP).  Summer solstice – the longest day of the year- is a celebration of (day)light and this year in particular of solar energy and Switzerland.

On Friday June 21st, the Swiss Embassy in Washington DC once again opened its doors to host the 2013 Global Perspectives Conference on Preparing Future Academic Leaders.  The theme this year was “University and society: Meeting expectations?”.  VT GPP program and UniBasel GPP participants served as panelists and discussion leaders for the intriguing dialogue focused on the expectations of the university, society and students and raising more questions than answers about the purpose of a university, the value of an education and the future of higher education.IMG_6623

 

 

 

The evening before, the Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager IMG_6579hosted a reception at the Air & Space Museum (Smithsonian) to celebrate the success of the Solar Impulse project and the plane the size of a 747 flown across the U.S using only solar energy.  The pilots, Andre and Bertrand, received 2013  Spirit Award from Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh  Foundation.

At the same time of our events were underway in Washington, a group of graduate deans were engaged in discussions of global graduate education in Germany as part of the DAAD study tour.  One of these deans (Nancy Marcus, FSU) was a participant in the 2012 graduate deans global perspectives program offered by K. DePauw.  To read more about the Germany study tour and the graduate deans program, please read the Global Perspectives blog into which these posts flow.

With inspiration and some sadness, the GPP’13 experience has ended but happily the participants have entered into the next phase – as GPP alumni.  The GPP manual and papers will be written and available electronically.  I anticipate that the conversations to continue via twitter (gppvt, #gpp13, @GPPUniBasel ), facebook (GPPVT FacebookUniBasel), LinkedIn (GPP alumni), blogs, google + and more.  Our lives have been enriched by the GPP experiences and we continue to grow as global scholars and colleagues.

Thanks all for another wonderful adventure – a quest for sure!

DAAD Day 5 – Braunschweig

DAAD Day 5 – June 21, 2013

Our last day was in Braunschweig where we visited the Technical Universitat of Braunschweig. Our day started with a greeting by Professor Dieter Jahn, the Vice President for Research. He explained the history of the university and provided an overview of the various research foci. The town has its roots as long ago as 800 AD. Most of the city was destroyed during WW@ because it was the home a of a good deal of industry. The region is now Europe’s #1 research area and home to 3 universities and at least 12 major research centers. The university dates to 1754 and includes 6 faculties, 65 study programs and 120 institutes. It is home to 16,300 students. It’s main strengths are in the STEM fields particularly Mobility (auto, air, and rail), metrology, and the life sciences. It is home to a very unique facility which we were able to visit in the afternoon, the Campus Research Airport where a great variety of research is conducted dealing with aerospace. We were treated to an overview of the research conducted at the airport and then were taken on a tour of flight simulators, wind tunnels, and flumes. A special room enables the scientists to study the impact of icing and flight dynamics.

We also learned about various international programs including the SENSE program, a summer experience for american students to learn about German language and culture, and pursue other courses for credit. The goal is to interest the students in returning to Germany for further study. Dr. Christina Neidert, described the language and culture programs offered by the Language Center. Also described was a very unique (4 +1) program offered in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island, in which students pursue dual majors in engineering and german language. The program includes a year in Germany and an internship.

Next, Dr. Stephan Scholl, a professor of Chemical Engineering described the dual master’s degree program which is offered jointly with the University of Rhode Island. Students spend 1 year at the home institution and 1 year at the host. Dr. Uta Kopka also discussed various models for sandwich, dual, joint, and double doctoral degrees.

After a wonderful lunch where I continued to network with our hosts from Braunschweig and the other DAAD participants we headed off for the Research Airport described above.

Another long day ended with a trip to the train station to secure our departure tickets, a stroll through the town, and a wonderful dinner with new colleagues from the US and Canada. Our DAAD hosts, Ute and Miriam are to be thanked for a fantastic experience.

This was an excellent trip and I highly recommend the Germany Today tour to all of my colleagues. It was a rich and rewarding experience to learn about the German education system, and the many research programs.

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DAAD Day 5 – Braunschweig

DAAD Day 5 – June 21, 2013

Our last day was in Braunschweig where we visited the Technical Universitat of Braunschweig. Our day started with a greeting by Professor Dieter Jahn, the Vice President for Research. He explained the history of the university and provided an overview of the various research foci. The town has its roots as long ago as 800 AD. Most of the city was destroyed during WW@ because it was the home a of a good deal of industry. The region is now Europe’s #1 research area and home to 3 universities and at least 12 major research centers. The university dates to 1754 and includes 6 faculties, 65 study programs and 120 institutes. It is home to 16,300 students. It’s main strengths are in the STEM fields particularly Mobility (auto, air, and rail), metrology, and the life sciences. It is home to a very unique facility which we were able to visit in the afternoon, the Campus Research Airport where a great variety of research is conducted dealing with aerospace. We were treated to an overview of the research conducted at the airport and then were taken on a tour of flight simulators, wind tunnels, and flumes. A special room enables the scientists to study the impact of icing and flight dynamics.

We also learned about various international programs including the SENSE program, a summer experience for american students to learn about German language and culture, and pursue other courses for credit. The goal is to interest the students in returning to Germany for further study. Dr. Christina Neidert, described the language and culture programs offered by the Language Center. Also described was a very unique (4 +1) program offered in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island, in which students pursue dual majors in engineering and german language. The program includes a year in Germany and an internship.

Next, Dr. Stephan Scholl, a professor of Chemical Engineering described the dual master’s degree program which is offered jointly with the University of Rhode Island. Students spend 1 year at the home institution and 1 year at the host. Dr. Uta Kopka also discussed various models for sandwich, dual, joint, and double doctoral degrees.

After a wonderful lunch where I continued to network with our hosts from Braunschweig and the other DAAD participants we headed off for the Research Airport described above.

Another long day ended with a trip to the train station to secure our departure tickets, a stroll through the town, and a wonderful dinner with new colleagues from the US and Canada. Our DAAD hosts, Ute and Miriam are to be thanked for a fantastic experience.

This was an excellent trip and I highly recommend the Germany Today tour to all of my colleagues. It was a rich and rewarding experience to learn about the German education system, and the many research programs.

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Days 3 & 4 – Bremen

DAAD Days 3 & 4

June 19, 2013 – After a night of rest we began our visit to the University of Bremen. The university was located a short bus ride from our hotel.

We were welcomed by Dr. Annette Lang, Director of the International Office. She explained that Bremen is a comparatively young university having been established in 1971. Nevertheless it has recently been recognized under the German Excellence Initiative and there are two designated clusters of excellence, MARUM and BIGSSS. The former is focused on marine studies and the latter in the social sciences. The university also has strong ties with the Max Planck Institute in Microbiology. Many of the master’s programs are now offered entirely in English. This has been done to attract foreign students. Graduate studies under the umbrella of MARUM and BIGSS are also taught in english.

Next we were welcomed by Professor Michael Schulz who directs MARUM. MARUM focuses on training the next generation of young researchers and does quite a bit of public outreach. There is a structured graduate program though MARUM is not designated as a Graduate School. MARUM houses deep sea cores in a fabulous storage facility similar to FSU’s Antarctic Core Facility. The group toured the refrigerated core storage facility and learned about the chemical and biological information that is extracted from cores.

Professor Yasemin Karakasoglu, the Vice Rector for Intercultural and International Affairs provided an overview of the various programs under her umbrella. I was interested to learned about a certificate in global competence that they offer for students to foster mutual understanding and tolerance. Later in the day I shared information about FSU’s Global Pathways Certificate and the certificate we offer for faculty, staff, and graduate teaching assistantships It was clear that we had very common goals.

After a long day of great discussion we adjourned and were transported to the town of Bremen for a tour of the historical parts of the city. This was followed by a wonderful dinner in a windmill…very picturesque.

June 20, 2013 – Day 2 in Bremen focused on the second center of excellence BIGSSS. This is designated as a graduate school with a focus in several areas of the social sciences. We were provided an overview by Professor Steffen Mau of the University of Bremen and Dr. Franziska Deutsch from Jacob University, a private institution. The graduate school program is a joint effort of the two universities. As we learned doctoral students are admitted in cohorts and receive a more structured experience than the traditional German doctoral experience. We heard testimonials from 3 students about their experience with the program. All were wonderful representatives, articulate, and enthusiastic. Two were american and one was from Eastern Europe. There were many questions from our group and active discussion which transitioned into the lunch period. We thanked our hosts profusely for an excellent visit that fostered lively discussion and interaction, and generating many ideas for future possibilities.

We are now on the bus for a 2 hour ride to Braunschweig.

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Days 3 & 4 – Bremen

DAAD Days 3 & 4

June 19, 2013 – After a night of rest we began our visit to the University of Bremen. The university was located a short bus ride from our hotel.

We were welcomed by Dr. Annette Lang, Director of the International Office. She explained that Bremen is a comparatively young university having been established in 1971. Nevertheless it has recently been recognized under the German Excellence Initiative and there are two designated clusters of excellence, MARUM and BIGSSS. The former is focused on marine studies and the latter in the social sciences. The university also has strong ties with the Max Planck Institute in Microbiology. Many of the master’s programs are now offered entirely in English. This has been done to attract foreign students. Graduate studies under the umbrella of MARUM and BIGSS are also taught in english.

Next we were welcomed by Professor Michael Schulz who directs MARUM. MARUM focuses on training the next generation of young researchers and does quite a bit of public outreach. There is a structured graduate program though MARUM is not designated as a Graduate School. MARUM houses deep sea cores in a fabulous storage facility similar to FSU’s Antarctic Core Facility. The group toured the refrigerated core storage facility and learned about the chemical and biological information that is extracted from cores.

Professor Yasemin Karakasoglu, the Vice Rector for Intercultural and International Affairs provided an overview of the various programs under her umbrella. I was interested to learned about a certificate in global competence that they offer for students to foster mutual understanding and tolerance. Later in the day I shared information about FSU’s Global Pathways Certificate and the certificate we offer for faculty, staff, and graduate teaching assistantships It was clear that we had very common goals.

After a long day of great discussion we adjourned and were transported to the town of Bremen for a tour of the historical parts of the city. This was followed by a wonderful dinner in a windmill…very picturesque.

June 20, 2013 – Day 2 in Bremen focused on the second center of excellence BIGSSS. This is designated as a graduate school with a focus in several areas of the social sciences. We were provided an overview by Professor Steffen Mau of the University of Bremen and Dr. Franziska Deutsch from Jacob University, a private institution. The graduate school program is a joint effort of the two universities. As we learned doctoral students are admitted in cohorts and receive a more structured experience than the traditional German doctoral experience. We heard testimonials from 3 students about their experience with the program. All were wonderful representatives, articulate, and enthusiastic. Two were american and one was from Eastern Europe. There were many questions from our group and active discussion which transitioned into the lunch period. We thanked our hosts profusely for an excellent visit that fostered lively discussion and interaction, and generating many ideas for future possibilities.

We are now on the bus for a 2 hour ride to Braunschweig.

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DAAD Sponsored Trip – Germany Today

This is my account of the DAAD sponsored trip “Germany Today”

June 14 & 15, 2013 – Arrived in Berlin and took taxi to the hotel. Rested up and had dinner in the hotel after a brief walk in the neighborhood. Sunday spent the day walking around. Strolled down the Unter den Linden boulevard to the Brandenburg Gate (see photo below).

Then headed toward the Reichstag and further into Tiergarten Park (similar to Central Park in New York City). Walked down to the Victory Column (photo below) and then headed back to the hotel. After a short break I visited the Jewish Museum.

Those who had arrived by Sunday evening met for dinner. We were greeted by our wonderful hosts from DAAD, Miriam Hippchen and Ute Gaedke. Withe approximately 20 members of the group it was hard to remember everyone’s names, but I am learning.

In the next few days I will try to briefly summarize what we are learning. I hope what I write is correct, but as I write this entry which by the way is being written on a bus traveling to Bremen I realize that we have covered a lot already and my words are only representing a snapshot. I can say that the experience is already tremendously informative and I am learning much that I intend to bring back to FSU to share with faculty, staff, and students.

So here is a whirlwind synopsis.

June 16, 2013 – After a hearty European breakfast we walked a few blocks to the DAAD facilities in Berlin. We were welcomed by Dr. Anette Pieper, Director of the Northern Hemisphere Department of DAAD. She explained about the various DAAD programs and about the higher education system in Germany which consists of mostly public universities that include the Universitats and the Universities of Applied Sciences. 97% of the students attend these public institutions. We spent the morning and early afternoon learning more about DAAD programs and research and educational opportunities at several of the institutions in Berlin including Potsdam University and Humboldt University. We also learned about the role of the independent research institutions e.g. Max Planck. There are many opportunities for students and faculty from the US and Canada to attend programs at these German institutions and to collaborate in research. We learned about changes in the handling of graduate education, specifically the formation of graduate schools to better prepare students for careers upon completion of their doctorates. The German Research Foundation provides support for researchers and programs. We learned about joint research programs that promote the exchange of graduate students between Germany and North America. It was interesting to learn that no tuition is charged at universities in Germany. Even foreign students do not pay tuition. The budget of the institution comes from 2 major sources, the state and 3rd party funding e.g. the German Research Foundation or industry. Private fundraising which is so important in the US does not occur.

The day concluded early so we could rendezvous at the Reichstag (photo below) for a tour of the facility.

We learned about the German Parliament and system of government. At the end we went up to the top of the building and were treated to a wonderful view of the city. The day was not yet over. We headed to Il Punto for an excellent dinner of salad, pasta, ice cream, and conversation.

Back to the hotel for a good night of sleep.

June 18, 2013 – Another turn at breakfast, checkout, and a short bus ride to the Frie Universitat. We spent the morning learning about the international programs of the university, especially the establishment of strategic partnerships with various institutions across the globe. Like the previous day we learned about the opportunities for american students to take advantage of programs at the university. Frie Universitat is relatively young. It was established after the end of WW2 in 1948 largely with funds from the the US. The name signifies that the spirit of the institution is about freedom of enquiry and academic freedom.

Now we are on a 4.5 hour bus ride to Bremen. Looking forward to getting some rest.

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DAAD Sponsored Trip – Germany Today

This is my account of the DAAD sponsored trip “Germany Today”

June 14 & 15, 2013 – Arrived in Berlin and took taxi to the hotel. Rested up and had dinner in the hotel after a brief walk in the neighborhood. Sunday spent the day walking around. Strolled down the Unter den Linden boulevard to the Brandenburg Gate (see photo below).

Then headed toward the Reichstag and further into Tiergarten Park (similar to Central Park in New York City). Walked down to the Victory Column (photo below) and then headed back to the hotel. After a short break I visited the Jewish Museum.

Those who had arrived by Sunday evening met for dinner. We were greeted by our wonderful hosts from DAAD, Miriam Hippchen and Ute Gaedke. Withe approximately 20 members of the group it was hard to remember everyone’s names, but I am learning.

In the next few days I will try to briefly summarize what we are learning. I hope what I write is correct, but as I write this entry which by the way is being written on a bus traveling to Bremen I realize that we have covered a lot already and my words are only representing a snapshot. I can say that the experience is already tremendously informative and I am learning much that I intend to bring back to FSU to share with faculty, staff, and students.

So here is a whirlwind synopsis.

June 16, 2013 – After a hearty European breakfast we walked a few blocks to the DAAD facilities in Berlin. We were welcomed by Dr. Anette Pieper, Director of the Northern Hemisphere Department of DAAD. She explained about the various DAAD programs and about the higher education system in Germany which consists of mostly public universities that include the Universitats and the Universities of Applied Sciences. 97% of the students attend these public institutions. We spent the morning and early afternoon learning more about DAAD programs and research and educational opportunities at several of the institutions in Berlin including Potsdam University and Humboldt University. We also learned about the role of the independent research institutions e.g. Max Planck. There are many opportunities for students and faculty from the US and Canada to attend programs at these German institutions and to collaborate in research. We learned about changes in the handling of graduate education, specifically the formation of graduate schools to better prepare students for careers upon completion of their doctorates. The German Research Foundation provides support for researchers and programs. We learned about joint research programs that promote the exchange of graduate students between Germany and North America. It was interesting to learn that no tuition is charged at universities in Germany. Even foreign students do not pay tuition. The budget of the institution comes from 2 major sources, the state and 3rd party funding e.g. the German Research Foundation or industry. Private fundraising which is so important in the US does not occur.

The day concluded early so we could rendezvous at the Reichstag (photo below) for a tour of the facility.

We learned about the German Parliament and system of government. At the end we went up to the top of the building and were treated to a wonderful view of the city. The day was not yet over. We headed to Il Punto for an excellent dinner of salad, pasta, ice cream, and conversation.

Back to the hotel for a good night of sleep.

June 18, 2013 – Another turn at breakfast, checkout, and a short bus ride to the Frie Universitat. We spent the morning learning about the international programs of the university, especially the establishment of strategic partnerships with various institutions across the globe. Like the previous day we learned about the opportunities for american students to take advantage of programs at the university. Frie Universitat is relatively young. It was established after the end of WW2 in 1948 largely with funds from the the US. The name signifies that the spirit of the institution is about freedom of enquiry and academic freedom.

Now we are on a 4.5 hour bus ride to Bremen. Looking forward to getting some rest.

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Visits with University Presidents

One of the highlights of the Global Perspectives Program is the opportunity to meet and engage in active dialogue with the presidents (rectors) of selected universities:  President Prof. Dr. Andreas Fischer of the University of Zurich, Rector Prof. Dr. Antonio Loprieno of the University of Basel, President Prof. Dr. M. Alain Beretz of the University of Strasbourg and President Piero Martinoli, University of Lugano (Università della Svizzera italiana or USI).  The conversations were informative about the future of global higher education.  The individuals are quite inspiring and very accessible.

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In 1985 Andreas Fischer was appointed full professor of English philology at the University of Zurich. From 2004 to 2006 he served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and from 2006 until his appointment as President of the University of Zurich in 2008 he acted as Vice President for Arts and Social Sciences.  Fischer will retire this year and his replacement is currently in progress.

 

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Professor Loprieno has been Full Professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel since the year 2000 and was recently reappointed to an unprecedented third term as Rector. His main research areas include Near Eastern languages and Egyptian cultural history and religion. Prior to his appointment as Rector of the University of Basel, he served as Dean of Studies of the University’s Faculty of Humanities. He heads the Conference of Swiss University Rectors (CRUS).

289579cc705f91ddecd66e9ff568f3a18bb28fa1Professor Beretz graduated in Pharmacy and has been a member of the Pharmacology faculty of the University of Strasbourg since 1990. He was elected in January 2009 as the first president of the University of Strasbourg, resulting from the innovative merger of the three previous universities. He is one of three members of the Board of Directors of LERU (League of European Research Universities).

 

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Professor Piero Martinoli is president of the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano where he has served since September of 2006.  He studied at the ETH Zurich, where he obtained a degree in physics, and his doctorate in physics.

 

 

These individuals have graciously greeted the GPP participants and the Global Perspectives Graduate Deans programs throughout their tenure as President.  We have benefited from their expertise and willingness to spend time with us!

On the eve of departure – once again!

3619162Eight years ago in May 2006 my bags were packed and I boarded a plane to meet the 10 Virginia Tech graduate students at the Hotel St. Josef in Zurich, Switzerland selected to participate in the launch of the global perspectives portion of the preparing the future professoriate program.  As it is now called, the Global Perspectives Program is offered within the Transformative Graduate Education initiative developed by the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

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First GPP at VT Center for European Studies and Architecture, Riva San Vitale, 2006.

 

It is now May 2013 and another eve of departure has arrived.  In the past 8 years, there have been many eves of departure – nine to be exact and this will be the tenth.  Most of the departures were for the GPP experience focused primarily in Switzerland, one was for the pilot GPP in Chile, and one was for the Global Perspectives program for graduate deans.

So much has happened since that first departure.  What began as simply an idea, a possibility, has become a reality.  A partnership has been forged with the University of Basel.  Graduate deans from other U.S. graduate schools are watching what we do and are developing global perspectives programs designed for their home institutions.  And I continue to consider possibilities for expanding the program.  By many measures the GPP has been a success: 120+ participants and multiple visits to universities in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Germany.  Presentations and publications.  Strong connections across universities and among academic leaders.  Alumni.  Collaborations.  And more.

The global perspectives program is more than study abroad although it probably falls under the category so identified by the university and described by colleagues.  It isn’t just a program, it is an experience and yes, an experience not unlike a study abroad program but yet somehow it is different.  It involves graduate students – that’s somewhat unique. The graduate students come from different disciplines – that’s unique.  The program is offered by a graduate school and led by a graduate dean – that’s definitely unique. The graduate students’ projects are unrelated to their research.  We visit universities to understand more about global higher education – we meet with academic leadership, faculty and students, we visit different academic units (faculties, departments, buildings).  We contribute individually and collectively to knowledge and understanding of a shared theme – this year ‘university & society: meeting expectations?.’  We interact across disciplinary perspectives, we reach across cultures and languages.  We learn.  We appreciate.  And we learn to appreciate.

GPP is also about the opportunity for participants to learn more about themselves.   And the experience can be a very personal one.  Sometimes it happens unknowingly, sometimes reluctantly and sometimes quite willingly.

As a part of the experience, I ask the Virginia Tech participants to keep journals and to write about their observations and personal reflections.  As I challenge myself daily, I encourage the GPPers to see new things and to see things in new ways (e.g., the doors and windows) and to see the unobvious.

Once again I am on the eve of departure and looking forward to another wonderful shared experience and an individual journey.