A significant portion of the 2015 Global Perspectives Program has come to a close and yet the impact has not been fully realized.
Departing the Villa Maderni in Riva San Vitale Switzerland, the Virginia Tech participants head home and await the arrival of the University of Basel participants to Blacksburg and the culminating event at the Swiss Embassy in Washington DC. And of course, we look forward to these next events and further establishing connections with those who have become colleagues.
We exit individually to re-enter our professional and personal lives but we will always be a part of this group – GPP2015. During the days of GPP15, information was gathered and analyzed. Facts learned and recorded. Photos taken and posted. Tweets sent and blogs shared. Friendships formed. Future collaborations and collegial relationships considered. As academics and future faculty, we value these and appreciate the opportunity to do so.
The Future Professoriate: Global Perspectives Program is much more than the professional experiences and knowledge gained. It is also about intrapersonal and interpersonal growth, introspection and reflection. As I reflected on the experiences in the last ten years and especially this year, I kept thinking about vulnerability and the GPP moments that we experienced during the time we spent together. Not only does the program challenge us to learn to live with strangers, get out of our comfort zones, to face our biases and privilege openly and honesty and to deal with conflict and tensions but also provides a “safe” space in which these can occur. I observed this year that the “safe” space often evolved into a “brave” space which was safe and allowed for ideas, beliefs and hypotheses to be explored, critiqued and more fully developed. From those moments of vulnerability I could see the exploration and emergence of an authentic self. Inasmuch as authenticity is a valued characteristic of an effective and engaging faculty member, I’m pleased that the GPP experience can create a space for learning more about oneself and allowing oneself to be open to change.
My morning walk between the Villa Moderni and my apartment revealed the morning rituals of a small town in Ticino region of Switzerland – Riva San Vitale. Although it is likely that these customs and morning activities are common in other towns I could feel the essence of this town awakening to a new day. The street cleaner using straw brooms to clear the small trash from the day before. The postal worker delivering the mail and newspapers to the homes along the alley. Greetings offered to everyone who passed by including me, a familiar stranger in this town. The butcher receiving the meat delivery and other cold goods. The bread and cheese already delivered to be consumed with morning coffee. Stores and restaurants opening. The rain has stopped and the fog is lifting to what will be another “beautiful day in paradise.”
The day of departure for GPP15 has come and gone and in fact, we’re close to the end of this phase of the global perspectives program. Over the past 10+ days, we have experienced the awakening of new days, not just with the rituals of the morning but also of new revelations, insights and questions to explore. Each day we have learned some things new (and anew), passionately discussed issues and examined our own biases and perspectives. We have continuously reflected on that has been shared with us through our visits to the universities. We have, I hope, learned to see things differently and understand through a different lens.
Today the UniBasel participants arrive in Ticino and the GPP15 experience will expand. A rich discussion of “global higher education: accountability and relevance” is expected along with lively more social conversation in the garden. And then onto the Swiss Embassy in Washington DC.
The GPP15 experience began some days ago and it will continue. GPP provides not only a challenge but also opportunities to effect change in global higher education. Please join me in finding ways to continue the journey.
I will miss the morning walks to the Villa.