Once again, I find myself on the “eve of departure” for the Preparing the Future Professoriate: Switzerland program also known as Global Perspectives Program (GPP). This year marks the 11th trip to Switzerland with brief side trips to Italy and France or Germany in some of the years. In addition, there have been ‘eves of departure’ to Latin America; once to Chile and several now to Ecuador. These represent some of the efforts of the VT Graduate School to encourage graduate students to embrace a global perspective and become global citizens. Personally and professionally, I value a global perspective and want the same for VT graduate students.
On this ‘eve’, I think about the graduate students (15) who will participate this year and the colleges and universities (8), the countries (3), the UNESCO cultural heritage sites (2) and the Embassies (U.S., Swiss) we will visit. We will meet and interact with professors, students and administrators. Together with UniBasel and University Zürich (UZh) participants, we will explore aspects of the theme this year focused around the “EU’s Modernisation Agenda” during the GPP Seminar at the Steger Center in Riva San Vitale. Our work in Riva San Vitale will be in preparation for the discussion at the Global Summit at the Swiss Embassy in Washington DC in June.
Our days will be full (and long) and rich with knowledge and greater understandings. The graduate students will pursue their individual topics to share their findings at our final seminar and in the digital GPP manual. We will be briefed about the universities we visit as well as the cultural experiences. We will debrief about our visits and experiences. We will travel by airplane, trains, bus, and trams at least. We will walk miles (kms) every day.
We will observe. We will listen. We will ask questions. And throughout, we will reflect. Reflection is an important component of the GPP experience. Participants are asked to keep a journal of their reflections including questions that I pose before departure and during our trip. Journal prompts include entries about expectations and anticipations, what is a global university, surprises and reflections about Switzerland, learning outcomes, observations, and more.
There will be photos, videos and more photos. Group photos. Selfies. Photos of universities. Photos of food. Photos of castles. Photos of the Alps, windows and doors and more.
We will use social media: Twitter, FaceBook, Blogs, Snapchat, and more. (I expect that I will learn to use other platforms this trip). Our hashtag is #gppswiss16. And our trip will be captured in route through http://tripvis.org and via Storify upon our return. So follow us as we share our individual and collective journeys.
The time will pass quickly and already has. Our journey started in January five months ago and now it is time to “meet me at 15:00 (3pm) in Hotel St. Josef in Zürich on Sunday May 22nd”.