University initiative advocates global perspectives, experiences

College is a time where many students are introduced to different perspectives. A new university proposal plans to bring the cultural diversity of the world to all areas of campus.

“The idea is to bring in these places that have been outside the ‘country club’ of international at TCU and bring it into it as well,” said Director of International Services John Singleton.

When Singleton and Director of International Studies Jane Kucko proposed their departments’ separate plans for the Quality Enhancement Program, the university saw the similar international emphasis. The offices combined their ideas to develop 11 initiatives to give students, faculty and staff access to the global community.

Some of the programs, such as “Virtual Voyage,” will connect students with places that are under state department warnings and scholars around the world via the internet. 

Students will investigate foreign issues in class and then travel to experience them in person through the “Global Academy” program. “Global Innovators” will bring young entrepreneurs to share their experience with students for an extended time period.

Singleton said the plan includes a grant writer who will help sustain funding for the projects. A World Programing Grant will give students a chance to activate an internationally focused program for students to activate a plan to reach diverse communities.

 The current campus community, he said, consists of about thirty percent of students who have either studied abroad or came to TCU from another country. Assuming 15 percent will remain disengaged, he said they aimed to target the remaining 55 percent of campus through programs for students, faculty and staff.

Kucko said a committee of twenty people reached out to students who had international experience, including alumni living abroad, to get feedback for the proposal. 

Kelly Turner, president of the student study abroad veterans group VISA corps, said her study abroad experience in Germany and Morocco had encouraged her to get involved with the refugee community when she returned.

Samantha Wasek, a senior VISA Corps member who studied abroad in Seville, said her experience also deeply impacted her.

“To know what role we play in the world, that’s probably the greatest thing I took away from studying abroad. I met my boyfriend there and am moving back there at the end of this semester,” she said.

She also has continued her international experience by working with a refugee family.

The VISA Corps group plans to fulfill the new initiative by connecting with international students through peer mentoring. While increasing the international student population is not the plan’s intent, Kucko said the programs aim to bridge diverse communities through “meaningful engagement.”

 Singleton said he saw the programs expanding through the different academic departments. He said he hoped the plan would adjust to the needs of student groups, such as the Falling Whistles' work with the Congo through creative means.

“It’s important not to let go of your traditions and beliefs,” he said, “but the world is moving fast and at a rapid pace, and it’s not going to be less global in the future, it’s going to be more global.”

The proposal will seek approval during the spring semester. Kucko said they planned to test the programs before they are implemented in fall of 2016.