While their countries may be vastly different in terms of traditions, political beliefs and ways of life, 20 educators from 19 countries will put aside those differences to collaborate in a unique educational experience at UQ–Platteville July 12–16.
The Institute for Secondary Educators is a partnership between the UW–Platteville Office of Continuing Education and California State University, Chico — part of a federally-funded grant program, the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars.
Through applications submitted to their respective embassies, the educators were selected to participate in the program, based on their interest in learning about the U.S. education system. During the long weekend, the educators will focus on access and equity in education in rural communities, specifically how immigrants have assimilated into school systems and new communities while holding onto their personal cultural identities.
Dr. Melissa Gormley, associate professor of history at UW–Platteville, will introduce the group to southwest Wisconsin’s early and current immigrants.
Dr. Kevin Bernhardt, director of the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement at UW–Platteville, will draw on past experiences and successes to demonstrate the value of service learning in bringing people together across cultures to strengthen and enhance the education system and communities. Institute participants will also get a chance to travel to sites unique to the area: Pendarvis in Mineral Point, the Platteville Mining and Rollo Jamison Museums and the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque. They will also experience the Lafayette County Fair and the UW–Platteville Heartland Festival and climb the world’s largest “M.”
“We are honored to serve as the Midwest connection for the institute and to serve as ambassadors for Wisconsin,” said Marian Maciej-Hiner, director of Continuing Education. “It is a learning experience for all of us, as we find out about our guests and they get to know us – and we find our common ground. Past participants have been impressed with the beautiful landscapes and the warm and friendly people in southwest Wisconsin, and want to visit again in the future.”
Jessie Goodwin, assistant coordinator for the program and recent UW–Platteville graduate, looks at the event from the perspective of a new educator with a study abroad background.
“It will be an exciting opportunity to teach and learn about cultural identity and diversity alongside international educators first hand,” she said. “An experience like this is enlightening and may teach us more about ourselves and our own culture than previously recognized before.”
Continuing Education is sponsoring a “World Connections” reception in honor of the 20 international guests in the UWP Ullsvik Hall Nohr Gallery on Monday, July 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. The public is invited to attend this free event — featuring live music, appetizers and cash bar — to meet the international guests and help make them feel welcome.