The College of Education and Social Sciences at West Texas A&M University has developed an initiative that promotes the acquisition of cultural knowledge and the development of cultural understanding through an innovative and multifaceted academic delivery system. The University’s Go Global initiative connects graduate and undergraduate course content with the development of cultural knowledge and cross-cultural understanding; service leadership; academic research and writing; and the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills through experiential learning in international settings. The Go Global experience provides students the opportunity to apply new knowledge, skills, and cultural understanding to their professional roles in order to positively impact the local and global community. Additionally, participating faculty members and students engage in meaningful scholarly activity associated with the Go Global initiative.
In June 2006, the College of Education and Social Sciences delivered its first faculty-led student travel opportunity to central Mexico. Graduate students in education and two faculty members participated in the initiative which emphasized accomplishing the learning objectives of the course associated with the travel opportunity; acquiring knowledge of Mexican culture, history, art and religion; and designing, delivering, and assessing a meaningful service leadership project. Specifically, the faculty and student participants formed a partnership with a residential facility for abandoned and neglected children. During the course of the experience, WTAMU students assessed the general intelligence and academic achievement in reading, math, writing, and spelling of 35 children ages 4 through 15 years – information previously unavailable to the caretakers of the children.
Since its inception in 2006, the Go Global initiative at WTAMU has extended the university classroom into the world to include the following faculty-led, short term study abroad opportunities:
As a result of the success of the Go Global initiative, faculty-led opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to acquire cultural knowledge and develop cross-cultural understanding while accomplishing course and discipline-specific learning objectives will be expanded within the college and the university. Future Go Global filed experience opportunities will include programs in education, criminal justice, sociology, social work, and political science.
The success of the Go Global initiative has resulted in the creation of a number of related ventures. Faculty members from the disciplines of education, criminal justice, sociology, political science, and business have formed a unique learning community with specifically designed professional development goals. The learning community is actively engaged in Spanish language instruction with a focus on conversational skills, book study related to Mexican culture, and an intensive experience in Mexico designed to enhance course content and cross-cultural understanding. Additionally, the college hosts a variety of events designed to increase cultural knowledge and foster cross-cultural understanding including its annual Dia de Los Muertos festival. These events involve the active participation of diverse leaders in the community.
Additionally, the College of Education and Social Sciences at West Texas A&M University in partnership with Catholic Family Service Refugee Resettlement Program has developed an initiative that promotes the acquisition of cultural knowledge through an innovative experiential learning opportunity for undergraduate students. The initiative connects undergraduate course content in the education of English Language Learners (ELL) and Bilingual Education with the development of cultural understanding and service leadership. Since the early 1970’s, Catholic Family Service Inc. has resettled a significant number of refugees into the Texas Panhandle community and continues to serve as one of the top resettlement programs in the United States. In an effort to prepare future educators to meet the opportunities presented by an increasingly diverse public school student population, the WTAMU teacher preparation program emphasizes ELL education. The initiative requires that all WTAMU undergraduate students preparing to become future educators will tutor a recent refugee in English. The experience provides students the opportunity to apply new knowledge, skills, and cultural understanding to their professional roles in order to positively impact the local and global community. Additionally, participating faculty members and students engage in meaningful scholarly activity associated with the Go Global initiative.
Each year, the Office of Continuing Education at West Texas A&M University offers the community an exciting opportunity to study and travel through a noncredit course entitled: Incredible India - A Learning Adventure. During the fall, participants meet on four occasions at our WTAMU Amarillo Center to study important aspects of Indian religion, culture, history, art, and architecture. The adventure continues with a two week journey in India under the direction of WTAMU faculty members. During 2012, community participants will have the opportunity to tutor in a village school and provide service to Mother Teresa’s Hospice for the Destitute in Varanasi, India.
All participating students pay a significant portion of the direct expenses associated with their international field experience. However, scholarship assistance is essential to student participation. The direct expense for one student to participate in the program ranges from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the international destination. An endowment supporting the Go Global initiative has been established at WTAMU. For additional information concerning Go Global or ways that you can participate, please contact: Dr. Eddie Henderson, Dean of the College of Education and Social Sciences, at 806-651-2603 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Angela Spaulding, Dean of the Graduate School and Research, at 806-651-2730 or email@example.com.