Faculty Reflections


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Year: Any 2016 2017 2018


Joseph Vugteveen

Date of International Activity
3/18/2018 - 3/18/2018

Partnership University
East China Normal University

International Activities and Goals
I met with many staff members at ECNU and had a number of conversations around the topics of; International partnerships, study abroad, website management, social media, IT services, graduate programs, student activities, and more. I've also increased my cultural awareness through museum visits, city tours, campus tours, and my interactions with the people of China.

The Bund Joe in Suzhou
Kiersten Quilliams

Date of International Activity
3/2/2018 - 3/2/2018

Partnership University
Macquarie & University of the Sunshine Coast

International Activities and Goals
I participated in the Partnership Delegation to Australia in March 2018. I had heard good things about the Partnership Delegation, but really could not have imagined how great this experience would be. From learning about the different ways in which the Australian education system works, to getting to know my own university through the eyes of colleagues from different departments, I now have a greater understanding of how our partnerships work and the potential for future collaboration that exists. Coming from University Libraries, I specifically met with the libraries at each university and discussed topics that seem to be universal for libraries, including offering the best spaces and services for students. Aside from sharing about our space use studies and the ways in which we are constantly evolving our spaces based on student use and feedback, I also really appreciated University of the Sunshine Coasts commitment to sustainability and think we could learn quite a bit from them, particularly their newest initiative to be a water bottle free campus, meaning they no longer sell plastic water bottles on campus. I really look forward to staying in contact with our international colleagues and collaborating with them on new ideas, as well as acting as a sounding board for concepts they may have. In some ways I feel like Im still processing all of the information that was shared and think that as I continue to do my work new ideas will emerge from this experience and Ill be able to share more with my library colleagues about my amazing experience down under. Ive included photos of the places we visited and all of the gorgeous landscapes, both university libraries (Macquarie and University of the Sunshine Coast), and myself holding a koala. It was hard to pick just a few!

IMG_20180304_144632 MVIMG_20180310_145607 IMG_20180312_194235_460 IMG_20180312_140110_574 Screenshot_20180328-145008 IMG_20180308_134511_917 IMG_20180307_061528 IMG_20180307_204655_363 IMG_20180306_151923_979 Screenshot_20180328-145025
Craig Benjamin

Date of International Activity
3/1/2018 - 3/1/2018

Partnership University
Macquarie University in Sydney; University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland

International Activities and Goals
I was delighted to receive an invitation from the Padnos International Center to co-lead this partner delegation trip to Australia in March 2018. It was a pleasure working with Becca Hambleton and our colleagues in Australia to devise an effective itinerary that allowed us to spend quality time visiting our two Australian partner institutions, and also enjoy some quintessentially Australian cultural experiences. I also participated in helping select our exceptional delegation members from a strong pool of applicants. The team we assembled represented the very best of GVSU, and it was a genuine pleasure traveling with such outstanding colleagues on what was a superb experience for all involved. We were able to deepen our relationship with these two partner institutions, and also gain a wealth of Australian cultural experiences that have further contributed to the internationalization of faculty and staff at GVSU. I thank sincerely the PIC for inviting me to co-lead this tour and congratulate them on the exceptional work they continue to do for our students, faculty and staff.

Brian Eikenhout

Date of International Activity
3/1/2018 - 3/1/2018

Partnership University
Macquarie University and University of the Sunshine Coast

International Activities and Goals
-Learning more about the process of study abroad -Finding information about course equivalencies -Creating contacts with departments to assist our students

Brian with a Joey
Anthony Thompson

Date of International Activity
3/1/2018 - 3/1/2018

Partnership University
Macquarie University, University of the Sunshine Coast

International Activities and Goals
I traveled with a GVSU delegation to partner institutions in Australia. My goals were to learn more about the programs and study abroad opportunities for our students in the programs of Media, Creative Arts, and Communication at Macquarie University, and Creative Industries, Design, and Communications at USC, and to encourage their students to study at GVSU. Both have excellent opportunities for students in our Department of Visual and Media Art and our School of Communications. I learned more about how their system works, and about the many cultural and social opportunities that would enrich the study-abroad experience beyond the classroom for our students. I made excellent connections with faculty and staff members in Australia that will create opportunities for faculty and student interactions and exchange. I learned more about the history and culture of Australia, and Australian artists, that I can incorporate into my classes and my own creative work.

Anthony Thompson holding a Koala
Barb Blankemeier

Date of International Activity
3/1/2018 - 3/1/2018

Partnership University
Macquarie University and University of the Sunshine Coast

International Activities and Goals
I participated in the March 2018 Partnership Delegation to Australia along with five other faculty and staff members from across the university. Our delegation was led by Becca Hambleton (PIC) and Dr. Craig Benjamin (Honors). The goal of my visit was to strengthen and expand my knowledge of faculty professional development in Australia. This was a wonderful experience in which I met with staff members of the teaching and learning centers at Macquarie University and the University of the Sunshine Coastthe Learning Innovation Hub (MU) and the Centre for Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching - C-SALT (USC). Both MU and USC have some great programs in place for faculty development and many of these programs can be replicated at GVSU. I will be sharing these ideas with the Pew FTLC staff and other interested faculty and staff. Im thankful to PIC and GVSU for this opportunity to share ideas and strengthen our existing partnership.

Barb Blankemeier with a koala Sydney Opera House IMG_1080 IMG_0837 IMG_1063
Keesha Walker

Date of International Activity
3/1/2018 - 3/1/2018

Partnership University
Macquarie University and the University of the Sunshine Coast

International Activities and Goals
As a participant of the 2018 Australian partnership delegation, I had the opportunity to meet with a handful of staff members from Macquarie University in Sydney and the University of the Sunshine Coast in Sippy Downs. I took part in the delegation because, as a 14-year employee of Grand Valley State University (GVSU), I have learned more about the Universitys practices and the lives of its students since I began working for the Division of Students Services almost two years ago. Through exposure to a Divisional staff exchange, I have also learned that institutions within various nations do not necessarily focus on providing the same amenities to their students. The services that are offered do not always stem from the same sources and may not be provided in the same ways. Considering this, I wanted to know whether Australian universities operate similarly to GVSU - specifically in the provision of housing, mental health services, athletics, and other services that one may assume are inherently ingrained. I also wanted to know whether Australian students share our students concerns. Ultimately, my intent was to determine the ways in which GVSU performs well and how we can benefit from the practices of others. Participating in the 2018 partnership delegation was extremely eye-opening, as I had never been outside of North America. While I can only truly reference my experiences at the universities that we visited, I learned that there are indeed differences between Australian universities and GVSU  particularly in terms of housing and athletics and how some of their divisions are structured. At the same time, there are numerous similarities. While they may vary according to institutional size and regional demographics, I also learned that our students do share some concerns and behavioral patterns and that the roadblocks to finding solutions, at times, appear to be universal. There are also differences, some of which are cultural. I intend to follow up by sharing my findings with administrators in the Division of Student Services and, perhaps, the Division of Inclusion and Equity. I am extremely grateful that I took part in the partnership delegation and now have a desire to seek out additional experiences in other countries. Thank you, PIC, for offering this opportunity to Grand Valleys faculty and staff members. It is extremely rewarding and I suggest that others participate as well.

K. Walker Koala Portrait
Brian Hatzel

Date of International Activity
3/1/2018 - 3/1/2018

Partnership University
University of the Sunshine Coast, Macquarie University

International Activities and Goals
This trip allowed me to renew our Departmental partnership with The University of the Sunshine Coast. I also aspired to develop relationships with the Unit Heads abroad so as to personalize GVSU when they were advising and assisting students. I also found it quite informative to discuss with them relevant issues that they are navigating. For instance they too are keenly interested in student retention and success despite the very different fiscal model they are in.

Lara Jaskiewicz

Date of International Activity
2/23/2018 - 2/23/2018

Partnership University
Cracow University of Economics

International Activities and Goals
My trip to the Cracow University of Economics had two main goals. One was to learn about the university and meet faculty there, and the other was to meet with staff about the joint MPA program we have in partnership with the university. While there I lectured for two courses: an undergraduate International Marketing course and a graduate Creativity Workshop. When meeting with staff from the international office, I learned that there may not be any applicants for the joint MPA program for next year. This was a surprise, but apparently many students already have full-time jobs and it is difficult to recruit them. However, during the conversation, it came out that the belief that the students must be Polish was in error, and that they had to be students of CUE. This is likely to open up the pool of potential applicants in the future.