In July 2019, the Center of Global Education and International Student Services came together to form the Center for Global Engagement. The Center for Global Education was structured as a study abroad unit that sent American students to foreign countries and International Student Services included recruitment, admissions and overall support for international students to ensure a positive TU experience.
The goal of this merger is to bolster relationships between international and domestic students for success during college and after. Ashli Boxley, a current student, Jane Kucko, vice provost for Global Education, and Kimberly Henderson, senior director of student services for Global Engagement, speak to the mission of the newly minted department.
Boxley’s journey of cultural exploration began in the sixth grade when she started studying Chinese. At TU, Boxley is majoring in Chinese studies and has already studied abroad in China where she sharpened her language skills and experienced the culture firsthand.
Having lived in Tulsa her entire life, Boxley has gained a variety of international perspectives through her studies abroad and meeting people at the Center for Global Education. She says that exposure has been amazing and eye–opening. “Cultural isolation — not knowing what is happening in other countries — bothers me. It bothered me that I wasn’t doing anything about it. The benefit of awareness is important because the world isn’t just your home country,” Boxley said.
Last year, Boxley had a work study position with what was then known as International Student Services. During that time, she saw the international student application process and also became involved with the Center for Global Education as a Global Scholar. Through these experiences, Boxley learned about issues she was previously unaware of. When global issues do not directly impact someone, Boxley says, it is easy remain uninformed about their causes and effects. “Working with international students gave me the opportunity to meet individuals from different countries and listen to their perspectives. I love hearing what they have to say and the questions they ask me about my culture,” Boxley said. Boxley has found that many students — both international and domestic — just need a push to leave their cultural bubble, but find deep friendships when they do.
Boxley is now working in the Center for Global Engagement as a peer adviser. She is interested to see how the interactions between both student groups will change with the offices together under one roof. “Both the Center for Global Education and International Student Services helped me gain a global perspective, so it makes sense to me that they merged last year. I’m excited about the possibilities,” Boxley said.
A team united
The reimagined focus of the Center for Engagement is to more effectively engage domestic and international students. “It’s been amazing to watch staff from the previously separate arms come together and collaborate, and learn about each other’s work,” Kucko said.
In 2017, the Center for Global Education held roundtable discussions with students, faculty and staff about what the department could improve. Each conversation with different stakeholders revealed a desire to increase engagement with the international student population. “We are using this opportunity to find even more ways to support our international students and help them have opportunities to engage with domestic students and the overall campus community,” Henderson said.
The Center for Global Engagement is working on creating programs that foster relationships between the two groups. One initiative is providing a space for students to practice English outside of the classroom and for international and domestic students to interact and even arrange visits to each other’s homes. Essentially, the mission is to foster networks and friendships. “Oftentimes, there is a reputation that study abroad is an insubstantial experience, but there is real cultural complexity that comes with study abroad. Having regular conversations with international students is a great opportunity to learn about the larger global society,” Kucko said.
The new partnership is also finding innovative ways to work with faculty and other offices and departments across campus including the Student Success Center, dean of students, Housing, the Center for Student Academic Success and the English Institute to benefit student success and retention. The center is learning how its efforts with visa immigration and other elements support the Office of Admissions and vice versa. The team also is working with the Student Success Center’s financial coaches to advocate for study abroad and make it affordable for all students. “This cross–pollination of advocating and collaborating with each other to promote student success is the spirit of what we’re doing at the Center for Global Engagement and across campus,” Kucko said.
The Center for Global Engagement is located on the second floor of the Allen Chapman Student Union. Students are welcome to stop by or contact email@example.com with any questions.