|NCCU Students Tyquan Ward and Regina Glover in Ghana|
North Carolina Central University is taking learning beyond the classroom and introducing global experiences to students through campus-wide seminars and training sessions. The initiatives were implemented to meet one of the goals of the NCCU 2020 Strategic Plan, which calls for an increase in global experiences in coursework and travel.
Dr. David Hood, associate dean of the University College, and Dr. Emmanuel Oritsejafor, director of International Affairs, say that students should be exposed to international opportunities as incoming freshmen. Hood and Oritsejafor partnered to offer a Global Citizenship Seminar to freshmen who are part of the Centennial Scholars and Aspiring Eagles programs. The seven-week series focused on intercultural understanding, global poverty and a simulation in which students were given the opportunity to develop solutions to hypothetical situations.
For Centennial Scholar Randy Person, the series put urgency to his desire to participate in social entrepreneurship. “I realize that there are things that I can do right here in Durham,” said Person, a freshman. He volunteers at a local community center and serves as a youth mentor. While he has never traveled abroad, he is making plans to participate in one of the many initiatives offered at NCCU.
One session that stayed with NCCU student Alina Barberena was the poverty simulation. The criminal justice and psychology major was struck by the level of global poverty that exists. “It made me think about how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to go to college,” said Barberena, “but it also made me realize how valuable I am to my community. It helped me see myself helping others.”
“Our goal was to make students globally aware by increasing their understanding of what it means to be a global citizen,” Hood said. The seminar utilized the expertise of faculty from various units on campus to present to students.
According to Donna Hembrick, director of career services, international exposure for students can broaden horizons and boost job prospects. “Students need to think about working abroad, not just traveling abroad,” she said. To facilitate this process, career services has created the Just Go program as part of the Professional Development Network series. Through the program, Hembrick and her staff hope to provide education on the three major obstacles for travel abroad: fear, funding and family.
A panel of students who have traveled abroad are helping to debunk the myths of international travel and provide perspective on affordability issues. But the key obstacle, Hembrick said, can be family. “We have to deal with parent anxiety, which can change the mind of some students if they lack support.”
Hood understands the need to remove obstacles. One of his goals for the program is to support the establishment of a “passport campus,” where every student that arrives at NCCU without a passport would receive one. While such a step is a long-term goal, both Hood and Ortisejafor plan to continue the seminars, expanding them to include more students.
“We have to make NCCU attractive to students who want to travel internationally,” said Oritsejafor. “If we start with our student scholars, perhaps they can become ambassadors for international travel.”