Ambassadors…to China, faculty, and beyond…

Some people can’t write because they have what is called “writers’ block.” Fortunately, this is not a problem for me. I have so much I want to write about that it takes me a while to decide on what not to write about. Returning from a two-week visit to China, I have enough material to write about for some time, but I fear I might bore you, so I’ll just give you a taste.

Over the past weeks, I was fortunate to be among colleagues who participated as presenters in the Macau Student Affairs Institute, which was open to student affairs practitioners from all over China. It is believed to be the first such institute of its kind in China. A colleague created the curriculum and invited many colleagues you know (I won’t call names because these folks have not consented to be subjects in my blog) to do a series of workshops for the participants from China.

I learned an inordinate amount about student affairs in China, both from the institute and from my subsequent visits to Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Shanghai as “Ambassador for NASPA”, as the Chinese dubbed me.

I was truly impressed by the institute participants because they were eager and attentive learners from the beginning to the very end of the two-day workshop in which I participated. They were active learners and they have adopted what they call “total student development.” What I envied was the interest of faculty in student affairs work. The institute included professors from law, psychology, and information technology, all of whom were eager to learn how best to help students reach their maximum potential. It was terrific to have faculty and student affairs staff all working together to support students.

I’m encouraged by my recent experiences with faculty wanting to educate and support the whole student. The day before I left for China, I was making a presentation, along with a former MUFP alum of whom I am so proud, to veterinary medical education doctors about seeing their students through the lens of student affairs. They, too, were eager to support students and to learn what it means to view students from a holistic perspective.

I think our next frontier is to engage with faculty directly in professional development that has heretofore been reserved for educators who claim student affairs as their field. Student affairs practitioners are educators primarily outside the classroom. Why not be ambassadors to academic affairs, working with faculty to use the lens of student affairs in their teaching inside the classroom?

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