Monthly Archives: December 2012

NASPA in Hong Kong!

I didn’t sleep well on Monday night the 10th; I guess I was anxious about getting to Hong Kong. I left my house for the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington Airport at 7:30 a. m. on Tuesday the 11th. I landed in Hong Kong at about 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday the 12th.  After 16 hours in flight to Hong Kong from Newark, I’m pumped and eager to meet Dr. Jody Donovan for our NASPA International Student Services Institute in partnership with the Hong Kong Student Services Association.

When I arrived at the airport in Hong Kong Wednesday evening, I was greeted by “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly,” followed by “Silent Night” and many other Christmas carols. As I write this message while in the lobby of the hotel, I hear more Christmas carols. Everything is beautifully decorated in celebration of the Christmas holiday.

Leaving the airport on the Hong Kong side and coming across the Victoria Harbor Causeway to Kowloon to the hotel, I was struck by all the cranes and containers in the harbor and all the high rises surrounding the bay with lights on in the apartments and condos. The city is alive and electric with stores everywhere. Not just any stores, but there are designer stores jammed in every place.

With so many opportunities for conspicuous consumption, I wonder what college students in Hong Kong and the surrounding region envision for their future. Do they see themselves as financiers, CEOs of start-ups, or are some of them considering education, nonprofit work, or even student affairs. Tomorrow when I speak with the participants in the Institute, I will encourage them to consider becoming mentors in the Gwen Dungy NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program.

Have a great holiday!

Stronger Emphasis on ‘Soft Skils’

I’m serving on a Commission on the future for our very fine local community college, and I was at a meeting with business people and community college faculty, staff, and administrators.  In his closing remarks, the business man who is chairing the Commission reiterated what the various groups were saying about the needs of college graduates.

He said that the college needed to pay attention to ensuring that more students are preparing themselves in the STEM majors, but that they also needed to be prepared with what are sometimes called “soft skills.” Expecting to hear reasons why there is not more emphasis on those skills that student affairs works to encourage students to acquire, this very wise man made the following statement:

Soft skills may not get college credit, and they might not be accredited by the people who evaluate college courses, but we need to say, ‘The hell with that!’ We need to do what we know is right for students because it’s about learning and getting the skills students need to be successful.

If I had been in church, I would have said, “AMEN!” In my speeches and presentations, I’m focusing on what skills our graduates and alumni need in order to be prepared both for careers that currently exist and those that do not yet exist, and some of these skills are those skills called “soft skills.”

When I talk with employers, they say that college cannot prepare students for the specifics for most jobs, but they can give students the foundation that will be used in learning how to learn the specifics of the job. What students do not always have is the foundation that enables them to be excellent communicators across cultures. The employers are saying they need managers, and without the intercultural communication skills, our students will not be equipped.

These skills can be learned if student affairs will collaborate with faculty in offering what I call cocurriculum laboratories.

I will write about these in subsequent blogs and will respond to any questions or comments.