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!
What’s trending in higher education?
When 34 higher education leaders from 15 countries agree on a set of principles to guide universities and graduate schools in preparing doctoral and masters students to meet the demands of the global workforce and economy, as reported in University World News, and when the Council of Higher Education and Accreditation (CHEA) launches an international division because there is a pressing need to establish a shared global system of quality assurance, also reported in University World News, and when IASAS and NASPA host a Global Summit on Student Affairs with 24 countries represented and close to fifty participants, what’s trending is the realization that geographic boundaries have no influence on the competition students will face in employment and in their careers, and we must prepare students to live and work with people from all over the globe.
What the IASAS–NASPA Global Summit participants realized is that the important skills needed for job acquisition and career advancement that have historically been referred to as “soft skills” are even more important with the advent of the internationalization of opportunity.
The IASAS–NASPA Global Summit was invigorating and inspiring, with educators talking about the similarities and differences in how student services and education outside the classroom are provided. Respecting each approach to serving and educating students, we had very similar concerns about students who are presenting similar issues worldwide around financial ability to attend and remain in college, the hard lessons from alcohol abuse, and anxieties about securing jobs upon graduation.
I was encouraged as we spoke about sharing best practices, collaborating, and the possibility of adopting a common set of student learning outcomes that are global in nature and that student affairs can help students acquire, such as those “soft skills” that are becoming more critical than ever in a global and transnational environment.
Stay tuned for more news on the IASAS–NASPA Global Summit as the proceedings and summaries from the gathering are finalized.
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?
Hello good people,
Today, I began the second week of my retirement, and just as I did when I began my role at NASPA as executive director, I wrote out goals for myself. The goals are for one year, and I’ve been working hard as if I’m racing against a clock to get them done because someone told me that people have all of these plans for when they retire, and they never get around to doing what they said they would do.
So far I have been disciplined about the way I’m using my time. I’m working with NASPA on some parts of the strategic plan particularly around international interests, and I’m continuing NASPA’s work with AAC&U on civic learning and democratic engagement among other ongoing partnerships. I’m looking forward to having more time for writing and speaking. One thing I’m determined to do is continue my commitment to promoting the contributions of student affairs to the academic aims of higher education and the personal development needs of students of all ages. Because of this, I will continue to communicate my thoughts and welcome feedback in order to keep learning and growing. To me retirement is not stopping; it’s getting a second wind.