A Note from the Associate Director for Global Engagement

As we step into 2022, I’m looking back and realizing that this past year has seen a flurry of global engagement at UM-Flint despite the pandemic. At the Center for Global Engagement, we have taken this opportunity to focus on Global Learning at Home. We hosted the Taiwan Bunun Indigenous Music and Film Festival. Folks from Michigan to Taipei came together in-person and online to listen to Bunun music, attend lectures about indigenous cultures in Taiwan, and watched a film, “Listen Before You Sing” about the power of Pasibutbut, the song of harmonious sharing and mutual support. The film’s director, Chih-Lin Yang, joined us virtually from Taiwan for a live Q&A directly after the screening of his film. Those on campus in the Kiva Room that day shared a sense of connection and purpose from the message of Director Yang’s film: we are in this together and home is here, in our hearts.

We also supported Hostile Terrain-Flint, a participatory art project sponsored by the international Undocumented Migration Project. Flint’s installation of Hostile Terrain 94 had community-wide participation. Volunteers began working on the project just before the COVID-19 shut down two years ago. During those months of shutdown, hundreds of folks across our campus and in our community hand-wrote over 3,200 toe tags honoring those that have lost their lives trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. Our installation of Hostile Terrain 94 was on display at the Flint Farmers Market in November of last year. We also came together for a screening of “Border South” a documentary that follows migrant routes from southern Mexico to the U.S. Mexico border. Director Raul Paz-Pastrana joined us virtually from California in a live Q&A after the screening of his film. Like the screening of “Listen Before You Sing”, the message of Director Paz Pastrana’s film resonated strongly with us in the Kiva Room that day as we considered themes of belonging and home, and the despair that so many face at our border with Mexico.

Global Learning at Home also includes Virtual Exchange. Emily Feuerherm, Associate Professor of Linguistics and TESOL Program Director, participated in the tri-campus Virtual Exchange Initiative Faculty Workshop where she met Sebastian Concha from UNIMINUTO in Bogotá, Colombia. They partnered together to design an English language teaching course for students in Flint and Bogotá. The students met virtually, participated in community service teaching the English language, and presented at a professional conference together–all virtually. Emily’s partnership with Sebastian continues this semester as some students completing their Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate are teaching virtually alongside Sebastain’s students in two community organizations that support children in foster care in Colombia.

International Education Week (mid-November annually) was an opportunity for us to offer a plethora of in-person and virtual activities centered on global topics and opportunities. We hosted international tea and coffee hours representing regions around the world, we held an International Leadership Panel, offered a Fulbright Program information session, provided an Indigenous Perspective Thanksgiving Dinner, and co-sponsored the Diwali festival.

Though we are still in the midst of a pandemic that complicates international travel, we have learned a lot and collaborated with the Global Engagement Team at the Ann Arbor campus to learn how to prepare faculty and students for the obstacles they will face when travelling abroad. With the increased and more robust health and safety planning measures in place here and in Ann Arbor, we are ready to support international travel again. Many locations are approved for undergraduate and graduate study abroad. We continue to monitor the country to country developments that affect the programs that we manage. In short, we are ready to open up international travel for Global Engagement again!

That means that this year’s focus will be on strengthening our Education Abroad program and partnering with our faculty to build short-term study abroad programs (Faculty-Led programs), promote the opportunities offered through our exchange partnerships that fit your budget and your life, and build community-engaged learning experiences in tandem with our faculty and our community partners in Flint, Genesee County, and beyond. 

So, WE WANT YOU to get globally engaged! Whether that is in a virtual exchange on your laptop in your bedroom, a study abroad trip to Barcelona, or in a community service learning project here in Flint; all of the experiences that we support at the CGE will expose you to global issues and diverse communities. 

Are you interested in studying abroad? Come meet with Kristen, our Education Abroad Program Coordinator and learn more. Are you interested in being engaged with our communities in Flint and Genesee County? Come meet with Gary, our Community Engaged Learning Program Manager. Are you interested in our events and activities designed to enhance the international student experience? Come meet with Kim, our International Student and Scholar Services Manager. Do you want to learn how to incorporate Global Learning at home, abroad, or in the community into your course, in person or virtually? I can help with that!

Finally, the best for last: I am very happy to announce that we can now guarantee that every new and continuing UM-Flint student is eligible to receive up to $1500 in scholarship funding to help them pay for costs associated with our Education Abroad, Study Away, and Community Engaged Learning programs. 

So that leaves us with only one question: What will you do with your Global Engagement Scholarship?

I hope to hear from you soon!