HILARY LANDORF: So now we're going to turn to our student panel. We have Julia Vasta, Jo Yang, Mary John, Andrew Stawasz, and Brennan Whitaker Duty. If you would introduce yourselves and the program that you were on. And then we'll go right to our questions for you.
BRENNAN WHITAKER DUTY: Hello, everyone. I just want to thank the room because you all represent the intellectual capital and emotional investment that the university puts into students like me. So that I was able to go to Zambia and really benefit. I was part for the Johnson program, specifically the Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion. I did my trip last year as part of the immersion and I will be graduating in two weeks if I am able to deliver a business plan for my independent study class.
JULIA GRACE VASTA: Hi everybody, my name is Julia Vasta, and I'm here representing the Cornell in Seville program. I went last spring of 2014. And when I did it, it was Cornell, Michigan, and Penn. It's changing a little bit, but it's essentially the same program. And I'm happy to answer any questions you have about it.
JO YANG: Hi, my name is Jo Yang and I'm a senior majored in Food Science in CALS. And I studied abroad my junior spring semester in the Netherlands in Wageningen University through CALS Exchange.
MARY JOHN: Hi, my name is Mary. I'm a senior in Environmental Engineering. And I'm here representing the AguaClara RIDE program. RIDE standing for research, invent, design, and empower. And I went to Honduras to visit our nine water treatment plants the winter break of my sophomore year and India to learn about water issues the winter break of my senior year.
ANDREW HENRY STAWASZ: Hi, everyone. My name is Andy Stawasz. I'm here representing the ILR Global Service Learning Program in Mysore, India. I also took part in a Global Service Learning Program in Lusaka, Zambia, if you have any questions about that. But today I'll be speaking mostly from the programmatic side of the India program.
HILARY LANDORF: Well, thank you. And thank you for joining us this morning. So the first question is to please describe any cultural mentoring you had during your international experience and some of the ways that this mentoring has helped you in your interactions with people who are culturally different, either here or during your study abroad.
BRENNAN WHITAKER DUTY: OK, great. I guess we'll do this in a consecutive order. I'll tackle that question first. I'd like to give the audience a little bit of a background on the project, as that might help contextualize the learning that I had. Our assignment was to look at an African foodstuffs company that was empowering farmers not to poach and to give them the training necessary in order for them to practice sustainable conservation practices for farming. And in return, the company would give these farmers a premium for their product.
So for example, the farmers would produce peanuts and then the African foodstuffs company called COMACO would turn that into peanut butter. Soy into a cereal, protein, et cetera. Unfortunately, the organization had not sufficiently managed its capital correctly and it was taking on a lot of debt. And as it was servicing that debt, it didn't have enough capital to actually buy the inputs from the farmers. So our job was to give a financial evaluation for the company. And in doing so, hopefully convert that outstanding debt to equity so that the company could use the cash that it had to actually perform business operations. So that's why we were brought on to do the project.
Now, the cultural mentorship that I had, in order to do an evaluation, you have to understand all of the parts of the business. So that includes the marketing, the operations, everything involved, including the financial outflows. So our cultural mentorship started with our team. One of the directors of the company, [? Kanungwa ?] [? Newlove, ?] who has one of the most beautiful names I've heard in my entire life, she took us on the entire value chain.
She introduced us to the farmers at the very root part of the operation. And all the way to the people who were handling manufacturing, to the distribution, and even the people who were actually selling the end product in the grocery stores in Lusaka to the end clients. The mentorship that I receive from her in terms of how to interact with the different people in a country that I knew nothing about. I was internationally culturally advanced. I've been living in Brazil for four years before doing my MBA. So I had an understanding about how to interact, how to absorb, not speak too much, listen more. So that was always helpful.
But her mentorship really demonstrated to me the power that I was representing from, not just Cornell. But something that's more shocking to me sometimes is that I'm a white educated person from the United States. And she said, be extraordinarily careful about the things that you say and about the promises you able to keep. Because here in this culture, whatever you say or whatever you do, people will take as God's word, for lack of a better term.
And so that made me very careful about the sorts of promises that I was giving to the company, and about the farmers, and the reasons why we were there. And it really honed my interaction with the farmers and with the stakeholders that we interacted with. Now in taking that step back in this community at Cornell, what I realize is that, yes, we are all in this community, and it's wonderful, and it's gorgeous, but sometimes we take it for granted because we're all surrounded by ourselves. And then in this room represents an enormous amount of intellectual capital.
And so when I move forward, when I graduate, hopefully within two weeks, that's something that I'm going to take with me. Is that the power and responsibility that comes with the amount of education that I've garnered over my lifetime, with the investment that people in this room have given me, it is something that I'm going to take with me forward to make sure that I use this intellectual capital and I use this cultural understanding of others to empower others and to make a better difference in the world.
HILARY LANDORF: Thank you.
JULIA GRACE VASTA: So I can think of two particular cultural mentors when I'm looking back on my broad experience. So I went to Seville in southern Spain to take classes at the university there. And I think there are about 32 students in my program from Cornell, University of Michigan, and U Penn. And I think our natural tendency when we were confused about certain cultural customs and situations was to complain to each other about it and wonder why it was the way it was, which wasn't terribly productive.
So I learned a lot from living in a homestay with one widowed woman, my host mom. But even though I learned a lot from her, it was a source of confusion at times. There were certain gestures and nuances that I didn't understand. She had certain worries about my experience that weren't worrying me at all. And I didn't understand her concerns versus my concerns.
So one of the people I went to talk about these things was a woman named Luisa, who worked in our program office. I actually held a job in the program office as kind of an office assistant, so I saw her a lot and we got pretty close. And Luisa was used to seeing a lot of American students, 20, 21-year-olds, coming in and interacting with Spaniards and with their host families. And she was able to explain to me a lot about her perspective on why she thought my homestay was going the way it was.
It went very well, but there were times that I was confused about the behavior in my homestay. She was able to explain to me how family structures work within Spain, especially within southern Spain. And about how the grandmothers in the family tend to be the matriarchs. They tend to be the head of the family and have a lot of control over what happens in the house. So that helped to explain to me about the behavior of my host mom, who was a grandmother with a lot of children and a lot of grandkids.
Another mentor that I had was a professor. He was from Spain as well. And he taught our cultural seminar that we had that kind of helped us integrate when we first arrived in Seville. And he also taught a class on writing that I took with about 10 other kids in my program. He spent a lot of the time not only teaching us the language, but teaching us about the culture, especially regarding the language. Different slang, different words that we should and shouldn't use, what their connotations are. Because even if we knew the words already, we would not have known what the connotations were. So I learned a lot from him as well.
People would often come into that class with problems or with their doubts and any confusion they were having. And he would often actually personally clear them up and explain the situation. Explain his perspective on why he thought our host mothers or our friends were behaving in the way they if it was something that was kind of jarring to us. So I think those two. One of them was a professor and he had a very established position as kind of a mentor in that way. But the other one, Luisa in my program office, ended up being a really big source of mentorship as well.
JO YANG: So for me, there wasn't a lot of program or structure to my program. In that when I was in the United States, Christine Potter, she's the coordinator for Cal's exchange, she really helped me with the whole entire application process. But when I actually got to the Netherlands, there were only four of us from Cornell who were there. Actually, in the entire school, there were only six Americans and like three Canadians.
So we were thrown into this kind of diverse university, where actually over half of the master's student and over 70% of the PhD students were actually from abroad. So Wageningen is a very diverse school. So when I was there, I would say that one of the classes that I took really changed my perspective and the professor there gave me a lot of mentorship.
And the class is called Comparative Law Between International and American Food Law. So I remember one time in class, because I am American, I think, that I am a lot more outspoken. I like to raise my hand and just let my opinion out in class. Whereas a lot of the Dutch students or European students, they would maybe just be very intellectual, keep thoughts to themselves, and things like that, and dwell on them.
And so I remember in that class we discussed about the different perspectives. A global agenda of what is the US versus the European Union perspective on GMOs and hormone treated beef. And because the entire class kind of highlighted the opinion of the European Union side, I felt the need that I had to speak out as American. And once my hand shot up and I spoke for the American side, I was very surprised because the whole room, basically seven or eight hands went up right after mine just trying to defend their side.
And that made me realize that in America, although everyone have different opinions, but in a sense the basis of our opinions are kind of similar. Whereas when you're abroad and you're the only America in the room and have a different opinion, it really makes you think about do you really believe in your opinion or are you just saying that because you have to say it because you're the American in the room.
And then after that class, I was kind of taken aback. And I didn't really want to continue my point because actually I felt like I didn't reference America well, because honestly, I was just a lot less knowledgeable than a lot of people in my class. And my professor actually came up to me after class. He's like, yeah, you did a really great job today. I hope to see similar type of discussions in the class later. So he really applauded me for being brave and pointing out the difference. So I think that will be one of the important mentorship I had in Wageningen
HILARY LANDORF: Thank you.
MARY JOHN: All right. So with the AguaClara program, it's something that you're working with here on campus for multiple semesters. You take theory classes. You do research and design. And it really all culminates in that two week trip to Honduras. So you're learning about Honduras. You're learning that water is a very political thing. You're learning about engineering in a social context while you're here on campus. But you can never really fully appreciate those issues until you go to Honduras and you see it. And you're only there for two weeks, so every person you talk to, every community member, every plant operator is a mentor.
So I think while I was there, I went as a sophomore, the most important people we talked to were the water treatment plant operators. And the whole trip is about not going in as an American engineer and saying, this is what's right, this is what's wrong. It's about listening and hearing, what are your problems? What do you need us to do? What's working? What's not working?
And I think that was the biggest learning experience I had. Was just thinking about, again, engineering in the social context. That you can be on campus and learning math, and learning science, and solving differential equations all day long. But when you think about water in the cultural context and water in Honduras, there's the social aspect that most engineers really aren't used to solving, there is no right answer. And when I came into the program, that was something that, I think, a lot of engineers had no experience with.
So going and talking to community members and seeing how can we apply the social to the math and the science was really the best part of that experience. And talking to community members. And you think you're coming down and they're going to say the best part about having an AguaClara plant in our town is we have no more sickness. There's no more waterborne disease. We've solved the world's water problems.
When in reality they say, well, our clothes are a lot cleaner because we're not washing them with dirty water. And so that's a complete reality check in that you're really affecting people in a minute day to day way and not on this whole overall level. So I think it totally changes your perspective about what you're doing here on campus. And that your impact here is making a difference in people's lives in a small way and those small impacts can really make a bigger change.
ANDREW HENRY STAWASZ: So speaking to the ILR Global Service Learning program in India regarding cultural mentorship, I think there are sort of formal avenues that the program tries to implement for students to have a cultural mentor. So to give a little background on the program itself, ILR partners with a nonprofit organization called the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement in Mysore, Karnataka state. And within that, they work in education sectors, community development sectors, research and advocacy, education, and so on.
So within that, there are a lot of projects that students can take on. So students are matched to a project during the year while on campus. And we have a pre-departure seminar that meets weekly to help students prepare A, for their projects, and B, just for a softer landing when they get to India. But within their projects, every project has a mentor. So there is a formalized structure in place for students to have someone that they can go to as a point person with issues A, relating to their projects, but B, if there are issues and students feel comfortable with their mentor, I've known students on the program when I went two summers ago to approach their mentors and ask about various. Because there are a lot of nuances to Indian culture that we may not be able to teach within a pre-departure seminar, no matter how well we do.
So to aid with those sorts of issues that you can't necessarily anticipate and head off or that we fail to anticipate and head off from a programmatic point of view. So there's sort of the formalized mentorship in that way. And then on top of that, when you're working and partnering with a organization, SVYM, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, opportunities within your project with the people you're working with.
For example, to cite a personal example, I worked with a subdivision of SVYM called Palliative Care Mysore, which delivers end of life hospice-style home-based care for families in the region. And that involved doing some home visits with patients. And I didn't necessarily speak much of the local language, nor did I know my way around the city very well. Because I was there only two months in total or even less.
So I needed to hitch rides on buses and on things with people working with Palliative Care Mysore, who happened to be bilingual and could translate the patient visit for me so I could you know leave saying, OK, wait, what was that they said? OK. Oh, that's interesting. And they were also able to provide some guidance on, oh, you shouldn't have asked so many questions. Or you should take your shoes off before you enter the house. Things like that.
So that wasn't necessarily formalized. I didn't know that I would be working with these people in particular. But they provided some of the most invaluable cultural mentorship through this informal route. And my supervisor was absolutely wonderful. The formal mentor I had. A wonderful person, but incredibly busy person, so I wasn't able, necessarily, to go to him as often as some people were able to go to theirs for maybe cultural advice. So I think I used and a lot of people used this informal route towards cultural mentorship just by befriending and partnering in a professional sense, but also in a personal sense, with a lot of the people that you work with.
HILARY LANDORF: Thank you. You've all had these incredible international experiences. And now I want to get to the heart of the session in the symposium itself, which is the integration of international experience in the curriculum and ask you a little broader question of, can you tell us one way in which you have integrated your international experience, either in your coursework or in your personal or professional life back in Ithaca and at Cornell?
BRENNAN WHITAKER DUTY: So for me, it's been quite practical. When I was applying to Johnson in the admissions essays they ask you, what are you doing here? Why do you want to do an MBA? My answer was that I want to work in a large corporation. Because if you can have a seemingly small impact in the organization, you actually can reverberate quite large throughout the value chain.
So I wanted to work in a foodstuffs company. And tomorrow I fly out for a final round interview for Land O'Lakes. And hopefully that'll go well. And the whole takeaway from this is that I can now talk fluently about my potential job description, which is go to market strategy in a developing country. I'm supposed to analyze Argentina and Brazil in this role, two countries that I know very well from previous experience. And I can talk fluently about that experience and what it was like for me precisely because I had this opportunity through Cornell. So it was a very practical application for me.
HILARY LANDORF: Great.
JULIA GRACE VASTA: I'll try to be brief. But I've taken away so much from going abroad that it's kind of hard to pick one way in which it's affected my career path. I was just a sociology major when I went abroad. And then when I came back, I added a Spanish major. I got a lot more fluent there. I think my program is very immersive and I also was very eager to learn a lot more Spanish.
I've always had an interest in Spanish and I've taken classes at Cornell kind of for fun. But going there and then actually having to use the language and studying in the language, taking classes, and reading, and writing, just got me hooked. So I added the Spanish major. Never really planned on working with language professionally after college, but I'm actually planning on moving to Madrid next year to go to grad school and study literary translation.
So that's totally different. I was expecting to do something in sociology. Maybe down the line I'll combine the two. But for me, it's just had such a massive impact. Within a year, I've completely changed my goals and I've decided to move abroad again. And I'm taking a lot of literature classes now, which is something that I didn't do as much before. And I'm enjoying them a lot. And I think having the experience of being there has helped me massively with being able to understand the perspective of the writers that I'm studying. So it's just been a huge impact on me and in the best way.
JO YANG: So for me, when I was at Wageningen, it's a really big and a very well known food science school where they have a lot of different specializations within food science. So there were a lot of food safety law, and also food packaging, and food technology type of courses that are not offered at Cornell.
So I really took advantage of that and decided to take the classes that I'm interested in. So it made me realize how motivated are you as a student to learn when you're not graded. Because the lower grades didn't transfer, whereas I just got the credit. So it kind of made you realize without people telling you, without being graded by a rubric, how motivated are you to learn, how interested are you in the topic.
So when I came back to Cornell, I think it really changed my perspective in that sense. And I took this course offered at Cornell called AEM 3290, which is the agribusiness trip offered in CALS. And it's a very loosely structured class, where your grades is based on only three components. One is a presentation and research you do before you go abroad. And then how you contribute to discussion for that one week period when you're abroad. And then after you come back, you write a paper on any topic that you want.
So I think for the paper, really, it reminded me of being at Wageningen again, where even though the professor said the minimum requirement is seven pages, 1.5 space, I think that if you're really interested in a topic and you really want to self learn and internalize all the information that you gathered abroad, I think that students are willing to put in more effort and go beyond your expectations.
So I think that's one of the takeaways that I've had from my study abroad experience. And I just want to say I've taken three languages here at Cornell. And I think all of them do a great job teaching you, not only the language aspect, but also the cultural aspect. And there are just so many opportunities.
I'm currently a buddy to the CALS Exchange Program. So I have a friend who studies in Wageningen University, but is doing an exchange here at Cornell currently. So I think I made a lot of international friends, not only in my food science classes, but also just having this personal get to know them on a personal level type of experience. So I think Cornell does a great job already. But yeah, if there's other opportunities that I haven't mentioned, I think that all of it contributes to the international experience.
MARY JOHN: So I think the best way to relate my international experience to my academic experiences was my design project with AguaClara last semester. I was designing household infrastructure for villages in India and looking at how do we get water from a plant treated to your home and how do we use it.
And I think before I went to Honduras I would have said, OK, sink height, one meter. Nice round number, one meter, so easy to work with. But after my experience in Honduras, I think women are the people who are washing dishes. Women and children. How tall is the average woman in India? How high are her arms? My arms aren't a meter high.
So do we use a meter? Do we use half a meter? There's never been a more in-depth discussion about same height, ever, as this design project. But I don't think I would have had those thoughts or those immediate decision making process without having been in an international context and realizing that people are actually using this infrastructure that you're designing. So I think that's probably the best way I can [INAUDIBLE] it.
ANDREW HENRY STAWASZ: And for me, I've personally grown up about 40 minutes from here around Corning, New York. And then I moved all the way to Ithaca. So then suddenly I had this idea that yeah, sure, it would be a good idea to move halfway around the world and spend a summer in India.
And of course, it was. And for me, I think I grew immensely personally from it. And the next summer was invited to apply for the Global Service Learning program in Zambia, which really, really, really cemented that I'm interested in international experience. This service learning model has been really influential for me, which I could talk about for another 50 minutes. But I'll spare that.
When I was applying to the Zambia program, someone approached me and said, why aren't you a global health minor? Because both of those programs, India and Zambia, sort of balance between ILR and global health and I was approaching it just from the ILR angle. And I said, well, I don't know why. I'm not a hard science guy, I guess. And they're like, that's not all that global health is. And so I said, what the heck, I'll try it. And I took the Intro to Global Health class. I really loved that.
And since then, I've gotten really involved with global health. I now TA the Intro Global Health class. I sit on the Global Health Student Advisory Board. I'm working programmatically with the India program, which balances with global health. And even tomorrow, I'm going to interview to do some formative research through Weill Cornell's opportunity to be a research assistant through Weill Cornell's Center for Global Health in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which would be really cool.
I'm also applying for the Global Health Fellow position here on campus. So to say that it's sort of changed the direction that I'm looking for is kind of an understatement. I think the India program really showed me what a powerful experience going abroad can be. And then the impact that you can have if you do it right is sort of cemented there. And then furthered by the global health minor.
HILARY LANDORF: Well, thank you. I've just done a informal analytic rubric. And judging by the oral presentations, we can assess the powerful effect of study abroad and education abroad on the Cornell students. So with that, are there any questions from the participants here?
SPEAKER 1: You have so much to offer the world and it's very exciting to see that you've taken the dog's tail, I think that was mentioned earlier, and really done it. Good for you.
ANDREW HENRY STAWASZ: Thank you.
HILARY LANDORF: Thank you. Other questions, comments? Yes.
SPEAKER 2: Thank you. I don't want to sound negative for anybody. But it's very important, especially when we go to present ourselves to other cultures, not to speak only on the concept of intellectual capitalism. This is very demeaning to some cultures. And as some of you may know, the argument that went around early theory of education about human capital. We need to rethink those terms and really understand how other people see that it's not always in the capitalist, materialist way to think. Thank you.
HILARY LANDORF: Thank you.
SPEAKER 3: Just to echo, really wonderful presentations. I just have a question about so you've communicated sort of some of the learning and the mentorship. Do you feel a responsibility to articulate your learning to others in order to support more experiences like this? And how are you thinking about that?
HILARY LANDORF: Very good question. Yes.
BRENNAN WHITAKER DUTY: Yeah, absolutely. So my experience was so positive this year I decided to become a TA for the immersion, which is a very intensive semester-long process of mentoring teams. The client with whom we worked last year, my team, we re-engaged the client this year. So that was interesting pedagogical experience because you balance a way of saying, no, it should be this way. But you can't do that because you want the students to find for themselves their path.
And I purposely took on this role, despite needing to recruit for a full time position and all my other activities that I had because I really wanted people to have the same sort of experience and be able to articulate that experience in interviews, which is really important for MBA students. So absolutely, I felt the need to pay it forward.
JULIA GRACE VASTA: I also do feel somewhat of responsibility and a desire to share how good my experience was. I've been working with Cornell Abroad all year, promoting the program that I did in Seville. So I've been doing classroom presentations, mostly in Spanish classes. And doing some other volunteer work with them.
And even just on a daily basis, in some of my Spanish classes this semester, I was with younger kids, sophomores who were talking about going abroad. And I couldn't have possibly just sat by and let them talk about this program and not have encouraged them to do it. Because for me, I see a lot of younger kids who see language study as somewhat of a hobby, which is kind of how I saw it before, something enjoyable, but that I didn't take very, very seriously in the professional tense.
So I feel the need to kind of encourage people to use language study as something that can just become so much more multi-dimensional, beyond studying it as a hobby in your first couple of years at school. And then actually using it as a tool clearly to understand other cultures, first of all, but also to incorporate it into your other interests academically. Because that's what I did. And I think it's just such a great experience if you already enjoy language then to keep pursuing it further and see what comes of it.
JO YANG: For me, I feel like it's not so much of a responsibility, I feel, but more like I really liked my experience. I really enjoyed my experience there that I felt the need to share with basically everyone I knew about it. And within the food science community, we have a really great mentorship. And with a lot of the sophomores and freshmen even, I've shared my experiences with them just through different demonstrations as I used to be a VP of the Food Science Club and also the [INAUDIBLE] Club. So I still drop by the meetings sometimes and talk to them. So I think that, hopefully through the sharing of my experiences, that they hopefully want to do a similar thing. And I think the food science program is structured well enough that it's very easy to free up one semester to go abroad. I think a lot of food science majors do it. So, yeah.
MARY JOHN: So I joined AguaClara when I was a freshman. And I went to Honduras my sophomore year. And I'm still here as a senior. So I think I found it important enough and valuable enough to stick around for two more years to mentor younger students. Encourage them to go to Honduras. And really spread the word because I think that's how AguaClara works best. Is that older students mentor younger students and bring them through the program.
I also have moved into a more public relations role within the design team. Because I think it's incredibly important to get the word out and incredibly important that people understand the technology we're using and the really valuable innovations that are coming out of Cornell students. It's incredible.
ANDREW HENRY STAWASZ: And I think for me, there's a couple dimensions of how I've tried to help spread the word, if you will. I've, of course, attended the info sessions for the India program and the Zambia program. I tried to help advertise for that. Get people in. I was an orientation leader and now one of my orientation students is doing the Zambia program. So I'm personally proud of that one.
So directly advertising the program, sure. But also and even with the global health minor I had a long chat with someone the other day just saying, look, you need to do this minor. I think that you would grow so much from it and everything. So yeah, spreading the word that way, fine. But also, I think, spreading some of the lessons I've taken away particularly from these international experiences. To echo one of the points that Skyler made, talking about sink height and how cultural aspects can weigh on your engineering decisions, and your design decisions, and things like that.
And this is something I took away from Professor Pelletier's capstone course for the global health minor as well. Is that you really need to look at issues, trends through a transdisciplinary lens. And I've had a lot of talks with people who are talking about, OK, I'm going to grad school and I'm going to tackle education from a cognitive psychology lens, as one of my very good friends is going to do. And I'm like, that's awesome. So how are you going to contribute to an overall unified theory, like borrowing from a lot of other perspectives that you don't necessarily have? And he's like, wait, what?
And we sort of had a long talk, talking about how all of these different factors, political factors, social factors, all of this have to be considered if you're going to make a change in something. That was really hit home in the field in India and Zambia. And I think that's the one thing that I tried to encourage people to think more deeply about now.
HILARY LANDORF: We have time for one more question. Back there? Oh, here?
SPEAKER 4: Quick question then. I, like the others here, really admire the way in which these experiences have been transformative for you. But, as I'm sure you know, 2/3 or 3/4 of the students at Cornell never do anything like this. And so what would make that change? They could be persuaded. Each of you is saying you're trying to persuade people. But I think that that won't push it very much higher. And so I'm wondering, do you think that Cornell as a whole should start saying, we should require this. If we really are serious about internationalization, we should say that this is part of our program.
BRENNAN WHITAKER DUTY: OK. That's a great point. You put me on the spot to challenge my thinking. But I think I can respond to you in a way that is cost effective, perhaps. And in a way that, at least in my pedagogical experience at Johnson, could start to broaden people's perspectives and give them a better understanding of what culture means and cultural differences.
During orientation, we had training regarding LGBT persons in the workplace, women in positions of power, et cetera. I came into my orientation thinking that everybody had a great understanding of what this actually meant. And I was shocked to realize some of the comments that were coming from people. Well-meaning comments, truly. And I'm really happy that they shared them because it exposed the fact that there was really huge differences in understanding.
And one of the ways that one of my dearest professors have articulated a way for us to gain more cross-cultural experience is just by changing the actors and protagonists in the cases that we read. So much our learning is case-based. And instead of focusing on John and Jim who are investment fund managers at XYZ capital firm in Boston, why don't we do Angela who joined the firm after a international stint in Zambia? Why not, because we have two panelists here who have experience in Zambia. And John are facing this problem and they're trying to make investment in Brazil.
So that's a great way for people to start thinking about, oh, so how would you start to invest in Brazil? What are the things you need to consider? What are the cultural implications of this dynamic team now? It's not just, sorry to beat it on the white male, but two white males making this investment decision. It's this international team. And how do they interact? And do their interpersonal dynamics affect their decision making capabilities?
Having more cases like that, especially the one that we had with Risa Mish's class, critical thinking, really broadened my experience. And I didn't have to travel very far to do that. So that was really good for me.
JULIA GRACE VASTA: This is a tricky question. I think, based on my experiences with Cornell Abroad, doing volunteering to promote going abroad, and specifically my program as well, one of the common reasons that I've heard why students don't go abroad is the pressure to finish school on time. So I'm in arts and sciences and it was very easy for me to get credit when I was abroad. I studied sociology, but I could study anthropology when I was abroad and get credit for soc for that. And I generally just had a pretty flexible four years here.
And a lot of my friends in arts and sciences also went abroad because it probably sends the most students abroad, arts and sciences. Especially because language study falls in that school as well. So just generally, maybe making international experiences a more normal part of the sciences and engineering. Because clearly, even based on the panelists here, going abroad can be and should be incorporated with subjects like engineering and hard sciences that have really strict guidelines for how your four years are set up in terms of classes and credits.
So I think since Cornell does draw so many of those students, somehow incorporating going abroad into those fields would be really beneficial to getting the numbers up overall. I think there's just so many good ways that those two things can be combined. And I don't know about making requirements or offering more programs just to give students more opportunities to do that. Maybe more short term things over the summer to make it easier to be able to graduate on time and stay on campus if necessary. Things like that. But I think targeting those students who don't think they have time to because of the nature of their study would be really valuable.
JO YANG: I completely agree with Julia 100% on a lot of my friends the reason why they didn't go abroad was due to, perhaps, they're pre-med. And I know that a lot of biology majors they have a larger load of classes they have to take and have to fit in within the structure.
And then I guess one thing that I want bring up that we can improve on is a lot of times, for example, the class that I took AEM 3290, I don't think it was advertised in any of my classes. I think I just heard it through word of mouth through one of my friends who went to Israel through it two years ago. And also the class through Fellows within the AEM major. The only reason I heard an announcement about it was because I took food merchandising class my sophomore year. But otherwise, I think, to the general population, even if they were interested, they wouldn't really have an opportunity to hear about it. So one, I think, you could advertise it better.
And then the second point is that I know that for 3290 in order to be a part of it you have to interview and show that you do have an immense interest in this topic and also have relevant experiences. So a lot of times if you haven't had any international experience before or had exposure to these diverse, international, cultural type of topics, I think it would be hard for you to even get into one of the classes that basically support you to go abroad and even further your experiences. So I think both of these things are good things to think about.
MARY JOHN: So I have two points to make. I think better academic advising from freshman year. I think the minute a freshman walks into Cornell, they should sit down with their faculty advisor and their advisor should say, you're going abroad. Or if you'd want to go abroad, here's what you need to do.
I had an absolutely wonderful advising experience at Cornell. My advisor is one of my favorite professors, Todd Walter. I don't know if he's here, but a shout out. But I walked in my freshman year and I knew I wanted to go abroad. And there are six classes in the College of Engineering that you can take outside of your engineering curriculum. And so I did not take a single one of those until my junior year spring when I did Cornell in Washington. It was a rough 2 and 1/2 years before I got to that semester. But it was really worth it. But that took coming in freshman year, knowing that that's what I wanted to do. And I don't know if every 18-year-old that walks into Cornell who has their wits about them.
And I think secondly, especially for winter break programs, I think they're so valuable. Summer programs. It's a way for people to go abroad. But they're really expensive. And I know funding, that's always the question. But if there is a way to make them more affordable for students, I think more would go on them.
ANDREW HENRY STAWASZ: I was going to speak to funding as well, so I'll skip that. Because I know a lot of people who have wanted to do international experiences and take on the global health minor, which has been so meaningful to me and a lot of other people, but weren't able to, say, afford the trip. And that that's required for the minor and things like that.
So that aside, I think to answer your question sort of more directly about whether it should be required of Cornell students. It's kind of hard to say that it should be required. In my experience, in two relatively resource-limited settings there were a lot of students, I think, who should not have been there. And would have been better, just frankly speaking, in a domestic internship or things like that. It is not for everybody and that's OK.
And I think a lot of us here, we're at this symposium because we believe international education and things like that is important. And I firmly believe that, too. But it is not necessarily for everyone. That said, it's also hard to say that we shouldn't be pushing it at the same time. Because in my experience, and I know the experiences of other students, I would not necessarily have done the India program, which, as I've said, has really changed my direction and been really meaningful to me, had not Donna Ramil, who's here, reached out to me specifically and encouraged me to do it and things like that and sort of seen that.
And so reaching out, advertising, and things like that to make people more aware of it, I think, is a very valuable thing. Requiring it I'm not so sure about if only because, again, it's not for everybody. And some people could do more at home or something like that. But that said, I think increasing awareness and increasing accessibility through funding and things like that. Of course, really, really important for I think all the reasons we've all articulated.
HILARY LANDORF: Well, thank you so much. You truly encapsulate the meaning of global citizenship. And let's give you all a big hand.
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During a student panel discussion moderated by Hilary Landorf, Director of Florida International University's (FIU) Office of Global Learning Initiatives, students reflect on their international experiences, describing the importance of cultural mentoring and the effects their experiences have had on their coursework, personal, and professional lives. Panelists: Julia Grace Vasta (Cornell in Seville Program, Arts and Sciences), Jo Yang (Food Science Study Abroad, CALS), Mary John (AguaClara; Engineering), Andrew Henry Stawasz (Global Service Learning Program in Mysore India, ILR), and Brennan Whitaker Duty (Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion Program, Johnson School). The discussion was part of the Internationalization Symposium, "Integration of International Experience into the Curriculum" held May 13, 2015 by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies in collaboration with Cornell Abroad, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Center for Engaged Learning + Research, and the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI).