Orientation commenced with a warm welcome from American Councils for International Education and University of Kansas International Programs staff as well as the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of Kansas, Dr. Richard Lariviere. Addressing the value of professional development through faculty exchange, his lecture set a positive tone for the event.
Over the three-day period, Fellows had the opportunity to network with colleagues, meet University of Kansas professors in their respective academic field, and explore current issues and trends in US Higher Education. Time was also set aside to help Fellows develop strategies for a successful fellowship, and understand their new role as both a scholar and a cultural ambassador. Orientation session topics addressing contemporary issues in U.S. higher education included: “The Graduate School in the Overall Structure of an American University,” “Promotion and Tenure at American Universities,” and “Learning Styles and Teaching Strategies.” Fellows also attended workshops on academic writing, library resources, and classroom management technology. Additionally, American Councils staff members conducted sessions covering critical adjustment and administrative issues Fellows face as they move to their host communities.
The final day of orientation provided Fellows an opportunity to work on Higher Education Development Projects. This program component, introduced to Fellows at pre-departure orientation, allowed the Fellows to identify and examine the most critical issues facing higher education in their home countries. The day’s activities culminated with a presentation by each country group, detailing the state of education at home and outlining recommendations for their national higher education systems.
In true mid-west spirit, Fellows and staff celebrated a successful completion of orientation with an old-fashioned barn dance on the last evening. A traditional music ensemble played live instructional square-dancing favorites, yielding an entertaining evening filled with dancing, good cheer, and a slice of Americana.
JFDP Fellows departed for their host universities on January 13, 2008 to begin their semester-long Fellowships.