Monday, February 6, 2012

Talking 'bout people: SIT Master of Arts in International Education (Low-Residency)

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Adam Weinberg, President and CEO of World Learning - SIT Graduate Institute's parent organization - dropped in on one of our classes last week to speak to the most recent cohort of Low-Residency International Education Students.  When my professor said he would be coming by my first thought was 'Wow, we must be important if the CEO is coming to see us!' 

And I get it, we are putting forth money - and not a small amount - for our graduate education.  Nonetheless, I appreciated hearing from someone so high up in the chain of command and his perspective on the field I am pursuing.  His visit to our class made me feel better about the investment me and my family are making in my education.

He proved to not only make an impression on me with his visit but also with his words.  After a brief introduction noting some of his significant achievements at World Learning, Dr. Weinberg made a high impact speech in a short amount of time.  I will bullet here his speech:
  • He congratulated us on being wonderful students and contributors to the international education field (a little flattery never hurt anyone :)
  • He welcomed us to SIT and likened the school and the international education field to Hotel California.  You can check out whenever you like - but you can never leave.  (I think there are worse places to be stuck.)
  • He said education reaches its peak with phenomenal faculty - something he strongly feels SIT possesses. 
And then he concluded with two points:
  • International education has the best hope for our generation for creating solutions to the problems our countries face.  (OK, let's get to it!) 
  • Then he challenged us to think about the direction of international education.  Is it really a good thing, he asked, that we are - at this moment - unleashing 40,000 undergraduates on cities like Florence, Italy for study abroad programs?  What is the best direction for international education?
I appreciated his brevity and also the food he gave us all for thought.  While I have a few ideas cooking for how I would like to maintain a presence in the international education field before and after I receive my master's, it is inspiring to be surrounded by so many students, educators, and leaders who are pushing me to ask new questions and look at the old ones from a new perspective.

With the low-residency program at SIT, we spend two weeks on campus during our first year establishing rapport amongst students and faculty while taking introduction courses to our first classes.  After those first two weeks we return home where everyone is either working or volunteering in the field of international education.  Then, much of our work consists around reflecting on, and learning from, our shared experiences in the field while we simultaneously take courses on theory, practice, and policy as well as research-based courses.  I continue to be impressed by the diverse experiences and paths my classmates have had and taken and so I wanted to compile a list of some of the organizations with whom they work.  After checking out their websites I am even more excited to learn more from my cohort and the field of international education:

Reboot workshop - helping veterans transition into civilian life.
U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services
SIT Study Abroad
Lewis & Clark Study Abroad
International Student Services at Franklin University
University of Wisconsin Study Abroad Office
World Endeavors Study Abroad (site and blog)
Humboldt University Study Abroad Office
Growing Hope - A VISTA program
AFS Study Abroad
World Learning.  Bridging Cultures.  Transforming Lives.
International Student Volunteers.

Second year graduate students have not yet come back to campus but first-year students are here and excited to have us low-residency folks (or so it seems!) around.  One of the components I appreciate about our program is the emphasis on recruiting qualified international students to campus.  So far, from my program and the on campus program, I have met students from, or with families from, the following countries - not to mention all over the United States!:
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti, Ghana, and Eritrea

And there are only about 75 students on campus!  I am looking forward to week two of our seminars and getting a bigger glimpse of what this adventure is all about!

Have you ever done an online degree program?  Had you ever heard of SIT/World Learning before?


  1. Thanks for your blog link! I will keep in touch this way - what an amazing forum!! valdine

  2. Thank you for reading Valdine! I look forward to being in touch, too - glad you enjoy the blog!


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