CSU Todos Santos Center, Baja California
Being in the International Education Management program has been both intensive yet very rewarding. We are given the opportunity to work on real-world projects that shift our perspectives, challenge our beliefs, and allow us to explore current trends in the field. As the IEM program is two, short semesters in Monterey, we are constantly crunching time to attend class, meet with our group mates, complete projects, interpret all of our readings, sleep for at least five hours, and try to stay sane. One of our most important core classes in these two semesters is the four-credit Design and Assessment class that meets twice a week and requires at least, five hours of group meetings outside of class. That’s about 150 hours worth of Design and Assessment goodness for each team throughout one semester; and I feel so fortunate to be spending all that time with my wonderful group mates Jiela Peyman and Lewis Lenard.
At the beginning of this semester, we got in contact with Colorado State University’s international campus in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Since then, we have been working with the Language Coordinator, Olaf, as our Learning Partner. With Olaf, we have been working on a project for the current challenge the center is facing with collaboration efforts between local (Mexican) and visiting (CSU) students.
Ever since early January, Olaf has been encouraging my groupmates and I to visit the CSU campus in Mexico. We knew it would be extremely beneficial if we had the chance to see the center, local students, and community as a whole to shape the design of our semester-long project. Jiela, Lewis, and I figured this visit could never be possible due to limited time and resources and we had to politely decline Olaf’s weekly innovation of visiting them. During our weekly Skype meetings, Olaf would always mention “it would be so great if you guys could come down and meet these local students for yourselves” or “it would be so much easier to explain and demonstrate the work we do here if you guys were just able to sit in on a class of mine”, well, we had heard enough and decided to take some action. After speaking to our professor Dr. David Wick and emailing several MIIS faculty members about conference funding opportunities, we made the consecutive decision to apply for the Immersive Learning Funding (IPL) in order to make this dream of visiting Olaf a reality.
We were encouraged to seek out an appropriate date that allowed us to visit the center and not miss too much class in Monterey. After receiving the approval of all our professors, we went ahead and bought our tickets to Mexico. While working in Todos Santos, we were inspired by all the positive feedback we had heard about our potential Ambassador Program from both Olaf and Director of the center, Aines. Also, the local students (who will be a huge element of this project), were extremely excited to hear our ideas and even volunteered to help us with its implementation on the CSU campus.
Our five-day visit to Mexico has motivated my group and I to make this Ambassador Program come to life. We are now more determined to help with the cross-cultural collaboration efforts as we have established personal relationships with those who will be directly involved in our program. We want to thank MIIS for giving us this opportunity to advance, not only in our D&A course, but in our personal and professional growth as young educators in the field of International Education.