Preparing Globally Competitive, Collaborative, and Compassionate Students
Faisal Jaswal, assistant dean of Student Programs,
Teresa McClane Jaswal, assistant director of the Center
for Career Connections and the Women's Center, and Star
Hang Nga Rush, director of the Center for Liberal Arts--all
at Bellevue College
Higher education has engaged in much discussion about
the need to prepare students to be globally competitive
in this increasingly complex world. But at Bellevue
College (BC), we see helping our students become globally
collaborative and compassionate as equally important.
With a single campus located east of Seattle, BC serves
over thirty-four thousand students each year and is
the third-largest educational institution in Washington
state. BC is primarily a community college, preparing
55 percent of its students for transfer and 45 percent
for professional and technical careers. Our students
come from all walks of life and have diverse needs.
Sixty-five percent of students work while attending
school, and 22 percent have dependent family members.
Some students already have higher education degrees,
and many will need to "stop out" at various points for
financial reasons. But regardless of their backgrounds
or educational levels, our students are interacting
in a globally connected environment.
At BC, we believe that global education needs to be available to all students at all levels of education. We believe that students can develop global competencies along multiple educational pathways: in general education, in major-readiness courses, in professional and technical programs, and in developmental education (Jaswal and Rush 2009). Whatever their backgrounds, all students deserve the opportunity to benefit from learning that connects them to the global community.
BC has sponsored several student-led trips abroad and nationally that enact our vision of helping students become globally competitive, collaborative, and compassionate through applied interdisciplinary learning.
In 2006, professional and technical business students
and students in the business administration transfer
program collaborated to form the International Business
Exploration Club (IBEC). IBEC students wanted to apply
the theories they had learned in the classroom by selling
organically grown fair-trade coffee to raise money for
the village of Santa Anita, Guatemala, where the coffee
originates. In collaboration with an organization called
Pura Vida, the students traveled to Guatemala, where
they helped coffee farmers grow and harvest their crops.
After returning home, the students applied their learning
and shared their knowledge with the campus community
through year-long academic internships. Their experience
is documented at www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUdy7ADZd9E.
Similarly, students from across disciplines came together in 2002 with the support of Student Programs to form the Rotaract Club, a junior chapter of the Bellevue Rotary. The students are currently raising awareness about disabilities by working with the local Rotary, with our sister Rotaract Club in Patan, Nepal, and with students from our Venture Program (an occupational associate degree program for developmentally disabled students). Rotaract students traveled to Patan in May 2009 to work with people with disabilities and the organizations that support them. Using the training and insight they gained, the students will participate in yearlong academic internships to support disability awareness activities on and off campus. The project is documented at www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgu3cL7VH0U&feature=related.
How did BC create these programs within the constraints of today's tightening budgets? It took the vision of our students and faculty members, the support of the Student Programs office, and the collaboration of several campus units and community members. Funding came from various sources: the BC Foundation, student and activities fees, fundraising efforts by student clubs and programs, contributions from community organizations, and small personal contributions by each student.
In other words, it took a lot of work and extensive collaboration--but the results have been well worth the effort. Our students' experiences help us renew our commitment to preparing all students to succeed in the global community. Through these and other efforts, we hope to create diverse, ethical, and compassionate leadership that will define our world's future course.
Jaswal, F. and S. H. N. Rush. 2009. Preparing the global citizen at the community college. Internally published report.