Those who serve in international education field, we are aware how important to have education abroad experience in order to enhance ones capacity and ability to have more global perspective. But sometimes finding an appropriate and right program for professionals and specialists is not easy. This is the reason why I immediately applied for RIEA Fulbright program after presentation of a program representative.
RIEA program – Russian International Education Administrators – is a unique one specifically designed for Russian university administrators who work with incoming international students and staff members from around the world and especially from the USA. The program aims to enhance and improve professional skills and helps to gain critical knowledge surrounding the needs of these students in different areas, cross-cultural challenges, and language training. RIEA supports 8 international education administration specialists from Russian universities who complete a three-month intensive, professional training program in the United States.
The program offers comprehensive approach to professional development through academic and practicum components. The 4-week academic component was organized at the Indiana University in Bloomington where we were able to learn more about higher education in U.S. We were given an opportunity to meet with senior international officers of IU to discuss intercultural communication, strategy of internationalization and international students’ recruitment.
After academic component we were given an opportunity to attend Association for International Education Administrators Conference in Washington D.C. This was the most interesting part in terms of gaining more nation-wide perspective on internationalization of education and global trends of higher education from the first-hands.
Busy days in Washington D.C. had been followed up with the Institute for International Education seminars and Campus Visit Component in a wonderful New York City. During the seminars we had discussions about the most successful education abroad programs and important trends in international education globally. In NY we had wonderful and unique opportunity to meet with international education administrators of the leading higher education institutions – New York University and Columbia University.
One of the most exciting components of the program is a Networking Component where we were given an opportunity to schedule a week ourselves with either partner university or non-partner. In this regard my choice was quite firm – University of Alaska Fairbanks which is the first and the most long-term international partner institution for NEFU. But I was not the only one from fellows who wanted to visit UAF campus. Alexander Seryakov from Syktyvkar State University, who is also a RIEA Fulbright scholar, had an intention to visit partner university. We were both warmly hosted by Donna Anger, International Office director, and Prof. John Eichelberger. During our week-stay each of us took an opportunity to meet with faculty members and discuss opportunities for enhancing our cooperation through bilateral agreements and UArctic as well.
And now I am on the last component of my program – a practicum one. Luckily, I was set up to have a 4-week internship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. UNL is a land-grant university, a member of the Big Ten Conference, a member of UArctic since 2016, is situated in the college town Lincoln right on the middle of the U.S. Hosted by the Global Engagement Office, I have a chance to be fully involved in everyday work of international administrators and to learn more from colleagues.
Participation in this program gives not only professional development, but also an opportunity to share our culture, to speak about my region, to represent my university. We serve for international cooperation, for students and faculty members and we are committed to an increase in international student enrolment. And as caretakers’ of educational experience of our students we must address and embrace a greater level of expectations in order to positively affect on students’ satisfaction. I’m happy to gain new knowledge and obtain new skills in order to develop international students’ services at my University and I’m grateful that I had an opportunity to have first-hand experience from the U.S. leading universities’ professionals in higher education.