IU School of Education is the new home for international student teacher placement office
Initiative builds on success of award-winning Cultural Immersion Projects
The Indiana University School of Education has opened the new Indiana University Global Gateway for Teachers, an extension of the Cultural Immersion Projects that facilitates and coordinates student teacher placements overseas for U.S. higher education institutions.
The Global Gateway for Teachers succeeds the Foundation for International Education, which was founded in 1978 by Ross Korsgaard, who had been a member of the education faculty at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Upon retiring, Korsgaard continued to serve U.S. colleges and universities, including Indiana University, by securing overseas school placements for student teachers, until declining health necessitated a change of leadership.
The IU School of Education began the Cultural Immersion Projects in 1972 and has sent more than 4,000 pre-service educators to gain professional experience in foreign countries, on American Indian reservations and in urban schools, while gaining insight into the experiences of those in different school and community settings. It had long placed students overseas through the Foundation for International Education, and, upon taking over the directorship of the Cultural Immersion Projects in the mid-1990s, Laura Stachowski began to work closely with Korsgaard in program development and expansion.
"We have an amazing network in place," Stachowski said of the 17 countries in which the program currently places student teachers. "Within each country I have at least one -- and in many countries multiple -- consultants who are our collaborators, the individuals 'on the ground' who secure the school placements. I've met all but two or three of them face to face in all of these locations, and I also know most of the campus directors personally. So it's a really wonderful network that we have, and that's why it works so well."
While there are other agencies nationwide that offer assistance in placing students, Stachowski said the comparatively low cost of the IU Global Gateway makes it an attractive option.
When the IU School of Education began its collaboration with the Foundation for International Education, it placed students in just six English-speaking countries -- England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Because the Indiana University program was by far the largest Korsgaard served, he encouraged Stachowski to add new host nations, beginning with India and Kenya. Within the past few years, the program has added placements in Ecuador, Japan, Norway and Italy. Given the large size and success of the IU program, Korsgaard believed that transitioning the operation of the Foundation for International Education to Indiana University made sense.
Already, the new Global Gateway is handling cultural immersion placements not just for IU but for many other institutions from across the country.
"At this time, we're serving 12 other colleges and universities around the United States, the largest being Penn State, the University of Iowa and the University of Montana, and then several smaller institutions, such as Capital University, Ripon College and Colorado College," Stachowski said. Aside from the Global Gateway processing applications for overseas teaching, the office's institutional clients also receive resource and instructional materials to help guide students and their institutions through the process.
The Global Gateway will also continue the Foundation for International Education tradition of hosting conferences, bringing together all stakeholders to discuss overseas student teaching. The next conference will be in Bloomington in 2014.
"We invite the campus directors to come and we provide honorarium support for host nation consultants," Stachowski said. "We get together for two or three days of conversations about how we can strengthen what we're doing to maximize the impact of these experiences, not only for our student teachers, but for the school pupils, teachers, home-stay hosts, community members and others who become involved in the process. We spend time getting to know one another. We foster the relationship side of it, and I firmly believe that this is what makes our program so successful."
The IU Global Gateway for Teachers builds upon the success of the Cultural Immersion Projects. Last year, the program earned the Innovation Award from the University Design Consortium, an organization founded to challenge public universities around the world to develop innovative strategies to address complex 21st-century issues. In 2001, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education honored the Cultural Immersion Projects with the Best Practice Award for Global and International Teacher Education. In 2005, the program earned the Goldman Sachs Higher Education Prize for Excellence in International Education, along with two other IU Bloomington departments.
Ross Korsgaard passed away in August. Stachowski said she and those host nation consultants and campus directors who knew him and worked with him for so many years miss him and the guidance he provided.
"His legacy lives on in the Global Gateway at Indiana University," Stachowski said. "We hope he would be pleased to know that the world perspectives of future teachers continue to be broadened and their lives transformed through the efforts of the IU Cultural Immersion Projects and the Global Gateway for Teachers."