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UM's Mansfield Center welcomes 18 international scholars to its summer

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SUSI Scholar Alvinelle visits Flathead Valley Community College.

Photo courtesy of Anne Hanson

Many of the 2022 Institute on Youth, Workforce Development, and Closing the Skills Gap’s US Institute of Research (SUSI) scholars are in Montana, a part of America most of them have never seen or heard of. Arrived.

“Another friend from Trinidad and Tobago was selected and I chose New York as the location. graduated from the University of Montana because of my commitment to education and development,” said Dr. Alvinelle Matthew, a SUSI scholar from Trinidad and Tobago. “I enjoyed Montana 150% of her time. It was a wonderful and diverse experience.”

The SUSI program is an in-person program since 2019 hosted by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana. It was held over his five weeks from July 6th to August 10th.

The SUSI Program book states that the goals of the program are to “emphasize the importance of thinking critically across disciplines and debating difficult issues in trying to define American culture and society, while at the same time It is to reflect on how this is unfolding in the scholar’s home country.”

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18 international scholars from 18 countries attended. Countries represented include Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Bahrain, Israel, Mongolia, Argentina and Moldova.

The SUSI program was funded by a three-year competitive grant from the US Department of State’s Office of Education and Cultural Affairs received by the University of Montana. It is funded by federal dollars that are invested in local Montana hotels, restaurants, transportation, and more. This program includes air tickets, accommodation, transportation, meals, and scholarships.

Ann Hanson, Program Manager at the Mansfield Center, said: “We’re rich in Native history. We have glaciers and stuff. It’s great. When they leave, they say Americans are always smiling, kind, helpful people.”

The University of Montana administers the grant, with three other institutions participating. At New York University, SUSI scholars focus on American culture and society. At the University of Delaware, SUSI scholars focus on foreign policy. At Arizona State University, SUSI scholars focus on media and journalism.

Montana’s SUSI program focuses on the state’s various educational institutions, particularly community colleges, and their role in preparing students with the right skills to enter the workforce. The 18 scholars spent time at Missoula College, Helena College, Flathead Valley Community College, Highlands College and Salish Kootenai College.

SUSI Scholar

SUSI scholars take on the Logan Pass.

Photo courtesy of Anne Hanson

While in Montana, the group also met with representatives from the private sector employment department (LumanAd), the government (Montana Department of Labor and Industry), and the Anaconda Job Corps.

A SUSI scholar, Matthew is Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Lecturer at the University of Science, Technology and Applied Arts, Trinidad and Tobago. She holds her PhD in Philosophy of Social Policy with an emphasis on Human Resource Development and her two Masters in Human Resource Management and Psychological Counseling from the University of the West Indies.

Albinel in the Houses of Parliament

Alvinelle on the House floor of the Montana State Capitol.

Photo credit: Alvinelle Matthew

Another SUSI international scholar was Dr. Akhtar. Akhtar is Professor and Director of the He Blended Learning Center at Daffodil International University in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has a unique background in both IT and education and is a driving force behind mixed, online and digital (BOLD) education in the country. He is the founding professor of Bangabandhu Digital University (BDU), Bangladesh’s first digital university, Head of ICT and Education Department, and founder of IUTOnline Education.

UM Akhtar

Akhtar poses in front of the Griz statue on the University of Montana campus.

Photo courtesy of Akhtar

“I think (the SUSI program) is a great opportunity for developing countries. Bangladesh is making progress and will become a developed country by 2041,” said Akhtar. “To learn about the great U.S. education system at various levels, from elementary to higher education, and how they are performing, especially in the COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 situation. I came here.”

Akhtar recently published an opinion piece in the Daily Sun on how Bangladeshi higher education institutions can access different income streams to boost the economy through blended online education.

“Online education is not very well recognized in the community (Bangladesh). People do not like online education but due to Covid they are learning what is important to us in the next few days.” said Akhtar.

Both Matthew and Akhtar were amazed at the opportunities in America for high school students to earn college credits or take college courses, and wanted to implement such an initiative in their home countries to fill the skills gap. rice field.

For Matthew, his time spent at Salish Kootenai College and on the Montana Native Reservation was a standout moment in the program.

The 18 scholars visited a water buffalo habitat and watched “In the Spirit of Atatice,” a documentary about the National Bison Range northwest of Missoula, with teachers from Salish Kootenai.

“When you meet Native Americans and hear their stories, how they don’t have the same opportunities shows that they don’t live as rich and better lives as other Americans. “They are not necessarily in a state of grief over what has been taken away, but they are trying to keep their culture and language alive and their land alive. It’s a sad history. They (It’s) like the colonization of Trinidad and Tobago under British rule, and other colonizations like Spain.”

Glacier National Park was a highlight for many scholars who had never seen snow.

“Wow, Glacier Park. “very beautiful.”

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Akhtar enjoying the snow in Glacier National Park.

Photo credit: Anne Hanson

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, SUSI scholars spent weekends immersing themselves in the Montana way of life with host families in the Missoula area. This year they spent only one day with their host family.

One of the things that surprised Matthew about many Americans was their constant willingness to improve and improve their communities through collaboration.

“During the exchange, we were given rental bikes and Missoula bike companies came together to improve trails around Missoula just for the betterment of their communities. The United States is propulsive and partner-oriented.”

The SUSI program served as a platform for many scholars to form partnerships with each other and with Montana residents to collaborate on future projects and research. Matthew spoke about future research in collaboration with Dr. Teresa Floyd, Academic Director of his SUSI program and Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Montana.

Alice Rwamo, a SUSI scholar from Burundi, wanted to get a fair trade partnership as part of her project. Ms. Floyd linked her with Janet Her Rankin Her Pieces Her Center (JRPC) buyers and Ms. Rwamo faired her trade her status to sell Burundian women’s handicrafts at her JRPC. Helping you navigate the process of

“Alice was so excited about this opportunity to help the women of Burundi,” Hanson wrote in an email. “This partnership will be rolled out in the coming months.”

On the final day of the program, scholars presented their project ideas. Matthew unveiled “Co-Start Training Institute – his six-week training program to get people back to work, available to the entire community” and Akhtar announced “work in integrated learning with online and blended approaches” Did.


The 2022 SUSI Scholars are:Institute on Youth, Workforce Development and Closing the Skills Gap. ”

Photo credit: Alvinelle Matthew

The next day, the scholars boarded a plane to bring home the knowledge and skills they learned in Montana.

Congress passed legislation in 1983 to establish the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center. Mike Mansfield was the longest-serving U.S. Representative and Senator, from 1961 to 1977 when he served as the Senate Majority Leader.

“The Mansfield Center was founded to ‘develop globally minded and honest leaders. Mansfield Center: “He was the greatest politician in our country. It could mean sending Montanas abroad, or it could mean bringing Montanas international opportunities.”

The center is the only organization in the state that supports diverse exchanges from high school, college, and professional levels. Less than 1% of his funding for the center comes from the State of Montana, mostly from private donors and applications for competitive federal grant opportunities.

“What we’ve been doing in the last few months is really covering the tremendous international exchange activity that we’re known for,” Mansoor said. “Since November 2019, the country has had no international participants, but in recent months he has helped more than 200 exchanges.”

Mansur served as an Indonesian diplomat for four years. During her time abroad, she saw firsthand the value of international programs and approached her center in Mansfield in 2009 about hosting several international programs. Since 2010, Mansoor has brought the center her $26 million in funding.

“Most students never study abroad, but it’s very satisfying to bring these international experiences home,” Mansour said. “My parents are Egyptian. As a generation of Americans, I personally see how the American Dream will change lives, change the lives of families, and change the lives of those who come here to see a glimpse of it on short-term programs.”

“As a professional, it’s important to have an experience like[the SUSI program]every three to five years because it broadens your horizons,” Matthew said. The cultural diversity of the 18 people who came together from the heart opens our minds, and each person brings a different perspective, so we come home with a different perspective.There is no reason to put people in the right or wrong box. .”