By James Lickfield, Public Relations Assistant, GAIA Centers
On Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Dr. Joanna Regulska, vice president for international and global affairs at Rutgers University, attended the Institute for International Education’s (IIE) one-day workshop and convocation that served as the closing ceremony for their academic collaboration course with Myanmar. Entitled Connecting with the World: International Relations at Higher Education Institutions and created with the assistance of four organizations, including Rutgers University, the course provided comprehensive instruction for Myanmar university participants on how to set up and manage an international office. Fifty-six participants from 36 Universities and government bodies in Myanmar took part and were led by 35 international education experts from across the globe. This closing workshop’s main purpose was to prepare individuals for their new role on campus as an international “point person” and external liaison. Each participant received a completion certificate.
Dr. Regulska and Dr. Eugene Murphy, assistant vice president of the GAIA Centers were responsible for preparation and the delivery of one large segments of the course “Connecting with the World.” They were also among the experts who acted as “virtual mentors” over the course of 20 weeks, engaging five Myanmar mentees in weekly emails about course assignments and sharing experiences. They covered topics ranging from developing a mission of the international office and creating an institutional international structure to hosting a foreign delegation and facilitating student and faculty exchange, developing institutional agreements and discussing the role of an international office within a university. As part of her attendance at the convocation and delivering opening remarks, Dr. Regulska had the opportunity to meet with three of her mentees and their respective university leadership: Yangon Technological University, Yangon University and Mandalay Technological University.
Apart from participating in designing and the delivery of this course, Rutgers is actively engaged in Myanmar. In 2012, Rutgers established a Myanmar Faculty Interest Group to explore current linkages and determine ways to formalize relationships with higher education institutions. Rutgers has several faculty members engaged in research in the country on topics such as a comparative history of colonial families in Myanmar and the sociocultural histories of Buddhism in Myanmar. In July 2014, Rutgers faculty member, Professor Chie Ikeya in collaboration with faculty from Yangon University is organizing a conference on women’s history. In October 2014, two librarians from Yangon University and Universities Central Libraries in Myanmar will spend a month visiting Rutgers and learning about the university’s library system. During the next academic year, several faculty from Rutgers will be visiting Myanmar to explore collaborative opportunities, and delivering lectures and seminars.