Global Partner Studio to build worldly connections through institute

UB Experiential Learning Network suite inspires international learning through latest outreach

global-partner-studio

The next step toward global innovations and engagement is set to take place at the heart of UB.

The Global Partner Studio, a platform through the Experiential Learning Network, will hold its first institute from Monday through Thursday on North Campus. The Inaugural GPS Institute will bring UB partners from around the world to share global innovations and discuss transformative ideas with the community. 

GPS promotes global networking and engagement through online international learning courses and study abroad opportunities throughout the world. One of the goals ELN has with the institute is engaging the UB community through support of staff and partnership sponsors.

Partners and presentators will include Gerald Noah, a Tanzanian instructor at the Buhare Community Development Training Institute in Tanzania, Michael Boakye-Yiadom, a research fellow for Ghana’s Education Planning and Administration at the University of Cape Coast, and Maxine Gossell-Williams, a Jamaican instructor with the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies.

Charles Baxter, program coordinator for ELN, said the institute is looking to “build a capacity” for future student engagement opportunities while also “support[ing] the initiatives of each of our partners in their home countries.”

“One of the reasons this institute exists is because there are a lot of faculty from around the university who are interested in different ways to engage in the global context and ... in enhancing the student learning experience through that cultural exposure or through international projects,” Baxter said.

“So we’re not only excited to engage the faculty who are already a part of these partnerships but there has been a really positive response from faculty at the possibility of generating new opportunities for students.”

Some of the opportunities available to students through GPS include the platform’s upcoming journal, which is currently accepting submissions for community members to share their global collaborative efforts. 

Apart from the journal, ELN began a pilot for the Global Collaboration Digital Badge this fall, a skill-building program where students can combine seminars and workshops in order to “leverage” their global experiences, according to Baxter.

GPS also offers Collaborative Online International Learning courses, which can help students engage with other countries without having to leave Buffalo.

Mara Huber, associate dean of undergraduate research and experiential learning, has led engagement opportunities in Tanzania’s Mara region since 2009.

Huber said one of the things she discovered through her Tanzania trips was the “strength” of global partnerships and the development of engagement with world communities.

“The Global Partner Studio is a new platform for doing exactly this. My Tanzania [trips] have served as the foundation in a way, and now we have identified other partnerships through faculty members that are also ready to embrace more opportunities,” Huber said.

Huber said GPS’ partnership with these groups is all about equity and symbolically bringing guests from around the world to UB is a “big deal.”

“If we can help our partners build capacity, they can provide wonderful learning opportunities for our students,” Huber said. 

“We also have this amazing UB curriculum that focuses on integrative learning and Global Pathways, so if we do this right, these sort of opportunities should then weave into students’ academic portfolios and set them up to be change agents in whatever field they choose.”

Danielle Nerber, a UB ‘18 alum, studied abroad in Tanzania during Huber’s program in July 2017. On the trip, she helped bring a reusable menstrual pad model from Tanzania’s Dare Women’s Foundation to Tanzania’s Hope Revival organization. 

Hope Revival, Nerber said, is a shoe-making business and sewing project whose profits “go toward children in the community, crop and livestock raising that aims to increase nutrition and living standards.” Nerber raised money and sent it to Hope Revival to go toward training women on how to make Dare’s pads. 

Nerber returned to Tanzania in July for a second time, bringing materials for sanitary pads and participating in training at Hope Revival.

“It was an incredible experience to see the project take off,” Nerber said. “Stephen [Chacha of Hope Revival] invited powerful women leaders from the community, such as the leader of the albino community, and a matron for blind and albino children at a school down the road. Together, along with some other women in the community, we talked about the importance of menstrual health and sewed many of these reusable sanitary pads.”

Nerber said Hope Revival will sell pads to “build an entrepreneurship model for the women who sew them.” She said this will give pads to women and girls who can “gain confidence” knowing a “monthly inconvenience will no longer get in the way of their
education and goals.”  

Nerber said she is “beyond excited” for GPS and sees the “immersive platform” as something unique to UB. She said she encourages students to get involved in global experiences through opportunities like Student Leadership International Dialogue and Exchange and Pre Meds Without Borders.

“I encourage every student to take advantage of these experiences, and it doesn’t have to be only abroad,” Nerber said. “UB is a very diverse community, with so many opportunities for global collaboration right on campus and in the city of Buffalo, and the Global Partner Studio Institute is a prime example of this.”

Benjamin Blanchet is a senior features editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and @BenjaminUBSpec.