The notion of global education is spoken of often, with the understanding that we, as global citizens, are being brought closer together due to technological innovations and ideological practices, regardless of the distance which may stretch between respective countries. No longer is China “on the other side of the world” from California, rather, it is an overnight-flight or a telephone call away, bridging that gap which explorers have fraught over for centuries. Following, the benefits derived from this smaller collective of learners allows for the exchange of not only educational ideas but similarly, cultural practices.
This Summer, one of my students at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in Shenzhen, took the opportunity to study at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, enrolling in the 2017 Summer International Acting Institute Program, through USC’s School of Dramatic Arts. Not necessarily a course which would be accessible in a traditional Chinese educational context, it was for this same reason that Krystal, a gifted student in her own right, chose to survey a trail which led off the prescribed path, following, what she described in her Personal Statement, as “the sum of craftsmanship, spirit, creative ideas, and inspiration.”
I completed my Master’s Degree in Teaching at USC, and while home in California this Summer, took time to visit campus, meeting up with Krystal to see her class while also touring the university. Offering innovative practices to learn not only the specifics associated with Dramatic Arts but also the creative approaches to underlying theory, the four-week course steered away from rote learning and instead used exploration as a guide, encouraging students to “let go” and let inspiration lead the way. Krystal mentioned that at first, this methodology surprised her, but after seeing the relationship between patience and practice, she realized that a redefinition of her approach was needed if she was truly to understand the varying identities which each of us have, and how we go about choosing which one we showcase to others both on and off the stage.
A leader in STEM-related fields, SUSTech offers students an impressive education in those subjects, partnering with the entrepreneurial spirit which thrives in Shenzhen. When coupled with ambitious students who wish to gain different perspectives from across the ocean, there is no limit to what cross-cultural and integrated educational partnerships can do, acting as a catalyst for cooperation and a mechanism for change. For myself, to be able to bridge two universities which have played an integral part of own my educational journey, acts a testament to the power of global education and the reach is has which stretches beyond distances and over time.