International Exchange: Creating a Deeper, More Varied Experience
Jared Dorn defines international education in broad terms, describing it as anything a college or university does to “move people, ideas, thoughts, projects, programs, or studies.” Over the course of a long career in higher education, Dr. Dorn has seen the value of these exchanges. He spent 25 years working and living at institutions outside the United States – including four years as a faculty member at Tunghai University in Taiwan, with the support of the United Board – and he also helped international students and scholars find a welcoming home on the campus of Southern Illinois University during the years he led its Center for International Education.
From those vantage points, he has seen how Asian colleges and universities, particularly Christian institutions, are striving to attain the highest quality. One way that the United Board and its donors can help institutions achieve that goal, he believes, is by supporting faculty development. “We can help them develop faculty who can be outstanding in all ways,” Dr. Dorn said, “and give them opportunities to advance.”
One approach to faculty development is through international exchanges that enable faculty to spend longer periods abroad. “Yes, the top people are gathered together at short-term events like international conferences,” Dr. Dorn said. “But how much can be taken in during a short period? How can you make the local connections?” In his view, more time delivers richer benefits. “If you give people longer periods abroad – even three to six months – they get a deeper, more varied experience and can touch more lives in a society.”
Dr. Dorn saw clear examples of this when he became acquainted with two Indonesian friends of the United Board: Iwan Sandjaja, a PhD candidate at Baylor University, who earlier received United Board support for his master’s program at De La Salle University in the Philippines, and Iwan Setyawan, who spent four months in residence on the Baylor campus as a United Board Fellow. Iwan Setyawan, from Satya Wacana University, took advantage of all the programs and support offered through Baylor’s International Office and became involved in a local church. Iwan Sandjaja, whose home institution is Petra Christian University, was an enthusiastic networker, eager to connect with international scholars as well as Baylor faculty and students.
“Both of the ‘two Iwans’ were well educated and sophisticated in their ease of communication,” Dr. Dorn said, and they used those qualities to develop comparative frameworks and articulate their perspectives. “They spoke of their schools in positive terms but also described their needs,” Dr. Dorn recalled. “They pointed out the differences between their schools and Baylor and other foreign schools, and they identified their shared and separate challenges.” In these ways, Dr. Dorn found, they served as ambassadors of their respective universities and exemplars of his definition of international education as they helped move “people, ideas, thoughts, projects, programs, or studies” across borders.
The United Board is grateful to Dr. Dorn and his wife for their contributions, particularly those in support of its United Board Fellows Program and Faculty Scholarship Program, and of Tunghai University.