College expanding its horizons

Published 2:55 pm Friday, June 19, 2009

Setting the example for life-long learning, Bainbridge College faculty and staff have increased involvement in international education for themselves and the students they serve.

Busy with travel plans for this summer, they are working on a variety of study opportunities in Belize and England for 2010 and worked with institutions in the University System of Georgia (USG) to bring a Moroccan scholar to Bainbridge in the spring.

“I enthusiastically practice what I teach,” said Betty LaFace, International Education Club adviser who served 18 months as BC’s assistant director of international programs. She just turned over those duties to Library Director Susan Ralph and History Professor Dave Nelson.

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Ralph works with a library project in Belize, and Nelson is refining plans to offer two credit courses that he will teach in London next summer—U.S. history and an introduction to environmental history.

LaFace traveled in May to Lebanon and in December toured India by train.

“The highlight of my travels was a riding safari atop an 11-foot elephant in the foothills of the Himalayas, where I photographed a Bengal tiger,” said LaFace whose 2008 travels included six countries on four continents, attending a conference in Belize, spending a month in Morocco and Spain to study immigration and migration issues, and teaching English to medical doctors in Paris and Chinese graduate students majoring in English at Tianjin Foreign Studies University in China. She has taught in the USG Paris summer program and received grants to study in Nigeria, Cameroon and Thailand.

“Students in my classes have come to understand that people’s actions and reactions differ from country to country, from Spain to Morocco and France to China, India and the Middle East, and that emerging cultures heavily influence the global marketplace.”

Moroccan scholars comes to BC

Helping Bainbridge College students to understand and experience that difference, LaFace and History Professor Michael Kirkland arranged a 10-day visit to Georgia by Karim Bejjit, whom they met when they studied in Morocco.

“We were so impressed,” Professor Kirkland said, adding that four Georgia schools coordinated the effort to bring Bejjit here. It was an effort that was well received by the BC community members who had the opportunity to hear the Moroccan scholar talk about post-colonial issues.

An associate professor in English at the Université Hassan II-Mohammedia, who earned his doctorate from the Université Mohamed I at Oujda, Bejjit captivated his Bainbridge College audiences.

He was guest lecturer in classes and at a public session on Main Campus and spoke about Moroccan literature at an English class at the Early County Site in Blakely. He also presented at the other institutions that coordinated the trip—Georgia Southern University, Georgia College and State University and North Georgia College.

Efforts such as coordinating his visit and having Maria Chumovitskaya of Russia as BC’s first Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence are among the college’s broadened efforts international education. Those efforts emphasize involvement of all divisions, in addition to the traditional emphasis in the Arts and Sciences Division.

For example, under the leadership of Valley Rogers, who teaches education courses in the Arts and Sciences and in the Technical Studies Divisions, BC students used their spring break to study diversity issues at Corozal Junior College in Belize.

The college held a Studies Abroad Fair in spring semester that included representatives from a variety of USG institutions, including the University of Georgia. Tracy Harrington, for whom a USG international education award was named, continues to serve as consultant for BC’s international initiatives.