Around the Globe

By Hope Ferguson

Empire State College’s alumni, faculty and staff are involved in numerous outreach and volunteer activities across the state and throughout the nation, but did you know that the college has footprints around the globe?

The college’s administration and its alumni and students work on worthwhile projects – from opening a business in the Czech Republic that caters to volunteers who want to do good, to volunteering in Mexico, to engaging in important transcultural dialogue with colleagues from China.

Lending a Hand ...

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Martina Huskova ’05, a graduate of the college’s International Programs in Prague (UNYO) and CEO of Voluntair, uses the same concept that online journals use to aggregate news from many sources and has adapted it to aggregate volunteer activities across the globe. Her company works with a small, select group of trusted organizations operating local, sustainable programs. Through social media, an attractive website and Facebook page, she connects eager volunteers with a program that fits their interests, whether to help others or experience unique travel opportunities.

Huskova explains that Voluntair is a volunteering Gateway. “We make volunteering simpler and more accessible for everyday people. Choose a volunteering opportunity from our portfolio, we will take care of the rest – from booking your volunteering place to managing your pre-departure needs.” She adds that these opportunities require no specific skills and
can be as short as one week or as long as several months. The benefits? “Volunteers experience new cultures, form friendships, develop new skills, all while helping a community or eco-system that needs it,” she says.

Huskova feels that her study with the college’s International Programs really aided her. She took a full roster of business and marketing-related courses for her business administration degree, including finance, marketing and human resources. “Thanks to all the teamwork, homework assignments and public class presentations, I learned things
I use every day now,” she says. “I learned to work in a team, where to find the information I seek, and I acquired confidence to present my ideas to others and discuss them. I am grateful, because my education enabled me to have the job of my dreams, my company, Voluntair.” The website appears both in English and Czech, at voluntair.cz.

… Across the Globe

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In a similar vein, ESC alumna and English as a Second Language teacher Quantaya Moore ’14, spent two weeks in February caring for disadvantaged youth in Merida, Mexico, through UBELONG. This agency matches volunteers with projects that are abroad, but closer to home and affordable. Moore, who majored in Community and Human Services, calls herself a newbie when it comes to traveling. “UBELONG is an affordable organization with an amazing selection of volunteer programs and cities to choose from,”
she says.

Moore worked with disadvantaged youth in a daycare center. “I had the second youngest group of children,” she explains, “so I pretty much played with them and gave them the extra attention they needed and wanted.” Her advice to fellow volunteers is, “Go in and have fun. Show your volunteer site
and the locals in the area that you are happy to be there.” Moore said not a lot of prep was needed; the most important thing is to learn a few basics of the language, which “shows them you really care.”

… Through Outreach Exchanges

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On the home front, President Merodie Hancock welcomed a delegation from China to the college’s New York locations in Latham and Saratoga Springs in June. The delegates were drawn from top administration at China’s educational institutions and government officials. They were interested in learning more about various structures of academic institutions, especially as they pertain to students and student life. The group was part of a roundtable discussion with Empire State College faculty and staff, moderated by Dean Gerald Lorentz. The delegates also met in Saratoga Springs with Hancock and Provost Alfred Ntoko, who discussed online programs and supports, the college’s International Programs and prior learning assessment. Delegates represented the Ministry of Education, Changsha University of Science and Technology, Yunnan Normal University, Qujing Normal University and Baotou Teachers College.

… And by Sharing Knowledge

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Additionally, Hancock served as a member of a panel at the Global HR Forum in Korea in November. The forum brings together international organizations and government, education and corporate leaders to talk about ways to be competitive in the increasingly interconnected global marketplace. This year’s theme was Diverse Talent, Changing Societies. Hancock joined two colleagues and a moderator to present a session titled “Globalization, Job Market and University Education for Adults.”

Past speakers have included such business luminaries as Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of GE, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and political leaders such as President Bill Clinton and Ki-Moon Ban, the secretary-general of the United Nations. One of the keynote speeches, “Changing Society, Changing Education,” explored how applying today’s standards and traditional education to tomorrow’s generation is not appropriate. The keynote address proposed a new direction for education that can guide how leaders of tomorrow are educated and trained and can strengthen national competitiveness.

Photography provided