Trends and Issues in Higher Ed

February 29, 2016

Husky Presidential Ambassadors

Transitioning to college can be especially challenging for international students. Through leadership studies, domestic students facilitate smooth transitions and inclusive engagement as Husky Presidential Ambassadors

Universities across the nation are working to further connect international students and create a globally engaged campus environment for all students. Increasing globalization also raises the demand for graduates with increased competencies in cross-cultural communication and practice. Engaging together in cross-cultural leadership studies, undergraduates learn to think and connect across boundaries, enhancing all students’ Husky Experience.

Learning from a pilot orientation program

Husky Presidential Ambassadors

Husky Presidential Ambassadors from the 2015 pilot traveled to China to meet incoming international students for a pre-orientation experience. Moving forward, the program will partner with the Husky Leadership Initiative to enrich the experience for both groups of students through leadership studies. Photo courtesy of Global Affairs.

Global Affairs and First Year Programs saw an opportunity to connect and engage incoming and returning students from the U.S. and overseas through a study abroad program. Because Chinese students make up the largest number of international students on campus, they held the pilot program in China.

In 2015, they partnered with Regional Advancement to pilot the Husky Presidential Ambassadors program, a study abroad program in which 20 upperclassmen traveled to China to bring a short orientation experience to incoming Chinese students. The organizers agreed it was a success, but they knew it could be more.

Partnering with the Husky Leadership Initiative

The team engaged the Husky Leadership Initiative in order to further anchor the program in the Husky Experience. “We are seeking innovative ways to make leadership education accessible to all UW students, and we believe leadership studies can cross cultural barriers in the ways we wanted,” says Fran Lo, director of the Husky Leadership Initiative. Lo is co-directing the new program with Liping Yu, senior lecturer of Asian Language & Literature. They developed a leadership curriculum that students will begin together in China and continue on campus.

It can be difficult to find a “home” when you are so far away from your family and friends, — I would like to help them get past the cultural and language barrier they will face when they arrive. HARNOOR MAHAL Junior, American Ethnic StudiesIn summer 2016, 20 UW students selected for their outstanding campus engagement and diversity of background and experience will participate in an Exploration Seminar. A week of coursework on campus will prepare them for their experience in China. They will spend the next week in Beijing experiencing new cultural surroundings. In the final week, they will meet the incoming Chinese students and engage together in the week-long Husky Presidential Ambassadors Leadership Institute. The students will live and study together in Tsinghua University facilities.

During the institute, Yu and Lo will guide the students in connecting leadership theory to practice. They will meet with government officials, businessor my part, I learned that Chinese students are a lot like me. They have the same questions and worries that I had when I first started college. When I started at the UW I was very nervous, and I was only moving from Spokane. I can’t imagine moving halfway across the world. This experience totally changed my perspective on international students. KIM BOUDREAU Senior, Business major leaders and community change agents while also engaging in skill-building and self-reflective opportunities to accelerate their personal leadership development. The students will continue to explore leadership perspectives across boundaries when they arrive on campus. In fall quarter, they will continue their education through an on-campus seminar and participation in Unite UW, a domestic-international student exchange program facilitated by Student Life.

Through strong campus partnership and creative collaboration, the Husky Presidential Ambassadors Leadership Institute is an innovative education model cultivating globally-minded leaders who are prepared to create connections across boundaries and work together for a world of good.