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Feature: KSU's Global Engagement Certification
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Feature: KSU's Global Engagement Certification

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  • 1. By Denae Eagen, 2011Grant Writing Graduate Research Assistant for the Institute for Global Initiatives, KSUKSU Global Engagement CertificationAs an undergraduate student, you wanted more out of your world. Alongside your traditionalcoursework, you explored the global community, learning about the interactions between people andsocieties. Your classroom was fluid: fresh markets, ancient ruins, volunteer centers, and streetfestivals.Your friends and study partners were from Italy, China, Tunisia, Ecuador, and more. Youexplored foreign languages, studied cultures, arts, businesses, and sciences, andtraveled to a country onthe other side of the world in order to learn more.Now KennesawState University wants to acknowledge your curiosity and sense of adventure with anofficial certification. The Global Engagement Certification(GEC) is a peer-reviewed and scholarlyrecognized achievement that rewards your initiative as a global citizen. It honors your willingness toexplore new experiences outside of your comfort zone and your eagerness toengage with diversecommunities.Dr. Barry Morris, KSU’sVice Provost of Global Engagement and Strategic Initiatives,encourages students to apply, saying “This certification will enhance your resume and endorse theglobal skills, knowledge and attitudes achieved while a student at Kennesaw State University.“Applying for the GEC is as simple as telling your story. Thefree online application asks you to share yourpersonal experiences of cross-cultural awareness, teamwork, and community service and reflect on howyour global perspectives and intercultural skills have developed at KSU. Certification requires twelvesemester hours of approved coursework (courses deemed to have at least 30% global learning content).There are currently more than 300 approved global learning courses offered at KSU.In addition, studentsmust complete four weeks of study abroad in a foreign country and at least two years of foreignlanguage study.For one student, qualification for the GEC happened almost by accident. Kristie Kannaley, a seniorEnglish Education major, aspires to earn an MA and PhD in linguistics with an emphasis in TeachingEnglish to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Spanish language study, world literature, diversityeducation, and teaching courses came naturally with her field. Studying abroad, however, was achallenge that Kannaley wasn’t certain about. Motivation from friends, professors, and family helpedher finally decide to student teach in Ecuador, and she applied for her GEC right before she left.Reflecting on her decision, Kannaley says, “I think it is fantastic that Kennesaw is willing to recognizestudents in this way; it is extremely difficult to leave your home and enter a country that you have neverbeen to before. As a senior in college, I had never been out of the United States, so studying in Ecuadorhas certainly become an incredible life experience full of the anxiety and excitement of joining a newfamily, school, and even culture. It was a hard decision to make.”Learning and student teaching abroad has been eye-opening for Kannaley.Few Americans experiencethe difficulty of being in a country where you do not speak the languagewell andthe anxiety of leaving
  • 2. everything you know for such a long amount of time can catch up with students unexpectedly. ForKannaley, it caught up with her in the middle of Pistichi, a rural town in Ecuador.Days of planting fruit treesleft her physically exhausted. However,Kannaleystruggled most with themental exhaustion of tryingto keep up with the language of native speakers and fielding uncomfortablecomments about Americans from her students. After failing to resolve the prejudices throughdiscussion,her students were surprised to find tears in their teacher’s eyes. A universal expression ofdistress, the tears streaked through the dirt and sweat and broke down the language barrier.“The students cut some sugar cane and offered it to me, assuring that it would not make me sick…[they]explained that they were only joking with me and that they do that to each other all the time (it is acultural sign of affection, actually…maybe not the prejudice comments, but the teasing in general). Theyoffered to speak in English around me, and I declined because I wanted them to feel like they couldspeak in whatever language they wanted, especially outside of my English classroom.”As a teacher, particularly one who aspires to teach ESOL students, this incidentwas an important lessonfor Kannaley and one that will likely recur in her future classroom many times. “For the rest of the day(and my trip, really), my relationship with that particular group of students was altered as a result of acultural misunderstanding that turned into the acceptance of our differences,” says Kannaley.It’s moments like these that the KSU Global Engagement Certification intends to honor and recognize.The experiences that students gain from their global learning will alter their perspectives of the world,its people, and themselves. It is Kennesaw State University’s hope that these challenges will helpstudents grow into stronger, wiser global citizens capable of seeing into others and fosteringunderstanding and cooperation.The GEC formally acknowledges a student’s efforts andbrings the globallearning experiences to the attention of future employers.If you’re graduating soon or just getting started at KSU,learn more about the requirements for theGlobal Engagement Certification at http://www.kennesaw.edu/globalengagementand discuss youropportunities with an academic advisor. The registration deadline for the GECisJuly 15 for summergraduates.For questions, contact Dawyn S. Dumas,Director of Global Engagement Programs. WillinghamHall, 2nd Floor, RM 223D. Phone 678-797-2423. ddumas@kennesaw.edu