Broaden your horizons with the Global Option
Kevin Henry, '20, had just completed an education abroad experience in Indonesia when he discovered he qualified for a new program: the Global Option in Education and Human Ecology.
Known as GO EHE, it leads students to connect their lived cultural experience with their courses, said Kim Bruening, the Global Option’s advisor. Students in the College of Education and Human Ecology can opt into the program with few additions to their major course load. They earn the added benefit of enriching their world view, their transcript and their résumé.
Steps toward a more enriched education
Henry, who graduated from Ohio State Newark this semester, said the experience he gained through GO EHE aligned so neatly with his middle childhood education major, it would have made less sense for him not to participate. Shortly after the program’s inception, he met with his advisor to discuss what he needed to complete it.
He was elated to learn that all he needed was the capstone project. He had fulfilled all three of the other requirements — the introductory exposure, the advanced cultural and language course and the international learning component.
Madison Smith, ‘20 BSEd early childhood education with a Spanish minor, had a practically identical experience to Henry’s after completing her study abroad. She, too, discovered the new program after completing most of the requirements.
In fact, both students traveled to Indonesia for a month in May 2019 through the college’s First Education Experience Program. FEEP, a required course for education majors, allows students to explore the career firsthand before making a commitment.
I have a job lined up in Taiwan in early 2021,” he said, “and I genuinely believe that it's because I have this experience.
Kevin Henry, '20
Enrolled students are placed in various teaching environments, either locally or abroad. For those who went to Indonesia, the unique experience was based in the capital, Jakarta, but had them traveling around the country. By learning about education at several types of schools, students gained valuable insights into career choices.
“To be able to say I've experienced an education system totally across the world was something kind of cool and interesting for the (job) interview process,” Smith said. “It's kind of a wow factor thing to help (potential employers) remember you, too.”
Henry concurred. “I have a job lined up in Taiwan in early 2021,” he said, “and I genuinely believe that it's because I have this experience. Having this global option makes you realize that you don't have to be rooted in the state that you're licensed in. It shows that we have options for teaching.”
Every major in the college can gain relevant experience by choosing the global option. “For instance, every single special education student should know that you can go to Japan, go to Tokyo Disneyland, and see the most accessible Disney park in the world,” Bruening said. “Learning how different cultures approach people with disabilities enhances awareness.”
Plan ahead for the GO EHE travel
Since the March coronavirus pandemic forced students to change their travel plans, completing the education abroad aspect of the option has been postponed. Despite this, students are encouraged to plan now for travel after the pandemic subsides, Bruening said. Narrow down the choices based on what can be gained from each potential destination.
She also points out that students’ forays across the globe, even on the same trip, can vary from one person to another. This was true for Smith’s and Henry’s trips to Indonesia.
Smith gained an appreciation for certain aspects of the American school system that weren't prevalent in Indonesia. “They don't really have special education or any foreign language there. Also, school is all privatized. So, there's no public education. One school was specifically for families who can’t afford to pay any sort of tuition for their kids.”
Smith felt she benefitted from seeing students from different cultures and backgrounds interacting with each other, especially because she grew up in southern Ohio where her school had little cultural diversity. The experience has helped in her current teaching position as a second-grade teacher with the Diocese of Columbus.
“My class is a more diverse set of students. It’s my responsibility to teach them to appreciate other cultures. My trip has allowed me to relate that more clearly,” she said.
The Global Option in EHE has prepared you to go — so go see the world, so you can learn from your students and they can learn from you.
Associate Professor of reading and literacy
While Henry was in Indonesia, he visited a school separately from his group. “It happened to be a chance for me to observe how the needs of certain communities dictate education. It was a very small village in Borneo. There were about five kids in the school, and they would not always have class every day. Then there was a school in Bali that was purely for students with either physical or mental disabilities. So, it was very interesting to see the allocation of resources.”
The trip expanded Henry’s horizons in terms of job freedom. Prior to traveling, he had never considered a career outside the United States. But the cultural differences he saw during travel boosted his confidence in his ability to overcome any cultural knowledge gaps.
“Indonesia is a very Muslim heavy country, and it's also a very Hindu heavy country,” he said. “So, it’s very culturally different, and culture is sometimes seen as a barrier. But approaching things as someone who wants to help, someone who wants to teach and give, it's really amazing that those barriers suddenly disappear. It's very refreshing to realize that just because everyone in (a) country speaks a different language doesn't mean you can't have a positive impact on them.”
Before deciding to accept a job outside the United States, though, Henry sought guidance from one of his mentors in the college, Adrian Rodgers, whose advice applies for all EHE student.
“Although accepting a teaching position outside the country seems daunting, we’re now a global village where we can be virtually anywhere in a moment and be physically anywhere in a day,” said Rodgers, an associate professor of reading and literacy in early and middle childhood education at Ohio State Newark.
“Look for teaching positions that offer relocation and local support on arrival, as well as help navigating the work visa process. Use the college's career office. The Global Option in EHE has prepared you to go — so go see the world, so you can learn from your students and they can learn from you.”
Henry took his advice to heart. “I’m not just learning how to be a teacher in Ohio,” he said. “I’m learning how to be a teacher to the world.”
Students interested in GO EHE should complete an interest form and schedule an appointment with the Global Option advisor.