2021 Mott Community College

The International Institute

  • Debra Gibes, Co-Coordinator, International Institute
  • Jessica Esperanza, Co-Coordinator, International Institute
  • Stephen Shubert, Dean, Business and International Global Studies Division
  • International Institute Advisory Board:  Candice Munoz, Carrie Devon, Charles Wade, Dalton Connally, James Shurter, Jill Sodt, Jjenna Andrews, Katie Kiacz, Kim Giacchina, Kimberly Jeffries, Kristina Nicolai, Mark Bannatyne, Mary Procopio, Nicole Johnson.

The International Institute is a campus-wide program at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. Its mission is to initiate, coordinate, promote, and support campus and community-wide efforts for international and intercultural programming that increases global awareness and understanding for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion and equipping intercultural competence in a global society. The International Institute Advisory Board assists in ensuring the quality and sustainability of this mission. Its members include faculty and staff from both Academic Affairs and Student Services as well student representatives. In 2016, the Institute launched the International and Global Studies Endorsement program which consists of a combination of interdisciplinary academic work and international experiences to prepare students to be successful in our increasingly interconnected world by providing students with a knowledge base for understanding the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of current world issues. Students who complete the program receive an IGS endorsement on their transcripts and a diploma upon completion of an associate degree. As of last year, 28 students have completed the program. More indicative of its success, the IGS served as a springboard to launch five programs in all to support the mission of the Institute.

To support IGS, the Institute launched the Cultural Engagement Program. It became a campus-wide program for engaging in cultural activities and events to emphasize that what happens around the world matters and that global competence is an important cornerstone of the educational experience. Events include “International Week,” where campus and community members can engage and connect with the world in globally aware contexts. Each year, International Week showcases different cultures throughout the world. Past events include “Women’s International Pay Day” where participants learn about pay inequities around the world and “Travel the Globe” where International and non-native born students showcase their home countries. The week also includes a “Cultural Fair” that focuses on the cultural practices of one world region and an international talent show. In addition, the Institute hosts a Fulbright scholar from a different country to broaden our knowledge of the world. During the pandemic, the Cultural Engagement Program continued and even expanded through a virtual platform. This year the Institute added monthly workshops featuring campus members who share their travel experiences to promote better understanding and interest in diverse people. (More information about International Week can be found at this video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0BU3zpr3oQ.)

Next, Study Abroad was also launched to expand the opportunities not only for IGS students but also for students campus-wide to become globally competent citizens. From 2018 to 2020, 34 students participated in one of three short-term trips to Puerto Rico for both study and service opportunities. Just prior to the pandemic, three additional study abroad trips were planned for 2020-21 which would have provided the opportunity for at least 50 additional students to have a study abroad experience. These study abroad opportunities included a Culinary Arts study abroad in Italy and a STEM study abroad in France as well a fourth study abroad in Puerto Rico. These trips are now being planned for 2022. For many students at Mott, these opportunities would not be possible if it were not for the support of the college to seek to provide numerous scholarships. Based on demographic estimates in 2018 from the U.S. Census Bureau for Flint, the poverty rate of households in the area averages between 41- 45% earning the designation as the poorest city in America. (A slide show on study abroad to Puerto Rico can be found at https://www.mcc.edu/international/study-abroad/index.shtml.)

The International Institute also provides programming for International and Non-Native born students. As a cohort, these students are highly valued for the diversity they share with our campus and for their unique talents they invest in our community. In 2018, the International Institute launch an accelerated English language immersion program. Students who speak English as a second language were provided with credit-based academic English language courses. English language support services were also formalized through the MCC World language and Cultures Center and the Writing Center. Each semester, enrollment for the intermediate and advanced courses average about 11 students. Opportunities for cultural acquisition are embedded into the courses through the “Student Ambassadors” service project in which students share their cultures with local elementary schools. The students are also invited to participate in Culture and Language Exchange Partnerships (CLEP) which is a college-wide opportunity for students to build friendships for cross-cultural understanding and strengthen community diversity through face-to-face interaction. Since 2018, about 35 students on average participated in CLEP each semester. During the pandemic, the International Institute launched a virtual alternative to CLEP called Intercultural Pen Pals (I-Pals) which provides an opportunity for students who are distanced from one another to build community engagement for cultural exchange through one-on-one electronic correspondence. Participating students are matched with other students locally, nationally, or internationally relative to differences in race, ethnicity, nationality, and/or religion. In Winter 2021, The International Institute invited other Flint colleges to participate in I-Pals as well as institutions worldwide through MCC faculty’s global networking referrals. Eighty students representing 4 institutions had participated that first semester. I-Pals will run again in winter of 2022 and is expected to expand. (For more information on CLEP visit https://www.mcc.edu/international/clep.shtml.)

The latest programming launched by the International Institute is Curriculum Globalization. The goal is to integrate global perspectives into almost every course. The Institute members are developing training materials to help faculty develop at least one single module into their courses. In addition, just prior to the pandemic, the Institute received an in-house grant to train 12 faculty to launch Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) into their courses for students to interact and communicate globally, enhance educational experiences, and increase competencies. The training was cancelled when travel ceased but the institute persevered. In spring of 2021, the first faculty cohort participated in virtual training to create COIL projects. In fall of 2021, 4 faculty members in Communication, World Languages and Psychology launched COIL projects with institutions in Chile, Finland, Japan and Palestine and 3 additional faculty have projects ready to launch in winter of 2022. New cohort trainings are also planned for spring of 2022 and 2023 in hopes to potentially triple the number of courses across disciplines with content to increase global understanding and awareness. (For More information about global perspectives as well as other components of the International Institute, please visit the MCC Website at https://www.mcc.edu/international/index.shtml.)