By Elizabeth Homan
A team of College faculty, staff, and administrators recently returned from India where they coordinated a national community college symposium in New Delhi. The College received a $195,000 grant from the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State to organize the symposium, develop a student and faculty exchange program, and create opportunities for faculty development. The College is partnering with three Indian institutions: the O.P. Jindal Institute of Technology, the Guru Gobind Singh Government Polytechnic, and the Industrial Training Institute.
In the fall, educators from the partner institutions will travel to the United States to visit classrooms, meet with faculty and students, and tour facilities. Their visit will provide another opportunity to talk about the community college model and how it might adapt to educate greater numbers of India’s citizens. Estimates call for 3,000 to 4,000 community colleges to serve the country.
For President DeRionne Pollard, the initiative with India encourages the College to more closely examine how it might evolve in the global economy.
“If you think about global competition, if you think about the significant numbers of students from other shores who will continue to come to the United States for an education, and if you think about our own students who will have to be competitive in the rapidly changing workforce, we will be forced to be much more thoughtful about how we approach our work,” said Dr. Pollard. “We will have to think critically about the education we provide.”
Students at the O. P. Jindal Institute of Technology in Raigarh displayed and explained their engineering projects to members of the MC delegation, who toured the institute and learned of the technical programs offered. At left, Professor Margaret Latimer.
World of Opportunity
By Diane Bosser
In a remote West African village, a young boy carries the name Stephen. Not a family name or a name handed down from a village elder, it is the name of a Montgomery College alumnus who had wandered down a forest path.
“It was surreal,” says 23-year-old Stephen Wood ’10, recalling his experience in the College’s first-ever Study Abroad Program trip to Senegal and The Gambia. After enjoying a meal and visiting with Mandingo chiefs and villagers, the MC travelers were to report to the bus by mid-afternoon.
Wood arrived at the rendezvous point, but realized the bus was delayed. Strolling into nearby woods, Wood set into motion a serendipitous chain of events, leading him from a shutterbug professor, to a rooftop goat, to a throng of children, to two old women observing it all.
He greeted the elders in Arabic: “Assalamua alaykum.” May peace be upon you. They returned the greeting, then invited him (in French) to come closer. Moments later, at their urging, Wood stepped inside a small nearby house.
“It was dark at first,” says Wood, “but my eyes adjusted to see a young woman in a blue dress sitting on the bed. Next to her was a bundled yellow blanket…. In my rudimentary French I greeted her. She introduced herself, and showed me what was inside the bundle. It was a baby, her son—just four days old. When she asked my name, I said, ‘Etienne.’ She shook her head. ‘What is your name in English, please.’” Wood heard a child’s voice behind him—in English: She wants to name her baby after you.
“While the trip to Africa was by far the most memorable in my experience with the program,” says English Professor Greg Malveaux, “every trip abroad has the potential to change lives.” As the program coordinator, Malveaux selects destinations based on several factors, including safety and the potential to push people, geographically and culturally, beyond their comfort zone. “Dramatic differences,” he says, “create a richer experience.”
Funded in part by the Montgomery College Foundation, the study abroad trip to Africa continues to inspire the College community. After sharing memories and photos, the sojourners partnered with Student Life and the College’s Global Peace and Justice Studies initiative to raise $4,000 through silent auction events. The funds have already gone to a clean water project in Senegal; the Fatick villagers now have a well and irrigation system for crops. The system will also benefit surrounding villages. Additionally, books were collected and sent for school-aged children.
Mission Critical: Bilaspur, India
By Jessica Warnick ’86
When Mary Gregory Jarvis ’59/Hon.’05 first visited the Jackman Memorial Hospital in Bilaspur, India, she took note of the run-down conditions and lack of nursing staff. After meeting with Dr. Raman Jogi, the hospital’s director, she learned there was only one nurse for every three doctors. She saw patients’ families who had to prepare and cook their own food outside the hospital, on the ground in makeshift cooking pits. Mary left the hospital that day determined to help.
Through her generous support, the hospital, nursing facility, and a church on the premises were restored, allowing more people in the Bilaspur region access to health care. On its completion, the nursing facility was renamed the Jarvis Harnar Nursing Center, honoring its two most fervent supporters: Mary Gregory Jarvis
and Ruth Harnar. Harnar was born in India to missionary parents, became a nurse, and worked as the hospital’s director of nursing for 35 years.
In addition to its improved overall conditions and increased personnel, the nursing facility and hospital now treat patients for free through affiliation with Christian organizations. “Many patients,” says Jarvis, “travel long distances by foot or bicycle for medical treatment and cannot afford to pay.”
Back home, Mary’s life has focused on her family, church, and community. She credits her upbringing with her lifelong love of learning and community service.
“My father taught us that life is not free and ‘to pay back something,’” she says.
In addition to her philanthropy projects, Mary has been a fourth-grade teacher, a mother to five boys (who all attended MC), a grandmother, and now great-grandmother. One son, Dr. John Gregory, has followed her
footsteps into the mission field. Through his founding and support of The Lazarus Foundation and Children of the World Ministries, Inc., he has provided program guidelines and financial support for orphans, orphanages, and children’s ministries throughout the world.
At 89, Mary Gregory Jarvis may be slowing down, but she still has influence on her church’s board, and she keeps tabs on her family and friends with husband Fred Jarvis, of 26 years. Her passionate support for higher education, including Montgomery College, remains firm.
In her words: “Teaching upcoming generations is the most important mission we have …. Everyone is obligated to teach—whether they are paid or not—this will benefit the future generations.”
With Mary Gregory Jarvis’ support, the renovated and re-named Jarvis Harnar Nursing School provides better training for more nurses. The facility and its affiliated Jackman Memorial Hospital provide care for free to the many patients who travel long distances by foot or bicycle for medical treatment.
Mary Gregory Jarvis returned to the Bilaspur region to celebrate the nursing center’s inauguration. Mary Gregory Jarvis, far right, and Dr. Raman Jogi, hospital director, with his family, far left.
Stephen Wood, who is pursuing a homeland security degree at UMUC, says he hopes to return some day to meet little Stephen again.
In education and in life, experiences teach what mere words cannot convey.
In that vein, the Montgomery Scholars program has featured summer study in Cambridge, England. Scholars Program Director Professor Mary Furgol says the trip opens students’ eyes to the world.
“Many of our students have taken advantage of the opportunities for ‘high-impact’ involvement that their transfer schools offer,” says Furgol. In its 10-year history, scholars have trekked to Oxford, Hong Kong, and Cuba. “Indeed,” she says, “a number of them have told me it was their experience in Cambridge through the Montgomery Scholars program that gave them the impetus and confidence to apply for study abroad at their transfer institutions.”
Due to funding shortages, the program will focus on stateside experiences for upcoming students for the near future and will continue to emphasize global research and interdisciplinary ties in its curriculum.
MC faculty, long-time proponents of hands-on learning, service learning, and social responsibility, are stepping up efforts to internationalize courses and curricula. Through discussions, reading selections, and coursework, they steer students toward information that can help them gain a broader understanding of the world.
Whether they come from Ghana or Gaithersburg, MC students are eager to learn about the world. According to English Professor Rita Kranidis, their curiosity and cultural pride often flavor classroom conversations and enhance cultural learning for all, including herself. After a recent trip to India, she fielded questions from students for an entire class period.
Is it true that India has very many people and is very crowded? What does it look like? What are people our age like? Do they work or go to school or both? How is daily life there? How do people live?
“While they themselves come from many different countries,” Kranidis says, “Asia remains a faraway place they do not expect to ever see for themselves…. They wanted to check the associations in their minds against my recent experience.”
In 2008, the College organized discussions on the whys and hows of internationalizing the curricula. An International Education Task Force was formed to streamline and coordinate ongoing activities and to explore opportunities to further the goal of internationalizing the College.
Why internationalize? According to the task force report, research shows that when students are exposed to personally relevant curricula, they achieve greater academic success and are more likely to stay enrolled and matriculate. As a college degree becomes more important for employment opportunities and advancement, especially in a world made smaller by technology and commerce, the College will continue these efforts to fully engage its diverse student population and, ultimately, boost completion rates (graduation or transfer).
“We live in a global society,” says Germantown Math Department Chair John Hamman. “Our students can’t graduate knowing just our systems….The more connections, the better for them—and for us.” Hamman participated with Kranidis in a higher education symposium on community colleges in India last March, a trip funded by a U.S. Department of State grant.
“We have a plan and a map to internationalize education,” says Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus Vice President and Provost Brad Stewart, who oversees the initiative. The plan includes faculty development, mentoring programs, and workshops. Stewart encourages volunteer efforts by faculty. Among his first recruits were American English Language Program professors Sharyn Neuwirth and Margaret Kirkland.
Neuwirth and Kirkland formulated an idea and implemented it in their English as a Second Language (ESL) learning community course, Cultural Identity in a Changing World. The course comprises Reading for Nonnative Speakers II and American English Language II. Neuwirth and Kirkland essentially rewrote their course materials, replacing traditional reading selections and writing exercises with material focused on the Native American culture and experience. Now, instead of memorizing vocabulary lists and verb conjugations, their students strengthen reading, writing, and grammar skills while learning about American history.
Neuwirth received a high compliment recently from one ESL student after the first semester: “I hope the next course is as interesting as this one.”
While the College explores global enrichment at home, foreign dignitaries have embarked on their own explorations in recent years. Their search for less costly and more nimble higher education and training, which they hope to replicate in their own countries, has led them directly to MC.
Since 2007, MC has hosted official visitors from more than 21 countries, including China, Ivory Coast, Korea, France, and the United Kingdom. Through contacts with the World Bank, the American Council on Education (ACE), and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Stewart and his team have showcased MC programs, funding sources, relationships with local and state government, and, most importantly, students.
“The dignitaries have been absolutely charmed by our students,” says Kim McGettigan, executive assistant
in the vice president’s office. “When a student can tell his or her own transformational story directly to an education minister—in their native language—it is so powerful.”
Photo caption of foreign dignitaries at Charlene R. Nunley Student Services Building:
Since 2007 the College has hosted foreign dignitaries from more than 21 countries. Below, visitors from the South African National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) met with Judy Taylor ’93, associate director of student financial aid (second from left) and Melissa Gregory ’76, college director of student financial aid (second from right). The visit was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s American Council on Education.