IISE Brown Bag Series mark a new tradition in welcoming and supporting student internationalists at Pitt

IISE continues to show efforts and commitments in supporting student internationalists in their academic pathways at Pitt School of Education (SoE). The first IISE Brown Bag in this Fall 2020 was seriously dedicated to facilitating connections across student internationalists, Pitt personnel and other members whose works are likely to cross paths.

With the topic “International Pathways to the Pitt School of Education”, the Brown Bag session was intended to provide student internationalists with rich information to start getting connected or building connections with other SoE members in the field of international education and development.

This brown bag session is an innovative way to follow-up on ongoing effort in making the SOE a better, more welcoming, and student-oriented place to be. This will also be a new alternative way to invite and welcome new students from many walks of life and in many programs, who are interested in international and global education in praxis and policy.

The Brown Bag session was held virtually via Zoom last Tuesday, September 29, 2020 12:30 – 13.30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada). There were about 34 attendees, ranging from first year graduate students, ongoing students, alumni, IISE members and SoE staffs and faculty, including Andrea Zito SOE Director of Student and Career Services (SCS) and Mike Gunzenhauser, SOE Associate Chair, EFOP

Serving as the facilitators were Maureen Porter, IISE Associate Director and Bianca Sue Brown, SOE Admissions & Recruitment Manager. Both Maureen and  Bianca have been working together in identifying and mapping supports for incoming students.

Photo 1: Bianca Sue Brown, SOE Admissions & Recruitment Manager, is welcoming attendees.

In this one-hour virtual meeting, participants were exposed to loads of information regarding academic and professional opportunities available for them through the School of Education and its centers or units.

 “Zooming in from Peru, Japan, Italy, Pittsburgh, LA, and many other areas in between, 34 of us gathered together to talk about IISE and SOE-wide Working Groups, new publications, the future IISE Brown Bag series, faculty participants’ research interests, and how international students first found out about SOE!”, Bianca reported.


Location and Choice

“We had some interesting synergies and connections.” Maureen Porter noted. “We talked about folks' backgrounds and current locations, how they found out about SOE, faculty participants' interests and backgrounds.”

First year and current students stated that the SoE’s courses, tailored programs and diversity are major factors in their choice and decision for enrolling at Pitt SoE. They heard of SoE’s programs from colleagues, scholarship providers, Pitt website, self-research as well as words of mouth from friends. SoE faculty have repeatedly emphasized how many programs in the School are flexible enough to form an individualized path of interests within international and global education.

Joining from Sapporo, Japan, which was around 1.30 am, Tetsuya Yamada shared how he heard Pitt SoE's reputation in the field of comparative and international education from his colleagues. He is now the first year PhD student in SCAE and will be coming to Pittsburgh in the Spring 2021.

Jennifer Karen Cori, a Fulbright grantee from Peru, found the courses structures and lessons offered at SoE meet her plans and aspirations. Ru Tong from Xi’an, China is currently enrolled in online mode now. She learned about PhD in SCAE from the Asian Studies Center of Pitt, where she reached out to the Center and started to research her aspired program.

Veysel Gokbel, alumni form Turkey, specifically searched for a more diverse classroom experience after attending a different US university. Later he found himself in a classroom of 11 different nationalities on his first day at Pitt!


Research and Working Connection

The interactions and info exchanges during the session also marked a new connection of life, research and works among new and ongoing students.

Keanna Cash found her Turkish connection with Veysel Gokbel, SoE alumni and IISE member from Turkey. Keanna used to live in Ankara, Turkey, during her time as a Fulbright Fellow and worked at Yıldırm Beyazıt university in Turkey. Similarly, Tinukwa Boulder, originally from Manchaster, England, shared his Japanese connection, as he used to live and work in Nagano, Japan for a year many years ago.

Tetsuya, a first-year Ph.D. student in SCAE shared his newly released publication on “The case of the Maasai community in Kenya” . Also calling for potential collaboration is Chou Ying-Tung, from China, who is interested in Shengjun's research on international students' sense of belonging.



Staff support

In addition to Bianca Brown (SOE Admissions & Recruitement Manager), attending the Brown Bag were also Andrea Zito SOE Director of Student and Career Services (SCS), Tinukwa Boulder (SOE Director of Innovative Technologies & Online Learning), Wesley Vaina (SOE Director of Admissions and Enrollment Office), Cassia Crogan (SOE Associate Director, Marketing & Communications), and Kyla Kuronen (SOE Development and Alumni Affairs), among others.

All the staff shared information on their roles and contacts for students in need of their service or help.

Kyla Kuronen from the Office of Student and Career Services provided, who just moved to Pittsburgh four years ago from Toronto, Canada, recognized the importance of student service in a large institution like SoE. She invited students to reach out at any time if they have any questions about student services or any student events that would be beneficial for the student community.

Cassia Crogan, the Director of the Marketing & Communications office, invited students to tell and share their stories on the School’s social media channels, as ways to celebrate and highlight students’ great works and experiences.

Chou Ying-Tung, from the CGSE (Center for Graduate Students in Education) informed the roles of CGSE and, importantly, shared information on the current 30-Day window of opportunity regarding legislation impacting visas, OPT, and international mobility. Send your ideas to her at: yic84@pitt.edu and she can bring them before the student council board.

Jorge Delgado, Associate Director of IISE, highlighted multiple ways to get connected to other student internationalists through many centers at Pitt, including IISE, UCIS, and CGSE. Jorge is inviting everyone to contribute in the upcoming issues of Bridges—a multilingual, multimedia journal, hosted by IISE, to include content for academicians and practitioners in the field.


What IISE Brown Bag offers

IISE team sincerely thanks to all who were there to support and promote the IISE Brown Bag series.  IISE pioneered several new components that now could be adapted for future sessions in this standing series.

IISE Brown Bags sessions offer an informal opportunity for all students, faculty, staff, alumni, visiting scholars, and friends to gather and freely discuss topics of global consequence and international significance. Most have a theme, host, or special guest who will serve as a catalyst for US and international participants to share their own experiences, scholarly life, career lessons, and questions. 

Look for sessions this year that will be hosted by the Working Groups on Indigenous Education, Language Policies, and Gender and Development. All are welcome!