International Education

Creating Global Citizens
Moving Beyond Borders
World Views

International Education

Last Writes

Michael Lenaghan, Myra Medina, and Ginny Peterson Tennant present an alternative program vision building linguistic and cultural bridges over increasingly troubled international waters


July 2006

International Education

Putting an Views World Unknown City on the Map

If Creating Global Citizens (CGC) were likened to an old-fashioned stool, the three legs would be comprised of 1 Language Skills, 2 Cultural Awareness, and 3 Service. In the coming semester, CGC students will travel to the Dominican Republic (DR) to a small city called “Frasquito Gomez.” It is indeed so tiny that Dr. Lenaghan jokes, “It’s not on any map in the world.” More seriously, this impoverished city also fell off the map of the presidential plan for meeting United Nation (UN) goals, but a well-intended intervention brought it to the attention of DR officials and help has been sent on the way. The school at Frasquito Gomez has no electricity, floors, or water. It does not even have a sign. Lenaghan remarked, “It is at kilometer marker 126 out of Santo Domingo.” However, students’ sweat equity may pay off. The United States is in desperate need of competent nurses to assist its aging population. Nursing is a desirable and respected career in the DR, so it seems a match made in heaven for the CGC, since Miami Dade College trains virtually every nurse, paramedic, police officer, and firefighter in the county. What do you get when you combine a top-notch psychologist, a political scientist, and a language specialist in Spanish? Well, at Miami Dade College (MDC) the result has been the reversal of the currents now much in debate about erecting walls. Miami Dade College has entered its second semester of a program designed to tear down walls that separate us as global citizens. Michael Lenaghan, the globetrotting professor of political science onboard the Global Citizens project says, “It’s only natural. After all, we live in multi-cultural Miami — and indeed paraphrasing the poet Danté, we are a separate person for each language that we speak.”

Polishing a Golden Apple
Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual Miami is a microcosm of the world, and on a good day, a scholar can advance toward being a global citizen, professional, and community developer. The Learning Innovations Leadership Team (LILT) at Miami Dade College empowers and enables faculty to identify alternative venues to provide students with opportunities for success. Under the auspices of a MDC “Golden Apple Grant Program,” three professors created and implemented an interdisciplinary learning community entitled, “Creating Global Citizens (CGC): A Multidisciplinary Learning Community.” The grant-funded project involved intertwining, interconnecting, and integrating two beginning Spanish courses taught by Professor Myra M. Medina, a revamped Psychology of Personal Effectiveness course conducted by Professor Ginny Peterson Tennant, and an International Relations course led by Professor Michael Lenaghan. The professors decided to encapsulate the project into a learning community format for several reasons.

connections. First, students are encouraged to connect ideas from different disciplines to see how knowledge from one course is relevant to knowledge in another course because they are co-enrolled in two or more courses simultaneously (Klein, 2000; MacGregor, 1991). The second connection involves linking students through on-going social interactions because of being with the same students for extended periods. As a result of being part of an academic community, the students further develop their identity and integrate their learning into Last Writes their worldview as well as their social and academic experiences. The type of learning community that Medina, Peterson-Tennant, and Lenaghan used consisted of a common cohort of students simultaneously enrolled in two or more interdisciplinary courses that were linked by a common theme. The overarching theme of the learning community was “creating global citizens” in addition to having the Dominican Republic as a focus of research. This focus on the Dominican Republic had a clear purpose: the faculty plans to take the students to the Dominican Republic so the students can practice the language notions learned in the classroom and engage in Service Learning during their visit to that nation. The Creating Global Citizens learning community extended over two academic semesters. In the Fall term, the students took Spanish I and the multicultural psychology course. Then the cohort of students continued into the Spring semester with the second Spanish course linked with a course in international relations. Essentially, the professors used Smith and Hunter’s (1988) idea of creating an enhanced sense of academic community between students and faculty. This was done through mutual participation in both in-class and out-of-class activities. Some of the in-class activities included guest speakers, simulation games such as Barnga, “They’re Not Like Us,” and the Mixed Up Zoo, Hispanic music and dance, food tasting, and interactive WebCT assignments. Outside of class time, the learning community and their professors attended the Miami International Book Fair, and dined at “ Versailles,” a Cuban restaurant located in the heart of Little Havana in Miami. The students also participated in several Service-Learning experiences that were fully integrated into the curriculum of the learning community.

Why Have a Language Component?
Speaking more than one language provides an additional dimension to being a global citizen. As well, there are many multiple advantages to being able to communicate in more than one language. This capability opens up a completely new world because it is not just about conjugating verbs and memorizing grammar rules. Learning a language implies becoming cognizant of another culture and how people in that culture think. At times, people tend to create invisible but impenetrable barriers because they do not understand each other especially those who speak a different language. Being able to communicate in a foreign language affords individuals the opportunity to expand their horizons and achieve a better understanding of others. Considering the impact of technology and globalization, an additional advantage to knowing more than one language is having a competitive edge in the job market of a global economy (Foreign Language Education, n.d.). A study conducted with alumni from the

Learning Communities as Bridges
Research in the learning community literature indicates that the peer interactions afforded by a learning community allows deeper, more internalized and complex thinking, and processing to take place (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000). In addition, learning communities are intentionally structured to help students make two types of
July 2006


International Education

Garvin School of International Management, showed that bilingual MBA graduates felt they had a competitive advantage over those who lacked knowledge of another language (Grosse, 2005). In addition, although the number of individuals studying a foreign language has increased in high schools (The Center for Applied Linguistics, 1997; The National Center for Statistics, 2006), there is still concern over the limited number of individuals who are able to communicate in a foreign language, especially those working in government posts (The State of Foreign Language Capabilities, 2000). In fact, this language crisis has even become a subject of national security. World Views

intelligences of other students — also true within and across cultures (Gardner). The three colleagues had distinct yet complementary teaching styles that related to varied learning styles thereby offering a International Education range of approaches that both comforted and challenged members of the learning community. All of this variety, however, added flavors to the richness of the experience.

Engaged Learning
During a recent program review, all the presenters agreed that engaged learning is accomplished when students realize what they learn in class applies to the real world. In addition, an essential component of that learning experience is ‘moving students out of their comfort zone.’ Of course, international relations are rife with cross-cultural faux pas, some of which can literally lead to war. Ford sells the Nova in Latin America, which means “no go,” in Spanish, and is not the best Last Writes seller. Jokes particularly translate poorly. In Cuba, a restaurant patron can quip, “Give me the bill and the police,” and have a jointly shared laugh. The same Spanish phrase in the Dominican Republic might actually cause a police officer to show up. As a result, engaged learning is learning up-close and personal. Students interact with the multifaceted Miami community through Book Fairs, Restaurants (practicing jokes, even), learning to dance

Integrating Three Disciplines to Facilitate Global Citizens and Professionals
Integrating the three disciplines was relatively easy because of the complementary nature of the disciplines and the cooperative approaches of three very interactive colleagues. The devil, of course, was in the details regarding scheduling, topical coordination, co-curricular and field experiences and the non-class sessions to advance and adjust along the way. Relating to Howard Gardner’s (1983) “multiple intelligences theory” that proposes that each scholar has at least nine measurable intelligences, multi-disciplinary course engagement, and varied teaching styles allows for the widest embrace of students’ distinct dominant intelligences that may complement the dominant

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July 2006


International Education

the Merengue, simulation games, and heritage speakers. Dr. Lenaghan, who is also active in the Model United Nations, has had world-renowned speakers come to Miami Dade College and interact World Views with the CGC cohort.

It’s Contributing
Myra Medina, whose dual background covers both Spanish and English as a Second Language explained, “We have many objectives covered in this project, including contributing to the local and global economy.” She further explained, “The Creating Global Citizens project has at its heart employable skills, tied into a class trip of learning, teaching, and compassion to the Dominican Republic (her native land), but also aimed at long-term employable skills for both communities.” Professor Medina waxed passionately about the transforming process that the interdisciplinary approach has taken. She spoke of teaching Spanish using advanced technology at the College to those who have had minimal exposure to Spanish before. She elaborated, “The students can click on an integrated College WebCT site, listen to the song “Ojalá, que llueva café,” while seeing stunning photos and sub-text all the while. Moreover, reinforcement of the Spanish portion of the CGC is accelerated when students are able to click on an underlined word,

such as “queso blanco,” and a photo of cheese pops up, or “montaña,” and see a photo of a mountain. In addition, to familiarize students with the Dominican Republic, each student was assigned to research a topic related to the country. Some of the topics dealt with famous Dominicans, the carnival celebration, history, and so on. These were presented to the class as a Power Point and loaded to the WebCt site. In addition, to studying about the Dominican Republic, the students also studied about Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Peru; moreover, these special assignments were also integrated on the WebCt. Last Writes Of course, even while the world is moving towards global English, the CGC program is critical for moving first world students into second or third world backwaters where citizens’ opportunities are frequently limited by economics, contacts with the outside world, where the language divide presents a barrier as well-all interrelated in a matrix that CGC is designed to deconstruct. Professor Medina acknowledges that there are some challenges in teaching Spanish, “The subjunctive form in Spanish is quite a mountain to climb,” she quipped during a recent presentation. As well, such reinforcement is perhaps easier to absorb in Miami than in most other locales. Professor Medina insists that the participating students read Tiempos del Mundo and People en español, in an attempt to nuance its non-Anglo-centric viewpoints.

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International Education

Interdisciplinary Approaches
Professor Ginny Peterson-Tennant noted that one of the primary goals of CGC is to: “Create a community and take it abroad.” In fact, the interdisciplinary team is creating something new under the sun for the benefit of humankind whereby “Global Citizens,” will bring a fresh outlook and perspective to neighbors and the positive and negative impact that they can or may have upon each other. The Dominican Republic was chosen to accomplish this purpose. As Dr. Lenaghan points out, “The Dominican Republic is perhaps unique because it has been identified of one out of eight countries, which can realize World Views the UN goals of development by the year 2015. In fact, the DR has almost achieved the important goal number two — universal education.”

Service-Learning with a Global Peace Perspective: Service for Peace/Servicio Para La Paz
Taking an essentially good concept and practice — ServiceLearning and raising the expectations to emphasize the ethic of not only “service above self” but “living for the sake of others” is a challenge, and within the cultural dimensions of two languages, but a feat worthy of performing. Much sweat equity generated much sweet equity in the process. Service For Peace in the USA and Servicio Para La Paz in the Dominican Republic are distinct in ServiceLearning because they integrate students with a whole spectrum of

community leaders, faculty, and the community — from children to adults — in a working relationship within the ethic of “service above self” and “living for the sake of others.” International Education Service Learning operates on the premise that students apply content and competencies from each course and its disciplines in community service or civic engagement circumstances. In the case of a dual language context, the insights and motivations described in Goleman’s (1997) Emotional Intelligence also comes into play: each student’s capacity to communicate, empathize, respond to insights, and guide their competencies in community service required a maturity (emotional intelligence) that not all were familiar with nor highly competent in, at first blush. While the learning community was relatively small, the value of a kinesthetic, inter-personal, linguistic, and logical engagement in the community contributed to each one’s motivation, language proficiency, and progress.

‘Take Down That Wall’

Last Writes

Of course, “there will be tears.” Ginny Peterson-Tenant notes that there will always be significant hurdles to overcome-both institutional and personal. Recruitment of candidates who can run the full and rigorous course of the CGC program is one challenge. Another challenge is to align the learning activities within the schedule at the College — such things as conflicting blocks can impact the time con-

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July 2006

International Education

straints of students. She also advised, “The CGC takes a great deal of nurturance. Just because you build it, this does not mean they will come. This isViews a project, but a process.” World a not just It is the sentiment in the heart of many Americans — to take down barriers. Small steps, which may climb high mountains, are being taken at Miami Dade College to positively affect this heartfelt, universal goal. As Michael Lenaghan infuses the important subject with humor: “I used to be called an FBI — Foreign Born Irish. Now I’ve become CIA — Caribbean Irish American.” And that is a testament to how much the wall has fallen — and how much further it will crumble under humanitarian programs such as the CGC.

Kyriakides Endowed Teaching Chair Professor in the Social Science Department and The Honors College at Miami Dade College. He is a Fulbright Senior Specialist Fellow and a Rotary International University Teaching Fellow India, as well as recent recipient of several National Endowment of the Humanities American History Landmark Summer Workshop appointments, in 2005 and 2006. Myra M. Medina holds degrees from Rhode Island College (BA and M.Ed.) and is currently a doctoral student. She is the American Express Endowed Teaching Chair Professor in the Last Writes ESL Department of & Foreign Languages. She has received recognitions from the University of Texas at Austin, Rhode Island College, and Critica Literaria Dominicana Sobre Escritoras Hispanoamericanas. A published writer in English and Spanish, Medina is a member of the editorial board of Baquiana, a prestigious literary journal. She has been featured in Who’s Who Among American Teachers and The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education. Steven Donahue, features editor at Language Magazine, and an assistant professor at Miami Dade College, has avidly followed the Creating Global Citizen project, and collaborated with his colleagues on this article.

Bransford, J.D.; Brown, A.L., and Cocking, P.R. (eds.) (2000). How people Learn, Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, National Research Council/National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. Foreign Language Education (n.d.). National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), 11(9). Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. NY: Basic Books. Goleman, D. (1997). Emotional Intelligence. NY: Bantam Books. Grosse, C. U. (2005). The competitive advantage. Thunderbird Magazine, p. 44. Klein, T. (2000, July/August). From classroom to learning community: One Professor’s Reflections. About Campus, 12-19. MacGregor, J.T. (1990). Collaborative learning: Shared inquiry as a process of reform. In M. D. Svinicki (Ed.), The changing face of college teaching: New directions for teaching and learning. 42, p. 19-30. Smith, B. L. and Hunter, M. R. (1988). Learning communities: A paradigm for educational revitalization. Community College Review, 15 (4), 45-51. The Center for Applied Linguistics (1997). Retrieved May 18, 2006, from The National Center for Statistics (2006). Retrieved May 18, 2006, from The State of Foreign Language Capabilites in National Security and the Federal Government (2000). Committee on Governmental Affairs United States Senate. Retrieved May 18, 2006, from

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Ginny Peterson Tennant holds degrees from the University of Dayton (BA), Rider University (MA) and she is ABD in her doctoral program in Counseling, Education, and Leadership at Barry University. She teaches psychology in the Social Science Department at Miami Dade College. She is the recipient of three LILT Golden Apple Grants and has been recently selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities American History and Culture Landmark Summer Workshop for 2006. She is published in the field of counseling and the family. Michael J. Lenaghan holds degrees from Georgetown University (BSFS and MA) and Virginia Tech (CAGS and Ed.D.). He is a
July 2006

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