Faculty Travel Abroad to Make an Impact at Home

Ford Cuba Walk
November 14, 2018

Seeking to widen their knowledge of international health and education systems, two St. John’s University faculty members traveled abroad this summer to attend International Faculty Development Seminars offered by the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE).

Sue M. Ford, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, traveled to Cuba to study that country’s healthcare system; while her colleague, Xiaojun (June) Chen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The School of Education, made the trip to Spain to explore its education system.

Their trips were made possible through a grant from St. John’s in collaboration with CIEE, an organization that offers exchange programs to students and faculty around the world.

In Havana, Dr. Ford learned about the history of Cuba, as well as speculation about its future, by participating in lectures and interactive sessions about that country’s economics, culture, and emerging public-private partnerships. Of particular interest to Dr. Ford was the Cuban healthcare system, the role of international health issues in Cuba, and the economy of the country.

“This experience has invigorated my interest in global concerns,” she said. “It will be a great springboard for me to expand the international perspective of my courses, as well as my professional development.”

During Dr. Chen’s trip to Spain, she had the opportunity to meet and work with faculty members and administrative staff from different institutions in that country. Over the course of a week, she conducted cross-cultural projects in Madrid’s urban environment, as well as in more rural areas, such as Segovia. Dr. Chen discovered tools and activities that she can use to engage students at different stages of their journeys.

“Not only will the strategies I learned help St. John’s study abroad students, but they can also be used to enhance our students’ cross-cultural understanding,” she said. “This will help prepare students by increasing their intercultural awareness.”