Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Anticipating GPP Travels

Global Perspectives Program

As our cohort's itineraries formalize, I am beginning to recognize the logistical demands of the trip.
For the group, I anticipate someone being very late at some point. Given the size of our group and the many points of departure/entry, avoiding all such incidents would be a remarkable achievement.
For individuals, packing an appropriate array of attire, without over-packing seems to be a challenge. Hopefully I can find a suit-jacket which is multi-functional.

As of now, I hope to enter or leave Europe via Istanbul. Most flights to Germany and Zurich go through Istanbul to or/from Zurich. Aside from the logistical considerations, I hope that seeing such a diverse range of nations and peoples will be informative, particularity in light of recent developments in European politics. From a historical perspective, Vienna and Istanbul are culturally rich and storied cities, spanning back thousands of years (if under different names). This exacerbates the packing and logistical considerations above.
As an experienced traveler, I think I am up for the adventure. All the more room for personal growth!

On a final note, I am surprised to learn  the substantive differences between American and European high-ed. As I understand it, doctoral students in Germany can work directly with a professor, having little institutional involvement. Given the extent of formalized application, including exams like the GRE and all the bureaucratic elements of degree-completion in the US, this is very surprising. While it probably dramatically reduces the extraneous burdens imposed on faculty and graduate students, the lack of institutional over-sight also risks potential abuses of power, as graduate students are in relative isolation and little little power in relation to their mentor.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Reflection on GPP Meeting One

A few highlights struck me during our first meeting for the Virginia Tech, Global Perspectives Program.  Foremost, it was clear that the room was full of motivated, dynamic people. One person was in NYC at the Grammys, others were traveling for professional reasons, and I, among others, could not attend the full meeting due to other commitments.  This group is clearly capable and productive.

The next event that struck me was the level of trust exhibited towards us by Dean DePauw. She said, "meet me at 3pm on May 27th at the hotel in Zurich" [roughly]. As a traveler, I very much appreciated this expectation/respect. As a cohort of motivated and competent Doctoral students, it seems appropriate to entrust travel to us. I do expect some complications, but I'm sure we'll manage.

Finally, the efficiency of scheduling regular meetings was remarkable. With so many people and competing schedules, it was a wonder that we found a common time quickly, and without the need to use a Doodle poll or any other technology.  I can already sense the energy that this cohort has, and I'm excited to see us operate as a team across Europe.