Higher education can come in many different forms, one of them being community colleges. Many countries however, don’t offer community college educations or the ones they do have are incredibly small and don’t have much room for students to grow. That’s why this semester there are five professors visiting from Pakistan and one professor at UMKC as part of the mentoring program to develop different departments at their own college.
Pakistan is just now starting to build up some of their community colleges, but since the colleges are still in their infancy it can be a struggle to figure out how to grow certain departments. The Sukkur Institute of Business Administration (Sukkur IBA) was in need of a sister community college to help grow their school so the organization Community Colleges for International Development reached out to JCCC to help Sukkur IBA. The college has since been helping Sukkur IBA with any issues they had as they built the community college in Pakistan. Then came the idea to create a grant project that would allow professors from Sukkur IBA to come to JCCC for a semester and learn hands-on in different departments.
“Education is a big tool for peace-building in Pakistan,” Jannette Jasperson, Coordinator of International Education, said. “We are indirectly trying to contribute to that, to helping build peace in Pakistan. And for ourselves, there’s so much rhetoric right now in our national election about immigrants and people from other cultures and other religions and we too need to be confronted with human faces and not stereotypes.”
The visiting professors are getting hands-on experience with their mentors in each department. The professors visit other colleges as well and go to lectures that focus on their department, learn from the professors at the college and work directly with students to get a better idea of how community colleges in America work. For visiting professor Surhan Fatima, working as a tutor has been one of the best experiences she’s had while on campus.
“Since I am a teacher, the shift from an all-powerful and authoritative teacher to a facilitating and helpful tutor was an exciting experience,” Fatima said. “I love tutoring. Seeing a student do his work with a little help, leading and motivation is one of the best feelings one can have. I am thrilled to meet different students every day with different things to work on.”
While they are here, the professors have been keeping themselves busy by enjoying Royals games, local cuisine and conferences that focus on their specialities in their career fields. The professors will also be speaking at the Peacebuilding conference at the college on November 5 and travelling to Washington D.C. to attend a national peacebuilding conference. The professors want to show how education has made a difference for them and how it can bring peace to Pakistan when they go back.
“We had some perceptions about American culture and people, and those are gone,” visiting professor Dr. Zarqa Bano said. “We have seen them from a different perspective from being here and that is a positive thing.”
The thing that has taken everyone involved in the program by surprise is the ability to connect to the others, no matter their culture. The visiting professors and their mentors have been able to connect on the similarities in their country, their way of educating and who they are as people. The one-on-one work has created stronger bonds and a better understanding of each other.
“Everyone comes into these situations with ideas about the people they’re going to meet or about the countries,” director of the assessment center, Dr. Sherri Barrett said. “And really countries don’t represent anything. Countries are made of individuals and so getting to spend one-on-one time with an individual and learn about their country, along with the academic side to all of this, has been probably one of the best experiences.”
The following Pakistani professors are learning about each department and how they operate with their mentors at the college:
- Imran Khan in the Assessment Center with Dr. Sheri Barrett
- Surhan Fatima in the Writing Center with Dr. Kathryn Byrne
- Dr. Zarqa Bano in the Math Resource Center with Brett Cooper
- Dr. Fida Chang in the Distance Learning with Ed Lovitt
- Ishfaque Abbasi in the English Department with Dr. Keith Geekie
- Shairoz at UMKC in the Early Childhood Education Department