Global Connections | Eastern North Carolina Now | Leibowitz receives Fulbright Global Scholar award for virtual exchange program

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    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Jules Norwood.

Dr. Jami Leibowitz has received a Fulbright U.S. Global Scholar Program award to develop avenues for cultural exchange between East Carolina University and universities in Indonesia, Namibia and Kazakhstan. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

    East Carolina University's Dr. Jami Leibowitz, associate director of global affairs, has received a Fulbright U.S. Global Scholar Program award from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She will visit three countries in the coming semesters, developing connections and opportunities for high-impact international education through virtual exchange.

    Leibowitz serves as chair of an organization called Global Partners in Education, based at ECU, which has more than 49 partner institutions in 31 countries.

    "We want to provide students both here and at our partner institutions with opportunities to build intercultural skills, communication and collaboration by working directly and having direct experience with international students," Leibowitz said.

    By connecting virtually with students in other countries using ECU's global classrooms, the program provides an international experience for students who might not be able to study abroad and allows them to connect with students in places that aren't likely study abroad destinations.

    Leibowitz said the ability to collaborate with students from other cultures, building an understanding of cultural differences, is an important skill in an increasingly connected world. Many students come in as freshmen and may have never left eastern North Carolina, she said.

    "They don't know what to expect and have all these stereotypes and ideas about people from around the world. And they come in, they're quiet, they're shy, they're uncomfortable," she said. "And over the semester, they just blossom.

    "They're interested and curious about the people on the other side, and it expands beyond just the people that we're working with. ... It really does help them to prepare regardless of whether they stay in Greenville, or move to New York or live in Shanghai. They need those skills because they're going to be working with diverse people, even back in their own neighborhoods."

    Through her work with virtual exchange programs around the world, she realized that there were certain regions and groups that were underrepresented. Through the Fulbright U.S. Global Scholar Program, she will visit host institutions in three countries - Indonesia, Namibia and Kazakhstan - spending two months in each country to help them build the capacity for virtual exchange.

    This fall, she'll be at Universitas Airlangga in Surabaya, Indonesia.

    "I'll be working with Ewa Silver's class in history," Leibowitz said. "She'll be the instructor here, and I'll be the instructor in Indonesia. ... We'll agree on what we're going to talk about, and we work together to define how that goes."

    In the spring she'll work with the Namibian University of Science and Technology in Windhoek, Namibia, and next fall she'll visit Yessenov University in Aktau, Kazakhstan. In addition to leading the collaboration between classes at ECU and the host institutions, she will run workshops on virtual exchange and help familiarize their faculty with the program.

    During the trip, Leibowitz said she's also excited to see firsthand what other institutions are doing with technology and international education.

    "Some of them are doing some unique things that aren't exactly virtual exchange, but are still really innovative and interesting, connecting with institutions in other countries," she said.

    "Dr. Leibowitz's work through Global Partners in Education is a great example of ECU's commitment to providing unique and impactful educational experiences to our students," Chancellor Philip Rogers said. "This prestigious award serves as recognition of that effort, and her project to develop new partnerships within the program will help elevate the perception of ECU on the global stage."

    The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. Leibowitz is among over 800 U.S. citizens who will conduct research or teach abroad during the 2022-2023 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Fulbrighters engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions.
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