May 29, 2019 – Davidson County Community College and Russia’s cultural capital of Saint Petersburg stand 4,733 miles apart. Physical distance seems to dwarf in comparison to the long, complex history of cold war and current political tension between the two nations. Despite this distance and difference, one DCCC faculty member ventured beyond the once-iron curtain to build a network of international collaboration and connection.
In an effort to forge educational understanding and cooperation, Timothy Gwillim, Associate Dean of Arts, Science and Education, explored 15 Russian colleges and universities. Four U.S. community college leaders from across the country joined him for this two week trip in April.
“Going to Moscow and standing in Red Square is something I never thought I would do,” Gwillim said. “It was so surreal.”
The experience was funded as part of the Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar award. The Fulbright Scholar program is an extension of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Gwillim is the third DCCC leader to receive this award, following International Education Director Suzanne LaVenture and former president Dr. Mary Rittling.
The trip began in Saint Petersburg, with participants later traveling to Tver and ending in Moscow. With each institutional visit, Gwillim and his peers shared best practices and policies with their Russian counterparts. These included methods to internationalize community college campuses, broaden the scope of various programs to meet local needs and provide mobility opportunities.
While Russia is just one of the countries open to travel as part of the award, it is designed to address the specific characteristics and challenges of community colleges. Though traditionally reserved for four-year colleges and universities, DCCC has been recognized for its international perspective hosting Fulbright Scholars on campus for the past 10 years as well as study abroad opportunities for students since the early 2000s.
“In order to provide students with a global mindset, we need faculty and staff who continue to be actively engaged and intentionally connected to a global world,” DCCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Margaret Annunziata said. “Forging international connections, building relationships and sharing strategies for better student outcomes are priorities we take very seriously at DCCC. This intentional focus on cooperation and collaboration not only gives our students a competitive advantage, but brings the world back to our campus.”
So despite the challenge of thousands of miles and decades of political turmoil, it seems the shared vision of international cooperation and educational opportunity cannot be broken.
“I had a good idea of what would happen during this trip. Yet traveling to Russia reinforced the value of providing our students opportunities to become global citizens more than I could have ever predicted,” Gwillim said.
About Davidson County Community College
Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is a fully accredited, multi-campus college where students of all ages and backgrounds pursue academic and career-focused education in order to build successful futures. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers more than 40 degree and professional certificate programs to students in Davidson and Davie counties, as well as affordable college-credit coursework to students who plan to transfer to 4-year universities. With a mission to serve the changing needs of students competing in a global environment, DCCC is committed to quality education, innovative and equitable learning experiences, training, and support across a wide range of 21st-century career fields. Visit Davidson County Community College at DavidsonCCC.edu.
Davidson County Community College