Wednesday December 7, 2016

Meet our new TAGS Faculty Fellow

As the university undergoes its strategic visioning process, President Spina asked in his October weekly reflection, “As the significance of intercultural capabilities and global perspectives continue to grow, what should UD do in the coming 20 years to advance students’ global and intercultural learning?” This is a topic oftened discuss in higher education as it impacts not only students, but those that teach and support students throughout their time at UD.  In fall 2016, the university supported the creation of a Teaching a Global Student Community (TAGS) Faculty Fellow, charged to work with faculty to advance intercultural and global learning.  Suki Kwon, faculty in the Art & Design department, accepted the invitation to serve in this two- to three-year appointment.

Suki’s personal and professional journey has shaped her care for intercultural education and influenced her interest in this work.  Originally from Korea, Suki came to the U.S. as an international student.  The youngest of three, Suki was the first of her siblings to take the leap towards traveling across the world on her own.  Prior to coming to the U.S. she spent one-year in London, studying English and traveling throughout Europe.  Suki comments that her time in London was transformative, because of the exposure she had to diverse peoples from around the world.  Also, at this time, Suki became aware of her calling to pursue studies in design. 

While in the U.S., Suki studied psychology and design at the University of Iowa.  During her graduate studies she had the opportunity to work as a GA in the International Office.  Here, she recognized her ability to empathize with the experience of students who were adjusting to a new culture.  Prior to graduation she lived in Japan, on scholarship, studying design from a uniquely distinct cultural perspective.  Suki is now trilingual, fluent in Korean, English, and Japanese.  When asked why she chose the University of Iowa Suki commented on how integrative the program was-recruiting students from many disciplines and advocating the study of design from diverse angles. 

While at UD, Suki has supported internationalization in a number of ways, completing her sabbatical in China and teaching UD students while in China.  In 2011, she participated in the Global Education Seminar, focusing her efforts on deepening her understanding of the historical context of the country.  As a result, she is currently working on an education abroad program targeting design and business majors. 

As an international faculty member, Suki discussed her journey towards tenure, a naturally rigorous time in which faculty from abroad often have additional obstacles they face throughout the process.  Recently, Suki created a group called Foreign Born Female Faculty (FBFF), to create a supportive group that mentors each other through the tenure process.  Given her experiences as a student and faculty, Suki speaks to her gained awareness of the cultural misunderstandings taking place in the classroom.  In her curriculum she intentionally highlights the diversity amongst her students by connecting it back to student projects.  Understanding that not all students have the opportunity to travel, she shared the great cultural asset international students bring to a class.

In her TAGS Faculty Fellow appointment, Suki hopes to continue engaging with faculty and providing support.  When asked why the work she does is important, Suki said, “The world is well-connected and intercultural competency is becoming a necessity [not just a passion or interest] in order for our students to compete in a global market.” 

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