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Indiana State to host K-12 international education forum on May 12

April 7, 2015

Indiana shares its borders with Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio, but its competitiveness in a global market depends far more on its connections with such places as China and India.

For the U.S. economy to thrive, students at home will need much more in the way of an international education at the K-12 level - including foreign languages and cultural lessons. Those subjects will be the topic of discussion for public school administrators, state officials and business leaders at the Hoosier Successes in the Global Workplace Forum at Indiana State University on May 12.

"In the U.S., I think businesspeople don't always feel their employees have a global view and once the companies become globally competitive, they want their employees to have at least some knowledge or experience with other cultures," said Karen Liu, professor in the department of elementary, early and special education at the Bayh College of Education who was instrumental in bringing the forum to campus.

One of a series programs being hosted across the state by the Indiana Department of Education, the forum is a collaborative effort between ISU's Center for Global Engagement, Bayh College of Education and the Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Council, the Asia Society's Partnership for Global Learning, Indiana University Center for the Study of Global Change and Area Studies Centers, and with support from the Longview Foundation for World Affairs and International Understanding.

"It's not just about languages. We want our students to be aware, sensitive and have experience dealing with perspectives from a lot of cultures around the world," said Chris McGrew, director of the Center for Global Engagement. "We want students to be interested in other cultures and comfortable with people from different cultural perspectives. Some K-12 schools are doing amazing things and it is important to recognize what these public schools are doing and empower other schools to follow suit."

Among the program's speakers, beginning at 9 a.m. in Hulman Memorial Student Union, Dede I, will be: keynote speaker Mike Alley, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Revenue and former chair of Indiana State's board of trustees; Glenda Ritz, Indiana superintendent of public instruction; Caterina Blitzer, IDOE global learning world languages specialist; and Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean of the Bayh College.

"We really need to provide an opportunity for students to get excited and global education so often provides that exciting spark," McGrew said. "We want the education leaders, the business leaders and the practitioners with the resources to exchange business cards and to be thinking about what the reality is in their situation and how they can use someone they met at this forum to try something new."

The first of two panels will involve Wabash Valley graduates and Steve Witt, president of Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., who will discuss preparing students for success in a global economy.

A second panel will address resources available to K-12 schools to teach global competencies. Panelists will include: Hilary Kahn, director of the Indiana University Center for the Study of Global Change/Title VI Consortium, Jeff Hauswald, Kokomo-Center School superintendent, and Dan Wilson, principal at Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center in the Metropolitan School District Wayne Township in Indianapolis.

Following a lunch reflection and guided discussion, recommendations will be made for advancing global competencies in Wabash Valley schools.

"We wanted to organize the forum to stress the importance of infusing global content into the K-12 public school system to administrators and other school leaders," said Liu, who serves as a board member with the Chinese School of Wabash Valley - a nonprofit organization that introduces Chinese language and culture to Wabash Valley residents and helps schools assess language offerings.

After the state held a similar event last year in Indianapolis, Liu said board members at the Chinese School talked with Terre Haute businesspeople and people associated with the regional economic development about language training or workshops the school could provide to help them as they do business in China.

"Public schools need to focus on providing students with a global view by infusing a global perspective into what they teach, especially at the high school level," she said. "Hopefully, schools will start looking at their offerings and see if they need to include more language or cultural learning in the curriculum, so students become global citizens. We are all global citizens and we can't continue to live in only our zone."

Registration is free, but is limited and on a first come, first serve basis. To register, contact Caterina Blitzer at cblitzer@doe.in.gov or call 317-232-9175 no later than May 4.

Contact: Karen Liu, professor in the department of elementary, early and special education at the Bayh College of Education, karen.liu@indstate.edu

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or betsy.simon@indstate.edu

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Registration is free, but is limited and on a first come, first serve basis. Register by contacting Caterina Blitzer at cblitzer@doe.in.gov or calling 317-232-9175 no later than May 4.

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