International experiences make big impact on Marietta's EMA faculty

This past summer, seven professors from Marietta College's EMA (Economics, Management and Accounting) Department each separately traveled internationally to teach, learn, and experience new cultures. Although for some these were return trips, the experiences and knowledge that they gained were new.

Associate Professor Grace Johnson, McCoy Professor of Management and Accounting, traveled to China. The main purpose for her trip was to gather information for a research project dealing with the Chinese government?s policies to promote business and economic development in its western provinces.

The research was in addition to a presentation she made at the inaugural conference of the Consortium for Western China Development Studies at Sichuan University in June. She also had the chance to teach Business English to Tourism students at Marietta?s sister school in China, Southwest University of Economics and Finance.

Dr. Jacqueline Khorassani went to the Universidade Metodista de Piracicaba (UNIMEP) in Brazil. She had previously traveled to China three separate times and welcomed the opportunity to travel to a new country to teach. While at UNIMEP Khorassani taught economics and visited various sites in Brazil.

Professor Fraser MacHaffie accompanied Dr. Richard Danford and a group of students to Juiz de Fora in the state of Minas Gerais where Marietta College has an exchange agreement with Granbery College. He was there not only to improve his Portuguese, but he was also working as Coordinator of Latin American Studies finalizing an exchange agreement for students and faculty of Marietta and Granbery.

MacHaffie said he truly values the experiences he gains when visiting new places.

"By visiting another country, we not only develop a greater understanding of other cultures and possibly benefit from what they have to offer, but we also learn more about the United States," he said.

Dr. Michael Taylor traveled to China in order to help Chinese students get their visas in order to come and study at Marietta College. He worked in the Beijing office and visited with Chinese colleagues who had taught at Marietta in the past. He also met with current and prospective Chinese students and their families.

Dr. Greg Delemeester was hired by Ohio University to teach two upper level courses in Hong Kong: Labor Economics and Environmental Economics. These two courses were elective offerings as a part of Ohio University?s Hong Kong program.

Professor Edward Osborne visited two universities in Thailand, Bangkok University and Payap University in Chiang Mai. The primary motivation for his visit was to arrange contacts with Thai universities. Osborne's goal was to provide future international opportunities for both Marietta College faculty and students.

Dr. Mark Bagshaw went to China and conducted research in the Suzhou Industrial Park near Shanghai for about five months. He also taught MBA students at the University of Science and Technology of China at the Suzhou campus of USTC.

The international experience gave the professors a unique perspective on the world and teaching in the classroom. For some, the experience provided motivation to return to the country they had visited. Khorassani is enrolled in a Portuguese class and plans to return to Brazil to teach in the future. Johnson has been to China four times within the past seven years and explained her trips as an ongoing educational experience.

"Each time I leave China, I return to the States with more questions about the Chinese culture. The more you learn, the better able you are to form questions. You pay attention to everything. . . . I came to the conclusion that I will be a student of China for the rest of my life," Johnson said.

Osborne reflected on the importance of his trip and explained that international travel, especially to non-western countries, can give a traveler a new appreciation for diversity.

"Westerners who experience what it is like to be in the minority while traveling in non-western countries gain a refreshing outlook on the treatment of, and respect for, minorities in their home country," Osborne said.

Traveling abroad also gave the professors a chance to learn things to bring back to their classes.

While in Brazil, Khorassani explained the unique class atmosphere of the students at UNIMEP. The students worked on a casual schedule and were more informal in the classroom setting. The informality gave way for a greater interaction between teacher and student. MacHaffie learned about the Brazilian views on politics of the United States.

"Brazilians like Americans as individuals and admire the U.S., but are very troubled by the assumptions of the current administration in Washington," MacHaffie said.

In Hong Kong, Delemeester said that students were no different than here in the U.S. However, he did have to pay attention to using slang terms. He made a reference to rock 'n' roll but it didn't conjure up the same response that it probably would have in the United States.

"Students are the same everywhere -- most are looking for the path of least resistance," Delemeester said.
Most importantly, the professors expressed the importance of traveling internationally.

"It is extremely important," Delemeester said. "There's nothing better than first-hand experience with the way the rest of the world works and thinks. To neglect the opportunities offered by our global neighbors is to relegate oneself to a less rewarding life. International exchange, whether in terms of goods and services or ideas, is the fountain of wealth."