I thought I was on to something 13 years ago when a very bright twenty-two year old educator showed some first graders I was working with how they could talk, sing and dance with first graders in Vanuatu, Indonesia using Skype. Since that time, I have worked with faculty and students in dozens of countries to connect with each other to not just talk and dance, but to problem-solve and take action together on social issues. I recently received a Fulbright- Nehru Fellowship to come to India for nine months and teach, using these international collaborative strategies and coach faculty at the Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS), as well as with other universities in South-central Asia. Pretty heady stuff.
So a few days ago I boarded my plane, with twenty-one hours of flight time to kill, and decide to pull out an article my long-time friend, Andrea, sent me in the mail just before I left. I have known her and her husband Alan for decades and they are wise beyond their years, which is no easy task, given that they are both pushing ninety.
The article is about the rebirth of the first university in the world, Nalanda that began in the 6th century here in India, not far from CUTS. In fact, the university in which I am to now teach and advise faculty is rooted in this very same Nalanda University, both built around Buddhist philosophy. Nalanda University was guided at its core by the importance of international collaborative learning, and drew students from around the world; Korea, China, etc.
It’s true that the university got destroyed by Turkish invaders back in the 13th century, but it has now been rebuilt in this very rural, very poor original community, carrying on that same international education.
Ok, so, they have a few centuries head start on me in this international collaboration field, but did they have Skype? .
I hope someday I will be wise beyond my years too. But today, I feel I have a lot of catching up to do.