Friday, October 17, 2008

Meeting with Argentine Educators

October 14, 2008

As I mentioned in Monday's blog, our presentation went so well that we received applause. After the presentation, the director of the Nueva Escuela de Diseno y Comunicacion walked up to me and said that he was very interested in discussing possible faculty or student exchanges with us. We talked for about twenty minutes or so and we made an appointment to tour the College today at 18:00 (6:00 p.m.) and discuss possible exchanges. The meeting went very well and we even agreed that some faculty visits would be the best way to initiate our exchanges. We left a "memorandum of understanding" with them to be used as a starting point for our future discussions. We met with the founder of the college, the director, and two other administrators who make the key decisions there. We were quite thrilled to make such a close connection with a College so quickly.

Today we also participated in meetings and conferences at the following places: The Ministry of Education, The National Technological Education Institute, and the National Academy of Education. We made many good contacts and learned a great deal about the Argentine educational system.

A truly remarkable coincidence occurred this morning. In the Intercontinental Hotel lobby, Dr. Nichols ran into Millard Oakley, a member of the Board of Regents. Neither one knew that the other one was going to be in South America, much less Buenos Aires, Argentina! (I might add that Dr. Nichols and Dr. Espey ran into Chancellor Charles Manning in the Nashville airport last Friday shortly before we departed.) It truly is becoming a "small world!"

Oct. 15, 2008

This morning we flew to Salta, Argentina. After lunch, we checked into the Sheraton Salta Hotel and had a meeting in the Salta Governor House (Centro Civico Gran Bourg). Once again we were able to learn more about the Argentine educational system and make some meaningful contacts. Among other top-ranking officials of Salta, we met with the Minister of Education. He spoke very little English, so it was delightful to see his eyes light up when he saw that we had our materials translated into Spanish. We were the only College that prepared so many materials in Spanish, so it has been like a breath of fresh air for both the high-ranking officials and the College administrators to read about our College in their native language with the brochure that we created as well as be able to view a Spanish-language DVD. Later in the day we visited the Provincial Institute of Technology Education (UFIDET) and toured the premises and came to yet a deeper understanding of how the educational system in Argentina is set up. We continue to be optimistic about being able to set up some truly wonderful exchanges with some Argentine educational institutions.

Dr. Nichols is joined in this picture by the three presidents of the other colleges represented here, and the Director of the Instituto Nacional de Educacion Tecnologica.

October 16, 2008

Today we had the opportunity to visit the Universidad Catolica de Salta (Catholic University of Salta.) We were very impressed with this University and can see many potential opportunities for exchanges. We had meaningful dialogues with both the rector and vice-rector of the University along with most of the head faculty members. Again, our ability to communicate in Spanish has made a big difference. While the rector could speak some English, he still was much more comfortable speaking Spanish with us. In addition, the vice-rector essentially didn't speak English at all so it was invaluable to still be able to get his insights on educational matters along with promoting our college to him. Our Spanish DVD again came in handy as we were able to show it to the faculty and staff in the room.

As you will see from the photos that I am sending, the culture of Argentina is truly fascinating. As you walk around, you inevitably will experience amazing music and dance ranging from traditional to more contemporary styles. The architecture is spectacular on many of the historic buildings, the cathedrals are breathtaking, and the plazas are semingly always filled with activity. The food is outstanding and everyone we have met has been very friendly. It would be difficult for me to imagine anyone not enjoying a visit here.

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