A little known fact here at NOVA is that the Office of International Education and Sponsored Programs (OIESP) influences students who find their way here from abroad, and OIESP regularly hosts essential delegations from every corner of the world.
In 2019, OIESP hosted more than 20 delegations brought to us by the prestigious Fulbright program, the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State, and various universities and technical colleges from around the world.
Among those who visited last year were delegations from Russia (2), China (3), Morocco, a group of high school students from Myanmar, an Australian government North American study tour, the Association of University Administrators U.S. study tour out of Sheffield, UK, a group from Cameroon and one from Moldova, groups from India, Nepal (2), Saudi Arabia, Peru (2) and several groups from the Department of State’s Foreign Press Center and Fulbright Program, which consisted of participants from all over the world.
In 2018, a group of high school-aged North Korean defectors visited NOVA to learn about the benefits of a community college education and the personal freedoms from having a college degree. The visit had a direct and positive impact! People around the world fight for their freedom. When that freedom is achieved, they set out immediately to improve their chances of success through education.
NOVA’s Office of International Education & Sponsored Programs works throughout the year to build partnerships with governmental and non-governmental agencies such as the State Department, Fulbright, and others to spread the word of the “2+2 model” of higher education—i.e., two years at a community college; plus two years at a four-year college seeking a baccalaureate degree or beyond.
What does NOVA offer that entices educators to come from around the world to learn about it? The two-year community college system is somewhat of a novelty in many countries. In many regions of the world, a college education is reserved only for the wealthy elite, and it is unattainable by families without money, prestige, or power. However, NOVA offers a community college education for everyone – regardless of social standing or financial means. That education serves as a launchpad for great educational and professional advancement for hundreds of thousands worldwide.
NOVA OIE staff members Stacey Bustillos, associate director of international student services and outreach; Leeza Fernand, associate director for program planning and initiatives and Syedur Rahman, associate vice president, focus on building and nurturing these relationships to spread the word that education changes the trajectory of a person’s life, and that community colleges make an education available to everyone who wants to work to achieve it. NOVA’s door is always open to government officials, higher education administrators, and prospective students from around the world who wish to learn about the community college model and how to help students in their countries achieve freedom and independence through higher education.