Thursday, October 11, 2012

From Winston-Salem, to Chicago, to Beijing and beyond!

I am currently in route to Beijing China.  With WFU banners in tow, display table runners, small hospitality gifts (branded of course with the full name WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY), and two boxes of business cards, I am off to spend over three weeks traveling through China.  I will be visiting over 25 Chinese high schools, interviewing students who want to study at WFU, making new friends, and learning more about education reform in China.  Wake Forest University continues to find opportunities for educational programs and collaborative ventures with high schools and colleges/universities in China.

Because this blog is part of the Google family, I am not confident that I will be able to continue these musings once I arrive in China.  Compatibility between China and Google, as you know, is not always available.   If you do discover that there are blank notations, please rest assured that as soon as I can make connection I will continue to make these records.  I will be traveling all across China looking for the brightest and best Chinese students to come to Wake Forest University.  I will return to the United States November 1.

I hope to see you here before then.   You can reach me:  I will be checking email and keeping up with correspondence.

Onward  . . . . . .. . . . . .

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Home for a few days, then to China on Thursday!

Arrived home late Thursday evening.  Preparing to leave for China early next Thursday morning.   Will have more stories to share from the road.  Stay tuned here. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WFU at the Lycee Francais in Uccle, Belgium

Another adventure this morning! I was invited to speak to the American Literature class of Madame Karine Salek at the Lycee Francais Jean Monnet in Uccle, Belgium. I left Waterloo,where I am staying, with taxi driver and now my new friend, Woytek, who came to Belgium from Poland several years ago. Fortunate for me, Woytek,knows the back streets well and manages to deposit me at the right address and the right time. We also have French lessons on the way. Woytek speaks Polish, Russian, Dutch,French,and thank goodness, English. This morning's ride and language tutorial was especially important because of this exclusive invitation to visit a very influential French school in Belgium who belongs to a host of other French school across the world, including Shanghai! Their focus has traditionally been to send their high school students to France, or maybe England, but not the USA. To receive this invitation for WFU was not to be declined. But I needed to at least begin my presentation in French. You know how French speakers are to English speakers. So we practiced in the taxi. When I met the headmistress of the school, I could at least introduce myself and respond with a greeting in French. It was very important to at least try--it always is. But the strange part of this Belgium morning spent in this famous French school was that I was speaking in their Chinese language classroom. And these beautiful European faces, with the blond hair and blue eyes, along with the jet black hair and dark eyes and their tall noses, could speak Chinese. And when we could not uderstand the word--spoken in English or French, we reverted to spoken or written Mandarin. Is the coming,future, lingua Franca of the new world going to be Chinese???? It certainly seemed like it this morning! Who knows? If so, as Americans we certainly need to be willing to engage the world in whatever language. And as WFU takes its place as an international educational community, we need more students to come to us who see the world through not just one language, but many tongues, including French and Mandarin. Onwards. Heading home to North Carolina tomorrow, where I can rest my head and my tongue, check on my dear family and friends, and change suitcases. Heading to China next week--there the words come easier than French. I can understand and be understood. C'est bon! Tres bien! Hen Hau! Onward we go...........

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

WFU in Belgium

The Chateau--International School of Brussels

The taxi entered through a security gate, announced my name, and we entered. A lovely, imposing European chateau was in front of us. With imagination, I could see the eighteenth-century carriages waiting for the powdered-wig and silk-bustled mesdames and messieurs to descend the steps and enter their waiting coach for a ride through the forests. In another glance,what I saw was an universal end of the school day event--laughing kids hanging out on the front steps of their school waiting to go home at the end of a long day. This was the International School of Brussels (ISB). This school located in the middle of a most beautiful forest hosted the Fulbright College Fair last night. Ninety-nine USA colleges/universities were there, and over 700 European students, American students from expat families,teachers,and administrators were there. Education USA taped a 10-minute spot about Wake Forest University for their European marketing. They also asked for another 10-minute advertisement about WFU in Mandarin Chinese. I was happy to both. But wandering around Belgium these four days, I realize that to do well here I really need to work on my French and Dutch. Thank goodness for some patient French teachers in high school and college I can muddle through. But alas, Dutch---I have no idea. But this is the reality of last night--just about every third culture student I met could speak all three--French, Dutch,and English. We invite them to consider WFU! It's a big world out here!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Looking back on London--tea with Marie-Anne Duncan

Left London last night. Before leaving I had afternoon tea with one of our new WFU families--the Duncans of Kensington. I met them last year while visiting in London. They were introduced to WFU at the Fulbright Fair in Kensington. Because of that evening their son Pierre decided to apply to WFU, was accepted, and then was enrolled in the entering class of 2012!   And this year, while Dad Matt is visiting Pierre and WFU for Parents Weekend, I have opportunity to have tea with Mom Marie-Anne in their lovely home in Kensington.  Pierre, she reports, is loving WFU--everything about it!

One of the most delightful parts of my work is meeting our WFU parents--especially our international ones. Pierre's mother is from France. In her kitchen in her beautiful traditional British home, she has three huge clocks positioned on the wall in order to keep up with her international family.  One clock keeps time for the oldest daughter who is studying at USC-California. The second one holds time for Pierre, Eastern Standard Demon Deacon time. The third clock holds the time for the family in London,especially for the youngest daughter,Claire who attends the French high school in London. More and more international families are calling Wake Forest University home. Pierre Duncan and his family have made the connection to North Carolina time from Paris and London.  From France, from the United Kingdom, from China, from India, from the Middle East---our new students and their families are connecting to Deacon time. And it is about time!  

It's Deacon Time in London at the home of Matt and Marie Anne Duncan in Kensington, London!

In Brussels

I am in Brussels, Belgium preparing to represent Wake Forest University at The Fulbright College Fair at the International School in Brussels tonight. I am looking forward to a breakfast meeting with our USA Ambassador Gutman in the morning. Ambassador Gutman is a friend to USA higher education and is very interested in WFU.  One of the reasons we are finding Belgium to be such a warm and receptive place is due in no small measure to the hard work of Ambassador Gutman.  Our USA Ambassador is truly a public servant; he has visited 479 cities, towns, villages in Belgium.  Where there was no town center, he has literally knocked on the door of the house and introduced himself to the owner.  They love him in Belgium.  He is serving us well!   I enjoyed meeting our Ambassador to Belgium, sharing breakfast in the ambassador's residence, and thanking him for his support of Wake Forest University.  After our breakfast he went to his daily French and Dutch class then prepared the last-minute edits of his speech to be presented to the new branch of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) from Greensboro.  Small world, isn't it?

Go Deacs! On a less positive note, but also a reality of the road and the defective batch of new computers, my computer has crashed. So glad to have IPad and phone to stay connected. Good road warriors learn to adapt. I am learning!

USA Ambassador Gutman
Ambassador's Residence
Brussels, Belgium
October 2, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

London's Calling: Fulbright College Fair

The Fulbright College Fair at the Kensington Town Centre
The Fair started tonight!  No roller coasters and cotton candy--just high school students from the UK looking to study in the USA!   This was a huge exposition of USA colleges and universities all huddled together in the Kensington Town Center in London.  Over 700 students and their families arrived tonight.  Officials predict some 3500-4000 more coming tomorrow.  The British are coming!  The British are coming!

Students from the UK are coming to the USA in huge numbers--larger than ever before.  I have tried to find out why.  First the main reason that I have been given is sharp tuition increase for higher education in the UK.  Some students and their families say that the tuition increase for higher education is driving them to the USA.  In the last ten years here in the UK, tuition has risen from free to over 9000 GBP.   So if they are going to pay tuition why not go to the USA?  Second, students are required to study a strict professional curriculum from the beginning of their collegiate career without the benefits of a liberal arts focus.  Students are wanting the benefits of being able to study many different subjects instead a narrow occupational focus from the beginning of their college career (that often begins in their secondary education years).  Third, UK students want a more holistic collegiate experience--one with collegiate sports, extracurriculars, and the social campus life of a USA college or university.  Fourth, Oxford and Cambridge are admitting fewer and fewer students due to funding and higher admission standards.  And last but certainly not the least, is the cultural reality that renewed interest in USA colleges and universities is being driven by a weekly UK television show called "Gossip Girl" that features a young woman in a USA college.  ( I will have a little research to do on that one!).

For whatever reason, USA higher education is considered the gold standard by students here in the UK.  Just like students in China, students in the UK are wanting to come to the USA to study.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us here at Wake Forest University.  I hope that we are ready 'cause London is calling!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wake Forest University and The American School in London

Imagine your work takes you to an international destination.  You are happy, your spouse is somewhat happy, but what about your children?   We all know that a school for the children that can serve as a social center for the entire expat family can make living abroad a very pleasant experience.  Students who study in these schools have advantages of their own country but also have the extra advantage of living in another country and seeing the entire world from a different point of view. These students have the best of both worlds. They come to the USA for their college experiences with a view of the world that only a few of their peers have been able to experience.  These students, sometimes called "third culture students," bring a perspective desired in the American college classroom.  They usually show a high level of toleration, interest in world affairs, and a respect for other cultures.  I met some of those students today at The American School in London.

The American School in London, established in 1951, serves 491 high school students with a K-12 enrollment of 1352 students. These students hold passports from more than 45 different countries. Over half of these students live in households where at least one family member holds a second passport.  Studying in a robust Advanced Placement curriculum, these students are described as having "intellectual curiousity, emotional resilience, and an inclusive world view."

I really enjoyed touring this school and seeing the commitment of their counselors, Kristen Dreazen, graduate of Gettysburg College, and John Reilly, from Baltimore, their love for London and the UK, their commitment to international education, and their focus on  these students.

Mission of the American School in London

Ms. Kristen Dreazen--Counselor

The Library at the American School in London

Kristen J. Dreazen, College Counselor (, international educator!
Allison Perkins
Director of WFU Reynolda House of American Art and TASIS Alumna !!
TASIS Artist Annabelle Elford

TASIS Art Teacher John Smally


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I received a warm welcome at The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), except that it was located in the village of Thorpe in County Surrey, about 45 minutes north of the city centre of London. This international school in England (TASIS, England) was the vision, as was the founding school in Switzerland, of an international educational pioneer, Mary Crist Fleming.  TASIS England began in 1976, twenty years later after the founding of TASIS Switzerland in 1956.  TASIS England has less than 800 students from nursery school to the 12th grade.  Those students, however, come from over 40 countries.  Sam Stover, Assistant Director of Admissions, formerly of Chattanooga Tennessee, travels the world looking for students to enroll in TASIS England.   Anna Wright, College Counselor, makes sure that they enter strong college environments that match their outstanding primary and secondary educational experience.  Sam states that on any given day he hears Swahili, Mandarin, French, Italian, including English, spoken in the library or school hallways.  Curricular offerings also provide a great deal of variety.  Advanced Placement  (AP) as well as International Baccalaureate (IB) are offerred.  A third curriculum is emerging with the increase of international students--international curriculum with heavy focus on ESL. 

My visit had also a personal mission.  I wanted to say thank you to the Department of Art for their influence on Allison Perkins, who holds our lovely WFU Reynolda House of American Art in her tender hands and leads that work so that we all may know beauty.  I wanted to see where Allison had been so inspired to spend her life creating and showcasing art for others.  We at Wake Forest University are certainly the beneficiaries of TASIS who provided the experiences so that Allison could lead us to understand beauty here at Wake Forest University.  I wanted to say thank you personally to those teachers. 

I visited the art department where artist in residence Annabelle Ford was leading a master class.  As mother of a soldier in Afghanistan, she had chosen to paint out her sorrow and fear of watching her son go to war and in turn to try to understand her son's desire to be a soldier (  As she said, "I decided to paint myself out of trouble."   Our Allison was formed by this school who featured this department who have been connecting art and life for decades now in this lovely ancient setting in the village of Thorpe, in the county of Surrey, England.  Just as beauty knows no bounds . . . . .  so international education. 

Traveling to London

In keeping with a covenant made with my dear colleagues in the office of undergraduate admissions I have promised to keep a blogging record of my fall international travels--tweets too.  So here I begin.  I have just landed in London, the first visit of several countries in the next six weeks. Five days in London, followed by Brussels, then about four weeks in China.  Home before Thanksgiving!!  Save some turkey for me.

I have just arrived in London.  Smooth flight from Dulles airport.  Sleeping on the plane still not easy, no matter how many pillows and blankets I can pack.  But the trip from USA to London is not as long as China.  And I can stand 6.5 hours of off and on catnaps!  No problem.  I arrived at the London hotel at 8:00 am.  Room is not ready so I wait in tired travel clothes surrounded by steaming cups of coffee.

I have arrived in London just in time to freshen up and then make my first appointment with the TASIS School in Surrey, Thorpe at noon today.  I am really happy to make this visit.  This school is the alma mater of our own Allison Perkins, Director of the Reynolda House.  I want to see the school and hopefully meet the beloved art teacher who inspired our wonderful Allison to be the sacred keeper of beauty of American art and lush landscapes for Wake Forest University.  I look forward to meeting their faculty and staff and introducing prospective students to Wake Forest University.  I will be visiting the American School in London and Cobham Hall in preparation for a huge Fulbright College Fair to be held on Friday evening and all day on Saturday at the Kensington Town Centre.  They are expecting 4,500 people.  Students from the UK are looking to study in the USA.  We will talk about some of those reasons here in this blog this week.

Wake Forest University continues to establish our international focus by searching for students from all over the world.  I am honored to be a part of this outreach.  As Tom Friedman's words continue to remind us that this world is flat, we also acknowledge that higher education competes in this new flattened universe.  And I am convinced that Wake Forest University has a distinctive niche in this new universe of global education.  And here I go!    Onward to Londontowne!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wake Forest University, China, and the GIFT OF MUSIC

Early last fall WFU music professor and classical pianist, Peter Kairoff, came to visit me in the office of the Byrum Welcome Center.  He, along with the Chair of the Music Department, Stew Carter, came to say thanks for helping to recruit the wonderful Chinese students who were choosing to minor in music at Wake Forest University.  Peter asked what they could do to help in recruiting more of these talented students.   As we talked we three began to dream--"what if we offered a musical concert in China."   "Could we possibly be able to offer a musical concert that would attract our students, potential students, and their families and friends?" We continued to think of the possibilities.  Sitting there, we also talked of the difficulty of logistical planning for such a huge event, how hard it would be to produce materials in bilingual format, the challenge of organizing a performance from so far away.  But the more we talked, the more we were beginning to consider this as a possibility--despite the great challenges.  "Could we even think of such a possibility?"  I asked.  And Drs. Carter and Kairoff said, "Yes, by all means, let us consider this."  And the spark was lit!

This idea was right.  Time has shown it to be true.  While we could have planned other events, such as an athletic showcase, debate tournament, executive education, or even a symposia on current issues,  none seem as fitting as this one---to offer the gift of music.  A liberal arts institution that promotes not only the quest for academic excellence but also a love for beauty, Wake Forest's inaugural visit to China will feature beautiful classical music--and lots of it.  Professor Kairoff will perform selections from J.S. Bach as well as American composers for a delightful evening of piano music played on a beautiful Steinway generously provided by John Patton and the Steinway Company in Shanghai in the lovely performance hall of Dulwich College, Shanghai, Pudong, with hospitality provided by Fraser White and the Dulwich College management team.  On Sunday afternoon, Peter will lead a master class, which will feature his own WFU music students who are home in China for the summer and will join him on stage to help illustrate current practices in piano pedagogy.

Music, this lovely gift for the senses, with capacity to lift us to a place of civility and compassion, to calm our fractured lives, and to create a space for clarity and focus of mind, will be our gift to our new friends in China.  A spark has been lit!   

Onward we go.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wake Forest University in Shanghai--the WFU CHINA INITIATIVE

As we begin this inaugural journey to China this week, I want to document some thoughts about higher education, Wake Forest University, and China. 

This is a most unusual moment in higher education.  I know that every generation feels unique and special. This particular moment in time, however, truly seems monumental.  At this moment, the international opportunities now available to USA higher education are enormous--especially between China and the USA.  Right now, this moment, the potential for shared educational experiences seems limitless.   The opportunity to share our American culture, our way of thinking, our way of teaching and learning, our way of being in this world is truly now!  And the opportunity to learn from the Chinese culture, their way of thinking, their way of teaching and learning, their way of being in this world is truly now! 

Wake Forest University has invited 39 undergraduate students from China to join our Deacon Family for this fall entering class 2012.   Our responsibility is huge as we seek to provide an opportunity for this mutual exchange of  Sino-American intellectual life and social exchange to take place on our campus.  The benefits for all of us are tremendous.  We will learn; they will learn.  And we will all improve our very own culture, our way of thinking, our way of teaching and learning, our way of being in this world. 

Our WFU Creative Services team, led by creative designer Hayes Henderson and project manager Gretta Kohler, designed the above banner.  The icon, shaped in the form of an ancient Chinese seal, symbolizes this historic educational  exchange with two hands, or two cultures, positioned side by side.  We reach our hands to new students and families and new partners in educational collaborations in China.  In turn, these new students, some with parents who will never have the opportunity to visit us here in North Carolina, reach their hands to us by being willing to travel far away to study on our campus and join our Deacon family.   

The design team also captured the art of  Chinese paper design and intricate ornamentation in the design of the delicate header that surrounds the icon of hands.  While China and the USA may differ in styles of teaching and learning, classroom presentations, and innovation and creativity in education, the love of beauty remains a common expression for both cultures.  The mutual love for art, for nature, for music, for beauty powerfully transcends any cultural barriers.  For this reason, Wake Forest University travels to China, for our very first visit, with music, lots of it----featuring Dr. Peter Kairoff and his wonderful artistry at the classical piano.  

Represented here in this delicate design is the color red, symbolizing the joyful and happy educational collaborations that await for us in the future.  Red, a color symbolizing great joy and happiness in both Chinese and American cultures, aptly describes our long-awaited ,joyful anticipation of this exchange between Wake Forest University and China.  

We eagerly await this trip!

Wake Forest University in Shanghai July 14-15, 2012

Wake Forest University will be going to Shanghai, China July 14-15.  With fourteen WFU representatives of our faculty, staff, alums, and members of our student body, we will be personally welcoming the newly-enrolled students and their families to our entering class of 2012, introducing WFU to prospective students for next year, meeting new friends in higher education, and visiting faculty and schools area high schools.  Dr. Peter Kairoff, classical pianist and WFU Professor of Music,  will be performing at Dulwich College, Shanghai on the evening of July 14.  A Chinese banquet will follow that evening to honor our corporate sponsors for this event:  Boston Scientific, CNA-USA, Edison Learning, Lenovo, Steinway Shanghai, and Kilpatrick,Townsend Stockton. On Sunday, July 15, Dr. Kairoff will offer a master class for students and parents, educators and performers, who are interested in piano pedagogy.  Several of our current students who are from the Shanghai area will be performing with Dr. Kairoff on Sunday afternoon. 

The week prior to the concert, Wake Forest University representatives will be:
 meeting enrolled students and their families; 
making contacts with area corporations for future internship and recruitment opportunities for our WFU students in Shanghai; 
visiting high schools, 
and meeting educators who are interested in exploring opportunities for greater collaboration between Wake Forest University and China.

We are going to Shanghai to say thank you, xie-xie, to our new Wake Forest University families from China.  We will keep you posted on our experiences here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

You will find updated information on the WFU CHINA INITIATIVE at the following site:

You will also want to click on the events section for up to date information regarding our first trip to China.  We are delighted to introduce Wake Forest University to China through a weekend of classical music provided by Dr. Peter Kairoff.  We will be meeting new friends who are prospective students and their families, our current students and their families, as well as educators and government officials in the Shanhai area.  We thank our corporate sponsors for joining us in this important event--CNA-USA, Edison Learning, and LENOVO.

Please stay tuned here for more details of the event to be published in the next few weeks.
Wake Forest University will host an inaugural musical event in Shanghai China with Peter Kairoff and Friends on July 14-15.  asOUr