(TNS) -- Since the topic was how to make career technical education more internationally focused, it made sense that some of the participants were listening to the proceedings through headphones connected to translators.
The second International Forum on Globalizing Career Technology drew 70 people from America and 10 from China to the Elgin Community College campus Monday and Tuesday.
Wendy Miller, ECC's dean of health professions, said the conference is co-sponsored by ECC and ECC's partner institution in China, the Rongzhi College. It followed a similar forum held in Chonqing, China in 2013 by the two colleges.
"We have sent ECC students to the college in China and our goal is also to get more Chinese students coming to ECC," Miller said.
Monday sessions began with welcomes from the president of the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce and ECC President David Sam, who himself is an immigrant from the African nation of Ghana.
That was followed by lectures by a Chinese professor about how accounting is taught in China; by ECC Professor Gary Norden about how automotive technology is taught at ECC and how the automotive field has changed through the years; and by Elgin Mayor David Kaptain and Chinese businessman Henry Jiang about how the successful graduate will need both technical skills and business acumen.
ECC anthropology professor Marc Healy told how he added to the U.S.-centric text of his Human Geography course by telling students about his experiences touring China. Other speakers talked about using Google tools, how a vocational school in Beijing teaches electrical engineering, how ECC teachers deal with "academically at risk" students and how ECC's library prepares for accreditation visits. A panel discussion by five Chinese business executives talked about "Business Challenges in a Global Economy."
Tuesday's programs included "Building A Bridge Between College and Corporation" and a presentation by ECC business profs about promoting an "entrepreneurial mindset across the campus." A staff member from the Madison Area Technical College described how a network of community colleges offers career learning programs abroad and staffers from the College of Lake County told how that college established a "semester abroad in China" program.
Lisa Wiehle, manager of outcomes assessment at ECC, told how the Elgin college analyzed how well each course contributes to learning about "global awareness and diversity." Wiehle said the college's 464 career tech courses, ranging from nursing and auto repair to manufacturing and cooking, scored much lower than the 399 courses' directed at students bound for a bachelor's degree. She noted that the latter include courses with obvious global awareness built into them, such as world history, Cross-Cultural Education, International Marketing and Cultural Anthropology.
Wiehle said the career courses that are most "infused" with information about other cultures and countries include Marketing; Effective Listening; Child, Family & Community; and courses in automotive tech, emergency management and the culinary arts.
One audience member listening to Wiehle's talk through headphones Tuesday was Hougwei Zhao, the Beijing businessman who wants to buy the former Fox River Country Day School property from the City of Elgin and turn it into a private school for students from all over the world. Sitting near him was Kojo Darkwa, the Ghana-born Elginite who is managing Zhao's school project.
Speaking fluent English, Darkwa said he has personally arranged to bring more than 40 children from China to study at the day school or at the private Einstein Academy.
Telling what they learned during a trip to Cuba last year, three former or past ECC teachers said they found a country whose economy was left in a shambles by the U.S. embargo and the collapse of its big red sponsor, the Soviet Union. But they said the Cuban people they met all seemed enthusiastic about the country's Communist economic system, which the people said has eliminated social classes and guaranteed health care, education, food and jobs.
Jacquelynn Kaufmann, a retired professor of human services, said Cuba spends only half as big a percentage of its gross domestic product on health care as the United States does but has an identical infant mortality rate. "Nobody in Cuba spends out-of-pocket money on health care," she said, and Cuba spends more than twice as big a proportion of its gross domestic product on education as the United States does.
They said the tourism industry, trade with countries like China and some re-injection of capitalism are bringing new life back to the Cuban economy.
©2015 The Courier-News (Elgin, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.