ACPA16 Pecha Kucha: Tricia Seifert, Home and Abroad: Global Citizenship Identity Development

ACPA16 Pecha Kucha:  Tricia Seifert, Home and Abroad: Global Citizenship Identity Development

Do you know the Muppets? Have you heard of
the Muppets? I know they used to have, like a little person, singing “Do-do-do-do-do,
Do-do-do-do-do, Pecha Kucha. Do-do-do-do-do. Pecha Kucha is a Japanese word for chit chat
and is the name for a presentation format created in Japan in 2003 by two architects
looking for a way to share their work quickly and simply to the public. Since then the idea
has spread to over 700 cities around the world. Every Pecha Kucha night creative thinkers
come together and share their ideas with twenty images shown in twenty seconds each. Pecha
Kucha, a fast fun format. Find a location, join the conversation. (MUSIC) Good evening. Well tonight I want to share with you some ideas that have been
percolating in my head ever since I began supporting the Student Success Project a few
years ago. You might be wondering what is that project? Well, it’s a multi-institutional
study that examines the relationship between organizational structure and culture and student
success in college and universities across Canada. And so when you think about success
in Canada like in the United States, it’s largely defined in terms of degree completion.
Students are successful when they graduate, hence the graduation caps and colleges and
universities are successful when they graduate their students. So that’s the first “C” in
“Success.” Then the second “C” in our linear definition is “Cash,” right? And “Cash” is
from a well-paying job and the well-paying job, likely comes from studying in
either business or science, technology, engineering, math. You probably know these fields. They
are where you get all of that nice amount of money. So, when we look at it, success
in this linear definition is from completion to cash. And, the cash is important, right,
because it’s what allows students to pay back their student loans that they had to take
out for degree completion to begin with. This is a definition of success that the media
often is telling to students. But when my research team and I went across Ontario and
we spoke with students and staff and faculty and we asked them to depict and draw and discuss
success, what we found was a much more complicated nuanced and multi-dimensional definition.
It included being holistic, academic components, personal components, life-skills, competencies.
You know that shouldn’t be a surprise to us as Student Affairs/Services educators because
our literature has, from its inception, called on us to foster the development of students’
academic profiles, their vocation, their career, personal well being and the discernment for
purpose and meaning. That has been the ground of the field since the very beginning. And
so tonight I want to suggest to you that we can re-conceive what is success and I want
to first suggest it begins with curiosity. Students are successful when they don’t simply
take the easy answer but they ask hard questions and they are pushing boundaries, when they
think, “Hmm, how am I going to do this?” And in order to do that you can’t simply go with the easy and the known.
You have to think and act creatively. You have to think about, “How I am going to do
something new, how am I going to act, how am I going to represent, how am I being creative
in the way I know and I be and I live and I am?” So this is not a simple thing because
our linear definition will call on us to think about completion and cash. But, creativity
and curiosity require us to listen to our heart and to the calling that calls us to
do really meaningful work. And, how do we get to that? Well, it’s not an easy task.
In fact, success in that linear definition, it is a siren’s song. You know that Abba song,
“Money, money, money!” (Singing) Right? So, It takes courage, a whole lot of courage to listen
to what your heart is telling you that your creativity and your curiosity is calling to
really realize. And, when you do that, I am going to suggest that what happens is that
you were paid in return, not with a job, but with a career, a career that is personally
satisfying and meaningful work that helps you but not just you. It helps your community
and the betterment of the people who you live around because community is what higher education
has always been about. Higher education was never to be a sole pursuit to benefit a single
individual but rather to educate people for the public good. And the public good comes
out in civic engagement and in research and knowledge dissemination and, yeah, for economic
development as well. So tonight, I want to suggest to you that we have together creativity,
curiosity and a calling and the courage to have a career that benefits ourselves and
our community and when we put all of these things together, we have a geometric representation
of success that comes across in the form of a cube. And that cube does not simply exist
in a fixed plane, no, it rotates in time and space and recognizes the unbelievable possibility
of human potential that you have and within that cube, it exists within two nested spheres.
And the first one is cognition because what you believe and how you make sense of
the world makes an absolute difference in how you engage your curiosity, how you act
creatively and how you listen to your calling. And yet, we know that the head separated from
the heart strips us of our wholeness. As Parker Palmer says, “When we do this, we lead divided
lives.” And so that second sphere is care. It’s that interpersonal, relational side that
brings us into community with not only our neighbors and our co-workers and together
those spheres– that tilting, twisting notion of cube has an emergent property. When we
see success as always dynamic, what that emergent property is, is our well-being. And when have
we asked ourselves to be well? And how have we lived it? Because when we’re asking ourselves
to be well, we then also invite students and our jobs as educators is not to problem solve
all the time. It’s not to fix. It is, in the words of Parker Palmer, “to border and salute”
so that students can listen and interrogate that inner voice that leads them. My favorite
image as an educator is one of being good company. Marsha Baxter Magdola published a
piece a few years ago in About Campus and she talked about a bike journey and somebody
being good company and if anyone in this audience has bike raced, you know that the very best
good company is the person that hands up the water bottle in your moment of need. And so
I ask you tonight, “When have you handed up a water bottle most recently?” Because as
a faculty member, I don’t need to be the sage on the stage. I want to be the guide on the
side and I want to be the person that puts the stool underneath the student so they can
sit and think and contemplate and draw their very own blueprint for success. Thank you. (MUSIC)

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