USC Upstate program aims to bolster international opportunities for Upstate students

Under the program, the university will help school districts in Spartanburg and Union counties develop international educational programs for students and facilitate international professional development opportunities for teachers and staff.

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From left: Alex Akulli, director of the Center for International Studies at USC Upstate, Rallie Liston, superintendent for Spartanburg School District 4, and Brendan Kelly, chancellor of USC Upstate, sign a memorandum of understanding for the new international program during a ceremony at the Chapman Cultural Center. Photo courtesy of Les Duggins Sr.

A new program led by the University of South Carolina Upstate will seek to enrich the educational experience for K-12 students in Spartanburg and Union Counties.

USC Upstate officials and leaders of the school districts in both counties signed a memorandum of understanding for the program on Jan. 11 at the Chapman Cultural Center in downtown Spartanburg.

Under the program, the university will help the districts develop international educational programs for students and facilitate international professional development opportunities for teachers and staff.

“By supporting the district schools in the Upstate, we carry out our commitment to our community in educating and preparing students for effective successful lives and careers in increasingly diverse and globally interdependent communities,” said USC Upstate’s Chancellor Brendan Kelly, in a statement. “USC Upstate has been engaged in global education for several decades, and we have the expertise to be a valuable resource and strong partner to the district schools.”

The program was developed the by Alexander Akulli, director of the university’s Center for International Studies.

Akulli said in a statement he was unaware of any other similar or formal partnerships between universities and k-12 schools specifically for supporting international education.

According to the memorandum of understanding, the program will explore ways for sharing resources and expertise in establishing international partnerships, program development, and student and teacher exchange.

The program will also create opportunities for international engagement of students, teachers, and staff; establish pathways that increase access for students and teachers to pursue higher education, professional development, and participation in international learning experiences; and explore topics for joint proposals for grant funding.

“Students, teachers, administrators, parents and communities all stand to benefit from international school partnerships,” said Stephanie Mathis, deputy superintendent at Spartanburg County School District 1, in a statement. “For instance, this partnership will illustrate the concept of global interconnectedness in a tangible way.”

“When our students converse with other students on issues of common concern, it can deepen our students’ understanding of international issues and enhance their sense of active citizenship at local, national, and international levels,” Mathis added. “Likewise, extending the outreach of an international school partnership allows new information and ways of thinking to permeate throughout the community.”

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