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Georgia College travels to Tibetan Children's Village

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large photoEducators at Georgia College will travel more than half way around the globe next month to improve the education experiences of Tibetan children.

The partnership with the Tibetan Children's Villages (TCV) could create exchange programs for Georgia College students and faculty as part of the university's mission to expand learning outside the classroom and to provide global learning experiences.

In June, Dr. Charlie Martin, director of the Center for Program Evaluation, will lead a group to the Tibetan Children's Village in Dharamsala, India, to help the school explore better ways to meet the educational needs of more than 16,000 Tibetan refugee children who live there.

“This project is a perfect fit with what our university, Georgia College, is all about,” Martin said. “Providing our students international service learning opportunities helps them learn about and develop respect for other cultures and furthers our university's liberal arts mission. We're working to lay the foundation for a partnership between TCV and the faculty and students at Georgia College that will benefit both institutions.”

Martin's project partner Dr. Ted Anders, a professor at Newman University in Kansas, has coordinated the Center for Program Evaluation's international and philanthropic efforts.

The two traveled in March to meet with the TCV's leadership team and identified three goals for the TCV project -- to improve teacher evaluation and professional development, to identify and develop academically-talented students in math and science; and to provide training to develop students' higher order thinking and leadership skills.

“We also explored how to create student/faculty exchange programs,” Martin said. “In particular, the Tibetan Children's Village is interested in extended visits by our students to work with TCV children, and in professional development from our faculty and faculty from partner institutions and organizations. We also discussed creating intensive summer workshop experiences in mathematics and science education at Georgia College for their teachers.”

The highlight of the March visit was a private audience with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, Martin said.

“He talked with us about the importance of our work in helping TCV produce the leaders and scholars for the Tibetan community and the critical role of TCV in preserving Tibetan culture, particularly considering challenges Tibetans face from the Chinese government,” Martin said. “His words were moving and reinforced the significance of the Tibetan refugee children's needs, as well as the role Georgia College can play.”

The Tibetan Children's Village, which is supported primarily through donations, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2010.

Following the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950 and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's flight to India, a critical need was to care for children who had been orphaned or separated from their families during the escape from their homeland.

His Holiness recognized that the future of Tibet and its people depended upon the younger generation and he worked to establish Dharamsala.

In May 1960, children arrived from the road construction camps in Jammu. They were ill and malnourished.

“Because the children at TCV are so well cared for and work with such dedicated teachers and staff, it's sometimes easy to forget this is a refugee community that has had to overcome tremendous hardships,” Martin said. “We were told that in the beginning the TCV focus was on survival, especially for its children. The goals of TCV schools have grown from teaching basic literacy skills, to providing students with a high school education, to readying its graduates for college and assuming international leadership roles. Many of the TCV teachers are its former students who have returned after graduating from college to teach the younger children.”

The mission of Georgia College's Center for Program Evaluation, which was founded in July 2007, is to provide evaluation solutions to programs addressing important local, state, national and international needs, contribute to knowledge bases related to key issues and topics, and to provide service and learning opportunities to the university community.

The Georgia College Center for Program Evaluation funded the March trip. The individuals traveling in June are paying their own expenses to provide the pro bono work. Future development of the program will depend on donations and grants.

As Martin and his colleagues prepare for the June trip, he anticipates Georgia College students and faculty could make trips to TCV as early as spring 2010.

“We want to make sure something significant happens here,” Martin said. “Our faculty and students have expertise to offer to make a difference in the lives of these children and we have already learned so much from them.”

To learn more about the Tibetan Children's Village, visit 
http://blip.tv/file/560337.

Those interested in learning about ways they can support the project may contact Dr. Charlie Martin at charles.martin@gcsu.edu.


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For more information, contact Judy Bailey in University Communications at (478) 445-4477.