The Foreign Press Centers (FPCs), in coordination with U.S. embassies and consulates overseas, selected 20 foreign journalists to participate in an international reporting tour on the topic of community colleges and workforce development. The journalists learned what a community college is, how it differs from a four-year educational institution and vocational school, and how community colleges work with high schools, universities, and the private sector to close the workforce talent gap. They saw first-hand the high-caliber education offered at a more affordable price and learned how community colleges lead in innovation, welcome foreign students, and promote a diverse teaching staff and student body.
The tour kicked off in Washington, D.C. with presentations by the Bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Education. On the second day of the program, participants heard from the American Association of Community Colleges on how nimble and responsive community colleges are to the economic and social needs of their communities. They spent the remainder of the day at Gallaudet University where they saw the innovative research methods and technologies used to support childhood development, communication, and workforce development of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the U.S. and around the world. Their visit to Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) flagship Annandale Campus and state-of-the-art Medical Education Campus showed them how partnerships and constant engagement with the private sector ensure graduates receive high quality, affordable education that leads to employment upon completion of an Associate’s Degree. The final day in Washington, D.C. was at George Mason University where the majority of NOVA students transfer to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree.
The journalists continued their program in Florida, visiting two Aspen Award winners for top community colleges in the country. First to Valencia College in Orlando with its advanced manufacturing center and benchmark transfer program titled, “Direct Connect,” partnering with the University of Central Florida. Then to Gainesville to visit Santa Fe College which hosts a variety of advanced tech and construction programs. Santa Fe is also home to unique programs, including the only accredited zoo teaching school in the country.