Read our latest interview with Mia Gonzales Washington, the Director of College & Career Success at the Cowen Institute. She has been involved with the AFS Global Up programs since January 2022, having facilitated Global Up at Home to domestic college students and educators. Mia shared her reflections with us:

Mia Gonzales Washington, the Director of College & Career Success at the Cowen Institute

What is the importance of global competence education for undergraduate students and for your institution in particular?

At the Cowen Institute, we are positioned to support the city’s practitioners and counselors with GlobalUp Educator training, which is something that I’ve never seen rolled out on this scale to support those into whose care the students are entrusted, in order to recognize their own biases, prejudices, and privileges that they’ve never reflected on before. This is so important as we guide a predominantly Black and brown city where over 75% of our public schools are attended by these students, those from limited-income homes, and individuals with varying immigration statuses. We’re also fortunate to support three of the practitioners in becoming Qualified Facilitators as well, in hopes of this ripple spreading even farther across our metro area.

We additionally will be introducing GlobalUp Teen to our Upward Bound high school students this Summer for the first time, which is directly aligned with what recently surveyed educators across the city identified as a top trait students should possess upon entering the post-secondary world: cultural competence.

How has your experience as a facilitator been so far?

I’m enjoying it! I feel very fortunate to have been able to carry this credential earned at my previous institution to the Cowen Institute and make a wider impact in my city, since I now serve the entire area and not just one university. I understand the importance of having the distinction of Qualified Facilitator, and I’m honored to lead others on their own journey of being more globally competent.

What did you learn as a facilitator?

It’s OK to not have all the answers and to simply facilitate the cohort’s discussions with guiding questions and room for silence when there are thoughts provoked. Conversations can be rich even when members are within the same demographic (e.g. race) because generations and places of origin, etc. can still bring about perspectives that are new, but I especially appreciate a diverse cohort. Magic really happens in those!

Global Up with a unique program that develops essential and lifelong global “power skills”: collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, cross-cultural communication, open-mindedness and flexibility. Different versions of the this program meet the needs of: students, staff or faculty, professionals across a variety of disciplines from around the world whether or not they’ll have a study abroad experience. Find out more.