For 33 years, Tianjin Normal University and Heidelberg University have enjoyed a collaborative and productive exchange – a “jewel of a relationship” which has brought TNU professors to Heidelberg’s campus annually to teach Chinese language and culture. ‘Berg faculty – and in recent years, students – in turn travel to TNU’s campus to teach English to TNU students and educators in the summer.
In early September, Heidelberg was among the guests invited to help TNU celebrate its 60th anniversary. The anniversary called together new and long-term partners who represented each of the global zones. As the sole representative from the U.S., Heidelberg was in excellent company with representatives from Bansodejchaopraya Rajabhat University (Thailand), Finland University, Nicholaus Copernicus University (Poland), University of Hull (United Kingdom), University of Nairobi (Kenya), University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and University of Strathclyde (UK).
And although they were only on the ground in China for a mere 48 hours, President Rob Huntington, Provost Beth Schwartz and education and history professor Brian Haley returned from the celebration with a belief that the TNU-Heidelberg partnership and friendship will grow even stronger and more meaningful in the years to come.
“Heidelberg was deeply, deeply honored to be included in this event and to engage with our partner on this stage. It was a humongous institutional honor,” President Huntington said. “We came back feeling very positive and with great hope that we’ll enhance opportunities for both of our institutions in the future.”
President Huntington and senior representatives from seven of TNU’s additional partner universities participated in the signing of a multilateral cooperation agreement. The agreement outlines ways the partners can develop and enhance existing cooperative exchanges to promote international education.
As part of TNU’s anniversary celebration, President Huntington and Dr. Haley were invited to address Tianjin’s faculty, staff and distinguished guests at the Multilateral Forum of Exchange with their perspectives on “The Role of Higher Education Internationalization in Promoting University Development” and “Easy Work? The Process and Development of Effective Teaching Competencies,” respectively.
For his remarks, President Huntington shared his thoughts on three topics as they relate to promoting university development through higher education internationalization: the need to fulfill the core university mission, the imperative of mutual international exchange and the opportunity for the advancement of humanity.
“The development of each of our individual universities depends on helping to develop other universities at the same time,” President Huntington said during his formal remarks. “We all rise together when higher education rises in each country. We must always remain vigilantly creative to continue our progress toward globalizing our campuses and producing graduates with a well-informed global perspective.”
In his speech, Dr. Haley outlined five key competencies for effective teaching: walk the walk, develop active learning strategies to engage students, get to know your students the best you can, measure learning on a daily basis and make a habit of regular reflection.
“I believe teaching to be much more complex than a sequential list of points to follow,” Dr. Haley said. “The classroom teacher is the catalyst, the one who inspires, lights a passion and brings the science and the art of learning together. No easy task.”
Dr. Haley added that it was a personal honor for him to represent his colleagues and the School of Education. “It was pretty powerful for me to have the opportunity to do that in an international setting,” he said.
In addition to the genuine warmth and kindness of the Chinese people and their participation in the formal anniversary, the Heidelberg delegation was impressed with a larger-than-life stadium celebration that displayed the pageantry and talents of TNU faculty.
At all stops, President Huntington, Provost Schwartz and Dr. Haley were pleased to reconnect with Chinese scholars who had spent time on Heidelberg’s campus, including a reunion with last year’s visiting Chinese scholars Xiaojiao Hu and Jinjuan Liu, who were so warm, welcoming and helpful, and went out of their way to make sure their Heidelberg friends felt comfortable.
Returning from their weekend in China, Provost Schwartz and her colleagues believe this “jewel of a relationship,” which has been mutually beneficial for both Heidelberg and TNU, will indeed prosper and grow going forward.
“The longstanding partnership between Heidelberg University and Tianjin Normal University continues to provide great opportunities for faculty and students at both institutions – opportunities that we hope to expand upon in the upcoming years,” Provost Schwartz said. “We look forward to working with all of the faculty and staff that we met during our visit as we partner together to identify how to provide even more possibilities for our students.”