Concord College Upward Bound Director Goes to Europe
Athens, W.Va. - Concord College Upward Bound Director Pamela McPeak was one of the 20 TRIO professionals nationwide chosen to participate in the 2002 TRIO Staff Exchange Program to Europe, Educational Opportunity in a Global Context sponsored by the Council for Opportunity in Education, February 15 – 25, in conjunction with the University of Liverpool. Upward Bound is a federally funded TRIO program at Concord College which promotes targeted high school students in the area to gain post secondary education. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands have similar programs in various stages of development.
The purpose of the trip was to compare programs and to learn from each other in a cultural and educational exchange. It was a challenging, but rewarding experience for the Americans. After a brief tour of London, they spent several days at the University of Liverpool where they engaged in a variety of activities. They heard a lecture on the African Diaspora (scattering) and toured the Transatlantic Slave Gallery to explore the role that Liverpool played in the slave trade. They also received a lecture on Liverpool’s connection to Irish history.
McPeak and others visited universities to examine projects and initiatives similar to the TRIO programs at Concord College. The Widening Participation Project from the University of Liverpool hosted the event. The American participants were able to explore the reality of UK practices and to discuss similarities and issues from a practitioner’s point of view.
A high point of the stay in Liverpool was the International Seminar. In addition to the visiting Americans, this was attended by policy makers from local and regional government, a host of organizational personnel and some students. The seminar examined urban poverty in a global context; race, class, and gender, in the context of the two higher educational systems; and institutional change. A facilitated debate followed with an opportunity to reflect on UK/US policy and practice.
After several days in Liverpool, the group went to Amsterdam for further comparisons of similar programs. The group spent two days in Amsterdam with the ECHO organization. ECHO is the Dutch acronym for The National Center of Expertise on Ethnic Minorities in Higher Education. This organization promotes access, retention, and graduation of ethnic minorities in higher education. Project directors of different universities in the Netherlands explained their projects and their involvement with access and retention for students of ethnic minorities. There were two group discussions where information was exchanged between the Dutch and the American participants. The Americans and Dutch participants enjoyed an evening at the Amsterdam School of Arts where a group of ECHO higher education students performed several international dances.
The Americans ended their stay in Amsterdam with a train ride to Paris, France. After a short tour of Paris, they flew back to the United States on February 25. All of the American participants were enlightened, encouraged, and had made friends with staff and students from the programs abroad. Pam McPeak stated that it was a wonderful opportunity for her and that the memories and friends she made would last her a lifetime.
Concord College Notes: TRIO programs are Federally funded by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. While student financial aid programs help students overcome financial barriers to higher education, TRIO Programs help students overcome class, social, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education.
Does TRIO work? An estimated 2 million TRIO students have graduated from college. And, students in programs like Upward Bound are four times more likely to earn an undergraduate degree than those students from similar backgrounds who did not participate in TRIO.