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Faculty participation sought in Philippines exchange program

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 09 - October 19, 1995

Virginia Tech has received a $120,000 grant from the United States Information Agency (USIA) to support a three-year faculty-exchange program with the University of the Philippines.

The program will be operated through the Department of Sociology and the Humanities Program in the College of Arts and Sciences. Under terms of the grant, Virginia Tech faculty members will teach courses and conduct research in American Studies at the University of the Philippines. They will be replaced on campus by faculty members from the University of the Philippines who will offer Asian Studies courses for Virginia Tech students and participants in collaborative research with Virginia Tech faculty members.

The first exchange will take place during Spring 1996 semester, when the Humanities Program will offer a special three-credit-hour course, HUM 2984, Modern Filipino Culture, Index # 3052, Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-4:20 p.m.

The new offering supplements existing courses in the Asian Studies Program. Expansion of the Asian Studies Program is expected to be particularly attractive to Virginia Tech students of Asian decent as well as to those students who seek careers in the international arena. The most rapid economic growth in the world is taking place in Asia, and Asian markets are particularly attractive to American business firms. An understanding of cultural differences is important in building ties with other countries.

There are two student organizations on campus with interest in the Philippines. More than 100 undergraduate students attended the first meeting of the Filipino-American Student Association (FASA) meeting this year. Members of FASA are responsible for the Philippine Cultural Show which is presented on campus during the spring semester. The second student organization is FSA, Filipino Student Association, composed of graduate students from the Philippines. At the present time there are eight members of the University of the Philippines faculty at Virginia Tech on graduate degree programs.

Virginia Tech has a long history of work in the Philippines, although the faculty-exchange program with the University of the Philippines represents the first time that the fields of study have involved the humanities and social sciences. Earlier work involved a nutrition program that began in 1968 when R.W. Engel, for whom Engel Hall is named, assumed the position as nutrition advisor to the USAID Mission in Manila and served in that role until 1981. During Engel's tenure in the Philippines, he was responsible for bringing a number of Filipino graduate students to campus and for sending Virginia Tech faculty members on a range of assignments in the Philippines. In 1993, Frances Engel, the wife of R.W. Engel, donated her 800-volume collection of books on the Philippines to Newman Library.

Faculty members who are interested in participation in the exchange should contact David Britt at (540) 694-7181 or John A. Ballweg at 1-5779.