Today@Sam Article

Graduate Students Return From Summer Travel Inspired By International Education

Sept. 11, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Wes Hamilton

Cover500Returning to campus this fall a common conversation starter is typically “what did you do this summer?” While most Sam Houston State University students take time off and relax, many will take classes or continue to work year round. Few though, have as unique a summer story as those students in the Comparative and Global Education graduate program.

Graduate students Sylvia Avila, a physical education teacher at Huntsville Intermediate, and Luke Turner, a former teacher of English in Vietnam, traveled to the city of Syktyvkar to help provide professional development for teachers in the Komi Republic of Russia.

Bill Edgington, the program’s coordinator, and Andrey Koptelov, director of SHSU’s Center for International Education accompanied them during this trip as well. According to Edgington, who was recently honored for more than 20 years of faculty service at SHSU, students and faculty provided presentations in their areas of expertise and experience during a three-day conference.


“The teachers appreciate the shared knowledge we provided and the group was able to participate in invaluable professional dialogue,” Edgington said. “Getting these students on the ground and in practice is vital. We didn’t realize how common the challenges are across international boundaries.”

SHSU is the only program in Texas with a graduate degree in International Education. Students in the program come from all walks of life, so providing opportunities to interact with educators across the globe offers them a unique perspective.

A446F82F-B4E1-41D4-88B5-D0C5DB5C3908“This trip allowed me to gain a better understanding that education is universal, yet is practiced in so many different ways around the world,” Avila said. “We have similar challenges from low teacher salaries, to low budgets and low support. It was good to learn from others and share my knowledge. I made lifelong education colleagues who truly believe in bettering the education system.”

Avila says she looks forward to finishing her graduate work at SHSU, and recommends anyone curious about education on an international level to look into this program.

“I would challenge anyone interested in this field to travel to and learn from our neighbors around the world,” Avila said. “This trip gave me a larger perspective of what I can do with my studies and it also provided me an experience to collaborate and discuss topics with some of Russia’s top federal and regional experts in education.”

While students learn about international education throughout the program at SHSU, it is hard to top firsthand experience in the field. Presenters and participants felt the content and presentations led to more cultural awareness and understanding.

IMG_2405“The opportunity for our students to be involved with philosophical and educational practices in action was amazing to see,” Edgington said. “It sounds like a cliché, but experience really is the best teacher.”

This trip was made possible thanks to scholarships from the Graduate School which provided help with travel costs for Avila and Turner. In addition to their time in Syktyvkar, the delegation from SHSU was able to explore the sights and culture of Moscow. Edgington hopes to continue international trips for students in the future.

To learn more about the Master of Education in Comparative and Global Education and how you can be involved in international education events visit

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