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Recruitment Efforts Look East as College Grows International Offerings

MICA Expands Educational Experience to Include a Global Context

Posted 09.01.11 by MICA communications

Alessandra Torres '02, pictured left, visited the Great Wall of China as part of her trip to advise potential MICA students.

According to Theresa Bedoya, vice president of admission and financial aid, one of MICA's priorities is expanding the educational experience at MICA to include a global context.

"We want our students to have the opportunity to use art and design as a vehicle for meaningful cultural encounters. That's one of the reasons we've strived to increase our international student population," Bedoya said. "For artists and designers to be relevant in the 21st century's global society, an international perspective is a must."

China--a growing force with the world's second-largest economy--is vital to gaining the kind of worldview the College is promoting. And over the past few years, both undergraduate and graduate applications from China have risen dramatically.

MICA received 147 undergraduate and graduate applications from China for fall 2011, up from 31 in 2007. And Chinese students accounted for 34 percent of all international applications in 2011, up from 15 percent in 2007.

In response to this increase, MICA sent an admission counselor to China in spring 2011, the first of what Bedoya hopes will be many recruiting visits to that country.

Alessandra Torres, the admission counselor who made the trip, visited art schools in four Chinese cities this March. A MICA alumna and faculty member, Torres advised potential students on the admission process and portfolio preparation, and left the country deeply impressed by the students she met.

"They felt they were learning technical skills but really wanted to unlock their creativity at MICA," she said in a front-page story in The Baltimore Sun about MICA's recruitment in China.

Torres' trip wasn't MICA's first experience with the country, however. The College's ties to China go back to the 1990s, when MICA hosted a delegation from a Chinese art school. Within the last two years, MICA has hosted six delegations from Chinese art schools. Ray Allen, the College's provost, has made two trips to that country, the last with President Fred Lazarus IV. And the College's efforts to expand the global context continue, with a master's program in development that would give art teachers from around the world the ability to share their traditions of artmaking and pedagogy with one another.

As proof of the College's commitment to its growing population of international students, MICA offers a number of programs to help those students make the transition to studying at an American art college. These include English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, such as an intensive three-day orientation for international students, and a support structure for language that includes a buddy system and a studio-based course that emphasizes art vocabulary (see link for full range of offerings). The Office of International Affairs provides a comprehensive array of services, including workshops and educational programs throughout the year, as well as cross-cultural advising for the MICA community, where faculty, staff, and students with questions about intercultural issues can go for advice.

On the flip side of international offerings, the College wants to increase opportunities for domestic students to study abroad. According to Bedoya, "It's important that our students are exposed to the different viewpoints that study abroad offers. It's also vital that when they experience this kind of study, they don't engage in ‘art tourism.' We want them to experience a genuine exploration of the culture."

Petra Visscher, MICA's director of international affairs, said, "If a student from MICA goes to another country to study, they're not just going to look at art-they're going to work collaboratively with artists and designers who live there. And when they leave MICA, they're going to be better artists and designers because of that."

READ: The Baltimore Sun (front-page story), "Chinese Students a Growing Presence at MICA"
READ: The full range of ESL offerings


Image caption: Alessandra Torres '02, pictured left, visited the Great Wall of China as part of her trip to advise potential MICA students.