For over 125 years, Wheelock College, a Boston (USA)-based liberal arts institution has had a passion and mission to improve the lives of children and families. In Singapore, Wheelock’s Center for International Partners and Programs has focused for the past quarter of a century on training exemplary early childhood professionals by offering education programs that have included associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees.
Working hand-in-hand, NTUC and Wheelock developed a strategy to take full advantage of the nation’s intellectual capital as a resource for social good, with early childhood education as the linchpin. Led by NTUC’s foresight, this collaboration for a Train-the-Trainers program evolved into a capacity building model for the country that continues to be strongly supported by the Singapore government today. Given Wheelock’s strong reputation, it has been identified as a preferred partner. Indeed, the College was honored to be chosen in 2006 as the very first “Foreign Specialized Institution” to work with Singaporean educators and administrators in this discipline.
The Singapore program is critical to Wheelock College’s commitment to “internationalize” the Wheelock educational experience. This is done not only by partnering with international institutions to build capacity and meet identified local needs, but by encouraging more students and faculty from abroad to come to Boston through such experiences as the Summer Immersion Program, a key component of the Singapore Model, thus enriching life on the Boston campus.
Wheelock Professor of Special Education Felicity Crawford believes faculty have found as much value in the Center’s initiatives as the students have. “Every teaching experience in Singapore has led me down a more interdisciplinary path in my planning for teaching,” Professor Crawford said. “Were it not for the differences in perspectives to which I was exposed, the ideas and processes that govern what I do today in my classroom in the U.S. would have been much different.”
Singapore program graduate Cynthia Tan said, “Wheelock’s philosophy is about being your best, and not about pitching yourself against other people. We were seen as individuals and taught to be change agents. It was very empowering.”
Thus, a vibrant international community of knowledge and understanding is nurtured, based upon core educational principles and shared values. And not only at Wheelock and at the Center’s programs around the world, but in the hearts and minds of the students and faculty committed to this bold mission.