When I first received an invitation to come to China to be part of a UNESCO team for an engineering report, I thought, “Wow, what a tremendous honor.” As the days have gone on here in China, I am realizing that it is a bigger honor than I ever imagined. I am extremely honored to have been chosen by UNESCO as one of the experts to lead sections of their key report on engineering education for the world. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. It ties my passions together: Global attention, STEM, and peace!
“UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.” – unesco.org
Some snippets from the official letters and program are shared here. For some, things like this may be part of their daily routine. For me, it is part of a dream — a true blessing, as it represents something that I have always wanted to do — be an ambassador for STEM. One of the people from the UNESCO office in Paris told me in a conversation over a meal, “You’re definitely part of the team.”
UNESCO Letter, acknowledging affiliation with The Graduate School at UMBC, and the College of Engineering and IT
Tsinghua letter, with the University System of Maryland affiliation
Today, I was escorted in and out of VIP rooms, saw my name placed around the head tables, and was invited to shared my opinions on topics that are near and dear to me. It was an honor to be asked to share perspectives on engineering education content, diversity and inclusion, and on developing engineering education policy.
Today is one of those days when all kinds of advice and encouragement received comes rushing back to remind me of both past challenges and of sacrifices. I hear my parents reminding me to study and work hard, I hear my pastor reminding me to keep the faith, I hear my friends reminding me to keep going, I hear my teachers/professors/mentors telling me that they pushed me for my own good, I hear my family cheering me on, and I hear my husband giving me the push to go.
A snippet of a page from the program with my UMBC affiliation in the College of Engineering and IT
In this world, I am learning that every lesson that I’ve had in both personal and professional areas are being put to use. Pragmatics are key, and when in doubt, ask before acting. I’ve been talking with new colleagues who have been kind to ask about customs to make sure that I don’t do anything to offend. There are little things to remember, such as eat your refreshments during the break, in the break area, and not in the meeting room. Key for me tonight was talking with a colleague from the region seated next to me about the custom of the toasts, and deciding to go through the numerous rounds of toasting over dinner with my green juice instead of the wine. It’s always important to be true to yourself.
I learned that the experiences that I have had throughout the years added up to something that made me a fit for this assignment. My path is not very traditional, and some of the curves and twists and turns in my path were not of my choosing. However, experiences like this one remind me of lessons taught in Bible study about having faith for the long-term, and I am thankful!
This post allows me a moment of gratitude as I reflect and think about all of the people who encouraged me to follow my dreams, and to remember all who continue to give me latitude to pursue them. My thanks to all of you.
This post might port to Twitter because of the WordPress feature, although I’m unable to access Twitter directly. Thanks to all who linked to this post from there.