By Julie Funasaki Yuen
This fall, Mid-Pacific welcomed Chris Rothschild as Director of the Global Exchange Academy. Born and raised on O‘ahu, he most recently spent over a decade at the University of Washington as a Senior Research Scientist and part-time faculty, working with community partners to lead global research projects and direct study abroad programs. He is passionate about providing global experiential learning for diverse learners, having directed over 15 study abroad programs in Tahiti, Ghana, and Brazil on traditional knowledge systems, oral traditions, and field research methods. Here’s what he has to share about joining the Mid-Pacific ‘Ohana.
What is your role as Director of the Global Exchange Academy?
The Global Exchange Academy(GlobalX) is, alongside Kupu HouAcademy, Mid-Pacific’s fourth school. Through a blended learning platform, the goal of GlobalX is to enable students in the U.S., Asia, and the Pacific to advance their academic, co-curricular, and professional goals through summer school, micro-courses, certificate-based courses, community-based learning, and other innovative programs. As Director, the most important part of my role is working with our diverse, and expanding community, (here at Mid-Pacific and across O‘ahu and the globe) to build and maintain GlobalX in a way that responds to the complex needs and passions of students and teachers. I have a responsibility and accountability to the growing group of students, teachers, community members, and families that participate and are touched by our programs. We must stay knowledgeable of teaching, curriculum design and technology trends, while creating programming that supports evolving learner realities and allows them to feel represented in our courses. Through active partnerships that include listening to communities across and outside of Hawai‘i, we will implement rigorous, equitable programming that expands the breadth of the Mid-Pacific ‘Ohana, instills joy in students, and inspires all students to make positive change.
How will you apply your experience at the University of Washington at Mid-Pacific?
Conducting global research and leading study abroad programs at the University of Washington (UW) allowed me to meet and work together with people around the world and students at UW to create learning opportunities from global experiences. These experiences would not have been possible without building equitable partnerships on campus, with local institutions, and with students. I am particularly excited to incorporate these practices and activities at Mid-Pacific and the Global Exchange Academy, whether in programs at home or a broad, to enhance student confidence and agency in shaping their future educational, professional, and personal opportunities. This can be accomplished through any type of course, from computer science and cooking, to hula and history. We can come together to help students form genuine and internalized ways of viewing the world that involve constant growth through appreciating our different realities. This approach to global perspectives can be nurtured virtually, from home, or abroad, as we find opportunities to understand the unique complexities within our own communities.
What will inform your process when curating Global Exchange Academy curriculum?
Through the Global Exchange Academy, we will support learners from different backgrounds, ages, and lived experiences. The idea of “school” is rapidly changing as students and their families look beyond the walls of the traditional classroom to meet their expanding interests and needs. The curriculum content, methods of instruction, and timing of programs must be nimble and meet these diverse expectations, requiring a student-centered approach and recognizing the range of learner experiences and interests. We will use deeper learning principles, honest internal evaluation, current and relevant academic literature and professional practices, and continual broad-reaching stakeholder engagement, which will then shape the ways we select content, teachers, pedagogies, and technologies to reach a broad audience of students and maximize learning experiences.
What is your favorite thing about returning home to Hawai‘i?
There is a reason so many people talk about the spirit of ‘Ohana in Hawai‘i: because it’s so present and incredibly special. I have felt a sense of comfort returning to a place inhabited by this spirit, and nowhere is that felt more than on the Mid-Pacific campus. Smiles, greetings, kokua, and care are constant. When creating meaningful education programs, there is a unique sort of accountability that we have when part of a small community. It has been immensely refreshing to be around genuine people who have true love and passion for supporting students and each other. I’m a product of the outdoors, and am also excited to return to the ocean and mountains. My curiosity growing up has always been piqued through being outside. Surfing, diving, fishing, hiking- nature in the islands rejuvenates me. I’m excited to find ways to support our students, wherever they are located, to also find a love and respect for the environment, and a love and respect for learning.
What excites you most about the Global Exchange Academy?
The Global Exchange Academy provides a unique opportunity to build programs from the bottom up. Very rarely do we have the exciting luxury (and responsibility) to meet students where they are and co-create not just content, but also learning and administrative structures. The incredible work at Mid-Pacific in Deeper Learning has established a foundation from which we can confidently partner and grow across Hawai‘i and the globe. I am excited to work with the great people here and beyond to create meaningful programs that bring joy and curiosity to students. And in true startup fashion, we can look thoughtfully at education to incorporate learning opportunities that use technology to enhance reach and outcomes.