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October 17, 2018

SVSU staff member selected as educational ambassador for trip to Sudan

A Saginaw Valley State University staff member will pursue her passion for intercultural education when she serves as one of 51 educational ambassadors selected for a trip to the nation of Sudan later this month.

The weeklong visit won't be the first trek to the northeastern Africa for Kate Scott, associate director for SVSU's Office of International and Advanced Studies and director of the English Language Program. She spent three years in Sudan as a third-grade teacher shortly after graduating from SVSU as an elementary education major in 2007.

“It's funny because a lot of my students from back then are college-aged students now,” she said. “I'd love to bring a few of them back to become SVSU students.”

Scott will depart Wednesday, Oct. 24. The purpose of the trip – organized by the Institute of International Education, a New York City-based nonprofit –  is to form relationships and exchange ideas between higher education representatives in the Sudan and United States. SVSU will be one of 32 U.S. higher education institutions represented in the group. The group plans to visit 10 Sudanese universities.

Scott said she hopes to establish networks that eventually lead to faculty exchange programs as well as student recruitment from Sudan.

“My heart beats for creating intercultural exchanges through education,” Scott said.

She will travel to Khartoum, the nation's capital. Plenty has changed for the country since she departed it in May 2010. Civil unrest led to the country splitting in two in 2011. The new country, South Sudan, continues to experience conflict between the established government and a rebel group.

Scott said she feels secure about her planned trip back to Khartoum, where she hopes to reunite with a former teaching assistant and as many of her former students as she can.

Her first stint there was a great experience, she said, despite desert temperatures that regularly soared above 110 degrees in her classroom, which had no air conditioning.

“Sudanese people are very hospitable and laid back,” Scott said. “Time is fluid for them and they are almost never in a hurry. They would bend over backwards to make sure you had what you needed.”

It was an experience that has inspired her to continue working in international education and has prepared her to better understand and navigate cultural complexities. When she returned to the United States, she was hired by SVSU as a teacher in the English Language Program, which featured a large Saudi Arabian population at the time.

Scott's recently-assumed role of associate director for the Office of International and Advanced Studies led to her applying for this opportunity.

“This is such a fabulous opportunity to create connections in a place where, historically, we haven't been able to,” she said. “I'm looking forward to it.”