Four photos of the fellows separated by blue and yellow boarders. Daphna speaks to a colleague, Ilisa stands in a main hallway, Baigalmaa poses with colleagues, and Bagher visits an agricultural space.
Four of the UC Davis 2023-24 Humphrey Fellows visited community colleges across the country to exchange knowledge.

UC Davis Humphrey Fellows Lead and Share Experiences at U.S. Community Colleges

During the spring quarter, the Institute of International Education (IIE) selected four UC Davis Hubert Humphrey Fellows to participate in the Community College Residency Program (CCRP).   

The CCRP offered a one-week immersive learning and sharing experience at community colleges throughout the country, designed to meet the mutual interests and needs of both the Fellows and the colleges. This program facilitates collaboration, knowledge exchange, cultural awareness and engagement with students.

From the 100+ Fellows who applied for the CCRP, 30 Fellows were selected from 13 universities across the U.S., four places went to UC Davis. The selected Fellows were Baigalmaa Chinbat from Mongolia, Daphna Tish Feigenboim from Israel, Ilaisa Naca from Fiji, and Dr. Baghar Yousefi from Iran. The four Fellows' experiences are highlighted below in their own words with minimal editing. 

Daphna Tish-Feigenboim (Israel)

Mesa Community College, Arizona, February 6–10, 2024 

During my visit to Mesa Community College, I witnessed firsthand the key role Community Colleges play in providing quality education accessible to all.

I learned about the significant impact of community college education on economic advancement. There is a strong connection between the training provided and the needs of various industries in the United States. This connection is evident in all levels of local agricultural activity, from home gardening clubs to advanced industrial farms.

I was particularly impressed by the diversity of the student body, which included individuals of all ages and backgrounds, from high school students to seniors.

Daphna sits in a seating area with four Mesa Community College staff seated near her and three standing in the back. Behind them, two students mill around a communal computer area.
UC Davis Humphrey Fellow Daphna Tish-Feigenboim (right, seated) connects with members of staff at Mesa Community College during her visit.

During my visit, I engaged with students and faculty, participated in both theoretical and practical courses, and explored the local landscape and unique agricultural practices of the region.

These interactions allowed me to share my personal experiences as a student in an international exchange program and discuss the similarities and differences in higher education systems between my country and the U.S. Additionally, my meetings with the students were significant in exposing them to further higher education programs and personal development paths.

I visited the college alongside another Humphrey Fellow from Cornell University, Mr. Duku Emmanuel Henry Wani from South Sudan. With his background in food security and livelihoods and extensive experience in agricultural education, sharing the CCRP experience with him enriched my visit. His insights and knowledge made the entire experience more meaningful.

I believe the CCRP experience is a wonderful opportunity that has enhanced my Humphrey Fellowship, allowing me to explore new places, meet new people, and discover new possibilities.

Ilaisa Naca (Fiji)

College of Lake County Grayslake, Illinois, March 4 – 8, 2024

The College of Lake County (CLC) is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves. Arriving at CLC with Alpha Balde, a Humphrey colleague from Michigan State University and hails from Guinea, Africa, our schedule kicked off with a brief from Dr. Wojciech (Voytek) Wloch, who is CLC Senior International Officer and Director of the Department of Global Engagement. Our five-day visit was coordinated by CLC Department of Global Engagement.

Eight people in professional wear stand indoors under a blue sign on a white wall that reads "College of Lake County."
UC Davis Humphrey Fellow Ilaisa Naca (fifth from left) with College of Lake County staff members.

As a natural resource, environment policy and climate change specialist, CLC gave me a holistic and state-of-the-art experience in the work they do on sustainability. My collaboration with CLC  included speaking engagements where I shared my professional expertise and home country experiences with the campus and the broader community surrounding the campus, participated in community service activity on urban farming, met with faculty, administration, students and other community stakeholders as related to my interests and professional background, participated in class sessions, receptions, and other institutional and community events. There were extensive tours of CLC  facilities and campuses, as well as visits in the community and the Greater Chicago Area locations relevant to my disciplines and interests. 

One of the major highlights was interacting with international students who hail from 30+ countries as well as CLC robust domestic international community who shared their experience of what it is like to be an international student in the USA. All in all, the best part of my community college engagement was the network of colleagues and friends that I was able to make and will surely continue to be in touch in the near future.

Baigalmaa Chinbat (Mongolia)

Cowley Community College, Kansas, April 1 – 5, 2024

I had the enriching experience of returning to student life by participating Community College Residence Program at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas. This journey involved not just academic engagement but also residing in dorms, dining, and enjoying campus life, which gave me a feeling that I had returned to student life. I was impressed by how significantly community colleges contribute to higher education, especially the Cowley Community College. Cowley was providing essential study opportunities, financial support, and affordable education options and also was a home to the students who were away from their country and family members. The welcoming attitude of the faculty and the range of campus facilities were very friendly too. 

Baigalmaa stands at the front of a meeting room near a large monitor with a presentation title slide that reads "Exploring Mongolia." She gestures to the screen as attendees seated at tables surrounding her watch. On the tables are takeaway containers and red plastic cups, suggesting a working lunch meeting.
UC Davis Humphrey Fellow Baigalmaa Chinbat presents information about her home country of Mongolia to Cowley Community College community collaborators. 

During my week-long stay, I was privileged to:

  • Lead cultural and knowledge-sharing sessions with students and community members
  • Provide practical advice in classes, especially to students developing business plans to improve the college community.
  • Conduct a campus tour, gaining a deeper appreciation for the college's resources and environment.
  • Participate in student activities, like Bingo, and attend Student Ambassador meetings, connecting with students personally.
  • Explore the Museum of World Heritage and participate in the Etzanoa tour, enriching my understanding of Native American culture.

This opportunity has not only broadened my professional and cultural perspectives but also deepened my appreciation for the pivotal role community colleges play in fostering education and community engagement.

Bagher Yousefi (Iran)

MESA Community College, Arizona, April 21- 27, 2024

I spent one week at Mesa Community College. During this time, I engaged in several courses, including a soil lecture taught by Professor Sheri McLane and I found that in Arizona, they have a challenge with holding soil moisture, and they are working on solutions. Then, I participated in the insect collection assignment with Michael Gaspar, and we discussed how irrigation could affect insects and diseases. I also participated in a plant lab with Peter Conden, where I learned how to measure the canopy, which is very important in irrigation system design. Additionally, I visited the Backyard Garden, where I saw students creating their own gardens and planting various vegetables.

I contributed by sharing my expertise in agriculture with both students and professors. I helped students understand the practical aspects of starting their own businesses, encouraged them to pursue their ideas in agriculture and the economy, and shared valuable insights with the faculty, fostering future collaboration.

Bagher stands to the right behind a lecture table and in front of a projector screen showing an introduction slide with his headshot. He is presenting to a classroom of seven professors seated at tables in front of him.
UC Davis Humphrey Fellow Bagher Yousefi (right at the lectern) shares his agricultural experiences with professors at Mesa Community College.

On April 25, I gave a lecture for Agriculture Professors at Mesa Community College where I shared my innovative ideas on using saline water in agriculture and how to collect and store rainwater for later use. After this presentation, we had an extensive discussion, exchanging our ideas.

In addition, I spoke with Mariah D. Charlie, a Native American, about the sustainability of agriculture in native communities. I found this meeting very inspiring because they have extensive knowledge of farming in dry areas. For example, Mariah mentioned how their parents plant a special type of corn that doesn't grow very tall and can be cultivated without irrigation. Additionally, she shared that several years ago, natives from Mexico came to them to obtain seeds to replant their traditional corns. This truly exemplifies sustainability.

I gained several inspirations from the Native Americans on how they sustain agriculture in Arizona, exemplifying agricultural sustainability. I built a network in Arizona, sharing knowledge with other professors and students, and gained new ideas.

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