Global partnerships: together we are an ocean

“Individual strengths joined together on a global level can, indeed, move mountains”

The esteemed Japanese writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa once wrote: “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

As human beings, we know that we are stronger when we work together rather than when we work in isolation, says Class2Class’ Suzanne Orzech. Akutagawa’s words seem to have come to life on a global scale as we look at the plethora of global educational partnerships that have emerged recently, thanks to human ingenuity and the desire to keep moving forward despite extreme global challenges.

Class2Class is excited to provide the technology solutions to many global pioneers who have come together to develop virtually collaborative courses, projects, and internships as an affordable and inclusive model for international education with other universities, NGOs and businesses around the world during a time of limited physical mobility. What is truly inspiring to see is the evolution of collective thought.

As different and varied as all of these partnerships are, they have the same goal in mind: advance international education and make it accessible to all, despite some extremely severe obstacles.

Investigating virtual exchange

A few of the global trailblazers that C2C has the honour of partnering with include The Stevens Initiative, which together with The Aspen Institute is funding an international research project to investigate issues in virtual exchange design, practice and knowledge sharing.

This will allow for a better understanding of how virtual exchange can serve communities whose access to international education has been limited, and it will critically assess virtual exchange as a vehicle for action, public engagement, and socio-political change.


The Institute for Innovative Global Education (IIGE) out of Kansai University in Japan aims to build new ties and strengthen those already existing between Japanese and higher education institutions all over the world. Using C2C’s platform, students and faculty work together across borders by applying the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) method.

IIGE serves to generate new partnerships by introducing this mode of virtual collaboration, in particular with higher education institutions in the United States through the U.S- Japan COIL Initiative.

The State University of New York (SUNY) COIL Center pioneered the COIL model of virtual exchange more than 15 years ago to provide meaningful, intercultural, and cost-effective opportunities for global experiences built into programs of study, and it continues to grow and expand their network of global educators who are implementing COIL as a part of their regular instruction.

Intercultural resources

Crossing Borders Education sponsors and helps to create intercultural resources, films, and travel programs that empower individuals to view the world from multiple perspectives.

Their primary objectives are to produce engaging educational resources and programmes which connect people of diverse backgrounds.

They do this by supporting constructive dialogues in intercultural and interracial settings, in order to help people develop intercultural communication skills and enhance social justice awareness, with the goal being to awaken youth’s interest in civic engagement on local and global issues.

The list goes on

Global partnerships such as the Stevens Initiative, IIGE, SUNY COIL and Crossing Borders Education are but a few examples of global pioneers who have long recognised the importance of intercultural competence and inclusivity in global education while maintaining a high level of student engagement.

Despite the challenges of our current terrain. The recognition that individual strengths joined together on a global level can, indeed, move mountains and set the stage for international success has inspired organisations all over the world to move out of isolation into a collective mindset.

What a truly incredible model for society as a whole. “Together, we are an ocean.”


About the author: Suzanne Orzech is the director of partner support for Class2Class. Orzech has spent over 30 years in international education, holding degrees in business and education from the University of Connecticut and the Université de Rouen.