Commentary: Local community colleges are essential for global needs

Even across the Pacific, I often think of my home community of Newport Beach.

While the coronavirus has stabilized in China for over a year, everyone knows how difficult it is to contain the virus, to get everyone vaccinated and to make sure everyone is well supplied. and productive during sudden and long quarantines.

I always praise local community colleges for their institutional role. During blockages at home, the biggest challenge is using downtime, often with limited resources. Having previously had an online distance learning system, Coastline Community College was poised to leverage it in a way that even top-ranked universities couldn’t. As Yale faced legal action for charging full tuition for Zoom online courses, Coastline was functioning as always and could accommodate additional students as well.

In my free time since the start of the pandemic, I have done a lot more online, both as a student and as a teacher. With one more push to complete this next fall semester, I will have received 10 associate’s degrees in various subjects as a form of personal enrichment. In addition, I have donated some of my teaching materials to teach English as an ESL and for incoming refugees from Afghanistan. I teach and mentor immigrants who wish to work in necessary fields, such as home health aides, and who can obtain immigration to the United States, Canada and Australia with in-demand skills.

While formal education in obscure ideology has often been seen as the preserve of the wealthy with free time, people from all walks of life could benefit from it. In particular, I commend the Careers and Technical Education Department for its extensive training and hands-on approach. With the rapid and widespread impact of the pandemic, we can see the need for healthcare professionals around the world for the foreseeable future. Health programs allied with the OCC would allow people to double their current earning capacity in one to two years of formal study.

With stimulus checks from the federal government and California, additional child benefits and working people under exceptional circumstances, some marginalized people who often worked minimum were allowed up to $ 1,000 a week to pay for housing, the children’s food, transportation, clothing and expenses. Why not take advantage of the rebound in the labor market by acquiring additional skills to ensure this standard of living on fair market wages?

With income-based fee waivers, computer and book-sharing programs, and even cash financial aid, the cost of earning more associate’s degrees and skills-based certificates becomes almost free. For those working in a profession such as a doctor, nurse, lawyer or manager, more “middle skills” will only help diversity and improve quality of life.

Perhaps most relevant, Kristoffer Toribio of the Global Engagement Center at Orange Coast College has now started his tenure as President of the International Assn. college admissions advice. In some ways, he has become one of the most connected men in higher education. Anyone with ambitions would be wise to use their open door policy and talk to them.

Over the past two weeks we have watched the unfortunate events in Afghanistan unfold. Our veterans and possibly thousands of refugees will be part of the existing Persian and Afghan communities in Newport Beach and Irvine. As multibillion dollar wars and military aid have failed, let’s see if great energy and investments in local social services can have a more lasting impact.

Someone moving from homelessness to medical school or Harvard law school in a single afternoon may be unrealistic, but achieve basic high school equivalency, English as a second language, dorms, health services, liberal arts, relevant job skills, and affordable places to transfer may be more feasible than initially thought. Many people in Orange County want a brighter future, many American servicemen are still coming back to life in America, and there could be many arrivals soon. It is best to devote resources and commitment to local community services with a proven track record of success.

Joseph Klunder is a teacher and advisor. He grew up in Newport Beach and is currently a teacher and counselor in Beijing.

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