Up close and personal with - Eddie West
Eddie West is Director of International Programs at UC Berkeley Extension, where he provides leadership of short-term study programs for international students, including Berkeley Global Access, Berkeley-Haas Global Access, International Diploma Programs and the College Foundations Program for international high school students. From 2013 to 2016 he led international initiatives at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Prior to that he served as the senior international officer at Ohlone College – a 2-year community college – and earlier oversaw international student recruitment and support at California State University, Northridge’s Intensive English Program. West began his professional career in international education as an English teacher in Osaka, Japan. He has published on the topic of international student recruitment agents, and co-authored a number of NACAC publications for international students and international education professionals. West obtained his undergraduate degree in English from UCLA, and his master’s degree in communication management from the University of Southern California.
What do you like best about your job and why?
I enjoy meeting and talking with students, something I don’t get to do nearly enough these days, unlike earlier in my career. When I meet with international students at UC Berkeley Extension, I’m reminded of when I first moved to Japan, and that eyes- wide-open sensation I had because everything was so new. I see that in many of our students’ faces. Their excitement, and their eagerness to learn and to share of themselves, is so affirming of the work we do as international educators.
What is your current country of interest and why?
I would have to say India, because of the enormous potential the country holds in terms of international student mobility and partnership development – two key emphases of my current work. That and the shift we’re beginning to see with Indian students heading overseas at younger and younger ages. For example, we run pre-collegiate university preparatory programs, and are hoping to welcome more Indian students into those in the future. Also, at UC Berkeley Extension we offer quite a lot of career-oriented education – regular offerings as well as custom programs – and we anticipate the need for that kind of professional development to increase considerably in India as its economy grows and its industries mature.
What is your greatest challenge?
Work-life balance. We’re fortunate in this field to have no shortage of opportunity to do good work. Yet I have to periodically remind myself that we can’t do it all – we can’t say 'yes' to every overture that comes our way, for instance. And that’s sometimes challenging because our mission at Extension is to expand access to UC Berkeley through the non-degree programs we run, so we really want to bring as many new students and partners into our community as we can. I try to remind myself that I’m best-serving Berkeley, our students, and our partners not by burning the candle at both ends, but by pacing myself and making sure I have some buffer in my calendar, both professionally and personally.
What keeps you up at night?
Unfortunately I’d have to say the recent changing of the political guard in the U.S. The Trump Administration is obviously already damaging America’s reputation in the world, and that’s adversely impacting our relationships with prospective international students and overseas colleagues. One of our students recently told me she doesn’t feel as welcome in the States as she’d like – given the hostile rhetoric and policy making. So much of what this new administration espouses is so antithetical to the values that motivate the important work of international educators. In a perverse way, this political earthquake in the U.S. serves as a wake-up call – a stark reminder of the importance of education to inoculate people and societies against bigotry and fear-mongering. We have a lot of work to do, and we need to get on with it.
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure right now is a strangely addictive phone app called Candy Crush Saga. Now that I’m living in the Bay Area I ride Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains to and from work each day, which gives me time to read, relax and also play that game – really to a fault. I very recently cleared the Easter Bunny Hills levels, and I'm not looking back.