|Internationalizing Psi Chi Through Personal Connections
|Martha Zlokovich, PhD, Psi Chi Executive Director
After 80 years as the national honor society in psychology, Psi Chi chapters voted to become an international organization in 2009. Since then, 14 chapters (http://www.psichi.org/?page=chapter_search) in 10 countries outside of the United States have joined the Society (and a 15th has been approved). However, we must not stop here; our international connections are priceless. For example, when I was in high school, I spent a semester in Braunschweig, Germany. The family I lived with had two daughters, Kathrein and Antje. Their father had been an exchange student to the United States and was thrilled to have an American exchange student in their home. That semester was one of the most important experiences of my life. Not only did I learn German, take my first international trip, and become immersed in German culture, I also made lifelong friends. The oldest daughter of my German family, Kathrein, later lived for a year in my parents’ home and graduated from my high school. We now consider one another family—I can affirm that international connections can be life-changing.
How can you help Psi Chi continue to make international connections and participate in bringing chapters to other countries? Making the most of your personal contacts by noticing the international connections in your own department may be key. No matter how small or remote your university or chapter, think about what international connections your chapter does have. Does your chapter have members who are students or faculty from other countries, who have lived or worked in other countries, or who speak languages other than English? Exchange students studying psychology at an institution with a chapter may join Psi Chi as long as they meet all eligibility requirements. This means many chapters do have members from other countries. In addition, your full-time faculty with doctorates in psychology may join Psi Chi regardless of their nationality. Members with international experiences can expand individual perspectives while they are on your campus, and later they could take Psi Chi back to their home countries. With these facts in mind, your chapter probably has rich resources for creating far-reaching connections that go well beyond your campus. If chapters encourage members to get to know one another well, doors could open to opportunities around the world. Whether that takes the form of international members sharing their unique expertise at chapter meetings or social events, alumni communicating from afar with current members, or members meeting old friends again during their future travels or career moves, such personal connections could be very enriching and enlightening.
Several chapters have already made online connections with one another across national borders. Students in the United States and Guatemala have met one another using social media platforms such as Skype and Google Hangouts to share ideas for chapter meetings and officer activities. Members all over the world communicate daily via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We hope that chapters also consider joint international research projects, and share similarities and differences in psychology education. If your chapter is interested in connecting with an international chapter via social media, contact me at Martha.Zlokovich@psichi.org.
In order to encourage new international connections, Psi Chi is seeking members who are willing and able to volunteer as Psi Chi Ambassadors by visiting a psychology department during their international travels. Ambassadors are typically graduate students or faculty Psi Chi members, but undergraduates may be considered if they have special international connections, travel plans, or study-abroad opportunities. Ambassadors have been involved with their chapter as active members, officers, alumni, or faculty advisors. They should be familiar with the requirements for membership and willing to learn about the requirements to apply for a chapter. With first-hand experience as a member of a chapter, they can explain well what Psi Chi is, why a department should apply for a chapter, what members do on campus, and what benefits a chapter could bring to the students and faculty in the department. Ambassadors visit psychology faculty and students at a campus in or near a city (or cities) they planned to visit anyway to let them know about Psi Chi and how to apply for a chapter. For information on starting a chapter, go to http://www.psichi.org/default.asp?page=start_chapter
Members who plan to move to another country for graduate study or work can also help bring Psi Chi to more universities outside the United States. As long as they are willing to visit at least one psychology department there, members moving to another country promote Psi Chi internationally as well. In addition, if English is not the country’s language, they could be of great help assisting with the department’s application.
Every member can share Psi Chi experiences with psychology students and faculty from other institutions. Do not miss this wonderful chance to create long-lasting relationships that you will one day look back on just as affectionately as I do my time with my German family. Spreading the word about Psi Chi is a perfect opportunity for you to meet new people, so be sure to do so wherever you go. If you should ever speak with someone at a college or university who is interested in starting a chapter on their campus, please direct them to the website above. And whether you take a trip near or far, safe travels!
A high school
teacher in Pensacola, Florida, inspired Dr. Martha S. Potter Zlokovich
to pursue psychology as a career. She completed her BA in psychology at UCLA,
and MS and PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Florida.
Zlokovich joined Psi Chi in 2008 as its second Executive Director, leaving
Southeast Missouri State University after teaching there for 17 years. This
move, however, was not her first involvement with Psi Chi. She served as
chapter advisor since 1993, as Midwestern Region Vice-President (1998-2000),
and as National President of Psi Chi (2003-04). In 1996, Southeast’s chapter
won the Ruth Hubbard Cousin’s National Chapter of the Year Award, and several
chapter members have won Psi Chi Regional Research Awards at MPA and/or had
their research published in Psi Chi's Journal.
Southeast, Dr. Zlokovich taught Child Development, Adolescent Development,
Lifespan Development, Advanced Child Psychology, and Introductory Psychology
for Majors. She also served as chair of the department. Her research interests
have focused on student study habits, study beliefs, and persistence to
graduation as well as adolescent and young
adult contraception and sexuality.
Zlokovich and her husband Neil have two sons and a daughter-in-law. Aaron
(Truman State University, 2010) and Stephanie live in Lexington, KY and Matthew
is a senior civil engineering major at the University of Alabama.
Copyright 2013 (Volume 18, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the
International Honor Society in Psychology
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