Hodshire back from MalaysiaPublished 5:27pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Dowagiac graduate Chris Hodshire is back in Michigan for the rest of June after a year as a visiting lecturer at USM — University Science of Malaysia.
On May 18 he was keynote speaker in KL city for the Malaysian Association of Social Work’s first national convention in conjunction with its 40th anniversary.
USM pioneered the field as the first established social work education program in Malaysia in southeast Asia.
“I’m still surprised myself,” he said Tuesday of who he replaced at the last minute for an audience he estimated at 150.
Hodshire, a 1991 Union High School graduate, said, “It would have made a big difference if I knew who I was replacing. I thought, ‘What did I get myself into at the last moment with such big shoes to fill.’ ”
The scheduled speaker was Tun Jean Abdulla, wife of the former prime minister.
Asked to speak about social and economic justice, Hodshire talked about the Kalamazoo Promise and Community in Schools initiatives, as well as national living wage campaigns to show wealth distribution and investment in local communities can spur growth and happiness.
Hodshire, a graduate of Southwestern Michigan College, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is no stranger to public speaking.
In 2005, when he graduated from U of M with honors, Hodshire was selected as commencement speaker for the graduating class by the faculty and student body.
Known for community initiatives and collaborations locally and internationally, he created the first collaboration between the non-governmental organization (NGO) Mother-to-Mother Peer Support (MMPS) of Penang, Malaysia, and United World College (UWC) of Singapore. His wife, Lydia, is from Singapore.
He is considering whether to return to Malaysia for another year or two.
Kalamazoo Public Schools’ Promise was unveiled in November 2005.
Anonymous donors funded the free college program for KPS graduates.
Since the Class of 2006, $43 million has been spent on tuition for more than 2,800 graduates.
Kalamazoo takes education seriously as a community, from Kalamazoo College, founded in 1833, being among the 100 oldest in the country to Merze Tate being the first African American to graduate from Western, KPS being first in the United States to have a presidential commencement speech at a high school by Barack Obama and an 1858 case that established high school as free.
In Kalamazoo, an after-school class in Chinese language and culture for students grades 1-5 was the brainchild of the former WMU adjunct professor in the School of Social Work. Hodshire sees the Prairie Ridge Elementary program as a pilot to expand to other schools.
Malaysia is hot and humid with British culture and heritage, but dominated by Muslims in racial conflict with Christians, Hindus and Buddhists that makes Hodshire sometimes feel “uncomfortable.”
Sizewise, SMU’s 20,000 students make it comparable to Central Michigan University.
As for how a Dowagiac guy ends up on the other side of the globe, Hodshire said starting college he was interested in aviation, whether becoming a pilot or aircraft mechanic. But the industry was losing jobs, so he transitioned into psychology, then social work, “my cup of tea.”
He returned to his home in Lansing to find it had been broken into and stripped of all copper piping.