A decade and 4,200 miles from his alma mater, Rick Huizinga ’03 had a light-bulb moment about his Calvin education.

“I finally realized what Calvin did not only for me, but for all its students,” he said.

An education major, Huizinga went to South Korea after graduation. “I was directionless,” he said. “I just knew I wanted to travel and to teach.”

For four years in two different schools, he taught English to all ages, developed curricula, and trained other teachers. “In Korea, I made international education my focus,” he said.

After another four years teaching international students in California, Huizinga enrolled in a master’s program in Finland.

“People came from all over the world to study the exceptional Finnish education system,” he said. “Our professors stressed the importance of teaching the whole student, developing each one as a person. Then it hit me: That’s what Calvin’s education program does.

“Wherever I went at Calvin, the values of justice, mercy, and service were being developed in me in both practical and reflective ways. Those of us trained as teachers learned to develop those values in our own students, to address them as whole persons. That’s effective teaching.”

Huizinga is now on the staff development team at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. There he trains an international faculty in best teaching practices.

Because the University of Groningen is a partner in a new European Union-funded project, Huizinga is able to bring his expertise to the classrooms of a new country. As a lead trainer in a project of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, he travels to Poland to guide cohorts of 16 university instructors through a yearlong course designed to improve their teaching.

“These are high-quality teachers,” Huizinga said. “They’re thirsty for this knowledge. My job is to help them shift to a more student-centered perspective on learning. I’m teaching the education values that Calvin taught me.”