Monday, March 4, 2019

Students get to the heart of Congress

Students and faculty from the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to the U.S. Capitol, the home of  Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the federal government. Read what they had to say about their trip.

Alhumaid Abdulhamid                                                               

One of the most exciting field trips hosted by Virginia Tech since I enrolled was the visit to the Capitol Building. There, we saw many interesting things, such as the many statues, the Capitol Rotunda, and the great dome.

The trip began at the school, where we met before we walked to the Metro station. There we took the train that was going to Capitol South Station. The trip took almost half an hour. Then we walked for ten minutes to the Capitol Building. We took a group picture with my classmates and my teachers in front of the building. Then we went to the main entrance, where we went through security check. After that, we got our tickets and waited for the tour to begin. While we were waiting, we looked around the main hall that had many statues. Then the tour began, first we entered a theater where we saw a 15-minute film about the history of the Capitol. Then we met a tour guide named Norah, who showed as around the building.

The first stop was the base of the Capitol Rotunda. There, we saw the many pillars holding it. Also, the guide told us about the center point of the District of Columbia and that there is no mailing address for the building because it was the central of the capital and all the streets lead to it. 

The next stop was the Capitol Dome. I was amazed by the beautiful paintings and how high it is. The guide told us that the Statue of Liberty can fit under it. Below the dome, on the walls of the Rotunda, there were large paintings, and each one of them represents a time in the American history. Also, in the Rotunda and in many places of the building there were statues that represent each state of America. These statues are either presidents or people who the states wanted to honor for their good deeds. 

In conclusion, we enjoyed our time during the tour, and we learned about the history of the Capitol Building. The Rotunda, the dome and the many statues were fascinating. I would like to visit The Capitol Building again with my family someday.

Gufran Alyati

One of my greatest field trips was yesterday. I have never thought that I would visit the United States Capitol until I joined the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.

The first thing we did when we gathered at Virginia Tech meeting room took the Metro from West Falls Church station to Capitol south station. Second, when we arrived at the Capitol we took some pictures of the building from outside. Then, we got our tour passes and entered the center of the hall where there many statues. There were two unique statues to me. One of them was the enormous white statute where I took a selfie with it. Also, I liked the golden statuette for the first king of Hawaii who united the island chiefdoms into a peaceful kingdom. The statue was amazing with unique golden clothe. Third, we went to the theater for a 15-minute movie. It was about how the presidents started to build the Capitol and then how they rebuild the dome after the British war. Fourth, we saw the breathtaking dome. It was vast and incredible. The dome was built from cast iron and painted by Roman painters. One of the most famous statues in the dome hall was for Dr.Norman Eborlaug. His nickname is “ The Father of The Green Revolution." This doctor brought the corn and oatmeal to the USA, South Africa, and the middle east. Fifth, we went to the Supreme Court galleria room. The design was fantastic and historical with the red sofa in the middle and dark brown wood furniture. There were many candles around in the place. Finally, the journey was ending.

It was one of my best field trips. The United States Capitol building was beautiful and full of history which I liked end enjoyed it a lot.

Anonymous Student

Today I visited the US Capitol Building. It is a very important place. The Senate and the House of Representatives come together to discuss, debate and deliberate national policy and craft the country’s lows. It is a very enormous place. it’s over 1.5 million square feet. It has more than 600 rooms and a lot of corridors. Also, this capitol building has a huge white dome. The construction of this dome took more than 11 years. It is overlooking the city of Washington D.C. and it has become an icon of the Americans people and the government. People started to be building this building in 1793. Then it was burnt and rebuild again. The capitol building is divided into five levels. Each floor is dedicated to something different. The interesting thing is that the capitol building is not only for the use of congress, also, it is a museum for the Americans arts and histories. It is open to the public. Each year the building welcomed a million of people from around the world. If you have not visited this place yet, I highly recommend it for you to know the history about the US laws.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Argentine Fulbright students take New York City by storm

Sebastián Dell Elce, one of 10 Argentine students participating in the Friends of Fulbright Argentina Undergraduate Exchange Program at Virginia Tech, wrote recently about the group's trip to New York City.

Exploring New York's Chinatown.
And just like that I woke up in the City That Never Sleeps. I had always dreamed about visiting this place, and finally I was there, in the city where dreams come true, where a great part of the main events of the world take place. So many dreamers, such possibilities, and yet I still could not have foreseen the incredible day it was.

The rest of the Friends of Fulbright students and I started the day with a surprise birthday party for our peer and friend, Agustina. A muffin and some balloons were set in anticipation for the coming day.

 We began our tour visiting Grand Central Station. Thousands of movies show New York City’s famous station, and we discovered why. Its majestic lamps, huge posters and well-known clock make this station unique. Then we went on and walked to the New York Public Library. But not only for the books is it famous; its architecture and art pieces are human heritage. By the time we left, it was already time to stop for lunch — but only for a small break, as we didn’t want to lose a second. The best was about to start.

"The 11th Argentinian Hokie.Argent"
We walked between never-ending skyscrapers for some minutes and then went inside one. They were waiting for us, “the Argentinians.” All of a sudden, a man appeared speaking in very Argentinian Spanish. We sat in a meeting room, and he started talking. We had never imagined such an inspiring story. He was also a Fulbrighter, very involved with his job, which consists of South-South and triangular cooperation. His passion for and confidence in what he does was breathtaking. He also mentioned the importance of having a worldwide perspective, and how you can change the future independently where you work.

We then moved to another building — as astonishing as the first — for a second meeting. After going upstairs, an Argentine shield appeared. Finding that Argentine symbol in the middle of the big city was moving. It was the Permanent Mission of Argentina in the United Nations. After introducing ourselves, they started explaining what they do and how they are representing Argentina to the world, before later opening a discussion regarding Argentina’s role in the world.

The day went on, and we attended the MoMA to see some of the most famous pieces of art in the world. After eating some slices of famous New York pizza while sitting in the street with our formal clothes, we returned to the hotel.

That’s how I finished one the most incredible days in my life, proud of the Argentinians who are representing my country, and inspired by their lives to be a better world citizen and a better professional.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

At United Nations, Argentine students are challenged to change the world

On a characteristically bustling New York City afternoon, students from Virginia Tech’s Friends of Fulbright Argentina Undergraduate Exchange Program gathered at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan. There, they met with Jorge Chediek, director of the U.N. Office for South-South Cooperation and envoy of the secretary-general on SSC, and Alejandro Verdier, deputy permanent representative to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Argentina to the U.N. Both encouraged the students to think about how they can make an international impact.

For Clara Perez Bonin, a civil engineering student from the National Technological University in Buenos Aires province, the experience of attending such meetings was unique. “It gave us a new perspective of global collaboration,” she said. “It made us feel interested to try and do our part in working for a better world.”

Discussions centered on the U.N.’s work of integrating the political, human, social, and economic aspects of making the world more equitable. The students learned specifically about the Sustainable Development Goals, or Agenda 2030 after the deadline for meeting them. Adopted by all 193 member states in 2015, the goals form a global action plan  to end extreme poverty, protect the planet, and bring prosperity to all humans.

The students talked about Argentina’s role in addressing Agenda 2030, including confronting the country’s target of eliminating poverty.

“It was interesting to see the problematics that Argentina is involved in, which were a little bit different from what I imagined,” said Lautaro Lorenzen, an electrical engineering student from the National University of La Plata in Buenos Aires province.

As the Sustainable Development Goals are a joint, universal compromise, the meetings animated the students to consider how they could play a role in effecting change in Argentina and the world – how they, as STEM students, could bridge the gap between technologists, entrepreneurs, and nation-states to collaboratively, sustainably innovate.

“The hosts were very generous and showed us what their jobs were like,” Perez Bonin said. “They opened our minds to international networking and its importance – something that may sometimes be strange for technology students.” 

Gonzalo German Guendulain, from the National University of C├│rdoba, agreed. As a biotechnology student, he said, he doesn’t usually find himself in a diplomatic environment. “Visiting the U.N. gave me a completely new sight of the opportunities we – students from different universities – have for contributing our knowledge to a world that’s constantly changing. Beginning to visualize our professions as a link to people from around Earth, and deconstructing the idea of involving ourselves in political surroundings to contribute to this purpose made me realize that every person from this group has capacities necessary to help construct a fairer, more developed, and friendlier world.”

Written by program coordinator Leslie Jernegan

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Argentine Fulbright students get a taste of life as Hokies

Friends of Fulbright Argentina students meet with Jorge Chediek, director of the U.N. Office for South-South Cooperation.
For Mercedes Saenz, one of 10 undergraduate students from Argentina spending seven weeks studying at Virginia Tech, the experience is more than an academic exchange.

The biotechnology student from the National University of Rosario in Santa Fe province said much of her learning has come not from the classroom but from the residence hall. “My roommate is Pakistani-American,” Saenz said. “We’ve gotten along great since we met each other. We spend hours talking about our home countries, showing pictures, and comparing our traditions and cultures.”

In its third year at Virginia Tech, the Friends of Fulbright Argentina Undergraduate Exchange Program is organized and implemented by the Language and Culture Institute. The program enables high-achieving Argentine students to live and learn at a U.S. university. Its goals are to provide a meaningful study abroad experience for participants and to bring diverse perspectives into Virginia Tech’s classrooms.

Read more at VT News.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

LCI staff honored at Outreach and International Affairs banquet

Vice President Guru Ghosh (third from right) salutes LCI Director Donald Back (right) and other LCI staff members at the annual OIA Celebrate Success event.
Faculty and staff from the Language and Culture Institute were recognized last month at the annual Outreach and International Affairs Celebrate Success event.

The LCI's AdvantageVT and Hokies in the Middle East teams were recognized with the Hokie Stone team award, and Diana Martens, program coordinator in Northern Virginia, was honored with the Ut Prosim Award.

The Hokie Stone award is given to:
  • Members of a team who have come together to make an exceptional effort and impact on their own organization or across units.
  • Team‐members exhibit superior communication, supporting collaborative relationships, or innovative approaches to conducting our work.

Andrea Todd (left) and Rita Rowand (right) present the Ut Prosim Award to Diana Martens.
The Ut Prosim Award is given to someone who:
  • Exhibits superior stakeholder service ‐ internal and/or external. 
  • Achieves cost savings and efficiently uses scarce resources in a challenging environment with no reduction to service levels. 
  • Demonstrates care and support of colleagues and community. 
Diana's nominator wrote:
Diana Martens began the year as the Program Coordinator for a special program run by the LCI in Fairfax. At the same time, she competently contributed to the smooth function of the Intensive English Program. After our other Program Coordinator left in the summer, Diana became responsible for all the duties related to both programs in addition to fulfilling the role of full-time cheerful face at the front desk.

Diana is always ready and willing to assist with any extra requests from administration, faculty, and students. She is warm and friendly and exceedingly patient!

Diana Martens is a true Hokie team player dedicated to the program and everyone connected to it. She has definitely gone above and beyond this year.
Congratulations to all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Alumni networking event in Dubai proves strength of Hokie connections

Alumna Katherine Lelia Hall has learned that no matter how far from Blacksburg her career takes her, she’s never far from a fellow Hokie.

That sense of global community was reaffirmed recently at the first Hokies in the Middle East alumni networking event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. An initiative of the Language and Culture Institute, with support from Alumni Relations and the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, the event brought together more than 85 alumni, students, and supporters from the region.

“The connections we made in Blacksburg and continue to make all over the world are the reason that we chose Virginia Tech in the first place,” said Hall, who earned a master’s degree in English in 1998 and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in 2001 and now teaches at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi. “It is very exciting to know that we alumni can still keep our connection with Virginia Tech even when we live far away.”

Read more at VT News.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Entomologist from Vietnam gains global perspective at Virginia Tech

Tran Thi My Hanh and Muni Muniappan host a booth at Hokie BugFest.
Tran Thi My Hanh hoped the semester she is spending in Blacksburg improving her English at the Language and Culture Institute's Intensive English Program and studying entomology would help her combat the pests and pesticides that keep her native Vietnam from thriving in global markets.

She is finding, however, that her semesterlong stay is teaching her even more.

“Coming from Vietnam, I can really say that Virginia Tech is known around the world,” said Hahn, who is the deputy head of plant protection at the Southern Horticultural Research Institute in Vietnam. “While here, I have improved my listening, speaking, and writing skills. I have also gained access to new books and can read entomology articles much easier now, which will benefit my work helping smallholder farmers manage their crop threats.”

Read more about Hanh's journey.