Thursday, February 22, 2018

LCI Fairfax students tour Air and Space Museum

Students and faculty from the Language and Culture Institute in Fairfax took a field trip recently to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The museum maintains the world's largest and most significant collection of aviation and space artifacts, encompassing all aspects of human flight, as well as related works of art and archival materials.

Below, read two students' essays about the trip.

Saud Alhokiar 

As usual, LCI provides every new season's field trip to please that seems interesting as U.S. museums or pike neck. On 7 February 2018, we went to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum that please present old things such as airplane and who old people create this airplane. I get a lot of important information it was very useful. The place was crowded because many people want to see something related to the previous centuries however I had a great time. It was a good time with my friends. In conclusion, I like places that related to the past because I like to think how these people can create something even though they do not have an ability like the ability which in the modern life. Overall it has pretty and amazing please and I hope to visit this place again with my family in future.


My experience during the field trip was amazing. It was my first time, I saw the Air and Space Museum before I did not had enough information about Airplane and Moon rockets and the machines that were used in the world. All the machines that we saw were in their original form which was interesting for me especially I had chance to touch the moon stone. Special representative was assigned for us to give the detailed information about the background and history of the machines which I really liked. Now I am interested to take my friends to this Museum. Using metro was also great experience, I learned how to recharge my SMART card for future trips and I will be able to travel next time by myself and can see more Museums in DC because all of the Museums in DC are free, which is great. I learned a lot and had fun with my classmates in this trip.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hokies women's soccer coach visits LCI

Follow us on Facebook to see more photos from Coach Adair's visit.

Thanks to Chugger Adair, head coach of the Virginia Tech Women's Soccer team, for speaking this morning at the Language...

Posted by Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

LCI faculty, staff lauded at OIA banquet

At the Outreach and International Affairs annual Celebrate Success banquet, a number of LCI faculty and staff were nominated by their peers for awards. Congratulations to all our deserving colleagues, and thank you for dedication!

Bonnie Sumner

Nominated for: Maroon & Orange Award

Bonnie Sumner exemplifies what it means to be a Hokie. As an instructor at the LCI, Bonnie imbues her students with her love of Hokie Nation. Beyond simply helping her students in the classroom, Bonnie makes sure that her students feel welcome in their new community. That means not only helping these international students make the most of their time in Blacksburg, but also helping Blacksburg get to know these wonderful students. For example, Bonnie routinely arranges for guest speakers such as Del. Sam Rasoul, Rep. Morgan Griffith, and VT football star Terrell Edmunds to come speak to her classes. She opens these classes up to the entire institute so all students can benefit. And benefit they do! You can see it means a lot to them to hear from these pillars of our community. Creating such a sense of pride in being here helps the LCI stand out among its competitors and helps spread what it means to be a Hokie worldwide.

Stephanie Ayala

Nominated for: Maroon & Orange Award

Stephanie Ayala, program coordinator at the Language and Culture Institute (LCI) in the National Capital Region (NCR) clearly exemplify the characteristics of the Maroon and Orange Award. The NCR location has increasingly taken on billing responsibilities for the entire LCI. In September, due to unusual circumstances, Stephanie was obliged to handle all the LCI Fall I billing on her own, in addition to her regular program coordinator duties. She performed this vital function perfectly, on time and without error, typical of her detail-oriented and careful work. 

In October the LCI/NCR began an evening English as a second language program to benefit the surrounding community. Stephanie provides the sole administrative support for this program, in addition to her LCI billing and program coordinator duties.

Beth Loar

Nominated for: Pylon Impact Award

Over the last year, Beth has demonstrated exceptional service and teamwork. This past year, she took on primary DSO responsibilities and assisted with conditional admission duties for the LCI due to two lengthy position vacancies.  She did this all while completing her regular LCI admission duties. Although performing all of these duties became hectic at times, Beth was always able to provide a superior level of customer service to all, continued to complete all of her work quickly and accurately, and was the first person to offer assistance when other LCI staff needed help or assistance. Her dedicated efforts often go unseen but have been critical to the overall operations of the organization this year.

Pamela Smart-Smith, Pedro Santiago, and Stephanie Ayala

Nominated for: Maroon & Orange Award

The billing and collection functions of the Blacksburg and Fairfax locations of the LCI were an area of concern following the sudden departure of an LCI employee on leave.  Yet this area of concern quickly transformed into an area of great achievement due to the collaborative efforts of Pedro Santiago, Stephanie Ayala, and Pamela Smart-Smith.  Over multiple terms, they have quickly enrolled students in courses & produced accurate invoices for numerous students & sponsoring organizations.  Pedro, Stephanie and Pamela have quickly addressed all billing & class issues & ensured that financial and academic records are updated.  They have gracefully & professionally worked with students or organizations failing to pay to bring their accounts up to date.  Their dedicated and collaborative team efforts have resulted in bringing all student & sponsoring organizations accounts current & serves as an example of great teamwork.

Andrea Todd, Elsie Paredes, Guennadi Bratichko, Aniseh Ghaderi, Liz Bowles, Rich Mathieson, Bryan Ducote, Pedro Santiago

Nominated for: Hokie Stone Team Award

Specially developed for international students who wish to matriculate into Virginia Tech, the development of Advantage VT (AVT) has engaged undergraduate admissions, enrollment management, as well as advisors and senior administrators in the Colleges of Business, Science and Engineering.  

This “AVT development team” refined the program concept, conducted market analyses, created and piloted curriculum, developed marketing materials, and assisted in presenting the program to college and department administrators.  

The most comprehensive effort ever undertaken by the institute, AVT would not have been possible   without the hundreds of combined hours dedicated by these team members to a common goal.

Stephanie Bailey, Patricia Parera, Rich Mathieson

Nominated for: Hokie Stone Team Award

Virginia Tech aspires to be a global university.  Over the past year, the LCI has undertaken five missions abroad, engaged a number of embassies, and welcomed three senior delegations to campus.  Three individuals have been key to the success of these activities, which have engaged over 50 VT faculty members from departments across campus.   

Rich Mathieson has created and/or contributed to web blogs, press releases, news items, brochures, pamphlets, banners and other materials, forwarding the VT brand in many ways and languages.

Patricia Parera has organized missions, promoted VT abroad, fostered contacts with senior officials, networked abroad and mobilized faculty support here at home.  

Stephanie Bailey, responsible for logistics for missions and delegations, has worked tirelessly to ensure that activities are planned and executed to the finest detail.  

These employees “walk the talk" of international engagement.

Stephanie Bailey

Nominated for: Ut Prosim Award

Stephanie Bailey was hired as my assistant one year ago.  Over that time, and for extended periods, she effectively did two full-time jobs.  When Stephanie was hired, the immediate need arose to back-fill her former position at the institute’s main desk.  The unexpected departure of a second office assistant created a void in both people-power and knowledge at our main desk.  For a period of many months we struggled with filling and training her former position.  Stephanie stepped in to not only fulfill my needs as her supervisor, quite demanding on their own, but also the responsibilities of managing the front office and, eventually, training a replacement.   When I was traveling, a frequent occurrence, Stephanie also juggled making last-minute changes to my itineraries with a demanding home life managing two young children.  Stephanie did all of this conscientiously and without complaint, making her my Ut Prosim hero.

Adil Bentahar

Nominated for: Maroon & Orange Award

Adil Betahar is very admired by his students.  He makes students believe in their own abilities and possibilities for the future.  Adil goes above and beyond for his students and all students at the LCI.  Adil has served as a translator and resource for students in need. He never hesitates to help a student or colleague regardless if he has previous plans.  He volunteers with the conversation program at the public library and works with the Blacksburg Refugee Coalition as a tutor and as a trainer.   Additionally, Adil volunteers with the VT Saudi Club and works with LCI Student Services to give ongoing orientation sessions to our students. Adil’s work ethic and leadership stand out. He is one of our most dedicated instructors, and for this we think he deserves recognition. 

Aniseh Ghaderi

Nominated for: Pylon Impact Award

Aniseh Ghaderi has given many years to the LCI.  In that time she has worked as an instructor and now serves as the Advisor for conditionally admitted students.  Aniseh has worked tirelessly to establish systems for advising students.  She has created all the materials we now use and has shared these within the institute and nationally at conferences.  Aniseh seeks to know about not only students’ academic lives, but also their personal likes and possible areas of difficulty.  She is kind and guides students to achieve their goals.  When a student is not successful, she tries to help them succeed even if the path they envisioned must be a different one.   In addition to her advising duties, Aniseh works with her colleagues for the good of the organization.  She works as an instructor, serves on the Assessment Committee, and is active with the Toastmasters.

Mary Freday

Nominated for: Maroon & Orange Award

Mary Freday is an innovative force in the classroom and outside of it.  Mary spends countless hours seeking new ways to reach her students.  Students always request to be in Mary’s classes as she pushes them to excel and makes them feel valued.  In addition to her classroom responsibilities, Mary assumed a strong leadership role in the institute by leading the curriculum committee.  She has worked tirelessly revising and, at times, completely rewriting curriculum for the Intensive English Program.  Throughout the last year, Mary has exceeded her job requirements and has made valuable contributions to the LCI. Additionally, she has volunteered to work on the Joint Curriculum Committee (Blacksburg and NCR locations) as a faculty representative to advise in decision-making.

Rich Mathieson 

Nominated for: Invent the Future Award

Rich Mathieson is not just a good all-around communicator, but he also brings immeasurable added value to OIA because of his facility with graphic design. He does many of the visuals for Save Our Towns, and each year he designs the annual OIA wall calendar with originality, flair and elegance. (And without complaint!) His designs are tasteful and stack up with the best coming out of Virginia Tech's art departments. What's more, he's an excellent colleague, sharing his skills in photography workshops and other less formal trainings. When any job requires extra graphic-arts skills, such as fitting OIA's department names within the new Virginia Tech logo, Rich is always the one there to help everyone make it work. (I'm not sure Rich has ever been recognized before, and if so it's long overdue!)

Language and Culture Institute/National Capital Region Instructors

Nominated for: Hokie Stone Team Award

The faculty of the Language and Culture Institute adheres to the highest standards of instruction while projecting warmth and empathy to all our English language learners. Our current teaching staff has been with us for multiple terms, most for multiple years! They bring enthusiasm into the classroom while encouraging and facilitating student learning. The LCI/NCR instructors effectively prepare English language learners for admission into and success during their future undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition, they assist students as advisors and work closely with them to ensure their future academic success. 

Congratulations to Allie Shamsaei, Monica Mulholland, Lily Jaffie, and Inge McKenney.on a job well done. Thank you for all that you do!

Monday, December 18, 2017

LCI students explore National Portrait Gallery

Students in Fairfax recently toured the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The gallery aims to "tell the story of America by portraying the people who shape the nation’s history, development and culture."

Read what some of the students had to say about their trip below.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Business Office moving to 820 building

The Language and Culture Institute’s Business Office is moving to the Special Programs Building, at 820 University City Blvd.

That means students who have questions about tuition payments, I-20 extensions, and transcript requests should now go to the 820 building.

Admissions manager Elizabeth Loar will move to the office on the left immediately inside the building entrance. Jan McGinty, senior accounts receivable specialist, will move to Room 107. Program assistant Michelle Hash will be in the reception area inside Suite 2. All three will retain their current phone numbers.

To accommodate these moves, some staff members currently in the 820 building will also be shifting offices. Wafa Al-Daily, coordinator of international activities, will move to Room 118. Patricia Parera, associate director for partnerships and new enterprises, will move to Room 125.

The main LCI office remains on the first floor of the 840 building.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Paredes, Smart-Smith take on new roles at LCI

Pamela Smart-Smith, left, and Elsie Paredes, right

Two members of the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute administrative staff have been named to new roles, part of a reorganization announced by Director Donald Back.

Elsie Paredes will direct the Advantage VT program, which is set to begin in fall 2018. Pamela Smart-Smith, the assistant director of academics, will succeed Paredes in an interim role as director of the Intensive English Program.

“Through their leadership, Elsie and Pamela have made the Intensive English Program one of the strongest programs of its kind in the country,” Back said. “Over the past decade, the institute has helped hundreds of students to matriculate into the university’s undergraduate program.”

Advantage VT will allow high-achieving international students to take credit-bearing classes at Virginia Tech while improving their English language and university study skills. Students who successfully complete the program will be guaranteed entry to the university with advanced standing in their freshman year.

“Advantage VT will position Virginia Tech to attract talented and highly motivated international students in an increasingly competitive recruiting environment,” Back said. “Building and diversifying our intellectual capacity is key to bolstering our position as a leading global university. Exposure to different cultures and ways of thinking is critically important to our graduates, who may work in diverse workplaces or multinational firms or serve in national security or military roles.” 

Paredes has led the Intensive English Program and served as associate director of the institute since coming to Virginia Tech in 2011. Before that, she taught TESOL courses for undergraduate students at Florida International University and English as a Second Language at both Florida Atlantic University and Miami Dade College. She received her doctorate in adult education and human resource development and her master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Florida International University.

“I take this new and important challenge with a great deal of enthusiasm and confidence,” Paredes said. “The years of experience and expertise with our Intensive English Program will be translated in the success of Advantage VT.”

Smart-Smith has been assistant director of academics in the Intensive English Program since 2014 and has otherwise been involved with the institute since 2012. She has more than 25 years of experience in the U.S. and abroad in the field of English as a Second Language. She has a master’s in public administration from Old Dominion University and a master’s in education from Virginia Tech in curriculum and instruction with a focus on English as a Second Language and multicultural education.  She is currently pursuing her doctorate at Virginia Tech in the same field.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to work in this new role,” Smart-Smith said. “I am thankful each day to work with our fabulous team of faculty, staff, and administrators. I plan to continue to honor our commitment to delivering excellent student-centered pedagogy that helps our students attain their goals.” 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fairfax celebrates International Education Week with global potluck

For International Education Week, the LCI in Fairfax had a potluck where students brought in dishes from their different countries. The following countries participated:
  • Uzbekistan
  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • Oman
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
We had a slide show where students shared their study abroad experiences. We even had shares from our professors. Some students and professors shared their culture and country. Below, find two essays from students who wanted to share their study abroad experiences in the U.S.

Daniella Pitanga (Brazil)

Two years ago, I moved with my family from Brazil to the United States to support my husband in his job. During this period, I was very busy with my family's adaptation and I could not improve my English to an academic level.

This season I decided to study at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute. It was a perfect decision. I am very surprised with the course's benefits. I could not imagine how thrilling this experience would be to me. Knowing the correct grammar and learning to write academic articles has been a great pleasure. The style and the techniques of writing are very different from those of my country.

I am really inspired to continue discovering the English language, the American culture, and, soon, to have a new degree from an American university.

Adelya (Uzbekistan)

What do you want your friends back home to know about the United States? America is a great country and has a lot of opportunities. I wish my friends could experience it.

First, what i want to tell them is about U.S. education. Studying in the U.S. is much better and different than back home. Second, they can meet people from all over the world. Meeting new people and learning different cultures, languages is exiting. Third, they can travel as much as they want. America is one of the largest countries and has a lot of different states.

These are main things what I want to share with my friends about America.