Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cheers to Susan Piercy!

On Wednesday, the LCI celebrated Susan Piercy's 17 years as a teacher, mentor, cherished colleague, and friend. We wish her the happiest of retirements!

Click below to see more photos from our Facebook gallery.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Students take a walk on the wild side at Virginia Safari Park

On a return trip to Blacksburg from his native Oman, Said Alkindi took note of a billboard alongside Interstate 81 advertising the Virginia Safari Park. Said suggested the park as a possible activity for Summer I, and we are all glad he did. What an adventure, and only a little over an hour away from Blacksburg!

En route, we went on Routes 460/11 to Elliston in order to see a glimpse of Montgomery County beyond the interstate. Of special note are Bent Tree Farm, which raises and shows Friesian and Saddlebred horses, the Elliston Straightaway, and Fotheringay Plantation. The Straightaway in years past had been used as a drag strip for locals wanting to “show what their cars could do,” a country version of "The Fast and Furious." Fotheringay Plantation was built about 1796 by Revolutionary War Col. George Hancock. Col. Hancock’s daughter Julia married William Clark, who was co-leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to map the West. Col. Hancock, upon his death, was buried in a crypt in the mountainside in order to maintain oversight of his plantation.

When we arrived at the park, there was a long line of vehicles ahead of us. The staff was very kind as we each paid our admission one-by-one while still in the van. After parking, we headed to the petting area to await our 1 o’clock wagon ride. The miniature goats with their kids attracted our attention immediately. They scampered up to the fence seeking gentle pats on the head. After we tore ourselves away, we meandered to the reptile habitat and were thankful the large snakes were safely behind thick glass.

As we walked toward the monkey habitats, a staff member stopped and introduced us to Xavier, a baby lemur who had been abandoned by his parents. She told us about his natural habitat, his physical features, and how staff members were filling in as substitute parents. Even though we were not allowed to touch Xavier -- it may not have been wise because he was nibbling on the staffer’s fingers -- we were able to get a picture with him.

Xavier the lemur
When the time came for our wagon ride, we boarded and then received a bucket of feed from our guide. The main adventure had begun.

Our first feeding stop included llamas, a variety of deer, and Watusi cattle from Africa whose horns can span up to 10 feet. It was amazing to be able to touch all of the animals and feel the horns of the Watusi. Unfortunately, the potbellied pigs and some of the smaller deer species (fallow deer from Europe and Asia, axis deer from India, and others) were not tall enough to reach the bed of the wagon to lick up feed from the floor or to eat from the buckets we were holding. Even the fierce-looking water buffalo were willing to have their heads rubbed as we fed them.

We continued to travel along the road crisscrossing the 180-acre preserve while stopping periodically to feed other animals and view ostriches, emus, antelope, bison (yes, we even fed and touched bison; they open their mouths, curl their tongues and eat the pelleted feed we dropped into their mouths), wildebeests, and a variety of other animals from across the globe. Animals such as the white rhinos, zebras, and camels had their own enclosures inside the 180 acres.

After our hourlong wagon ride was over, we had a chance to visit the kangaroos sleeping soundly in the afternoon heat, the parakeet enclosure, and other exotic birds. We also went by the wolves, tigers, and cheetahs and were photobombed by a giraffe.

At Washington and Lee University in Lexington.
Since we were so close to Lexington, we drove over to see the campuses of Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute. We took a brief look at the Washington and Lee Museum and saw the grave of the famous war horse Traveler.

By the end of the day, were all tired but smiling, and grateful that Said had recommended the Virginia Safari Park!

-- By Bonnie Sumner

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Students get a feel for Floyd

LCI students pose for a picture in front of the famed Floyd Country Store.
While things may be relatively quiet in downtown Blacksburg during the summer, several LCI students learned on Friday, June 9, that downtown Floyd is the place to be.

Merchants were out in the market area with various handicrafts. Several were eager to ask the students where they were from and describe the items for sale (handmade whisk brooms, postcards, iron racks, tie-dyed clothing, and woolen knit hats to name a few).

As we made our way down the crowded sidewalk, we paused to listen to several bands playing along the street. Our ultimate destination was the Floyd Country Store, where we enjoyed listening to the old-time bluegrass music, watching people dance, and even trying a turn on the floor ourselves.

While no one in our group won a prize for having traveled the farthest — that prize went to a visitor from China — we all left with a renewed sense of hope that community and goodwill for all does exist and that music and traditions bind us all in this little corner of the world.

— Professor Bonnie Sumner

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Virginia Tech partners with Effat University in Saudi Arabia

Virginia Tech's Ian Leuschner, left, director of International Support Services, and Donald Back, director of the Language and Culture Institute, join Effat University President Haifa Jamal Al-Lail and Lisa Zuppé, director of international affairs, for the signing ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Virginia Tech has signed a four-year agreement with Effat University in Saudi Arabia to develop a world-class college preparation program.

The agreement, signed during the International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, calls for the Language and Culture Institute to assist in improving the Effat English Academy.

“Such partnerships help advance Virginia Tech as a global land-grant leader because they promote a global exchange of ideas in teaching, research, and engagement,” LCI Director Donald Back said. “We are building connections that will help expose Virginia Tech students to people of other nations and other cultures while helping our two institutions address common needs.”

Read more about this partnership at VT News.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Student's volleyball team takes 2nd place at national tournament

LCI student Abdulrahman Alghamdi and his teammates on the Virginia Tech Men's Volleyball Club B team returned recently from Kansas City, Missouri, where they placed second in their division at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation's National Championship Tournament.

Alghamdi, who's known as Bosha, says more than 400 teams competed in the tournament. He wrote a bit about his time in Kansas City  and about his gratitude for Virginia Tech.

Together we inspire, together we achieve


My name is Abdulrahman Alghamdi, and my nickname is Bosha. I am a student at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute. I have been in the U.S. for six months. I am proud to represent my country, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I joined the Virginia Tech Men's Volleyball Club team. We played several tournaments away from Virginia Tech. The last tournament was the National Collegiate Club Volleyball Championships in Kansas City. There were more than 400 teams that participated in this tournament. We played many matches, and we got the second place after we lost the final game.

I want to say thank you so much to many people who supported me always, the LCI management, and my professors. They always help and encourage me.

Thank you to the club and all the guys I have practiced with. We did a great season. They have supported me from the start. I really appreciate it, and it has been the most beautiful time with them.

Thank you, Virginia Tech, for providing everything we need, and I hope to make more achievements for the name of Virginia Tech. Finally, I feel pride and gratitude for VT.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Students head to the Mall for monuments and cherry blossoms

Students and staff from the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to see the National Mall and the famous cherry blossoms. They got to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, as well as the area's beautiful cherry blossom trees.

See more photos and read students' essays about their trip below:

LCI represents Virginia Tech at Kuwait's largest international education exhibition

Jacqueline L. Nottingham meets H.E. Dr. Mohammad Abdulatif Mohammad Al Fares, Kuwait's minister of education and higher education.

Jacqueline L. Nottingham, the LCI's assistant director for admissions and recruitment, represented Virginia Tech this month at Kuwait's largest international higher-education exhibition.

EDUEx aims to help Kuwaiti students understand the various paths they can pursue for their future studies, and guide them in selecting majors based on their interests. Universities from 10 different countries, including more than 20 from the United States, were represented at the event.

EDUEx was supported by Kuwait's Ministry of Higher Education, under the auspices of H.E. Dr. Mohammad Abdulatif Mohammad Al Fares, the country's minister of education and higher education. He stopped by Virginia Tech's booth and talked with Nottingham about the university.

The LCI booth at EDUEx 2017 in Kuwait.