Monday, December 17, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Links to each of the presentations can be found on the TEDxVirginiaTech website.
Among the speakers was Caitlin Floreal, a 2006 alumna who spoke on "Using a World-Class Education Where It Is Needed Most." See her video below.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Kay Gude and about a dozen of her students, plus Linda Sanford, visited Heritage Hall on South Main Street in Blacksburg. There, they handed out more than two dozen presents neatly packaged in festive bags to some of the men and women in long-term care.
"We went to Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree and picked out gifts based on what they liked and what they needed," said student Amwaj Al Bahar, of Kuwait.
Students visited with the residents and took photos with them as they delivered the presents. "They're like the little Santa elves!" Gude said as she pushed a cart full of gifts down a hallway.
These sorts of visits make the residents smile, said Sherry Reynolds, the activity director at Heritage Hall. "They like seeing the young people and being around the young people," she said. "This really brightened everyone's spirits."
(Click on a photo to see a larger version.)
Friday, December 7, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
|Light Bulb Award|
|Georgia was chosen to go to Chile to support our capacity-building initiative at Universidad Austral de Chile. There, she was challenged to assist the faculty at UACh with their English language learning efforts during the Chilean Winter despite the student protests that took place during that time. Georgia made significant strides there by being creative and offering workshops to the community when school was closed due to the student strikes.
|Don has distinguished himself as director of the Language and Culture Institute by dramatically increasing the size and success of the LCI. He exhibits a strong entrepreneurial spirit and fosters that same spirit in others. The continued expansion of the English language program, doubling and tripling the number of enrollments, in Blacksburg and in Northern Virginia, is a direct result of his visionary leadership, his recruiting efforts, and his business savvy. He is inspirational by example, always encouraging the development of new ideas and opportunities among his administrative team.|
|Linda is always willing to offer support and guidance to teachers and students who need assistance. She works so well with the students: She really listens to them when they have questions, problems, or concerns, and she goes out of her way to help them. Amazingly, she knows their names, family life situations, and future goals. With our student body at around 200, this is very impressive! She has infused a love of reading into students at all levels and works her hardest to make reading enjoyable for them. Linda has her hands full with her regular job responsibilities, but she always makes time for the students and really connects with them. They love her for it! She also crosses boundaries by using her administrative position to help the teachers at the LCI and make sure they have what they need to be successful. Afternoons find her eating her lunch in the teachers’ office and taking time to get to know the LCI teachers. Her consistently positive attitude makes her a joy to work with.
|Clean and Green Award|
|Dijana is continually working to better integrate new technology into the classroom, and in so doing, she’s helping the LCI’s Northern Virginia Center save paper. For example, she helped her colleagues learn to use a grade-reporting website not just for grading but also for developing flashcards, creating online documents, and other eco-friendly uses. She’s also helped implement Google Drive, which has further cut down on paper usage.
|Behind the Curtain Award|
|We would not have the IELTS program if it were not for Charlene. She has tackled that position and made it her own. Charlene serves a community larger than just Virginia Tech. She serves everyone in the U.S. who wants to — or is required to — take the IELTS test. She is incredibly customer-service-oriented and treats every client with respect. She also employs many folks in the community and does an excellent job of training test invigilators and clerical markers and ensuring the overall success of the program.
|Hokie Stone Award|
|Everyone who has worked with the LCI Special Programs has done an amazing job of teamwork and accomplishing the objectives of each program with creativity, professionalism, and just loving their jobs. The special programs director feels incredibly lucky to have such an awesome group of instructors and staff. Those folks are the following: Georgia Wyche, Mackenzie West, Milton Salcedo, Lois Ingles, Nicole Storm, Charlene Dandrow, Ada Chrisman, Caitlin Capone, Pablo Martinez, Pinar Gurdal, Crystal Cook, Alicia Chadegani, Kay Gude, and Katia Wooden.
|Energizer Bunny Award|
frustrate most people, she manages to stay unruffled and work through it. She is also a great
resource for new teachers. Her co-workers know they can always depend on her. One pointed to an experience co-teaching with her that she said was "by far the most enjoyable co-teaching experience" she'd ever had. Cristina has unbelievably powerful charisma that makes everybody around her feel more energetic.
|Red Carpet Award|
courteous with students and is a can-do person who is not a complainer. She uses our scarce resources with no reduction to service to students.
Whenever a new student arrives or calls,
she always takes the time to answer their questions and make them feel welcome. She is unfailingly efficient and courteous.
Monday, September 17, 2012
|Susan Neu and Jason Lovelace|
Monday, July 23, 2012
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Field Trip to the National Portrait Gallery
By Omamah Ashmeel
National Portrait Gallery
By Abdualah Alreheli
Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute coordinated a trip to the National Portrait Gallery, allowing its students to acquire a new cultural experience which the school anticipated to be highly beneficial to them. The management of the Institute was eager to find a qualified person to clarify to students the importance of the art. When the students arrived, they realized that the museum was dedicated to American history and were astonished with the culture they saw through each portrait. This novel experience for the students was partly due to the fact that typical museums are not always specific to a particular country. During the visit, the students were able to see a display showing a myriad of images of past United States presidents, along with many other pictures, which illustrated significant events that have occurred since the discovery of the States. A particularly impactful image was that of a black woman who was arrested because she refused to get off of a bus. Ultimately, the students were very pleased to have this unique and exciting opportunity, and they were also grateful to Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute’s management for always striving to assimilate foreign students into this great country.
Friday, June 8, 2012
Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute is proud to congratulate two of our students, Abeer Almaimouni and Hamdan Alohosani, for their success in the VATESOL Writing Contest!
This year’s contest prompted the students to write about the topics of advocacy and inclusion. Abeer and Hamdan wrote thoughtful and insightful essays that related these issues to the experiences of ESL students. Abeer, a student at the Blacksburg LCI, tied for second place with her essay titled “ESL Students, Campus, and Community.” Hamdan, who studied at the LCI in Falls Church, received third place for the essay “ESL Community and Inclusion.”
Abeer Almaimouni, an electrical engineer from Kuwait, is studying in the United States on a full scholarship from Kuwait University (KU). After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she briefly worked as a part-time teaching assistant at KU before becoming a trainee engineer at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. She then worked as an electrical maintenance engineer at Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC), an experience that proved difficult.
|Abeer accepts award from Don Back|
After her work at KNPC, Abeer decided that it was time to return to the world of academia. She graduated from the LCI program this May, and will now be moving on to the University of Washington in Seattle to begin her graduate studies in electric power engineering. After obtaining her PhD, she will return to her home country to join the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department at Kuwait University.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Both graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to apply; selection criteria is based on good academic standing (3.2 GPA undergraduate, 3.6 GPA graduate), enrollment in credit-bearing programs with language and cultural engagement components, and trips to non-traditional destinations for extended stays. Tech-managed programs, bilateral and International Student Exchange Programs, Virginia Tech Direct, and non-Tech programs and independent programs with a clear academic goal, qualify for consideration. All applicants are required to submit an essay that describes how their experience will promote the values of the organization, and winners may be requested to present at a Phi Beta Delta event upon their return. Awards of up to $5,000 may be issued at the discretion of the selection committee. Scholarships are awarded in the fall and spring semesters.
The following students were awarded scholarships:
Brooke Reynolds is the recipient of a $4,000 scholarship to be applied to her Fall 2012 semester study program at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Valparaíso, Chile.
Jeremy Rommel has received a $4,000 award to fund his Fall 2012 semester in Argentina or Chile.
Gregory Kralik has been selected as the winner of a $1,000 scholarship to participate in the Summer 2012 'From Rainforest to Reef' program in Belize led by Professor Marcella Kelly.
Lyn Moore, a native of Leesburg, Virginia, is a doctoral candidate in the Human Development: Marriage and Family Therapy program who has been chosen as the recipient of a $1,000 award to attend the 'South Africa: Lifespan Community Services and Education' program in Mafikeng, South Africa during the Summer II semester.
Megan Murray has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship to participate in a Francophone Studies program in Rabat, Morocco during the Summer 2012 semester.
The first semester has begun and things have picked up at UACh. Part of my teaching load includes teaching Psycholinguistics, Advanced English Grammar, and a class on phrasal verbs for the English department. I’m substituting two of the classes for a teacher who is on maternity leave. The teacher comes back to work in the middle of April. So far it has been an enriching experience and I’m also happy to be working with the English pedagogy students once again.
In the beginning of March, the scientific writing workshop that was held in January had a small ceremony. The students who attended regularly and completed all of the assignments received a certificate of completion.
The scientific writing workshop will become a class for honors students in the middle of April. I will be co-teaching this class with UACh professor, Dr. Sandor Mulsow. The class will meet once a week until the middle of June. I’m looking forward to working with him.
Along with teaching the classes mentioned, I continue to teach English conversation classes to UACh journalists and I’m doing some private tutoring. I enjoy working with the journalists because they are a lively group. I’m tutoring a few students who need to brush up on their English before heading to the United States in June.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
|VT and UACh Deans|
During summer break, I traveled to Chillan and Chiloe Island. Chillan is located eight hours north of Valdivia and Chiloe is located eight hours south of Valdivia. Loreto Quintana and her family invited me to spend a few days exploring Chillan and its surroundings. It was a wonderful experience and I’m grateful to Mrs. Quitana and her family for having me come to visit. After visiting Chillan, I spent a week on Chiloe Island. Chiloe is located in northern Patagonia. I saw penguins in the wild during my stay, which was an unforgettable experience! I still plan on doing some more traveling before heading back to the United States in July.
Other than traveling to Chillan and Chiloe, I also did some work. I corrected and graded applied linguistics papers and prepared lessons. Due to the student strikes, the university will be finishing the second semester in the middle of March. For the remainder of the second semester in applied linguistics I will be talking about “Bilingualism” and “Bilingual Education” and my students will be doing oral presentations. Their final exam will be on March 16th. Teaching applied linguistics and working with the English pedagogy students has been an enriching and enjoyable experience. I’ll miss working with these students and hope to teach applied linguistics again some day in the future.
|Georgia and Dr. Rowlands|
Another big event that occurred at the end of February was the visit by the Virginia Tech deans: Dr. Richard Benson, Dean of the College of Engineering; Dr. Jack Davis, Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies; Dr. Sue Ott Rowlands, Dean of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; Dr. Lay Nam Chang, Dean College of Science; Dr. Paul Winistorfer, Dean of College of Natural Resources; Dr. Alan Grant, Dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, Dean of College of Veterinary Medicine. During their stay in Valdivia, they toured new facilities on campus, observed what has changed since their last visit to the university, and collaborated with UACh deans and faculty members. Hopefully, there are a lot of interesting projects and collaborative ideas in the works for both universities. I know the Virginia Tech deans are eager to make some of their projects concrete and continue to strengthen the relationship between Virginia Tech and UACh. I was fortunate to be able to spend time with them.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
"It's been an adjustment for them being here," said Amanda Johnson, assistant director for special programs for the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute. "These 18-year-old students stepped off the plane and dove right into their program, not intimidated by the high expectations for their performance."
The students, sent by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, are here to spend the year preparing for the TOEFL English-language exam as well as the SAT, which like American students they must pass to enter U.S. universities. They’re also immersed in science and math courses. In fall 2012, the students will spread out throughout the U.S. to pursue their bachelor’s degrees at other institutions. Many of them are applying to Virginia Tech's engineering programs.
"They’re doing great so far," Johnson says. "I'm impressed with their inquisitive natures, how involved they are in their studies, and their drive to understand every aspect of what's going on. That’s the mark of a college student who's really taking a hand in their academic future."
Some of the students are worldly and well traveled, but most are experiencing their first time away from family. Saudi culture often requires that women and girls be accompanied when traveling. So some of the female students came with their mothers, fathers, brothers, or grandparents, who showed support for the young women’s aspirations by settling in Blacksburg for the school year.
The students are taking College of Science classes including physics, chemistry, calculus, and lab work to prepare them for the rigors of an undergraduate degree program. Fortunately, the students are already proficient in English, which speeded their adjustment to culture and daily life.
Mohammad Alwazrah, for one, felt at home from the beginning. "I live in a small town back in Saudi Arabia just like Blacksburg," he said. Abdulrahman Linjawi experienced more culture shock. "I'm from an urban area so the rural setting is different. I'm loving the atmosphere here – it's quiet and peaceful. Everyone here is really nice."
|Tashkandi and Linjawi receiving donations|
The daughter of a physicist and an aviation engineer, Alattas is planning to major in cognitive science or neuroscience. She added, "I want to learn a lot from this experience. I can only imagine how much more I’ll learn in the months to come."
Hear more from Alattas and Islam in this YouTube video.
Another partner in the project, the Institute of International Education, is helping the students with the sometimes complex process of completing college applications and making sure the students furnish needed documentation. After the students earn their four-year degrees, they are expected to enroll in graduate programs back home at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs supports the university’s engagement mission by creating community partnerships and economic development projects, offering professional development programs and technical assistance, and building collaborations to enrich discovery and learning – all with the overarching goal of improving the quality of life for people within the commonwealth and throughout the world. Outreach and International Affairs leads Virginia Tech’s presence on five continents; its regional research and development centers across the commonwealth focus on graduate education and professional development. Blacksburg-based centers are dedicated to student engagement, language, policy, and governance.