Friday, June 8, 2012

Humphrey Fellows at VTLCI

Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute

The Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute is currently hosting fifteen international Fulbright scholars who are participating in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Long Term English Training Program. Fourteen countries are represented, including Brazil, Burma (Myanmar), Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Haiti, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Panama, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela. At the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute, the Fellows are working diligently to refine their academic language skills. Their curriculum includes content-based instruction on intercultural development, conflict resolution and leadership skills. In addition to their formal coursework at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute, the Fellows have participated in volunteer activities in the Blacksburg community and in classes on the Virginia Tech campus.

In the community, the Fellows recently volunteered at Micah’s Backpack, preparing meals for students and families who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. The Fellows joined other volunteers who gather every Thursday evening at St. Michael Lutheran Church to help package meals for students.  Not only did the Fellows enjoy packing meals, but they also benefited from engaging in conversation with local volunteers dedicated to running Micah’s Backpack. 

 Humphrey Fellows volunteer at Micah’s Backpack

On campus, the Fellows participated in Professor Eric Kaufman’s course on Leadership in a Global Society. The Fellows interacted with students in a discussion on the personal and professional competencies required for effective leadership in a global, diverse and, multicultural society. The Fellows also participated in Professor Elizabeth Fine’s course on Multicultural Communication. Professor Fine’s students engaged with the Fellows on topics related to communication, including the process of exchanging meaningful information across cultural boundaries in a way that preserves mutual respect. 

At the end of the training program, the Fellows will move on to host universities, including American University, Arizona State University, Cornell University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, Syracuse University, Tulane University, and the University of Minnesota.  At these locations, they will further their own research projects in diverse areas, including agriculture and rural development, environmental policy, HIV/AIDS policy and prevention, human rights, and journalism.  The Fellows will engage in professional networking activities and non-degree graduate level study in order to obtain expertise that will be applied and adapted in their respective countries.

The Fellows will be on the Virginia Tech main campus through August 2012. Invitations to visit classes, departments, businesses and government offices are welcome and should be directed to program director Robert (Bert) Wilson at or 540-231-5730.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

VTLCI Students Place Second and Third in VATESOL Writing Contest

By Kama Weatherholt

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
Abeer explains, “The fact that I was the first female engineer in the Electrical Maintenance Division represented a major challenge to me. I had to work in a very male-dominant working environment, and I needed to work in hazardous areas and very harsh physical conditions. After working for two and a half years in the maintenance field, I had earned a great deal of respect from my colleagues and my superiors for my hardworking nature and dedication.”   

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. 

Hamdan Alohosani
Hamdan Alohosani came to the Falls Church VTLCI from the United Arab Emirates.  Upon completing high school, Hamdan received a prestigious Distinguished Student Scholarship, a prize that is awarded to only twelve high school graduates throughout the UAE each year. 
Hamdan recently completed the advanced level at the VTLCI with an outstanding academic record.  He held perfect attendance and a 4.0 GPA over four terms of study.  He will continue his hard work in the mechanical engineering program at Virginia Tech this fall. 

In addition to his study of English, Hamdan has always enjoyed and excelled in science, and he won several global competitions while in high school.  He also explains that he likes the state of Virginia because of the beautiful scenery and the friendly people.