Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Ideas worth spreading ... '

TEDxTalks has released videos of the presentations from the inaugural TEDxVirginiaTech event held last month on the Blacksburg campus.

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

Students bring holiday cheer to Blacksburg nursing home

A number of Language and Culture Institute students made a gray Monday a bit brighter for some local nursing home residents.

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.)

What do LCI students really think of Virginia Tech?

LCI students discuss some of the things that have surprised them about Americans and share their favorite things to do outside of class. Get the full story from this brief video news report.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Relive the magic of the Holiday Variety Show!

See students and faculty share their talents in an international celebration of the season!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Three cheers for the winners of the Employee Recognition Awards

At the Intensive English Program planning retreat Friday at the Inn at Virginia Tech, Language and Culture Institute director Don Back and associate director Elsie Paredes honored the nominees and winners of the annual VTLCI Employee Recognition Awards.

Light Bulb Award
  • Winner: Georgia Wyche
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.
  • Also nominated: Chip Hayes, Christine Bobal, Lori Rottenberg
Trailblazer Award
  • Winner: Don Back
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.
Spirit Award
  • Winner: Linda Sanford
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.
  • Also nominated: Crystal Cook, Susan Hill, Cristina Keeton, Dijana Maunaga-Trajkovic, Anya Sereda, Christine Bobal
Clean and Green Award
  • Winner: Dijana Maunaga-Trajkovic
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.
  • Also nominated: Janessa Jackson, Dijana Maunaga-Trajkovic, Christine Bobal
Behind the Curtain Award
  • Winner: Charlene Dandrow
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.
  •     Also nominated: Linda Sanford, Janessa Jackson, Susan Hill, Dijana Maunaga-Trajkovic

Hokie Stone Award
  • Winner: VTLCI Special Programs
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.
  • Also nominated: The Language and Culture Institute, Susan Hill, Cristina Keeton, Christine Bobal, Lori Rottenberg
Energizer Bunny Award
  • Winner: Cristina Keeton
Cristina is always positive and helpful to students and staff. Even in a situation that would
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.
  • Also nominated: Molly Rogers, Michele Hash, Nicole Storm, Susan Hill, Dijana Maunaga-Trajkovic, Anya Sereda, Christine Bobal, Lori Rottenberg

Red Carpet Award
  • Winner: Janessa Jackson
In a very short time, Janessa has become a truly valued member of our group. She is extremely
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.
  • Also nominated: Pablo Martinez, Dijana Maunaga-Trajkovic, Lori Rottenberg