Thursday, December 18, 2014

LCI strengthens universities in Iraqi Kurdistan

Participants in the Iraqi Kurdistan Rural Universities Partnership Program pose on graduation day with professors and administrators from the LCI.
When a university group from Iraq's northern Kurdish region traveled to study at Virginia Tech this past summer, their home was at peace. 

But by the time the 14 administrators and faculty members arrived in Blacksburg, fighters with the Islamic State had taken surprise aim at the region's capital, and more than 1,700 people had been killed.

"In our region, there was an anxiety against these terrorist forces, but when we left, there was not the sense that Irbil was in danger," said Hawraz Hama of the University of Raparin, about 70 miles east of the Kurdish capital.

Despite the turn of events, he and others in the delegation stuck to their training commitment: "In our country higher education needs to be improved."

Read more about the program, which has just been renewed for another year.

Monday, December 1, 2014

D.C. field trip shows students where the money is made

Students in the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. The bureau is a government agency that, among other things, designs and produces the country's paper money.

Click below to see more pictures from the field trip and to read what some of the students had to say about their trip:

Monday, November 10, 2014

LCI names Sondra Schreiber as student services director

Sondra Schreiber has been named the assistant director for student services at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.

As part of the administrative team, she will counsel the institute’s staff and students on immigration matters, provide academic advising and placement assistance for prospective university students, and develop engagement programs with the greater university and local communities. 

“I am looking forward to getting to know our students and supporting them during their transition to the United States and throughout their stay,” Schreiber said.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Students find autumn fun is ripe for the pickin'

Students in the National Capital Region took a trip recently to Stribling Orchard in Markham, Virginia.

Here's one student's essay about the field trip:
We went on a trip last week to place called Stribling Orchard. We left at 1:00 p.m. with other students and teachers. It was our first trip in LCI. We were excited for
this trip because we were able to pick apples by ourselves and the weather was very nice. When we arrived there, we separated as a group so everyone could pick what they wanted because there were many kind of apples -- green, yellow and red.
We enjoyed the walks through the apple trees and picking our apples. It was extremely beautiful how the apples hang on the trees in different colors. We stayed there for three pleasant hours, and everyone returned to home with plastic bags full of apples. 
The trip was so much fun, and every minute spent was great. It was also time for us to get to know each other. We really enjoyed the trip so much, and the memories of the trip will always be in our minds.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eric L. Moore to oversee testing at Language and Culture Institute

Eric Moore
Eric L. Moore has been named the testing and assessment coordinator at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.

He replaces Charlene Dandrow, who became the associate director of the institute’s new program at Radford University.

 As part of the administrative team, Moore will be responsible for testing programs in Blacksburg and Radford as well as the institute's recently opened site in the Washington, D.C., area. He will supervise the process of exam production and the development of all classroom assessment tools and rubrics. He will also coordinate TOEFL testing in Blacksburg.

Read more about Eric.

Faculty head to VATESOL annual conference

On Oct. 10-11, members of the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute faculty attended the annual conference of the Virginia Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (VATESOL).

This year's conference, whose theme was "Shifting Paradigms: Uniting Technology and Methodology," was held at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

"The conference was fantastic," says professor Shelly Stoddard. "I left with a variety of concrete strategies and ideas to make my teaching more effective for our students. It was an opportunity to collaborate with like-minded peers, build networks, and invigorate my instruction."

Photos courtesy of Shelly Stoddard and VATESOL.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Photo essay from the Library of Congress

On Sept. 18, students in the National Capital Region took a field trip to the Library of Congress. Afterward, students in professor Christine Bobal's RW 500 class wrote photo essays about their trip.

Below is the essay created by Sarah Obead.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mark your calendars: Blacksburg Variety Show and Thanksgiving Luncheon

It's time for our 3rd annual LCI Blacksburg Variety Show.

The show will be part of the Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Inn at Virginia Tech on Tuesday, Nov. 18, in keeping with the theme of thankfulness for blessings, especially abilities and community.

Fliers and signup sheets are on doors and bulletin boards around the LCI.

LCI students are encouraged to share an activity either as a solo act or as a group. Of course, you can attend the luncheon even if you don't want to perform.

See video from the 2012 Variety Show:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Virginia Tech program helping strengthen universities in Iraqi Kurdistan

Participants from the Iraqi Kurdistan Rural Universities Partnership Program show off their certificates and pose for a photo with faculty and staff from the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.

When a group of university administrators and faculty members from Iraq’s northern Kurdish region left home to study at Virginia Tech this summer, the area was at peace. But by the time the 14 educators arrived in Blacksburg, fighters with the Islamic State had unexpectedly taken aim at the region’s capital and more than 1,700 people had been killed.

The university group was part of an innovative program designed to reform curriculum and instruction in rural Kurdistan. Participants say the program, which has just been renewed for a second year at Virginia Tech, is vital because strengthening the region’s education system is key to fostering long-term stability and preventing the rise of militant groups such as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Don Back (left) and Paiman Ahmad
“Universities are the places where we can lead society to be a model society,” said Paiman Ahmad, a participant from the University of Raparin. “When we build up our education, we start seeing improvements elsewhere.”

Funded by the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and run by the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute in partnership with the Washington nonprofit IREX, the Iraqi Kurdistan Rural Universities Partnership Program was designed to strengthen university administration, modernize course content and teaching methods, and improve English-language instruction. In addition to Raparin, the program also includes the University of Halabja and the University of Zakho. Each of the universities was founded in the past 10 years.

“One of our main goals was to move from a ‘classical’ model of teaching, where a professor stands and lectures with very little interaction with students, to a ‘modern’ model and student-centered teaching,” Ahmad said. “The old way is common across Iraq, but we are younger, we want to embed new technology, new pedagogy to help us stand out.”

Lori Mason, the project director at IREX, said the U.S. Embassy has a very keen interest in supporting these rural universities. “The Iraqi Kurdistan region has been developing very quickly over the past 20 years. In the urban areas, the development is rapid, and there are a lot of opportunities for engagement with the outside academic community. That hasn’t been the case for the rural university,” she said. “For the most part, these institutions are young, the faculties are young, and they embrace change really very quickly. In that sense, they’re a good fit for introducing these types of [student-centered] ideas because much of it is implemented in terms of their own individual classroom instruction.”

Elsie Paredes, Sabah Sulaiman Haji, and Liz Bowles
The program was designed so that colleagues in Kurdistan and the U.S. could develop mutual understanding and cultural awareness in order to establish sustainable relationships and professional networks for academic collaboration.

Don Back directs the Language and Culture Institute and led workshops for the Kurdish administrators. He said the program is an example of Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission.
“From a global higher-education perspective, it’s in the interest of both U.S. and international universities to form partnerships,” Back said. “Such collaborations allow us at Virginia Tech to really share the best of our university while also helping address the specific challenges that confront Iraqi Kurdistan.”

Ultimately, he said, the partnership could lead to collaborative research opportunities and student and faculty exchanges.

The program began in January with intensive workshops in Irbil, the capital of the semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region. Led by faculty from the Language and Culture Institute, the training focused on topics such as curriculum design and instructional methods for English language faculty as well as academic leadership. Participants were introduced to tools such as Moodle, an open-source learning platform. Ribwar Mohammed, who is in charge of curriculum development at Raparin, said his university is already using the online site to help professors interact with their students.
Back said Moodle allows Raparin faculty to put syllabi online and provides greater access to students. “It’s gratifying,” he said, “to see firsthand something that we had introduced being very effectively used.”

Hawraz Hama (left) talks with VT's John Dooley.
Following the workshops, the institute’s faculty led semesterlong online courses. “It was intensive training,” said Hawraz Hama, the chair of Raparin’s English department. “We faced different assignments regarding leadership, professional development, university governance, and being a good leader. It was also good to be introduced to so many new online tools.”

He said his department, which he has led for the past two years, is facing growing pains. “When I graduated from high school in 2003, Iraq was under the process of being liberated by American and coalition forces from Saddam’s regime. The demand for learning English was immediately increased, and it’s only continued to grow since. Our [English department] is growing, because the demand is increasing every day.”

The program’s capstone experience brought the Kurdish educators to Virginia Tech for three weeks. For many, it was their first trip to the United States.

“Before coming to Virginia Tech, most of my information about the United States came from TV or movies,” Hama said. “I expected that American people are, let’s say, not helpful, based on the movies. But when I arrived in Washington, and at Virginia Tech, I found that on the contrary, American people are very helpful and very friendly, and they are ready to help if you need help.”

In Blacksburg, participants met with university leaders, observed classes, conducted research, and participated in a variety of cultural experiences, including a trip to hear the old-time music at the Floyd Country Store’s famous Friday Night Jamboree and a hike up the Cascades.

“The participants were all highly motivated and appreciative of this partnership and the educational activities that we conducted,” said Elsie Paredes, associate director of the Language and Culture Institute. “During the seminars, the discussions and conversations were very profound and engaging. It was a true learning experience for me, not only in regards to the culture, but also the personal stories of some of the participants who shared them with us.”

Omar Fouad Ghafor (left) and Barzan Hadi Hama Karim
Mohammed said he was returning home with a sense of optimism, despite the ongoing violence. “I have lots of ideas now on how the University of Raparin can continue to succeed,” he said.

Hama was similarly enthusiastic. “This trip to Virginia Tech could be a turning point in my professional life,” he said. “The quality of the instruction, the topics, the teachers, the excursions – all of them have been fantastic.”

Hama said he has already instituted changes at his university based on what he learned during the program. The university has approved curriculum reforms that he says will better prepare future English teachers. Courses on some traditional linguistic subjects were eliminated and ones on classroom management, teaching methodologies, and materials design were added. Hama said the Virginia Tech program “accelerated the process of improving the quality of education at our new established universities.”

Back said IREX has approved Virginia Tech to continue the program in 2015.

Read more:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

See photos from the boat tour of the Potomac River

On Saturday, students and teachers from the National Capital Region took to the water to explore the Potomac River by boat.

Post by Virginia Tech Language & Culture Institute: National Capital Region.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Renowned Pakistani band coming to Blacksburg

The Pakistani band Kyumariyaan will join the American group The Boston Boys for a performance and an artists workshop in Blacksburg on Sept. 18.

Kyumariyaan, based in Peshawar, specializes in Pushtun music, which features the rubab, a traditional long-bodied lute.

Between local well-educated families eschewing it as too low-brow and threats from those deeming all music and musicians suspect, Pushtun music has had it rough for a long time, according to a write-up for Center Stage, an exchange program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that is sponsoring the concert. "During a more recent radical turn in Pakistan, many traditional and popular musicians were killed or arrested, music shops burned, and instrument makers discouraged from their craft.

"But the music continues, whether at private celebrations or at friendly jam sessions fueled by MTV and later by the internet and mobile phones. At house parties or regular, small music societies, young players gather, create music on the fly, and draw on anything from Chuck Berry to WASP to Indian hits. Khumariyaan is a leader of this movement to revitalize the instrumental traditions and to bring them out of the shadows — taking risks to play live, encouraging other aspiring musicians to take up their ancestors’ instruments, and reinvigorating the live music experience for audiences throughout the region and across Pakistan."

The workshop featuring Khymariyaan and The Boston Boys will be at 4 p.m. at the Anne and Ellen Fife Theater at the Moss Center for the Arts. Tickets are free and can be reserved here.

The joint concert will be at 8 p.m. at 130 Jackson St. in Blacksburg. Tickets are $5. More information is available at

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Photos from the Fulbright EGSP graduation

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Friday, August 15, 2014

See photos from the IKRUPP graduation

Thursday, August 14, 2014

See a video from the Blacksburg graduation ceremony

Professor Christina Zawerucha, who took this video, writes:
International Students attending the Virginia Tech Language Culture Institute celebrate their graduation from the Intensive English Program, complete with student speeches, student emcees, academic awards, photos, and music. Student speeches begin at around 7:40. Unfortunately, the camera ran out of batteries, so Zihui Zhao's speech and the "Thank You" ceremony are truncated from this video. Deep thanks to everybody who made this event possible.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

WVTF story: Iraqi Kurds in Virginia

Participants of the Iraqi Kurdistan Rural University Partnership Program pose with administrators from the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute during a reception at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.
A group of Academics from Kurdistan, visiting Virginia Tech for 3 weeks this month, has watched from afar as their homeland faces attack by ISIS militants.

The group is here studying higher education practices and principles in order to bring them back to their home universities. It’s funded by the U.S. State Department and the Iraqi Embassy. When they left home, Kurdistan was in peace.

"We are not as safe as before we came here.  When we depart Kurdistan it was absolutely safe. Still we are safe but we are under the threat of these new terrorist groups," said Barzan Karim, from the University of Halabja.

Read more and listen to the radio story by WVTF's Robbie Harris.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Photos from the summer LCI picnic

Hunting for artistic treasure in Blacksburg

Instructor Cynthia Fields and her students took part recently in the Art Walk & Scavenger Hunt in downtown Blacksburg. In the scavenger hunt, participants had to answer questions about specific pieces of art in 15 gallery spaces.

Said student Ahmed Rabaan: "It was my first time to participate in a scavenger hunt. I have seen this activity on TV when I was a kid. ... I thought it was going to be just a game, but I learned a lot of new things. ...

"I noticed that Blacksburg is a place that loves art. In every shop you will find nice pieces of art. I have been in Blacksburg for a year, and I just learned that last weekend. In addition, we talked to some shop owners, and they gave us many valuable information about stuff that we can do around the town. This activity made me realize some stuff that I never thought about."

Rain Zhou also liked learning more about the town.

"We tried to find galleries in the downtown and use this experience to know more about Blacksburg. Through this activity, I looked at a lot of pictures and felt the charm of art. And what made me surprised is that although the downtown isn't a big area, there are still a lot of galleries. Maybe I can guess people living in Blacksburg like art very much."

If you want to take your own Art Walk, detailed brochures are available in downtown stores, the Virginia Tech Visitor's Center, and participating galleries.

The winning student received a Steppin' Out T-shirt.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

TOEFL Prep classes available in National Capital Region

The Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute has space available for people in the National Capital Region who want help preparing for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Starting July 22 and running through Aug. 28, the classes will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at the institute’s new facility in the Merrifield neighborhood of Fairfax, Virginia. The location is just a block from the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station on the Orange Line. Get directions here.

The classes will include five hours per week of intensive classroom instruction and an hour per week of guided testing practice. Tuition is $639 and includes textbook, CD, and iTest interactive exam practice.

The TOEFL is the most widely respected English-language test in the world, recognized by more than 9,000 colleges, universities, and agencies in more than 130 countries.
Register now

For more information, or to register, call 703-205-2750 or email

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A visit to Smithfield Plantation

LCI student Ahmed Reda recounts a recent class field trip:

Yesterday we had an interesting and beneficial trip to the Smithfield Plantation, which was owned and managed by the Preston family through five generations before Virginia Tech managed it. The university took over the facility after the house had been turned into a chicken coop.

The house was built by William Preston, and he designed it to bring back people to the area of Southwest Virginia after an Indian massacre.

I learned about the plantation and the history of this area in Virginia. I learned some parts of American history, too. In addition, the tools and equipment in the house, especially in the kitchen, were my favorite parts of the trip.

Lastly, the weather was more than amazing.

(Photos provided by instructor Cynthia Fields.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Washington field trip report

The following report was written by student Hamad Al Zaabi.

Last Wednesday the Virginia Tech Language and Cultural Institute organized a field trip for us to witness the cherry blossoms in the National Mall area. The trip was more than perfect due to the outstanding weather.

At the beginning we visited the World War II monument. The structure was wonderful as it showed all the states together between the Pacific and the Atlantic with the water fountains in the middle. The monument honored all the soldiers who were killed in World War II.

Then we walked across the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which reflected both the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, toward the Lincoln Memorial, where the statue of Abraham Lincoln is sitting on its chair watching his beloved city, Washington, D.C.

After that we walked back toward the Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Memorial. I was amazed by how the place was set between Jefferson’s Memorial, who wrote the Declaration of Independence that all men are free, and Abraham Lincoln’s Memorial who led the free states in the Civil War.

Through this field trip I learned that many people sacrificed their lives and freedom in order to build a better future for their children.

In short, Washington, D.C., is a very rich place with all the history the city hides between its corners, yet the cherry blossom is another story you should see for yourself.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Photo essays from D.C.

Students in the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to Washington, D.C. They saw the cherry blossoms and visited three memorials -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. Below are the winning photo essays from that trip.

Abdulelh Aloubal
He is like a king sitting in his throne, and just has won a battle. His face is telling me everything, and left nothing to ask about. If he could speak he would say, ooh, little lawyer, stay away from law and politics or fight till you win!

He is listening to you now, and you can ask him any question! Really, he folds his arms across his chest listening. He became a statue so no one can assassinate him again! He told you about his dream, and your job to achieve it.

A little star inside a white cherry blossom talked to me about its original home. I told it that we are both far away from home, and the success that we have made was our main goal. Your value may be more when you are away from home.

The big battle took place over the Atlantic Ocean. It is true that the soldiers defended their homeland, but their country and families are missing them. Each engraved letter of the "Atlantic" has a lot of events, death, and drowning. Sacrificing for the homeland is a national duty and honor.

God's creations are beautiful, and he gave us the opportunity for creativity. You can see one side of the life, and you can create the other one by drawing. Drawing is beautiful, and I wish I could draw.

Nawal Alakeel
Washington Monument was the first thing caught my eyes in the field trip last Wednesday. It is a prominent Obelisk-shape building in the National Mall area. I was told that it was built to honor the first American president, George Washington. The monument was under restoration more than a year now, but we were Fortunate that most of external restoration works had finished before our field trip day.

Cherry blossom trees filled the area with different shades of pastel rosy color. The trees surrounded the Potomac River and made a totally new scenery that last for no more that nine days a year. The weather was pleasant with a gentle spring breeze. Everyone was enjoying the scene and the weather. Two ladies were drawing a water color pictures. Photographers were busy trying to find the perfect angels to capture unique photos. Others were sating on benches chatting with their friends.

Apparently, we were not the only ones enjoying the spring weather. This cute duck was enjoying its time summing in the river with many other ducks and ducklings. Many other birds were flaying aorund glad to see the sun a after a very long winter.

Abraham Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial building was one of the areas that we visited. This huge statue was built in 1919 with very smile tools. The artists engraved the smallest details in this piece of art to be a monument to remember a man with great achievements.

We gathered in front of a large sets of  golden stars to listen to the guide who started explaining historical events America went through during World War 2. These golden stars were displayed in a rectangular wall to honor the 4,048.00 American soldiers who died during the World War 2. Each star represent 100 soldiers who sacrificed their lives to serve their country.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pamela Smart-Smith named assistant director for academics

Pamela Smart-Smith has been named the assistant director for academics at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.

Smart-Smith, who has been involved with the institute since 2012, brings more than 20 years’ experience as an administrator and instructor of English as a second language. She has taught in Virginia and Georgia as well as in Spain, Poland, and England.

Click here to read more.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dinner serves up a mix of languages and cultures

Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute student Sultan Alamri, right, talks with University Honors Program student Larissa Perara during the dinner at Hillcrest Hall.

A group of Language and Culture Institute students and faculty members recently shared a meal, and some lively discussion, with members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and the University Honors Program.

Seven people at one table in the Hillcrest Hall dining room collectively spoke eight different languages. Another table boasted 11.

The dinner, hosted by the LCI, the honors program, and the Corps of Cadets, brought together more than 100 students and faculty members. It was designed to encourage networking, foster diversity and inclusion, and promote greater understanding of the campus programs.

Click here to read more about the dinner and some of our students' reactions.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A message of gratitude from Fahad Alhowaish's father

The following letter was sent to to the LCI from the father of former student Fahad Alhowaish, who died in a car crash in Saudi Arabia.
Dear Mr. Donald, All Fahad's colleagues, Instructors At Virginia Tech Language Culture Institute & American National University.

We totally appreciate every single effort you guys have made with our lost son Fahad Alhowaish. As Fahad told us how he met new supportive friends who had supported him at every single issue he had faced as well as the instructors who had instructed him to the right track which have made him pass his classes with confidence and specially reaching his goals in meeting the University acceptance requirements. Fahad used to update me with every single improvement he had reached at his career path and used make my heart reach its peak point of happiness as I had dreamed about the graduation day of my son Fahad which I had decided to attend. Moreover, I appreciate every single effort you guys have made with our lost son Fahad as he has been treated as more than a son of yours and at this time all what we can say that may Allah accept him in his paradise.

Finally, I would like to thank Mr. Donald, Miss Diana, Miss Melina, Miss Reem, Dr. Eric, Mr./Miss Ron, Miss Lenaa, Mr./Miss Ran, Mr./Miss Eddie, and All Fahad's colleagues & Instructors for their kindness in supporting us during this hard time and wish everybody a great future in nourishing their goals.

It will be highly appreciated if you could have this message posted at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute & American National University for All Fahad's colleagues & Instructors.

Kindly accept our sincere regards.
Adel Alhowaish Fahad's father.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Registration for International Street Fair booths now open

From VT News:
Is your organization interested in promoting a cultural exchange at International Street Fair this year? This event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 27 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Thousands of people attend the International Street Fair. There is a stage for performances and many other opportunities to share the traditions of your culture!

International Street Fair's objective is to promote cultural exchange, RSOs and USCOs as well as any other VT-affiliated organizations or departments are allowed to participate. Due to the limited booth availabilities, priority of booth assignments will be assigned to organizations that align with ISF's objective. Please note that CISO has the right to refuse an application if the organization's vision does not align with the goal of cultural exchange during International Street Fair.

The form is due no later than 8 a.m. March 20. Please apply for a booth by following this link:

For more information contact Karen Howe at 540-231-6527

Monday, February 17, 2014

Photo essays: U.S. Capitol and the U.S. Botanic Garden

Students in the National Capital Region recently toured the U.S. Capitol and the Botanic Garden. Talah AlSecait and Shahad Nagoor, two students in professor Christine Bobal's RW500 class, took photos during the trip and later added captions.
A cacao tree with its suspended fruits. It seems that some are more mature than the others. I thought it was a lemon tree when I saw it first. However, it is a wonderful thing that these fruits are the beans from which chocolate is created.

One of America’s symbols of freedom. It seems to be a perfect dome structure. I wish we were able to see some of the parts that need restoration. I wonder if there is any relation between the words freedom and dome?

All scenes in the Botanic Garden are amazing and make you feel comfortable and relaxed. While I was walking, I stopped suddenly when I smelled a special smell -- a scent that is different from the smell of flowers and plants. When I saw this picture, I recognized the source. It came from the homeland!

The crypt room in the Capitol is full of columns. It was built for burying the remains of George Washington. He isn't buried there because he preferred to be buried at his home, according to his will. The crypt room has 13 statues representing the 13 original states.

Out of Many, One: The United States Capitol Building is a place where laws are made, taxes are gathered, and war is declared (if needed). It’s the place where American citizens can find a common ground. The Capitol was designed by Dr. William Thornton in 1793 and was supposed to be completed by 1800, yet it went through three stages: 1800, 1807, and by 1826 all of its wings were completed.

The Beginning: This hall is the where the tour actually begins at the Capitol. In this room, there are many columns to support the dome and the Statue of Freedom, which has been on the top of the Capitol since 1863, while the citizens of United States were struggling from the Civil War. It was also meant to be a resting area for the president back in the 1800s.

The Rotunda: The Rotunda is a very specious hall at the center of the Capitol where most of the funeral/honoring ceremonies have been held since Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. The funeral for Daniel Inouye, a senator from Ohio, and Rosa Parks honoring ceremony were the last two ceremonies held at this hall. In the Rotunda, there are eight different paintings. One of them is about the time when the Americans requested independence from the British.

National Statuary Hall: This hall has a large number of statues of America’s most extraordinary citizens. All statues were contributed by state governments. This big number of statues makes the visitor wonder about the reason behind the statues' colors – brown or white. We were told those colors are determined by a specific committee at the Capitol and can’t be changed. This hall also has the “Whisper Spot,” where you can hear someone’s voice from the other end of the hall but not the middle or anywhere else.