Thursday, December 3, 2015

Radford students volunteer at Elf Shelf

For the second consecutive year, students, faculty, and staff from the Language and Culture Institute at Radford University donated their time at the Radford Elf Shelf store.

They assisted with setting up the store and arranging Christmas gifts donated by local residents. These presents will be given to low-income families in the area who need assistance with providing presents to their children.

"I believe these types of community service experiences are extremely beneficial to our international students," says Charlene Dandrow, associate director of the institute. "Through participation, our students learn a lot about American values and culture and how to better understand and appreciate diversity. By getting involved in activities that serve the public good and have a positive impact on the community, they gain a strong sense of social connectivity and responsibility as well as a sense of belonging and purpose."

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Fairfax students tour American Indian museum

Last month, students and faculty from the National Capital Region toured the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The museum is dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans.

See photos and students' accounts of their visits below:

End of Semester Announcements

From Kristin Haas:

Class dates for Fall 2 and Spring 1
The last day of Fall 2 classes is December 16, 2015.
Spring 1 classes start January 13, 2016

NEW! Deadline for New River Community College Applications
If you want to start at New River in January 2016, the deadline for applications is December 17, 2015. You must have your entire application complete and submitted by this date.

Travel signature
If you are planning to travel out of the United States during the winter break (December 17-January 12), and you hold an F visa, you should obtain a travel signature.  You must get your I-20 signed so that you will be admitted to the U.S. when you return.

Leave Authorization
If you are not returning to LCI in Spring I, please see Sondra in Blacksburg or Guennadi in Fairfax. You must fill out the correct paperwork.

Annual Vacation
Any student wishing to take Spring I as a vacation must seek approval. To be eligible, you must have attended classes for four consecutive terms. You must turn in the Request for Approved Vacation form to Sondra or Guennadi.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Exporting higher learning where education is a matter of life and death

LCI Director Don Back wrote an opinion piece that was published in The Roanoke Times on Nov. 15. In it, he underscores the importance of international academic exchanges.

Read his story below or at

Back: Exporting higher learning where education is a matter of life and death

By Don Back

After rounding up the men, women and children who had tried to flee, they told them to lie on the ground and then began shooting them at random.

Amid the survivors’ cries and wails, they killed the remaining men and boys and loaded the women and girls onto trucks and buses. Many of the captives — including girls as young as 10 — faced torture, rape, forced marriage or slavery.

In the end, Islamic State fighters killed thousands of people from the Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq; tens of thousands of Yazidis who managed to escape were stranded in the nearby mountains without food or water.

The United Nations cited the vicious 2014 attack as a possible genocide, and it was one of the United States’ main justifications for starting its air campaign against the Islamic State.

A Yazidi man I’ll call Mamo recounted these atrocities recently during a workshop organized by the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute. A professor at the University of Zakho, Mamo and nearly two dozen other educators from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region came to Blacksburg to discuss ways to strengthen their universities’ administration and reform their English language curricula. The Iraqis saw firsthand how professors at Virginia Tech use student-centered and problem-based teaching methods to create more engaging learning environments.

IKRUPP participants pose with LCI faculty members.
Just as important, the Iraqi educators also shared their experiences and spoke about life in Kurdistan, where peshmerga forces are still battling militants along the front lines in northern Iraq. By doing so, the educators helped build greater understanding and forged partnerships for continued collaboration. This is essential, they say, because strengthening the region’s education systems is among the most important ways to foster stability there.

Mamo and the others stressed that militant groups such as the Islamic State see efforts to promote critical thinking, open dialogue and wider understanding as threats to their authority and control.
Such academic mobility programs are key components of the Language and Culture Institute’s work and are vital to fulfilling Virginia Tech’s mission. As a global land-grant institution, the university aims to address society’s needs locally and globally and to encourage greater understanding of our interdependent world.

This fall, Tech welcomed its largest-ever population of new international students — 549 new undergraduate and 590 new graduate students. Overall, more than 3,500 international students are enrolled at the university, more than any other institution in the commonwealth, according to the Institute of International Education. Those students come from more than 90 countries around the world.

It is fitting that from Nov. 16-20 we will celebrate the 16th annual International Education Week, which highlights the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. A joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of State and Education, this year’s festivities are focused on the theme of “International Education: Advancing Access for All.”

The LCI's Elsie Paredes talks with an IKRUPP participant.
This celebration offers us an opportunity to reach out to the international students in our own communities and develop a broader understanding of cultures and languages besides our own.

Each year, hundreds of international students come to the Language and Culture Institute’s locations in Blacksburg, Fairfax and Radford to improve their English skills and prepare to make the transition to academic life at a U.S. university. Indeed, many of our students go on to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees at Tech.

The benefits of these academic exchanges can be seen both at home and abroad. In the 2012-13, for example, the institute and its students added more than $5 million to the Blacksburg and Northern Virginia economies, according to a report from Tech’s Office of Economic Development. These students also increase the diversity of the campus community and, in so doing, help prepare Virginia Tech students for the interconnected world in which they will one day live and work.

In return, our international students receive the benefits of a high-quality Virginia Tech education. After their studies here, they return home to become leaders who better understand American society and values. By emphasizing mutual understanding and cross-cultural openness, we are, in a very true sense, enhancing America’s national security and public diplomacy.

We live in an ever-evolving international landscape where knowledge of the world is a necessity, not an option. For those of us dedicated to a system of higher education that is focused on the dual mission of discovering and disseminating new knowledge while also preparing the next generation of global citizens, there is no more important task than creating an environment in which international exchanges are encouraged and collaboration can flourish.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Exploring the Air and Space Museum

Students in the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

See more photos from their trip and read what some students wrote about their experience after the jump.

Monday, September 21, 2015

See photos from the faculty mini-conference in Blacksburg

On Friday, LCI faculty in Blacksburg gathered for a variety of workshops and presentations. See anyone you know?
Posted by Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute on Monday, September 21, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

National Capital Region parties in the park

Students, faculty, and staff from the National Capital Region gathered recently for an end-of-term picnic at Nottoway Park in Vienna. See photos and student essays about the celebration.

'People from Around the World All Gathered in One Place'
By Alanhoof Alotaibi

Thursday has arrived and the day we get to have a picnic with everyone from VTLCI begins. Thanks to Professor Bobal’s video, no one got lost and managed to find the park. 

The weather at first was very hot and humid, but everyone managed to fan away the discomfort. The park was filled with a chill atmosphere. It still fascinates me to see people from around the world all gathered in one place, and the fact that they get along makes it so much greater. You can hear the many different conversations, jokes, and even songs going on in the park.

One of my favorite moments was meeting Professor Sereda’s mother, who only speaks Russian; she is lovely. Not to mention the many delicious foods there were! Just remembering that feast makes me want to travel back in time to eat those yummy burgers Ashley grilled for us.

The picnic ended as soon as the rain started to pour, but it was wonderful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Language and Culture Institute at Radford University celebrates first graduation

Brazil Scientific Mobility Program students and faculty and staff from the Language and Culture Institute at Radford University celebrate the institute's first graduation ceremony. 
Students play an LCI@RU version of "Jeopardy."
The Language and Culture Institute at Radford University held its first graduation ceremony, on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Heth Hall.
Nine students sponsored by the Brazilian government as part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program received certificates from the institute. The program is a one-year, nondegree program for Brazilian students to study abroad in the United States. It is part of the Brazilian government's larger initiative to grant 100,000 university students the opportunity to study abroad at the world's best colleges and universities.

Friday, August 14, 2015

See photos from the National Capital Region summer picnic

Click on a photo below to open a slideshow in Facebook.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

See photos from this year's Humphrey Fellows graduation

Click on a photo below to open a slideshow from the ceremony in Facebook.

See photos from the Humphrey Fellows' final presentation and graduation ceremony!
Posted by Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute Humphrey Fellows on Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

LCI says zài jiàn to Wang Tao

Associate Director Elsie Paredes (right) gives a few parting gifts to Wang Tao.
Wang Tao, a visiting scholar from the University of Science and Technology of China, wrapped up her six-month stay in the United States with a presentation Tuesday afternoon at the Language and Culture Institute. Her talk focused on the importance of "learning by doing."

A professor in the English department at USTC, she observed LCI and Chinese language classes during the spring and talked about the USTC at a meeting of the University Council on International Affairs.

During the summer, she held a seminar on Chinese culture and education and also worked as a co-investigator on research regarding the experience of Chinese students at the LCI in Blacksburg. They set up a focus group, held a group interview, and collected raw data.

Having visited a number of universities across the country, she said she appreciated the tranquility of Blacksburg -- and liked seeing so many squirrels on campus and around town.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A field trip to the National Portrait Gallery

Among the portraits on display at the National Portrait Gallery is this one by artist Chuck Close of President Bill Clinton.
Students and staff from the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Read about their trip and see some photos below.

Elaine de Kooning's portrait of President John F. Kennedy.
By Shatha Alamoudi

Last week we had a beautiful trip to the National Portrait Gallery with some students and teachers.

We started to move from the institute at 11:00 a.m. We took the Metro there. The weather was amazing; it was cloudy and good for the trip. 

We arrived the museum at 12:11 pm .We saw a lot of pictures, such as Brad Pitt, Rosa Parks, George Washington, and others. 

After we finished the trip, I went with my Professor Shamsaei and my friends to have lunch. Then I came back home. 

It was a beautiful trip and everybody had a good time.

The Great Hall
By Reenad Alhussein

On Jun, 2, students from Virginia Tech went to the National Portrait Gallery. We learned a lot of information about American art. 

We listened to an educational tour guide. She told us many ideas. The field trip was great experience. However, it was too short to see everything in the museum, but other way is to do any thing we want. 

In addition, the museum has old and new art. That is great for all ages of people, so it is a good place to go with family and children. In addition, it has a perfect map, so you can walk around the museum easily. 

I would like to go again and see everything. People will not be bored at the museum. Also if people finish, they can see the gift shop and buy special gifts from the museum. 

Finally, the museum is near Chinatown, so people can go to museum and have fun in Chinatown.

Gilbert Stuart's 1796 portrait of George Washington is known as the Lansdowne portrait because it was a gift to the Marquis of Lansdowne, an English supporter of American independence, from Senator and Mrs. William Bingham of Pennsylvania.

Friday, June 5, 2015

See photos from the Summer Picnic in Blacksburg

See anyone you know? Share your photos on our Facebook page!
Posted by Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute on Friday, June 5, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Radford students celebrate at first annual spring cookout

Students, teachers, and staff at the Language and Culture Institute at Radford University cheered the end of spring classes and the arrival of summer at the first ever LCI@RU spring cookout.

The picnic was held at Radford's Bisset Park right after students finished their writing test. It was a good stress reliever, joked Associate Director Charlene Dandrow.

Attendees were treated to grilled hamburgers and hot dogs as well as a variety of other picnic classics. They played Frisbee, badminton, and soccer.

See more photos below.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Students root, root, root for the home team

The Washington Nationals take on the Philadelphia Philles at Nationals Park in Southeast Washington.
The following was submitted by LCI student Alejandro Ortiz:

On April 18, I had the pleasure to share a baseball game with the Virginia Tech students and some professors. Maybe a baseball game is a mundane activity for more than one American; nevertheless, it was an appealing proposal for a foreign student such as me.

As an Argentinean, I am used to attending soccer games, but baseball games ... maybe in some Hollywood movie!

First, the most attractive thing for me was how people from different ages were sharing the show. Moreover, it was really interesting to see how each was wearing something to be identified with his or her team. Even the fact that both team fanatics were sitting together with other team fans peacefully was astounding.

Surprisingly, I realized that most people go to the game to socialize more than to see the game. That is undoubtedly good!

To cut a long story short, it was a nice step to experience the American culture and understand the way they live.

Professors Guennadi Bratichko, Lily Jaffie-Shupe, and Christine Bobal show their support for the Nationals.

Amani Alghuraydh, Turki Alhenaki, and Maram Sulaiman contributed to this story:

The baseball game plays a vital role in the sports world. In a baseball game, each team consists of at least nine players. There are many teams in the USA.

First, we went to a baseball game. We were excited because this was our first time to see the game. There were a lot of fans. The game was between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. There were almost 25,000 fans at the game.

Finally, all the fans were sad because the time lost game. Next we left the stadium at 4 p.m. We went to a restaurant. Then we walked to the Metro, and it was crowded. I think we got a new experience. We will go again.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Virginia Tech welcomes 10 Humphrey Fellows from 8 countries

Khim Ghale, a journalist from Nepal, talks with Blacksburg Councilwoman Leslie Hager-Smith during a reception for the Humphrey Fellows at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.
Khim Ghale has worked as an editor and district bureau chief for the largest Nepali language newspaper in Nepal. But like his colleagues in the United States and elsewhere, he is anxious about the future of journalism.

As a Humphrey Fellow, Ghale will spend a year in the United States developing his leadership skills and studying ways to marry modern technology and traditional journalism. First, though, he'll spend the next four months with nine other Fellows improving their English at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.

Read the full story at VT News.

Former LCI students' award-winning project offers hope for Haiti

Former Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute student Junior Beauvais
The mayi tchaka Junior Beauvais eats when he returns to the rural Haitian village where he was born tastes nothing like the flavorful corn and bean stew his grandmother used to serve.

The recipe hasn't changed. What has, he says, is the quality of the corn and beans.

For generations, farmers in the mountainous village of Fondwa, a narrow strip of a community about two hours southwest of Port-au-Prince, provided food for their community by growing heirloom corn, peas, and sorghum.

Starting in the 1980s, though, the region has been flooded by genetically modified seeds distributed for free by nongovernmental organizations. Taking advantage of the cheap seeds, Haitian farmers quickly sold off their heirloom seeds and planted the modified ones.

According to Beauvais, this switch has had negative long-term consequences. The modified seeds, unsuitable to the terrain, aren't nearly as productive as the heirloom varieties. Crop yields have dramatically decreased, wrecking Fondwa's economy and creating health problems and malnutrition. In addition, the hybrid crops don't produce seeds that can be saved, forcing farmers to buy more each season.

Those who have tried to switch back to the heirloom seeds, however, have found that they are nowhere to be found. Beauvais had an award-winning idea to change that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Students see the cherry trees blossoming in Washington, D.C.

Students, teachers, and staff from the National Capital Region recently toured some of the many monuments around Washington, D.C., and saw the beautiful cherry blossoms.

See more of their photos and read their accounts of the trip below.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Photos: Spring II Orientation

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Language program helps Malaysian teachers speak better English in their classrooms

Claire Peters (right), assistant principal at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, gives a tour to Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute instructor Christine Bobal (second from right) and a group of visiting high school teachers from Malaysia.
Nolie Binti Shamshudin, a math teacher taking part in a Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute program, expected to improve her English and learn to better integrate technology into her classroom in Malaysia. Among the skills she did not expect to pick up: throwing a snowball and making snow angels.

More accustomed to the tropical greenery of Southeast Asia, she found herself knee-deep in the wintry weather of the National Capital Region, where Virginia Tech's facilities include a learning center in Fairfax.

Read more

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Photos: National Capital Region End of Term party

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Students tour the Capitol and U.S. Botanic Garden

Language and Culture Institute students in the National Capital Region recently toured the U.S. Capitol and Botanic Garden.

Below, you can read some of their essays and see their photos from the trip.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Photos: Field trip to the U.S. Capitol and Botanical Gardens

Monday, February 16, 2015

Afternoon classes canceled in Blacksburg

Virginia Tech has canceled classes effective noon today, February 16. Campus offices to close at 12:30 p.m. See or call 231-6668 for details.

Blacksburg Transit may have limited hours. Visit the Blacksburg Transit website for bus information. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Seeing it differently: New perspectives in art education with international students at Radford

Two Radford students discuss perspectives with a student teacher from Mexico.
Random objects, creative name badges and mask making brought new insights when Radford University art education majors shared an interactive class with nine students from Mexico.

On the Covington Center classroom front desk sat four items: a glue gun, a rock, a hammer and a stuffed animal. Discussing the similarities and difference among these items, RU students mingled with their international guests.

In this exercise, Richard Bay, professor of art education, explained such activities used in an elementary classroom setting help school children increase their perspectives through the comparison of the objects’ textures, weight, volume, size, materials and usage.

Seemingly different items have more in common than one might expect, much like the two cultures that combined during this unique class opportunity. The inverse can be true as well. It is all about perspective. Through this class, both cohorts gained a deeper understanding about each other’s perceptions and cultures.

“When RU students interact with international students, they acquire a different set of skills,” said Charlene Dandrow, associate director of the Language and Cultural Institute at Radford University (LCI@RU). “They develop an important 'literacy' that enables them to successfully engage with diversity, which nowadays is a crucial skill to have in the competitive global market.”

Read more about the visit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Conversations start with pizza

On Friday, the Language and Culture Institute hosted a conversation partners pizza party during which LCI students in Blacksburg could meet Virginia Tech students and choose a conversation partner. A lot of great connections were made.

We are still looking for about 15 more Virginia Tech students, as some LCI students still need partners.

If you are a VT  student and are interested, email Yara Haddad at for more information.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Happy birthday to our director

LCI staff and administrators gathered at Macado's in Blacksburg today to wish happy birthday to Director Don Back (center).

Friday, January 16, 2015

English classes available for international spouses and partners

A new program allows the spouses and partners of Virginia Tech's international students, faculty, employees, visiting scholars, and other affiliates to take English classes at the Language and Culture Institute.
Eligible spouses and partners can participate in the institute's Intensive English Program, which offers instruction in all skill areas, including listening, speaking, reading, writing, and pronunciation, from beginning through advanced proficiency levels.
Read more at VT News or go to

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Free foreign language classes open to faculty and staff

All Virginia Tech faculty and staff are eligible for foreign language conversation courses at the Language and Culture Institute. We offer classes in Chinese, French, Spanish, and German.
Participation is free, though course books must be purchased separately. Classes begin Feb. 2.
Find out more about the classes in our campus notice.