Monday, November 28, 2016

'Show me the money,' Fairfax students say

Students and faculty from the Language and Culture Institute in Fairfax recently toured the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which develops and produces U.S notes. During the tour, they saw millions of dollars being printed.

Below, some of the students share their thoughts about the field trip.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Students get their day in court

A group of LCI students and faculty members from the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Click below to read what some of the students had to say about their trip.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Students, staff saddle up and hit the trail

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.”
― William Shakespeare, Henry V
Lamya Almuhiza gets some advice. 
When students from the LCI visited Winterfrost Farm in Radford this month, they could certainly appreciate these words from Shakespeare regarding the horse by the time they had completed an hour trail ride.

It was the first time that Faisal Alhamdan, Abdulwahab Alzahrani, Ibrahim Hamdan, Junyuan Pang, and Dekai Yu had ridden a horse, but judging by the smiles on their faces, it will not be the last. Lamya Almuhiza is an experienced rider who went with the group.

Riding for the first time as an adult can be intimidating. A friend of Dekai Yu’s had warned him that people often fall from horses. Ibrahim Hamdan said he had no idea what to expect. Those thoughts may have been on the minds of other students as Sheila Palmer Miles, owner and operator of this horse rescue, greeted everyone with enthusiasm. She gave a brief lesson on mounting, guiding, and other tips to make the ride enjoyable and safe for both horse and rider. After students mounted up, they took a trial ride around the indoor arena before heading out on the trail.

Junyuan Pang on the trail.
The trail began in an open field with views of the surrounding mountains. Before heading into the woods, students faced an unusual obstacle in having to pass through a narrow gate with an overhead bar. The coolness of the woods rewarded all with its freshness. After meandering up and down hills, students were able to look out over the New River and see the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech on the other side. Faisal Alhamdan exclaimed, “Breathtaking!” when he recalled seeing the view.

As herd animals, horses like to stay together, so if a few fell behind, they moved into a quick trot to catch up. All of the LCI students, including first-time riders, were straight in the saddle as if they had been riding since childhood. As the group approached the barn on the final leg of the trail, everyone felt that the experience had ended too quickly. Students lingered a bit after dismounting to reward their horses with carrots. After bidding a reluctant farewell to horses and stable hands, the group headed back to Blacksburg.

Sondra Schreiber gets some tips.
With a few days to reflect on the experience of the trail ride, Ibrahim Hamdan stated that the ride was one of the best experiences he has had since he came to the LCI, and he looks forward to returning to Winterfrost Farm in the not too distant future. Abdulwahab Alzahrani was still smiling and enthusiastic about the opportunity for a trail ride. By the way, since Ibrahim, Abdulwahab and Faisal were in a group with the trail leaders, they have been affectionately named “The Three Amigos!”

A note about Winterfrost Farm: It is a horse rescue caring for abused horses that have been confiscated by Animal Control as well as horses whose owners can no longer afford to care for them or who no longer want them. Trail ride fees help provide feed, vaccinations, farrier work, and other needs of the horses. There are numerous volunteers who assist with the horses’ care and accompany riders on the trail. For more information, or to schedule a ride, check out their website.

The LCI group hits the trail.
Dekai Yu sits in the saddle as a volunteer checks the tightness of the girth.

Sheila Palmer Miles of Winterfrost Farm gives a demonstration. 

Ibrahim Hamdan

Abdulwahab Alzahrani

Faisal Alhamdan

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Students tour exhibit that shows Islamic world through women's eyes

LCI students tour the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Last week, students and faculty in Fairfax took a field trip to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. There, they saw an exhibition, "She Who Tells a Story."

This landmark exhibition of more than 80 photographs and a video installation challenges stereotypes surrounding the people, landscapes, and cultures of Iran and the Arab world. "She Who Tells a Story" refutes the conventional idea that Arab and Iranian women are oppressed or powerless, illuminating the fact that women are creating some of the most significant photographic work in the region today.

Their provocative works, most created within the past decade, include portraiture, documentary, and staged narratives. Many of the artists develop expansive series of images that create compelling narratives about feminine identity, war, occupation, and protest.

Below, read essays by two students on their reactions to the field trip.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Class welcomes special guests; student talks his way to the top

Guests included: (back row, from left) Jerry Sauter, Steve Bull, Bob Miller, Susan Miller, Pat Turner, (front row, from left) Ariel Hylton, Norma Bull, Erin Bull, and Bonnie Sumner.
The LCI's Advanced Studies Elective class in Blacksburg recently welcomed nine guests who were charged with evaluating students speaking to a prompt. Each student responded to five prompts with five different judges. All of the guests were former colleagues of instructors Bonnie Sumner and Pat Turner.

Says Bonnie: "The students seemed to enjoy the activity, and our guests were complimentary of the students they worked with."

A toast to the Toastmasters

In other news, students from LCI recently attended a Toastmasters meeting that convened in the annex.

Ibrahim Hamdan
Ibrahim Hamdan received first place for the Best Table Topic, an impromptu speech. Ibrahim's topic was to imagine he was a published author on a tour promoting a new book titled "The Body in the Kitchen."

Ibrahim adeptly took the topic from a murder mystery and segued to a commentary about how we seldom take time to notice all of the details around us in our daily lives.

In addition to winning first place in his category, he was the only person who did not have any "ah, um, you know, etc." in his speech. He was also the only LCI student to speak.

Congratulations, Ibrahim!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rihanna launches college scholarships for international students

By [1] - Rihanna, CC BY 2.0,
In a May 9 Instagram post, musician Rihanna announced the launch of a scholarship program to help citizens or natives of Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, and Jamaica attend college in the United States.

Selected first-year students will receive between U.S. $5,000 and U.S. $50,000, with the ability to renew annually until the recipient has earned a bachelor's degree.

Read more at NPR.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Radford celebrates Brazilian students' success

Charlene Dandrow (left), associate director of the Language and Culture Institute at Radford University, takes one last group photo with BSMP students in front of the Radford planetarium in the new Center for the Sciences building.
On April 28, the Language and Culture Institute at Radford University held a farewell celebration for the 13 students of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program who attended the LCI@RU pre-academic intensive English program in July and then went on to complete an academic year in mostly STEM-related coursework at Radford University.

"We are so fortunate to have hosted the BSMP students this academic year at Radford University," says Charlene Dandrow, associate director of the LCI@RU. "When I first met the BSMP students, I was truly impressed by their high caliber and motivation. I believe this U.S. educational and cultural experience has equipped them with the essential skills and knowledge to enable them to be successful at their upcoming summer internships, and more important, when they return to their Brazilian universities to complete their undergraduate studies in their respective STEM fields. I wish them all the best of luck!”

Mateus Lopes says goodbye to Radford
professor Karen A. Ughetta.

Students and their majors

  • Michael Alexandre Da Silva Sampietro, Computer Science
  • Isabela Romeiro Simoes Cintra Rosa, Computer Science
  • Joao Henrique Goncalves Veras, Computer Science
  • Mateus Alves Gomes, Computer Science
  • Diego Menezes Bonfim, Biology
  • Igor Reginato Dulgher Araujo, Information Systems
  • Lorenna Rocha Reis, Chemistry
  • Ana Carolina Pereira Pla Nutrition
  • Marcela Ribeiro Basso, Statistics
  • Renan Luigi Martins Guarese, Computer Science
  • Diego Vitoriano Da Silva, Computer Science
  • Mateus Lopes Teixeira, Information Systems
  • Phillipe Alcantara Fonseca Lopes, Information Systems
For their summer internships, most of the Brazilian students have been invited to conduct research at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Some of their research topics

Marcela Marcela Ribeiro Basso and Renan Guarese:
Our research is called Research in Construction and Testing of Adaptive Monte Carlo Algorithms with Applications to Financial Risk Management. This research will develop new Monte Carlo algorithms that automatically adjust the sample size to reach the desired error tolerance. These algorithms will also employ variance reduction methods. Their effectiveness will be demonstrated through various option pricing and other financial risk applications.
Diego Vitoriano da Silva:
I’m going to Illinois Institute of Technology, and I'll be conducting research on Integrated GPS and INS Embedded Systems. In other words, it's basically an implementation of INS (inertial navigation system) technology to work along GPS (global positioning system) when the latter fails in systems like Raspberry Pi's (2, 3 and 0), Beagle Bone Black, etc., which are small computers.
Mateus Lopes Teixeira, Michael Alexandre Da Silva Sampietro and Isabela Romeiro Cintra Rosa:
We’re going to IIT to do a research in Information Search and Retrieval at IIT. A brief description is that will the focus will be on three critical issues in modern search engines, namely volume, velocity and veracity. We will explore parallel and distributed solutions for text and multimedia retrieval.
Mateus Alves Gomes:
I will be doing research in Cloud Platform for Internet of Things at IIT. I will be performing hands-on research, which may include learning and applying new laboratory methods and concepts and/or developing and applying software/hardware programs to generate data relevant to this research. I will also attend regularly scheduled seminars that augment the faculty-mentored research, covering topics such as engineering ethics, safety, communicating research findings and project results. 

Paul Currant (right), director of Radford University's International Education Center, watches the BSMP farewell celebration. 

Students see the sights of Richmond during weekend tour

“Virginia is for Lovers,” and the weekend of April 30-May 1, LCI students Tianyi Li, Jia Liu, Turki Alzahrani, Ibrahim Hamdan, Han Liu, Shirong Kou, Anye Wang, and Shiwei Yu experienced a glimpse of the history and art of Virginia to love.

Accompanied by Pat Turner, Sondra Schreiber, and Bonnie Sumner, the group began its tour on the west end of Monument Avenue in Richmond. From the statue of Arthur Ashe, the first African-American to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon and the first African-American to be ranked No. 1 in the world, to the statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jeb Stuart, the students learned that while Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy, the people of the commonwealth have embraced all who impacted not only the history of Virginia, but also of the United States.

Continuing on the street that becomes Franklin Street, the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University added splashes of artwork and color to the residences.

The first stop was the Virginia State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson.
The capitol is home to the General Assembly, the oldest legislature continuously operating in the Western Hemisphere. The rotunda houses a life-size statue of George Washington sculpted by French artist Jean-Antoine Houdon. A statue of Robert E. Lee is placed in the old hall of the House of Representatives at the exact spot where Lee, who had resigned his commission with the United States Army, accepted command of Virginia’s military and naval forces. The Governors’ Gallery just outside of the Governor’s Office includes portraits of L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American elected governor in the United States, and Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, former governors who are now U.S. senators.

After spending time at the capitol, the group headed to Church Hill, the oldest neighborhood in Richmond and the location of historic St. John’s Episcopal Church. Ray, an interpreter in colonial attire, described the building as it would have looked in March 1775, when Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech, which gave birth to the American Revolution. The group learned that three key figures in attendance that day have special epithets for their roles in the Revolution: George Washington, the sword; Patrick Henry, the words; and Thomas Jefferson, the pen. Ray offered a special thank you to the LCI group and graciously answered questions after his presentation.

It had been a busy day, and there was just enough time to check in to the hotel in the historic Shockoe Slip area of Richmond before heading to a canal tour. Cotton, an enthusiastic captain, regaled the group with descriptions of how the canal had been designed by George Washington in order to provide passage for ships west of the fall line in the James River at Richmond. Dressed in period clothing, Cotton had a surprise as he gave each student an opportunity to pilot the boat.

Following the canal trip, Bottoms Up, perhaps the most famous pizza restaurant in the city, was the site for dinner.

Sunday morning, everyone had a plentiful breakfast at Joe’s Inn in Richmond’s historic Fan district. Most everyone ordered the “big breakfast,” which consisted of two eggs, three pieces of French toast, home-cooked potatoes, choice of meat, and biscuits.

After breakfast, the group went to the Virginia Historical Society. One of the special exhibits is "The Story of Virginia," which is a travel through 16,000 years of time. The historical society has the only portrait of the Powhatan Indian Pocahontas. Pocahontas sat for the portrait in England after traveling there with her husband, John Rolfe.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was the final location in Richmond. Here, all had an opportunity to peruse collections on their own.

On the return trip, the group made a brief stop at Appomattox Court House, location of the surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant, ending the U.S. Civil War on April 9, 1865.

The trip provided a glimpse of Virginia that most of the students had not visited before. While the students enjoyed what Richmond had to offer historically and culturally, they also had an opportunity to spend time with other students with whom they made new connections.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LCI@RU students volunteer at Radford's Beans and Rice

Daniel Doolittle (second from left), an AmeriCorps volunteer from Pulaski, Virginia, shows LCI@RU students how to set up the weekly food distribution site. The students (from right to left), Almandhar Al-Rawahi of Oman, Ahmed Khaled of Jordan, Abdulrhman Alalshaikh of Saudi Arabia, and Faisal Aljaber of Saudi Arabia, loaded the trailer with boxes of donated food.
Students at the Language and Culture Institute at Radford University volunteered recently with Beans and Rice Inc. The Radford nonprofit works to improve the economic well-being of low- to moderate-income families through hunger relief, afterschool programs that improve educational opportunity for at-risk children, job creation for low- to moderate-income families, and savings programs that help families buy their first home and children save for education.

The LCI@RU students helped set up the weekly food distribution center and distributed donated food. Read about their experiences below.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fairfax students check out the cherry blossoms

Students and staff from the National Capital Region recently toured Washington, D.C., to see some of the capital's many monuments, as well as its famed cherry blossoms.

See their photos and read their accounts below.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

See photos from Wednesday's reception with University Honors and the Corps of Cadets

The Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute welcomed members of the Corps of Cadets and University Honors for a community connections reception that included snacks and ice-breaker games.
Posted by Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Students tour the Library of Congress

Students from the National Capital Region recently got an up-close look at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Read some of their reflections and see photos from their field trip.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Blacksburg, Radford classes canceled for Monday, Feb. 15

Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus, including the Language and Culture Institute, will be closed Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. All classes are canceled.

Classes are also canceled at the Language and Culture Institute at Radford University.

For the latest information, visit the Virginia Tech homepage ( or Virginia Tech News (, or call the campus weather hotline at 231-6668.

 Visit for the latest Blacksburg Transit information.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Virginia Tech chosen to host Mandela Washington Fellows from Africa

Twenty-five young community leaders from Africa will spend six weeks at Virginia Tech this summer for intensive hands-on civic leadership training.

The university has been selected to serve as an academic institute for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of President Barack Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative.

"Civic leadership is at the heart of what Virginia Tech is about," said Vice President for Outreach and International Affairs Guru Ghosh. "Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) is our core value, and hosting emerging leaders from the African continent on campus is one way we can disseminate our core values. We are excited to be part of this initiative and to welcome these extraordinary individuals to our institution and region."

Read more about this in VT News.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Classes canceled Friday, Jan. 22

Virginia Tech's main campus in Blacksburg will be closed Friday, Jan. 22. All classes, including those at the Language and Culture Institute, are canceled. All university events scheduled for Friday will be canceled.

Classes are also canceled at the LCI's locations in Fairfax and Radford.

For the latest information, visit the Virginia Tech homepage ( or Virginia Tech News (, or call the campus weather hotline at 231-6668.

Visit for the latest Blacksburg Transit information.