Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Virginia Tech participating in State Department forum on internationalizing U.S. campuses

Don Back
LCI Director Don Back
From July 31 to Aug. 2, LCI Director Don Back will represent Virginia Tech at the U.S. Department of State’s eighth annual EducationUSA Forum in Washington, D.C.

More than 570 U.S. university representatives will join U.S. and foreign government officials to discuss international student recruitment and retention strategies. International education increases American global competitiveness, and creates relationships and understanding that contribute to increased national security.

“As the university’s international recruiter, the Language and Culture Institute is committed to attracting the best and brightest individuals from around the world to our community,” Back said. “Participating in events such as the EducationUSA Forum helps us develop partnerships and explore strategies to recruit such students.”

The Forum, organized in partnership with the Institute of International Education, will feature sessions on traditional as well as virtual recruiting strategies, comprehensive campus internationalization, student visas, maximizing recruitment resources, and partnering with EducationUSA advising centers around the world.

Colleges and universities, including Virginia Tech, play an important role in strengthening ties between the United States and countries around the world. The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs collaborates with accredited U.S. colleges and universities to help maintain the United States as the world’s top destination for international students and scholars and to promote diversity in international education.

Meet Jon Wiley, the LCI's new graduate assistant

The LCI is proud to welcome Jon Wiley as our new graduate assistant.

Jon is originally from Southwest Virginia and loved attending Hokies football games growing up. He studied sociology and cultural studies at Bridgewater College, earning his B.S. degree. He went on to earn a Master of Science in counseling and human development with specializations in clinical mental health and school counseling from Radford University.

Jon has worked in a wide range of settings, including residential treatment, secondary education, and community mental health agencies. Most recently, he spent several years as a family counselor and supervisor at New River Valley Community Services.

He is currently a Ph.D. student in the counselor education program at Virginia Tech.

Jon's interests include leadership, mindfulness, interprofessional collaboration, and poststructural/postmodern philosophy. In his spare time, he enjoys running and exploring the great outdoors with his partner.

When you're in the Annex, be sure to say hi to Jon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Library of Congress field trip offers lessons in history

This month, students and faculty from Fairfax took a field trip to the Library of Congress, the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States.

It is said that the Library of Congress is the world’s largest repository of knowledge and creativity, with a growing collection of more than 162 million items, including books, print materials, sound recordings, photographs, maps, sheet music, movies, and manuscripts.

The Library of Congress was established in 1800, when President John Adams signed a bill transferring the seat of the U.S. government to Washington. The legislation described a library of “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.”

Read more about the field trip below.

Baseball game in Salem is a hit with students

“The announcement came out of left field.” “Your answer is way off base.” “You need to step up to the plate.” “Three strikes, you’re out!

These and other baseball-related idioms moved from figurative language to literal for students attending the Salem Red Sox baseball game Friday night. Not only did LCI students have a chance to learn some of the language of baseball that carries over to American speech, but they were also able to check their understanding of language through conversations going on around them.

Even though it was the first baseball game the students had attended, they soon got into the swing of the game. One student who had seen several baseball movies had a good understanding of the basic rules. By the end of the ninth inning, the other students had a good idea of the basics as well.

In addition to the rules part of the game, students experienced the cultural aspects like standing to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for the seventh-inning stretch, trying some Cracker Jack, and joining in the eighth-inning singing of “Sweet Caroline.”

Although our cheers and support couldn’t lift the Salem Red Sox to a win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks, we did have a treat following the game. The ballpark lights were turned off and there was an extended fireworks display. One of the students said it reminded of his home in Oman where they marked the end of Ramadan with a fireworks display.

— By Bonnie Sumner

Monday, June 26, 2017

Students, faculty break Ramadan fast with potluck iftar

Last Friday, students and faculty in Fairfax, and their family members, got together for a potluck iftar.

The iftar is the meal served at the end of the day during Ramadan, to break the day's fast. Iftar is served at sunset during each day of Ramadan, as Muslims break the daily fast.

All participants brought some food from their national cuisine to share. Everyone in attendance really enjoyed all the food, good conversation, and had a great time!

— Guennadi Bratichko

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Remembering Mandela Washington Fellow John Paul Usman

John Paul Usman
Today, we remember the life of John Paul Usman, a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow from Nigeria who died a year ago during his fellowship at Virginia Tech.

JP was passionate about the causes of sustainable development, children’s rights, and peace building in his country. Work in these areas continues in his name in Nigeria.

We will forever remember JP’s infectious smile, his ability to make people feel at ease, and his desire to do good at home and around the world. And we will always remember him as a true Hokie.

Read about the John Paul Usman Award for Civic Leadership awarded by the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cheers to Susan Piercy!

On Wednesday, the LCI celebrated Susan Piercy's 17 years as a teacher, mentor, cherished colleague, and friend. We wish her the happiest of retirements!

Click below to see more photos from our Facebook gallery.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Students take a walk on the wild side at Virginia Safari Park

On a return trip to Blacksburg from his native Oman, Said Alkindi took note of a billboard alongside Interstate 81 advertising the Virginia Safari Park. Said suggested the park as a possible activity for Summer I, and we are all glad he did. What an adventure, and only a little over an hour away from Blacksburg!

En route, we went on Routes 460/11 to Elliston in order to see a glimpse of Montgomery County beyond the interstate. Of special note are Bent Tree Farm, which raises and shows Friesian and Saddlebred horses, the Elliston Straightaway, and Fotheringay Plantation. The Straightaway in years past had been used as a drag strip for locals wanting to “show what their cars could do,” a country version of "The Fast and Furious." Fotheringay Plantation was built about 1796 by Revolutionary War Col. George Hancock. Col. Hancock’s daughter Julia married William Clark, who was co-leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to map the West. Col. Hancock, upon his death, was buried in a crypt in the mountainside in order to maintain oversight of his plantation.

When we arrived at the park, there was a long line of vehicles ahead of us. The staff was very kind as we each paid our admission one-by-one while still in the van. After parking, we headed to the petting area to await our 1 o’clock wagon ride. The miniature goats with their kids attracted our attention immediately. They scampered up to the fence seeking gentle pats on the head. After we tore ourselves away, we meandered to the reptile habitat and were thankful the large snakes were safely behind thick glass.

As we walked toward the monkey habitats, a staff member stopped and introduced us to Xavier, a baby lemur who had been abandoned by his parents. She told us about his natural habitat, his physical features, and how staff members were filling in as substitute parents. Even though we were not allowed to touch Xavier -- it may not have been wise because he was nibbling on the staffer’s fingers -- we were able to get a picture with him.

Xavier the lemur
When the time came for our wagon ride, we boarded and then received a bucket of feed from our guide. The main adventure had begun.

Our first feeding stop included llamas, a variety of deer, and Watusi cattle from Africa whose horns can span up to 10 feet. It was amazing to be able to touch all of the animals and feel the horns of the Watusi. Unfortunately, the potbellied pigs and some of the smaller deer species (fallow deer from Europe and Asia, axis deer from India, and others) were not tall enough to reach the bed of the wagon to lick up feed from the floor or to eat from the buckets we were holding. Even the fierce-looking water buffalo were willing to have their heads rubbed as we fed them.

We continued to travel along the road crisscrossing the 180-acre preserve while stopping periodically to feed other animals and view ostriches, emus, antelope, bison (yes, we even fed and touched bison; they open their mouths, curl their tongues and eat the pelleted feed we dropped into their mouths), wildebeests, and a variety of other animals from across the globe. Animals such as the white rhinos, zebras, and camels had their own enclosures inside the 180 acres.

After our hourlong wagon ride was over, we had a chance to visit the kangaroos sleeping soundly in the afternoon heat, the parakeet enclosure, and other exotic birds. We also went by the wolves, tigers, and cheetahs and were photobombed by a giraffe.

At Washington and Lee University in Lexington.
Since we were so close to Lexington, we drove over to see the campuses of Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute. We took a brief look at the Washington and Lee Museum and saw the grave of the famous war horse Traveler.

By the end of the day, were all tired but smiling, and grateful that Said had recommended the Virginia Safari Park!

-- By Bonnie Sumner

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Students get a feel for Floyd

LCI students pose for a picture in front of the famed Floyd Country Store.
While things may be relatively quiet in downtown Blacksburg during the summer, several LCI students learned on Friday, June 9, that downtown Floyd is the place to be.

Merchants were out in the market area with various handicrafts. Several were eager to ask the students where they were from and describe the items for sale (handmade whisk brooms, postcards, iron racks, tie-dyed clothing, and woolen knit hats to name a few).

As we made our way down the crowded sidewalk, we paused to listen to several bands playing along the street. Our ultimate destination was the Floyd Country Store, where we enjoyed listening to the old-time bluegrass music, watching people dance, and even trying a turn on the floor ourselves.

While no one in our group won a prize for having traveled the farthest — that prize went to a visitor from China — we all left with a renewed sense of hope that community and goodwill for all does exist and that music and traditions bind us all in this little corner of the world.

— Professor Bonnie Sumner

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Virginia Tech partners with Effat University in Saudi Arabia

Virginia Tech's Ian Leuschner, left, director of International Support Services, and Donald Back, director of the Language and Culture Institute, join Effat University President Haifa Jamal Al-Lail and Lisa Zuppé, director of international affairs, for the signing ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Virginia Tech has signed a four-year agreement with Effat University in Saudi Arabia to develop a world-class college preparation program.

The agreement, signed during the International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, calls for the Language and Culture Institute to assist in improving the Effat English Academy.

“Such partnerships help advance Virginia Tech as a global land-grant leader because they promote a global exchange of ideas in teaching, research, and engagement,” LCI Director Donald Back said. “We are building connections that will help expose Virginia Tech students to people of other nations and other cultures while helping our two institutions address common needs.”

Read more about this partnership at VT News.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Student's volleyball team takes 2nd place at national tournament

LCI student Abdulrahman Alghamdi and his teammates on the Virginia Tech Men's Volleyball Club B team returned recently from Kansas City, Missouri, where they placed second in their division at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation's National Championship Tournament.

Alghamdi, who's known as Bosha, says more than 400 teams competed in the tournament. He wrote a bit about his time in Kansas City  and about his gratitude for Virginia Tech.

Together we inspire, together we achieve


My name is Abdulrahman Alghamdi, and my nickname is Bosha. I am a student at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute. I have been in the U.S. for six months. I am proud to represent my country, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I joined the Virginia Tech Men's Volleyball Club team. We played several tournaments away from Virginia Tech. The last tournament was the National Collegiate Club Volleyball Championships in Kansas City. There were more than 400 teams that participated in this tournament. We played many matches, and we got the second place after we lost the final game.

I want to say thank you so much to many people who supported me always, the LCI management, and my professors. They always help and encourage me.

Thank you to the club and all the guys I have practiced with. We did a great season. They have supported me from the start. I really appreciate it, and it has been the most beautiful time with them.

Thank you, Virginia Tech, for providing everything we need, and I hope to make more achievements for the name of Virginia Tech. Finally, I feel pride and gratitude for VT.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Students head to the Mall for monuments and cherry blossoms

Students and staff from the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to see the National Mall and the famous cherry blossoms. They got to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, as well as the area's beautiful cherry blossom trees.

See more photos and read students' essays about their trip below:

LCI represents Virginia Tech at Kuwait's largest international education exhibition

Jacqueline L. Nottingham meets H.E. Dr. Mohammad Abdulatif Mohammad Al Fares, Kuwait's minister of education and higher education.

Jacqueline L. Nottingham, the LCI's assistant director for admissions and recruitment, represented Virginia Tech this month at Kuwait's largest international higher-education exhibition.

EDUEx aims to help Kuwaiti students understand the various paths they can pursue for their future studies, and guide them in selecting majors based on their interests. Universities from 10 different countries, including more than 20 from the United States, were represented at the event.

EDUEx was supported by Kuwait's Ministry of Higher Education, under the auspices of H.E. Dr. Mohammad Abdulatif Mohammad Al Fares, the country's minister of education and higher education. He stopped by Virginia Tech's booth and talked with Nottingham about the university.

The LCI booth at EDUEx 2017 in Kuwait.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Virginia Tech ranked among the world's best in 21 subjects

The annual Destinations Career Fair gives hospitality and tourism management students at Virginia Tech an opportunity to meet with industry recruiters.
Virginia Tech has the world’s sixth-best hospitality and leisure management program, according to a global ranking of more than 4,400 colleges and universities.

The university was ranked among the world’s elite institutions in 21 of the 46 subjects and in all five broad fields evaluated in the latest QS World University Ratings by Subject. Virginia Tech’s minerals and mining engineering program was ranked No. 39. Overall, the university was ranked among the top 100 in eight subjects.

"These rankings only confirm what we have been hearing for years from prospective students in countries around the globe — that Virginia Tech is a university with a world-class reputation,” said Don Back, director of the Language and Culture Institute, which recruits international students to the university. “The fact that we ranked so highly in all five subject areas proves what a thoroughly comprehensive university Virginia Tech is.”

Read more at VT News.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Meet two new Humphrey Fellowship staffers

The LCI is pleased to welcome two new employees who will help run this year's Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program.

Jon Dworin, a former instructor at the LCI, is returning as program coordinator. Sarah V. Liu will be a program aide.

Jon Dworin
For Dworin, it's deja vu all over again, he says. "It's great to be back at LCI, and I'm really excited to be serving in my new role with the Humphrey Fellows this year."

Dworin, his fiancee, Cathie, and their dog, Ama, moved to Blacksburg about five years ago. Before that, Dworin, who studied international relations and education and had been a middle school teacher in Maryland, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras and as a member of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps on the West Coast.

"I've been working on various entrepreneurial endeavors recently," Dworin says, "and I've developed a passion for community-building in low-impact development neighborhoods,"

In his spare time, he enjoys "all the natural beauty and adventure that the New River Valley has to offer." He also coaches a boys soccer team — "just for kicks."

Sarah V. Liu
Liu is a master's candidate in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, from which she also received her bachelor's degree.

She also volunteers 12 hours per week as an EMT with the Christiansburg Rescue Squad.

Liu, a second-generation immigrant, says her interest in working with the international community stems from living in the Residential Leadership Community during her freshman year as well as working in the former Office for Inclusion and Diversity, which exposed her to issues of social justice and diversity.

Outside of school, Liu's interests include weightlifting, roller-skating, cooking ethnic cuisines, traveling, and reading.

The Humphrey Fellowship program brings accomplished young and midcareer professionals from developing nations and emerging democracies to the U.S. for a year of professional ­development and related academic study.

The LCI provides the long-term English training program component of the Fellows' experience,