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