IFLE Newsletter - October 2019

US Department of Education Newsletter

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Volume 5 | Issue 3 | October 2019

IFLE Header - March 2017


An End of the (Fiscal) Year Message From the Senior Director

Cheryl Gibbs

There wasn’t a crystal ball drop, fireworks, or confetti for the office of International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) to celebrate the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019. However, we awarded $72,164,000 in total to support our grantees and the students they serve. All of the Fulbright-Hays programs' new competition grant slates were obligated, all Title VI non-competing continuation grant awards were obligated, and all logistics contracts were paid before Sept. 30, 2019. 


IFLE would like to thank our Title VI and Fulbright-Hays grantees for the work they do to prepare our nation's students, teachers and citizens for global competitiveness and for working closely with us over the past year. We look forward to working with the international education community and stakeholders in the coming year to build on our success.


In addition, I would be remiss not to acknowledge that IFLE’s success, and mine as its senior director, would not be possible without the enormously talented IFLE staff, including directors Gary Thomas and Sarah Beaton, and Tim Duvall, Tanyelle Richardson, Michelle Butler, Carolyn Collins, Carla White, Pamela Maimer, Charles Bryan Jenkins, Mone’t Peterson-Cox, Cory Neal, Sara Starke, and Cindy Fisher.


My priority goals during the previous fiscal year focused on filling gaps in IFLE’s human resources, conducting a program-wide project directors meeting, and professionalizing IFLE’s information dissemination capacity. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, we were unable to host a project directors meeting this past year.


IFLE has begun its FY 2020 activities in earnest, including preparing for an international business thematic workshop during International Education Week (see the “Resources and Opportunities” newsletter section below for more information), and drafting Fulbright-Hays and Title VI competition notices for early publication in the Federal Register, knowing that all funding is contingent upon the availability of appropriating funds. We will strategically leverage our travel budget to provide professional development opportunities and to conduct site visits. We will also find creative and low to no-cost ways to conduct project director meetings.


IFLE’s “continuing resolution” is to provide exemplary technical assistance and to expand our messaging about the importance of our international education programs to diversify the kinds of institutions that apply to them. We wish you all the best and look forward to working with you in FY 2020.

Cheryl E. Gibbs
Senior Director



Robotics Highlighted in 2019 Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad in Tanzania

Tanzanian Students Learn Robotics with Group Project Abroad Participants

From May 17 to June 16, 2019, 12 K–12 teachers and school administrators from Georgia traveled throughout Tanzania with the support of a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad grant awarded to the College of Education at the University of Georgia. The study-trip focused on immersing participants in the language and culture of Tanzania while also offering educators the unique opportunity to learn about STEM education in another country.


Over the course of four weeks, the group took part in language and cultural classes, met with students and teachers at local schools, and visited local residents to learn about daily life and the technology environment in Tanzania. They also engaged in a one-week workshop on robotics education at a local university. Arusha, Dar Es Salaam, Mount Kilimanjaro, Olduvai Gorge, and Zanzibar were among the many places the group visited.


Jennifer Simmons, an elementary school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher from Jefferson, Georgia, said, “After we finished our robotics classes, we did get to visit Arusha and learn more about the Maasai culture and history. We were also able to travel to the coast in Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam to gain a better understanding about how lifestyles and cultures differ around the country, as well as how people are working to make a living for themselves with the different resources available in each place.”


When she returns to her classroom in the U.S., Simmons plans to have her students create projects that illustrate fundamental components of different cultures in Africa and around the world. “As a STEM teacher, my job is to focus on creative and critical thinking and problem solving in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. For example, while we were in Tanzania, our group of educators collaborated on the setup for a potential learning activity for our students involving an erupting volcano and the students having to find a way to gather info while avoiding obstacles with their robot at the volcano. My students in the fourth and fifth grades have already become quite comfortable with handling challenges such as this, so I plan to have them discuss other ways in which robot use would be more beneficial or practical than sending an actual human,” she said. Simmons added, “We will also work to build those robots. I want to continue trying to stretch my students beyond their comfort zones and push them to new places in their minds and in their world and encourage them to participate in language and cultural immersion.”


The University of Georgia created a YouTube channel to share videos from the trip that may be viewed at the link below.

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Title VI National Resource Centers Collaborate With U.S. Army War College on International Crisis Negotiation Simulation

Crisis Negotiation Simulation at University of Washington

Each spring, the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington (UW) partners with the U.S. Army War College to facilitate an international crisis negotiation simulation. Organized by the Jackson School's Master of Arts in Applied International Studies program, the annual exercise is the culmination of a capstone course and is open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students across the university. This year, 21 Air Force ROTC cadets participated as well, bringing the total number of students in attendance to 44.


This year, seven delegations (representing China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, the United States, and Vietnam) met under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to try to resolve the conflict in the South China Sea during an intensive, two-day role-playing exercise. Each team was coached by a high-level mentor—a UW faculty member or an invited subject matter expert drawn from business, academia or government. UW’s Southeast Asia Center, a Title VI National Resource Center, secured and sponsored the participation of Kai Ostwald, a political scientist and director of the Southeast Asia Centre at the University of British Columbia, and Evan Laksmana, senior researcher with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta and visiting fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research in Seattle. Ostwald mentored the Philippines team, while Laksmana mentored the Indonesia team.


Students also had the opportunity to work closely with Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan, who played the role of U.N special advisor during the exercise.


At the closing plenary, the delegates agreed to meet again in two months to further discuss a possible framework for action to promote common interests and defuse future conflicts in disputed areas. Reflecting on the 2019 exercise, Ambassador Pickering remarked, "It was a great pleasure to join the team at the UW and to work with interesting and enthusiastic students. I learned from them, too."

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National Resource Center Alum Uses Global Skills in Career With U.S. Forest Service

Oscar Lai

Oscar Lai is a Social Science Advisor for the U.S. Forest Service's Office of International Programs. Oscar received a master's in Latin American Studies and Master of Public Administration through a dual degree program at the University of Arizona (UA). The master's in Latin American studies degree is offered by UA's Center for Latin American Studies, a current Title VI National Resource Center.


What are your major responsibilities in your work at the U.S. Forest Service?


I am responsible for managing the technical cooperation between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and our partners in Central America. This includes governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and academic institutions. Most of the funding for our work comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State. Currently, I manage our bilateral programs in Honduras and Guatemala, in addition to a regional climate change program. My work varies and includes such activities as program design and work plan formulation, recruiting and preparing USFS experts or consultants for short term international assignments, working with in-country staff to plan technical training workshops, and the fun administrative tasks of budgeting, accounting, and reporting.


Why did you choose this profession?


After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, I wanted to continue to work in the international development and environment sector. I had already worked at the community level and was interested in learning new skills and facing new challenges by working with either an NGO or with the federal government. After graduate school, I was lucky enough to find a job in this field with the U.S. Forest Service's Office of International Programs.


What is your favorite part of your job? 

I really enjoy the people I work with, both within the USFS and with our partners overseas. I think there is something special and unique about people who work to improve the management of our natural resources. Also, every once in a while, I get to work in beautiful protected areas and national parks in both Central America and the United States.


What advice do you have for current students? 

I would recommend taking every opportunity to learn and explore your interests outside of the classroom. I remember as a graduate student gaining valuable knowledge and experiences by working as a research assistant for the Udall Center, the Bureau of Applied Research and Anthropology, completing a summer internship with the State Department, and summer language study in India. I believe that these experiences outside the classroom environment made me more competitive during the job application process.


Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Grant Helps Community College Develop Diaspora Studies Program

Normandale Diaspora Stories

In October 2018, Normandale Community College (NCC), in Bloomington, Minnesota, received a two-year grant under the Title VI Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) Program for the Customizing Internationalization to Reflect Community and Learning Environments (CIRCLE) initiative.


The CIRCLE project allows Normandale faculty to continue campus-wide internationalization work through the lens of diaspora. (Diaspora is a term used to describe the mass dispersal of a population from a center (or homeland) to multiple areas across the globe, and the creation of communities and identities based on these histories and cultures.) Minnesota is home to one of the largest Somali diaspora communities in the world. Since receiving the grant, Normandale has created an area studies program in Somali language and culture, the first of its kind at a community college in the United States. 

As part of the CIRCLE project, the Normandale faculty team created a suite of videos that highlights the experiences of members of diaspora on-campus communities and supports the teaching of topics related to diaspora. NCC faculty members in the Spanish and French departments conducted domestic professional development travel to Miami to meet with and learn from diasporic Cuban and Haitian communities to inform the co-design of an NCC international education course to expand their students' world views. This is an example of how affordable domestic travel opportunities can be creatively leveraged to meet the objectives of the funded project.  


Additional projects in the 2019–20 academic year will include the creation of an interdisciplinary multi-modal database dedicated to the concept of diaspora as it relates to the Normandale community and Minnesota. In addition, the International Experience Center will host an interdisciplinary speaker series featuring local experts on diaspora-related topics.

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Atlanta National Resource Center Hosts Global Studies Symposium

Atlanta Global Studies Center Symposium

More than 300 representatives of nonprofits, community organizations, K–12 educators, and university faculty members from around Atlanta and the nation gathered at the Georgia Institute of Technology in April for the inaugural Atlanta Global Studies Symposium. The April 25–27, 2019, symposium focused on global education, advanced language learning, international studies, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


The symposium was an initiative of the Atlanta Global Studies Center (AGSC)—a partnership between Georgia Tech and Georgia State University. The AGSC is a Title VI National Resource Center and home to a Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The interdisciplinary center works to enhance access to advanced language learning and deepen knowledge of global and intercultural issues for the benefit of Atlanta region students, faculty, and the general public in and around Atlanta.

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Register Now! Nov. 19 Workshop at ED: Leveraging a Global Mindset for Business Growth

IEW 2019 Workshop

Register today to join the U.S. Department of Education and Title VI Centers for International Business Education for a workshop on incorporating global and cultural competencies into the 21st-century workforce!


Who should attend?


K–16 educators and representatives from businesses, higher education, government, and education organizations.


What will I learn?


Resource presentations and tabletop activities will give attendees the opportunity to hear from and work with international business education experts and industry representatives to develop ideas for programs that teach global and cultural skills in tandem with business principles.


At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to do the following:

  • Identify international business education resources relevant to their own needs.
  • Articulate the importance of a global mindset in the U.S. business workplace.
  • Leverage best practices from the field to internationalize student learning programs.
  • Draft preliminary next steps for internationalizing at least one student learning opportunity.
  • Connect with at least three stakeholders who could support your internationalization goals.
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2020 STARTALK Application Window Open


STARTALK is a federal grant program, funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland, that has three goals:

  1. Increase the number of students enrolled in the study of critical languages.
  2. Increase the number of highly effective critical-language teachers in the United States.
  3. Increase the number of highly effective materials and curricula available to teachers and students of critical-need languages.

To meet these goals, STARTALK solicits proposals to run summer programs for student language learning and teacher professional development. For 2020, grants will support programs for students and teachers of Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu.


The application window for summer 2020 programs runs from Sept. 12 to Oct. 24, 2019. Updated application information and details about several upcoming webinars for applicants can be found on the STARTALK website.

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Critical Language Scholarship Application Now Open

Critical Language Scholarship

Applications are now being accepted for the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, at 8 p.m. ET.


The CLS Program is a fully funded intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight to 10 weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu. Most CLS languages do not require previous study of the target language.


The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. The scholarship program includes international airfare, tuition, and all program costs, as well as meals and living accommodations, often with a host family.


CLS is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. CLS plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st-century's globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness.

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Global Intersections Fieldwork for Teachers Fellowship

GIFT Fellowship

The University of Illinois' (UI) Global Fieldwork programs are designed specifically for pre-service and in-service teachers from across the country to experience classrooms around the world, build collaborative partnerships with local teachers in each destination, and work directly with UI Education faculty to develop global competency for teachers and their students.


Each year, UI offers K–12 teachers from around the country the opportunity to receive up to $1,500 in funding for an education abroad program of their choice through the Global Intersections Fieldwork for Teachers (GIFT) Fellowship. The GIFT program is supported in part by a Title VI National Resource Centers grant.


Teachers from across the U.S. are eligible to apply for a GIFT fellowship. Application and recommendation forms can be found at the "Read More" link below.

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Boston University National Resource Center Releases Guide for African Language Instructors

Boston University African Studies Center

The African Studies Center (ASC) at Boston University, a Title VI National Resource Center, recently published Comprehensive Outcomes-Based Assessment: A Guide for African Language Instructors. The 95-page workbook provides assessment tools for African language instruction from beginning through superior levels, providing concrete performance goals across a range of parameters. The ASC is pleased to share the workbook freely on its website for other language programs to use (link below).


This guide was developed to help create a degree of standardization across African language courses, bringing them into alignment with the broader language teaching community and national standards while remaining attentive to the particularities of African languages and cultures and the needs of students.

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Google Map of FY 2018 Grantees

Google Map of FY 2018 IFLE Grantees

Explore our Google map of FY 2018 IFLE grantees to learn about the currently funded Title VI domestic projects being implemented on campuses across the United States and the Fulbright-Hays overseas projects being conducted around the world by participants and dissertation researchers. These projects strengthen international and foreign language education for a wide range of students, participants, and stakeholders!


This map is a user-friendly way for viewers to get a sense of the extensive reach of the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays grantee institutions featured, as well as the diversity of our grantee institutions.


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