IFLE Newsletter - April 2020

US Department of Education Newsletter

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Volume 6 | Issue 1 | April 2020

IFLE Header - March 2017


A Message From Robert King, Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education

Robert King

Hello, and welcome to this edition of the International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) newsletter. As if you need to be reminded, we are living in the most unusual of times. First and foremost, we are grateful for, and trust that all subscribers—teachers, students, scholars, and the general public—who are part of this vital community of scholars interested in the world beyond our borders are safe and healthy. Second, we retain our steadfast belief that at some point in the near future medical researchers will find the answers necessary to allow our lives to return to something approaching “normal.”


Armed with that confidence, our staff here at the Department of Education have been committed to carrying out the grant-making activities to ensure that grantees receive their fiscal year 2020 new or non-competing continuation awards that many of you use to conduct the research and the learning of other places, languages, people, and cultures. It is the product of those diverse efforts that allow us to be fully engaged in the community of nations. Prior to the COVID-19 interruption in our regular activities, I had the privilege of visiting our local Title VI National Resource Centers. The work and scholarship, the language training, and the enthusiasm of both the faculty and students for the subject matter being studied was inspiring. From North Korea and China, to the whole of Africa, the Centers I visited were providing the depth of knowledge and understanding that Congress intended when these programs were first created and continue to enjoy financial support of the Department.


We all know that international travel will be constrained for some indeterminate period of time. Regardless, our intention is to go forward with our various grant programs. We do so, however, understanding that circumstances beyond any of our control may require modifications of plans as the future unfolds. Our most important concern is that we keep our students and faculty safe. But when health concerns we all have are satisfactorily addressed, we want to be ready to resume the important work and study that you do.



Changing Lives With the “Following the Supply Chain” Study Tour

Student participants at the SP-SSA International Terminal on the South China Sea

Last summer, a diverse group of 16 students from four community colleges across Washington state traveled to Vietnam to study supply chains and learn about another country’s culture, politics, and economics. The “Following the Supply Chain” study tour included students from four schools—Highline College, Wenatchee Valley College, Tacoma Community College, and North Seattle College. Thanks to support from two Title VI centers at the University of Washington (the Center for International Business Education and Research at the Foster School of Business and the Center for Global Studies at the Jackson School of International Studies) students only had to pay a small fee to participate.


During the program, students gained a better understanding about the supply chain of apples, from the orchards and packaging facilities of Eastern Washington, through Seattle area ports to a port on the South China Sea (above), and finally into the nighttime wholesale market of Ho Chi Minh City and the shops and stores around Saigon. They also saw how Brooks running shoes are designed, tested, and environmentally vetted at the company’s headquarters in Seattle before witnessing the manufacturing process at a factory in Vietnam.


One of the participants from Highline College, Jasen Meyers, said that the experience was “life changing.” Meyers recently accepted a position with Brooks Running as a trade compliance coordinator. You can read more about Meyers’ journey on the Highline College website.


The “Following the Supply Chain” study tour was made possible through support from Highline College’s Global Programs office, Washington state’s Center of Excellence for Global Trade and Supply Chain Management, and the University of Washington’s Title VI centers, the Center for International Business Education and Research at the Foster School of Business and the Center for Global Studies at the Jackson School of International Studies.

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The Heart of Why: Teacher Outreach in Michigan

The Heart of Why

The Title VI National Resource Centers for Middle Eastern and North African Studies and for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan (U-M) work closely each year to organize the MENA-SEA Teacher Program, a special outreach initiative for Michigan secondary schools. The program trains educators from across the state in deepening their understanding and appreciation of religious diversity in both Southeast Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa. Program participants engage with scholars, artists, and community leaders while visiting cultural and religious sites and attending artistic performances. The 2019-2020 cohort includes: Greg Dykhouse (History, Black River Public School), Kiersten Gawronski (English, Saline High School), Colleen Kalisieski (English, All Saints Catholic School), Amy Perkins (A.P. World and A.P. U.S. History, Lakeshore High School), Gabrielle Popp (Special Education English, Beacon Day Treatment), and Alison Sullivan (World Geography and World History, Traverse City East Middle School). 


The MENA-SEA Teacher Program organizes a number of sessions throughout the year for the same cohort of educators so that participants have sufficient time to explore a variety of issues in-depth and to form a strong professional network. One session held in October 2019 focused on religious and ethnic minorities in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa. The day began with a conversation with Wai Wai Nu, a Rohingya activist for human rights and scholar resident at Columbia University. “Wai Wai discussed the horrors she faced while incarcerated,” recounted Gabrielle Popp. “She also discussed her studies, what she has done since fleeing Burma, her family, the use of social media as a tool for revolution, and her struggles to create a better Burma.” The teachers next worked with Joshua Cole, Professor of History at U-M, to learn about relations between Algerian Jews and indigenous Arabs under French colonialism. In the session’s final workshop, Darin Stockdill of U-M’s Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research led the teachers in a two-hour discussion of how to best integrate the workshop's content into their teaching. Kiersten Gawronski stated, “Using Darin’s expertise and advice, I know that I will be able to disseminate my learning in a way that can impact my students’ learning.”


Participant Alison Sullivan summed up the experience, stating, “This is the heart of why we all participate in this unique teacher training and outreach program—to enrich our teaching. Having the time to do this together is very beneficial.”


To learn more about and/or to apply to the 2020-2021 MENA-SEA Teacher Program, please visit the link below.

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Fulbright-Hays Fellow Discovers New Species During Research Fellowship in Ecuador

Backshall's Toad

Kelsey Huisman, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and recipient of a FY 2018 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, recently visited Ecuador to study orchids but discovered much more.


Huisman was not just in Ecuador to study orchids; she was also helping with general conservation. While collecting leaf samples, Juan Pablo Reyes Puig, Reserve Manager of EcoMinga, asked Huisman to also collect frogs and toads from the mountains. “…I [was] not actively looking for a new species,” said Huisman, “but there is always that hope that researchers will make a discovery, since we are working in these remote, largely untouched habitats, and that these reserves are continuously explored by EcoMinga staff and other visiting scientists and students.” She found something extraordinary—a previously unknown toad now known as “Backshall’s Toad.” Click on “Read More” below for the full story of Huisman’s discovery.

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Students Assist Michigan Businesses Remotely Amid Crisis

MSU Students Participating in ExporTech

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of Michigan State University (MSU) students continues to assist Michigan-based small businesses.


Through a partnership between MSU's International Business Center, a Title VI Center for International Business Education (CIBE), and the United States Department of Commerce, the ExporTech program helps smaller businesses develop an export growth path in global markets. The MSU students conduct market research and develop a personalized export strategy for the seven companies involved in the two-month program.


Senior Michael Rotondo serves as team leader for a medical tech supply company looking to expand to African markets, while sophomore Melissa Kreger is assisting a mid-sized packaging company looking to move into Europe. Despite the challenges of social distancing and working from home, the student teams are continuing to make progress. “Adaptation is key,” Kreger commented. “Nothing is ever how you expect it, and to survive, you need to be able to adapt and keep going.”

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Russian Language and Culture Lessons at Illinois Elementary School

Students made their own matryoshka dolls

by Serenity Stanton Orengo

This spring, I had the opportunity to do twice-weekly Russian language and culture lessons at Leal Elementary School in Urbana (Illinois) as part of their after-school program. Each Tuesday and Thursday, I worked with a group of 10–12 students ranging in age from kindergarten through fifth grade. Because some of the students were very young and still learning to write in English, we focused on oral repetition for speaking.


Each day had a theme, and we would cover vocabulary or phrases related to that theme, look at a slideshow with relevant pictures or watch a video, and then do a related craft. For instance, one day was St. Petersburg and Moscow Day. We viewed pictures from the two cities, found them on a map, learned basic city-related vocabulary, and the students made onion-dome cityscapes out of construction paper. Other themes included Russian Holidays Day (learning months and listening to the Russian birthday song); Colors and Numbers Day; Russian Souvenir Day (students made their own matryoshka nesting dolls); and Cheburashka Day (we watched an episode of the Soviet children’s cartoon). By far, everyone’s favorite theme was Fabergé Egg Day. After learning about the eggs’ history, viewing pictures, and guessing their worth, students made their own Fabergé eggs out of construction paper, stickers, gems, and markers. The students look forward to continuing these language and cultural lessons once they are able to return to school.


Serenity Stanton Orengo is a PhD candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, home to the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC), a Title VI National Resource Center


Are you looking for activities for children who are home from school? REEEC has publicly available curricula on Russia, East Europe, and Eurasia for students ranging from pre-school age to high school.

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Curriculum Resources for Community College Instructors

Resources for Community College Instructors

The University of Arizona’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Indiana University’s Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, both Title VI National Resource Centers, have created a website aimed at helping community college instructors locate resources for teaching on international topics. The searchable database includes background information, instructional materials, professional development programs, suggested media, and other useful links. Many of the resources featured on the site were created by community college faculty.

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World Languages Day at Georgia State University

World Languages Day Exhibitor Hall

Since fall 2015, the Center for Urban Language Teaching and Research (CULTR), a Title VI Language Resource Center, has annually hosted World Languages Day (WLD), an exploratory language conference and global career expo connecting the Southeast’s high school and college students to diverse career opportunities. WLD highlights the central role of global skills—particularly language proficiency—in opening up career and service prospects to globally-minded graduates. Through WLD, more than 5,000 students have had the opportunity to meet with leaders and more than 90 exhibitors from international commerce, social services, nonprofits, and governmental agencies with international and global connections. WLD allows students to explore answers to questions such as how learning a second language can help future aspirations and how languages make a difference in our society. 


In 2019, CULTR welcomed 978 high school and college students from 25 schools across Georgia. These schools connected with 49 participating organizations to learn how globalization and language proficiency help them to further business goals, reach international markets, and make a difference in an increasingly interconnected world. In addition to this face-to-face time with exhibitors, WLD offered industry panel discussions and immersive cultural performances for all school attendees. Past exhibitors include the American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Coca-Cola Company, CIA, Consulate General of Japan, Delta Air Lines, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mercedes Benz, Peace Corps, and United Parcel Services (UPS).


With the next World Languages Day set for fall 2020, we invite you to register as an exhibitor or sponsor today to increase your organization’s visibility and commitment to promoting languages for all!

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Summer Online Course for Educators: International Literature for Children and Young Adults

Summer Online Course

Join your fellow educators in exploring the growing body of global children’s and adolescent literature and the issues that surround it! This three-credit graduate level course will focus specifically on literature from Asian countries. Deepen your understanding of how to select, evaluate, and use this literature in K–12 settings, while increasing your understanding of the overall field of children’s and young adult literature.


The cost to enroll in this course is $600. Class times are Mountain Standard time. This course is supported through a partnership between The Asia Center and the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Utah, both Title VI National Resource Centers.


For more information, contact Dr. Lauren A. Liang at lauren.liang@utah.edu. To register for the course, please click the “Read More” button below.

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Thank you, Pamela Maimer!

Dr. Pamela Maimer

IFLE would like to thank Dr. Pamela Maimer for her exceptional work over the past two months to ensure that 80 fellows under the FY 2019 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program returned safely to the United States from their research sites around the world in the wake of COVID-19. Dr. Maimer coordinated with the U.S. Department of State as well as numerous Fulbright Commissions abroad to ensure that this year’s fellows received critical updates and guidance on the developing pandemic and its impact on their research projects overseas. Through her efforts, all fellows were able to receive the guidance and help they needed to pause their research projects and safely return home to the United States.


Google Map of FY 2019 Grantees

FY 2019 Google Map of IFLE Grantees

Explore our Google map of FY 2019 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 provides 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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