Faculty and Staff

May 2009

IPC Staff and Faculty Kudos

IPC would like to congratulate the following staff and faculty for their achievements this year:

Mike Elliott
was awarded by Housing and Residence Life “Best Supporting role 2008-2009.”

Brittany Atkinson
was awarded the Lichtin Award, the Student First International Education scholarship, the Student Excellence Award, and was selected as the North Carolina representative of the Henry Clay Student Congress.

Issa Gakou
was awarded the Bullard Student Service Award.

Dr. Penelope Pynes
joined the ISEP Board of Advisors for a three year term.

Tom Martinek, Jr.
became President of NCAIE, and UNCG University Marshall.

Charlotte Ingles
was nominated for the Graduate Student Worker of the Year award.

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Orientation Meetings For UNCG Students Nominated to Study Abroad

--by Tom Martinek, Jr. and Christina Thompson

On Wednesday, March 18, eager students poured into the Foust building to see whether their name was on the list of students nominated to study abroad for Fall 2009.  For the students on that list, a series of orientation sessions started a few days later. 

On Saturday, March 21, UNC-EP conducted an orientation session for students from various campuses in the UNC system participating in UNC-EP programs, as well as International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP). Madge Hubbard, Director of UNCEP, Kristi Parker, Assistant Director, and Christina Thompson, also of UNCEP, were there to discuss the next phase of the exchange program with students. A total of 155 students were expected to attend (our largest number yet!) and we were happy to see a great turn out.

During the morning, orientation covers logistical information through an exercise called “forty questions.”  The questions are regarding necessary travel documents, such as passports and visas, health and safety issues abroad, insurance, what and what not to pack, academic registration at home and at the host institutions, legal and financial issues, and transfer credit upon return.  Brandi Dudley, assistant director of International Programs at East Carolina University, came to talk to students about how to minimize one’s environmental and social-cultural footprint when abroad.

Probably the most important activity of the day is a cross-cultural simulation exercise which is intended to recreate a situation similar to culture shock, a phenomenon that students experience abroad, sometimes when they least expect it.  When the exercise is over, there is a debrief and discussion to prepare students for signs and symptoms of culture shock during their time abroad, as well as the possibility of reverse culture shock upon return home. Culture shock is often uncomfortable or even painful, and while we cannot avoid it, it provides opportunities for us to appreciate and learn more about the new culture, and that helps us to understand our own culture better.

There are also country specific sessions, which are about 90 minutes long, and the students break out into groups with others who are going to the same country/region.  Each session has a UNC-EP Coordinator or Faculty member that has visited the country along with current exchange students from the country.  The sessions are designed to provide students with more in-depth information about their host country. Each student is provided a small packet of handouts that contain country-specific information taken from an organization that publishes “Culture-Grams.” The academic system, as well as the culture of the country, is discussed. During this session, more specific guidance is given regarding how to obtain visa/residence permits for the host country.  In the cases where we have international students attending these sessions, the students have an opportunity to ask specific questions about academics, social life, travel arrangements or anything else they wish to know.

Christina Thompson commented, “Preparation for the pre-departure orientation program starts very early. The UNC-EP staff have already begun planning and preparing for the next orientation and will continue during the summer and throughout the semester. Since this is the only chance that we have to see students who go on our programs, we look forward to these days with great anticipation.”

The following weekend, IPC conducted an orientation for all students going abroad on UNCG exchange programs.  Approximately 60 students were in attendance and some of their study abroad destinations included Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, Poland, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Estonia, South Africa, China, Taiwan, Canada, and Turkey.

The study abroad orientations are designed to prepare students, in a variety of ways, for their experience abroad. In addition to covering logistical information such as obtaining passports and visas, accessing money, and packing appropriately, facilitators also focused on the emotional preparation needed for a successful experience abroad. Activities are designed to emphasize some of the challenges that come from adapting to a new culture and way of life, and to provide feedback on some of the skills and traits that help students deal with cultural adjustment and culture shock.

Tom Martinek, Jr. emphasizes an important part of the orientation process: “In addition to various group activities and cultural simulation exercises, international students currently studying at UNCG are invited to serve on a panel to discuss what it is like to be a student studying in another country and to share information about the cultural differences between the US and their home country. Many of these same students then assist with the country specific workshops at the end of the day, which are designed to provide the UNCG students with more specific information about the educational system and other details of their host country.”

IPC staff and facilitators of the orientation often stress that this orientation is a crucial part of the students’ study experience and simply marks the beginning of the academic, financial, and emotional preparation needed for a successful experience abroad.

UNCG student Marlowe Howell said:  “I really enjoyed the study abroad orientation! I could tell that the staff took careful consideration in planning to make sure that all students were prepared for their travels.  IPC staff introduced practical information that was hard to anticipate, and reassured us that they are there for all of us 100 percent.  It was reassuring for me to talk one on one with the students that are here, currently abroad, from my host country about the day to day differences in our countries.  Although the orientation day was long, it was well compensated for with refreshments, insights, and sociability.”

UNC Exchange would like to thank the following coordinators, faculty members and staff that helped and participated in Orientation. Madge Hubbard, Director, UNCEP; Kristi Parker, UNCEP; Christina Thompson, UNCEP; Nicky Brown, UNCEP; Kamila Rankin, UNCEP; Penelope Pynes, UNCG; Tom Martinek, Jr., UNCG; Logan Stanfield, UNCG; Tommy Lambeth, UNCG; Heidi Fischer, UNCG; Allegra Johnson, NC A&T; Brandi Dudley, ECU; Kim Priebe, NCSU; Diane Royer, UNCA; Kara Gilpin, UNCA; Josie Bewsey, WCU; Renee Hoehne, NCCU; Torian Lee, ESCU; Lisa Baum, UNCC; Robyn Deemer, UNCP; Ed Timke, ISEP; Louisa Morgan, ISEP; Lisa Kosoff, ISEP; Jonathan Perry, ISEP.

IPC would like to thank: Penelope Pynes, Denise Bellamy, Logan Stanfield, Ajaya Francis, Madge Hubbard (UNCEP), Kristi Parker (UNCEP), Chiaki Takagi (Japanese Department), Tommy Lambeth (Interior Architecture), Heidi Fischer (Bryan School), Steve Flynn (ELC), and Wendy Jones- Worden (Spanish).

We are very proud of our full-circle study abroad experience here at UNCG.  Orientation is not the only way that we prepare our students for the study abroad experience—it actually starts a year or two before orientation! Please continue on to the next article to read about how we prepare our students for the study abroad experience.

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May 2009

The Full Circle Study Abroad Process

--By Charlotte Ingles
You may have wondered what process students go through in order to study abroad. I spoke with the Study Abroad and Exchange staff to get a better understanding.

Recruiting is where it all starts for the students. The International Programs Center (IPC) advertises study abroad to students all year round. Informational talks are held in classes, in dorms, and at student group meetings at UNCG. IPC also hosts booths at UNCG events such as Destination UNCG (an open house for high school students considering attending UNCG when they graduate), and SOAR (Spartan Orientation, Advising & Registration, for new students at UNCG). These talks are designed to introduce the idea of studying abroad to UNCG students. Tom Martinek, Jr. told me that, “Sometimes students shrug off study abroad because they assume that it would be too expensive, and these are the questions we answer at these events—if you can afford to study at UNCG, you can afford to study abroad for a semester.”

Students who decide to explore their study abroad options then arrange a series of meetings with IPC team members.  IPC provides every student with a one-on-one meeting (also called an “Options” appointment) to discuss and advise them on what their options are.  The advisors discuss the academic requirements at UNCG, as well as the student’s interests (where they might like to study abroad, what their future plans and goals are), to enable them to have a study abroad experience that is really beneficial in every aspect of their life. 

After the Options appointment, students make a Checklist appointment. These appointments are group sessions where students get to interact with peers who are also pursuing their interests in studying abroad. Denise Bellamy describes the Checklist appointment as “an overview of the whole study abroad process, emphasizing that studying abroad doesn’t start or end when you step on and off the plane.  This appointment helps students think about all of the different aspects of studying abroad.” IPC has a longstanding tradition of asking students to discuss emergency plans with their parents before they get to the study abroad interview. Tom Martinek, Jr. says: “We know that each family has to decide what constitutes an emergency and what their expectations are. For some, this might mean coming home for an illness in the extended family; for others, it might mean only returning under the most dire circumstances.”

Dr. Penelope Pynes explains the process: “We begin with this discussion early for two reasons: One, for a few students, an emergency becomes a reality, and it would be too distressful to begin crisis planning in the midst of an emergency. Two, although most students will NOT have to deal with a family or personal emergency that requires them to come home, we know that all students will be more mentally prepared for their international experience if they have at least addressed these issues with their family before hopping on a plane.  Over the years, parents have thanked us for having students talk to them about these matters. For us, it also serves as the spring board for discussing cultural adjustment with their families.” Denise Bellamy adds: “First time travelers often underestimate the impact of culture shock and reentry shock. Half the battle is recognizing symptoms and having good strategies to help work through the bumps. We provide students with initial information and advise them to learn as much as they can about themselves, their host culture, and the process so that they can adjust more smoothly.” IPC staff members discuss some of the academic, emotional, and financial aspects of studying abroad, along with the logistical efforts they will face before studying abroad (such as applying for visas).

Once students have a good idea of the best time and place to study abroad, they fill out the application forms to officially start applying to IPC’s partner universities. IPC staff make sure that students are applying to appropriate programs and that they are prepared for every aspect of study abroad, particularly unusual situations or emergencies that they might not have thought too much about.

Students are asked to select their top five universities abroad and the IPC team works to send students to the university that would best fit their academic and personal needs. Students meet with academic advisors to discuss coursework they will need to do while abroad.
Faculty and staff from across UNCG then join the IPC team in interviewing study abroad candidates (two IPC staff members and one UNCG faculty or staff member per interview).  We would like to thank the following members of the UNCG community for their help this academic year:

Jeanee Aaroe, Ashby Residential College; Kathleen Ahern, German, Russian and Japanese Studies; Hazel Brown, Nursing; Julie Brown, Sociology; Melanie Buchanan Mays, Career Services; Rob Cannon, Biology; Annette Cline, Education; Bill Crowther, Political Science; David Fein, Romance Languages; Tuisha Fernandes, MBA Office; Heidi Fischer, Bryan School; Stan Gajda, Campus Activities and Programs; Robin Gee, Department of Dance; Robert Gutter  , School of Music; Lauren Haldeman, Nutrition; Eloise Hassell, Bryan School; Catherine Holderness, Bryan School; Etsuko Kinefuchi, Communication Studies; Sarah Krive, Lloyd International Honors College; Tommy Lambeth, Interior Architecture; Betsy Lehman, Community Practice; Jay Lennartson, Geography; Betsy Lindsey, Social Work; Cheryl Lovelady, Nutrition; Kevin Lowe, Business Administration; Patrick Lucas, Interior Architecture; Bill  Markham, Sociology; Jody Natalle, Communication Studies; Lisa O'Brien, Bryan School; David Parsons, INTERLINK; Amanda Pelon, Bryan School; Laura Perry, Bryan School; Ellen Redmond, Enrollment Services; Susanne Rinner, Japanese; Olav Rueppell, Biology; Mark Schumacher, University Libraries; Jen Day Shaw, Students Affairs; Philip Simpson, Bryan School; Deb Stanford, Nursing; Sue Stinson, Dance; Chiaki Takagi, German and Russian; Richard Titus, University Registrar's Office; Jon Tudge, Human Development & Family Studies, and Touger Vang, Bryan School.

Roughly four weeks after their interviews, students receive notification that they have been nominated to study abroad.

This whole process takes at least six to nine months to complete, but IPC recommends students give themselves a year to prepare and apply to study abroad.

Students then attend a series of orientation days: one all-day session and some shorter sessions regarding finances and academics. Tom Martinek, Jr. suggests students think of these sessions as just the beginning of their study abroad experience—it is time for the next phase of studying abroad. Students are talked through the logistics of studying abroad in detail, such as visa applications, airfares, partner school information, and cultural readiness.IPC are very fortunate to have the assistance of Yolanda Mclean (Financial Aid) and Richard Titus (Registrars Office) in these workshops.

In the build up to studying abroad, IPC provides an extensive network of help and advice to students. When students do leave on their adventures, IPC encourages them to maintain contact with their host school with any help or advice they might need while they are abroad, although IPC staff are in constant contact with students through email in case any issues arise.

Again, the study abroad experience does not end when the students return to the U.S.  IPC hosts a series of Re-Entry workshops, sessions, and activities to provide emotional and cultural support. Two of the feature workshops are “The Challenges of Coming Home,” which addresses reverse culture shock, and a workshop run in conjunction with Career Services to help students understand their study abroad experience and how to market it to potential employers, along with resume building.

IPC works hard throughout the year so that students have an enjoyable and prosperous study abroad experience.  Each academic year, roughly 200 students study abroad or go on an exchange program. It is the combined effort of staff, faculty, and students at UNCG that makes this possible, and that makes Dr. Penelope Pynes so pleased to be a part of it. “We strive to provide students with every kind of help they could need to truly prepare them for their study abroad experience. I am so very proud of the full-circle support that IPC is able to offer our students. It is a hallmark of the UNCG experience.”

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April 2009

Congratulations to Tom Martinek Jr.

Congratulations to Tom Martinek Jr.!! Krista Webb nominated Tom for honorary University Marshal status. This honor is in recognition of Tom’s commitment to academic excellence and service to students at UNCG.  The University Marshals, an academic honorary focused on leadership and service to the University, are recognized for their academic accomplishments at UNCG.  A ceremony will be held on April 19 to commemorate faculty induction into University Marshals.  A reception will immediately follow in the auditorium lobby. 

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March 2009

Wake Forest University (WISE) Conference: Workshop on Intercultural Skills Enhancement

The WISE Conference at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, took place February 27-28 in the Graylyn International Conference Center.  Dr. Penelope Pynes was, herself, leading one of the workshops offered that weekend: Navigating Study Abroad: Preparing Students Beyond the Classroom.” The conference was intended to help educators integrate intercultural components into their classrooms and to help faculty prepare themselves and their students for their future intercultural experience. IPC sponsored 12 UNCG staff to attend the conference with the intention of building a team of on-campus help for other faculty members.  We spend a lot of time getting students ready for their study abroad experience, but how do we get faculty ready to lead them?  Dr. Pynes was excited to capitalize on the, “academic expertise present at the conference and utilizing it for study abroad at UNCG.”

UNCG Faculty Members on their way to WISE

Other sessions addressed how to prepare students for studying abroad, learning about cultural differences, and how to assist students in getting through barriers of diversity and language.  The goal of the conference was to assist educators in helping their students make the most of their study abroad experiences.

Students often believe they are prepared for studying abroad, but without experiencing it, it is difficult to know what you are getting yourself into.  It is difficult for faculty members to explain to students fully what the experience will entail but this is what the conference was designed to help with: aiding faculty in helping students make the most of their experience.

The conference was a great place to address issues that many faculty members were concerned about. We left the conference with new ideas, and we helped faculty and staff from other universities by explaining some of our own techniques.

Dr. Kathleen Ahern was also present at the conference and said that there was a good flow to the conference, explaining the very beginnings of intercultural experiences and walking through the step-by-step process. One of the techniques Dr. Ahern shared with other conference attendees was the use of blogging. Dr. Ahern encourages students returning from experiences abroad to blog about their feelings to help them readjust to the life they're coming back to.

For more information on the conference, please visit the official WISE website: http://www.wfu.edu/cis/wise/index.html


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March 2009

University Launches Study Abroad Website

The International Programs Center’s Study Abroad and Exchange program has been expanding rapidly over the last few years as students become more aware of our programs and the exciting opportunities available to them.  Tom Martinek Jr. and Logan Stanfield have been working hard to keep up with the evolving program, the growing numbers of students, and their individual needs.  In the middle of every February and September the study abroad and exchange office is inundated with applications from excited UNCG students wanting to study abroad for a semester or a year. Documents have to be gathered, organized, and dispatched all across the globe. 

Tom and Logan have worked hard to streamline the application process and to make it as easy as possible for all involved.  And so it is with great delight that we announce our functioning Study Abroad webpage (http://studyabroad.uncg.edu) designed to be used by students to help them organize and plan their study abroad experience.  From the very beginning stages to the final checking of required documents, the website will help. 

The website has been active for a semester now and was used by students applying to study abroad this semester, spring 2009, and is currently being used by students applying to study abroad fall, 2009.  Logan Stanfield commented that the use of the website has been really useful in the application process and has allowed students to work on applications at their own pace and whenever it fits with their schedule.  Logan also praised the site for saving vast amounts of paper, making the site efficient as well as environmentally friendly. 

All study abroad brochures are now available on the website so students and faculty can access them whenever they want to, wherever they are.

Perhaps the coolest feature on the site is the interactive map showing all of our partner institutions across the world. If you’re not sure where you would like to study abroad, go ahead and visit the map and start planning!

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February 2009

Welcome New Student Workers!

We would like to welcome the following student workers:
Catherine Kiptinness, a degree-seeking student from Kenya, will be working with Norma Velasquez and our incoming degree-seeking students.

Issa Gakou
will be working with Tom Martinek, Jr. helping our international exchange students.

And we would like to welcome back Stephani Utt, who will be working with Ajaya Francis with the Disney exchange program.

February 2009

IPC Holiday Party

IPC’s Holiday Party was surprisingly successful and festive.  After years of hosting the party behind the IPC building, we decided to move our party to a warmer and more central location on campus.  The Faculty Center was a perfect venue for our guests, who outnumbered the attendance of previous years.  One Interlink student provided us with some entertainment on the piano, playing a variety of recognizable tunes.  International students, study abroad and exchange students, UNCG faculty and staff from all over campus shared in the festivities, with tasty food, warm cider, and good cheer.  Thanks to all our guests for celebrating the holiday season with IPC!



December 2008

Happy Holidays from the International Programs Center!

December 2008

Report: UNCG Celebrates International Education Week

International Education Week (IEW) is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education and is promoted all over the world. November 17 through November 21, 2008.  One particular success of the week was the ACIREMA simulation.  Over 30 staff members from around UNCG and 12 co-facilitators participated in a successful activity on Thursday afternoon.  Following the lively simulation, participants had the opportunity to hear from two of our international students, Bellah Kiteki and Pinaz Kale, on their experiences in preparing to come for studies in the U.S.

Other great workshops were held over the week, including an information session for parents of future study abroad students where we discussed what they could expect as parents of young adults heading off on adventures. There were also opportunities to learn more about inviting/hiring permanent or temporary faculty and researchers to UNCG as J-1 exchange visitors, H1b faculty, permanent residents, and other categories.

Study abroad students shared their photo albums and memories with the audience, IPC provided a Checklist Event to help students through their first steps toward study abroad, and Bryan School of Business held a Study Abroad Fair where crowds would learn about the Bryan school and UNCG study abroad opportunities. There was also a screening of the Asian Studies Film Series movie: “S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine.”  The International Student Association (ISA) were also present, selling tickets to the ISA semi-formal (a great party at the end of the semester to wish Bon Voyage to this year’s exchange students) and international T-shirts.

The week culminated with Friday Fest Mexico where students, faculty and staff gathered to learn about Mexican culture, and for the announcement of the study abroad photo contest winners.  Massive thanks go to everyone at UNCG who worked to make this year’s International Education Week even more exciting than last year! Special thanks go to Heidi Fischer with the Bryan School of Business for her hard work organizing the study abroad fair, Michael Elliott and Norma Velasquez for their informative workshops, and Denise Bellamy for the wonderful photo competition.

We look forward to seeing you all next year at the next International Education Week!

Congratulations go to this year's photo competition winners:

Humor: "Shock" by Patricia "Claire" Caropreso, taken in Vatican City.

People: "So Serious" by Maiya Howard.

Cityscape: "Interlaken" by Dana White, taken in Switzerland.

Culture: "Rowboat" by Andrea Waldon

Overall: "A Boy and His Pup" by Audrie Webster


September 2008

Meet Our New Faculty and Staff

IPC experienced even more changes over the summer and would like to welcome new members to the IPC team:
Renée Kerkensen will be taking over the reins from Cindy Harden, Office Manager, who relocated to her home state of Alabama.  Renee came to us from the Department of Social Work at UNCG. 
Drury Fulcher is joining us in a newly appointed position. Drury was an undergraduate student at UNCG when he studied abroad in Russia and Estonia, before returning to UNCG and working as an office assistant at IPC. Drury recently graduated and is now the Incoming Exchange Coordinator.
Logan Stanfield was also an undergraduate student at UNCG and while here studied abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  Logan interned at the International Programs Center and will now be joining us as Outgoing Exchange Coordinator.

We would also like to welcome our new student workers:
Graduate Assistants:
Carmen Prather is working towards her Masters in Music & Vocal Performance and will be assisting the International Student Association (ISA) as Student Activities Coordinator. 
Emily Teague-Sluder is studying Counseling and studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, while an undergraduate student at NC State.
Leslie Wilson is also studying Counseling and studied abroad at Swansea University, UK, 2004.

In addition to our graduate assistants we would also like to welcome our new undergraduate assistants:
Sarah Allen is studying French and is hoping to study abroad next year in Lille, France.
Roisin Atcheson, an exchange student from the University of Ulster UK, is studying Nutrition.
Brittany Atkinson returns after spending spring semester interning in Washington and summer interning at the United Nations in New York.
James Moses is originally from England but moved to the U.S. several years ago and is currently studying Business Administration.


Page updated: May 21, 2009

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