Student Highlights

May 2009

International Student Speaks at Las Vegas Conference


On March 22, Dr. Susan Walcott and Dr. L. Joe Morgan led a group of UNCG Geography students (PhD and Masters students) to the Association of American Geographers annual conference, held at Circus Circus hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference presents the very latest in research, policy, and applications in geography, sustainability, and geographic information science, and UNCG’s students joined other presenters in discussing their theses and dissertation topics (for more information please visit their website: http://www.aag.org/annualmeetings/2009/index.htm).

Along with this group of students was Tshering Tobgay, an international undergraduate student majoring in Geographic Information Science at UNCG.  Tshering was recommended for the conference by a PhD student in the geography department, currently studying and writing about Bhutan. At the conference, Tshering presented a poster about his home village of Thimphu, Bhutan.  The poster addressed the relationship between population changes and trends and the environment. 

English is not Tshering’s first language (Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan) but that didn’t stop him from presenting at the conference.  “It is sometimes hard to articulate what I am trying to say.  Direct translations don’t always make sense! But I use English every day at UNCG so presenting in English at the conference wasn’t much different.” There were roughly 7000 attendees at the conference, but Tshering wasn’t nervous and really enjoyed himself: “It went very well. It was a really fun experience.”  The conference attracts geographers from all over the world and Tshering successfully joined their ranks. 

IPC would like to congratulate Tshering on his achievement and wish him success in the future.  He hopes to return to the conference next year, in Washington D.C., and present on another topic. The geography department helped fund Tshering’s attendance at the conference.

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May 2009

International Student Association: Behind the Scenes of I-Fest
--By Charlotte Ingles

In the early morning of April 18, I walked across UNCG to the fountain area outside the Caf.  I was amazed to see tents being erected, the stage being created, and tables being arranged, by approximately 30 student volunteers, and it was only 8:45am! IPC staff joined with International Student Association board members and volunteers to help create a memorable International Festival.

A huge amount of hard work and organization goes into I-Fest each year—have you ever wondered how it all happens? Now is your chance to find out. Blane Stanaland, Vice President of ISA, explains how it comes together.

Charlotte: How long have you been planning for this year’s I-Fest? When did it all start?

Blane:  Planning the International Festival, I-Fest, began in December 2008, once the Fall Semi-formal had ended.

Charlotte: What are some of the things you have to plan for? How do you organize an event this big?

Blane: We had to order tables from Happy Rentz Inc., find electrical support, ask vendors to attend, acquire donations for the hourly raffle, receive funding from the Student Government Association (SGA), organize performances and booths, and organize coordinator meetings.

We divided duties evenly among our executive staff. I met with booth leaders. IPC staff made sure we had electricity, tables, campus permission, etc. Nicole Wright, President of ISA, acted as volunteer liaison, and Katie Von Peterffy organized performances. Yingjue Ou was our budget manager, Oys Cheng worked with INTERLINK students, and Joey Green helped with anyone who needed extra assistance. Margie Wiggins create our official T-Shirts which Nicole’s sister, Rachel Wright, designed.

We, at ISA, are very thankful to have such wonderful staff. I-Fest was successful because everyone had specific responsibilities.

Charlotte: Do you know roughly how many volunteers you had? How any booths were there? How many people were there?

Blane: Approximately 20 students volunteered from Grimsley and Ragsdale high schools to help us with I-Fest, but there were a lot of ISA and UNCG students who also volunteered. There were 50 booths, but we have no official attendance—I think more than 3,000 people, roughly, came to I-Fest this year.

Charlotte: Was there anything that took you by surprise? Were you prepared for every eventuality?

Blane: We didn't anticipate how warm it was going to be! We had planned an indoors location in case of rain, but it was 85 degrees for I-Fest.  We decided every country/organization booth needed a tent to shade them, whether we had arranged it that way or not.

Charlotte: What was your role on the day of I-Fest? Were you running a booth?

Blane: I was in charge of our Check-in and Departure booth. Volunteers and ISA members helped me distribute cups, plates, cutlery, gloves, etc., to everyone, and helped return ID cards when I-Fest ended. I walked around to see if anyone needed help, as well. I'm very grateful to everyone who helped me at my booth! It was a very busy day!

Charlotte: Did everyone enjoy I-Fest?

Blane: Yes, our booth coordinator evaluation forms had overwhelming positive responses. We sold a lot of I-Fest/ISA T-Shirts, and our booths were frequented by many interested members of the community. It was really great.

Charlotte: Given how much work it took, would you do it again?

Blane: Yes! I plan to be involved with I-Fest, and ISA, until I finish my undergraduate degree—probably in 2011.

Charlotte: Why do you think events like I-fest are important?

Blane: Many people do not have the opportunity to study abroad or visit another country, but I-Fest provides them with knowledge of other countries, and helps the Greensboro community to grow.

Charlotte: Have you ever studied abroad?

Blane: Yes—I studied in Costa Rica when I was in high school, and I plan to study in Spain next summer.

Charlotte: Do you enjoy interacting with the international students on campus? Does having international students on campus make a difference to your education?

Blane: I very much enjoy working with international students. I have learned a lot of practical knowledge and skills from my international friends.

IPC would like to thank everyone who helped in making I-Fest 2009 such a success.  It is a massive festival and without the help of volunteers, faculty, staff, and members of the community, it would not be possible.  An especial thank you goes to the International Student Association here at UNCG: Nicole Wright, Blane Stanaland, Yingjie Ou, Katie Von Peterffy, Joey Green, Margie Wiggins, and Hao-Shen Cheng, and everyone else involved in ISA.  Thank you for making I-Fest such a success!

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April 2009

Letter from Abroad: Sweden
--by Sonja Makitan

I find myself fighting for time to reflect on the experiences I've been lucky to have here in Sweden. I am halfway through my semester and can honestly say this is the best thing I've done for myself to date. I am living in Växjö, Sweden. It is a beautiful town with lakes everywhere I turn, but gets the least amount of sunlight in all of Sweden. The beginning of Spring has been absolutely lovely and finally sunny. We watch the lakes that were frozen only weeks ago, melt and sparkle.

I have met people from all over the world and have found it very refreshing and easy to build relationships with them. Everyone is here to learn and have an amazing time. My seminars have been very rewarding because I get a chance to hear how my Swedish, German, Spanish, and Korean peers perceive our world.

I have done my fair share of traveling and as of right now, Rome is number one on my list. Berlin is a close second. I've had my share of hiccups, mostly including technology breaking down on me. It's all about having a good attitude. If I didn't laugh at all the things that have gone wrong, I'd probably go crazy. A trip to Krakow, Poland a month ago included missed trains, almost missed airplanes, and when we finally landed in Poland, we discovered we were an hour and a half outside of the city. In the end, it has turned out to be one of my favorite trips because we just went with the flow and laughed about it.

I'm looking forward to coming home because homesickness does kick in every once in a while, but I am excited for the next two months here and don't want to rush any memories that are coming.

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March 2009

Lloyd International Honors College in London

--by Caitlin Cornwell

Imagine: 4 o'clock in the morning you awake to greet a dark and brisk morning. You get dressed in your hotel room. You're moving slower this morning because your body is heavy with jet lag. Today is your first morning in London, England. This was my morning on January 16, 2009.

That morning I braved the London cold (it actually wasn't that cold) to meet five UNCG students: Kara Bruce, Kayla Cunningham, Rana Jallad, Sarah Rosenquest, Heather Sit and my co-facilitator Ajaya Francis at Heathrow airport. We, the seven musketeers, were in London for six days filled with dynamic museums, vibrant markets, tasty food, lively performances and LOTS of public transportation.

This Honors Abroad: UK trip is a program that was offered through the Lloyd International Honors College and prefaced the students' semester abroad at various universities in the UK. The trip offered students a structured way to soak up London and acclimate themselves to some aspects of British culture. Throughout this semester they will be observing and reflecting upon their experiences in the UK. That early morning was just the start of an incredible learning opportunity for all those involved.

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March 2009

Letter From Abroad
--by Tricia Whiting

Last semester, I was fortunate enough to have the privilege to study abroad in Northern Ireland. The feeling was absolutely indescribable; from the beautiful scenic countryside and rugged cliffs, to the ancient pubs; this country truly has a lot to offer.  Living with international students really expanded my knowledge of the world and helped me further assimilate to the culture around me.  By having the ability to interact with a plethora of other cultures, it made the experience even more enriching. You know what made it even more worthwhile? Having a pint of Guinness in the actual Guinness factory in Dublin while overlooking the entire city! It is quite difficult to explain the wonderful times I had while abroad. It changes your life and the way you live it—so you must experience it for yourself!

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February 2009

Letter From Abroad
--By Julie Auxier

Secretly I had always harbored the desire to visit Russia.  Truth be told, I was/am obsessed more so than anyone I have ever encountered. The word "Russia" coming out of the lips of anyone is enough to make me want to drool, but the idea of a thirty something non-traditional student going for a semester was something that was out of the question, or so I thought. 

Amazingly enough, the pieces started to come together and I was able to go and I have not regretted a second of it.  In the process, I discovered so much about myself and the hodgepodge group that I traveled with became my closest friends. 

IPC asked me to write a story of an experience that I would like to share, but how does one choose?  How does one explain the feeling of seeing, for the first time, all the things that you have read about since childhood? Laughing in the Soviet style kitchen with the girls as we make dinner on a gas stove that you had to light with a match? Being underground in Moscow, when it has been proven that at any given time there are 5-9 million people riding the metro and you are in the thick of it? Hand washing clothes in the sink and then hanging them on the line outside on a freezing porch where they are sure to freeze? Finding a bottle of Heinz ketchup and knowing that it cost a small fortune but are willing to spend it just for that one second of feeling like you are home? And finally, after the day was through, sitting down and having conversations with a Russian lady who had seen it all. She lived through Stalin and the purges, lost loved ones in war and still had hope, pride, and love for her country. My study abroad experience was the best experience of my life and something that I will treasure always.



February 2009

Gilman Award Winners

Towards the end of the fall 2008 semester, three students studying at the Bryan School of Business and Economics at UNCG were awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship.  The scholarship goes towards their study abroad planned for Spring 2009. Adam Landreth, Xai Lor, and Lee “Wes” Salisbury received a combined total of $11,500.

The Gilman International Scholarship Program offers need-based grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students who study abroad. The scholarship is a congressionally funded program that is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and is administered by the Institute of International Education. Undergraduate students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at 2-year or 4-year colleges or universities are eligible to apply. During the Spring 2008 application cycle, the Gilman Scholarship Program received 1,465 applications for 600 possible awards, eight of which went to North Carolina students. 

Adam Landreth is pursuing simultaneous Bachelor’s degrees and majoring in International Business, Economics and Political Science.  Adam is also a member of the Bryan School Student Advisory Council, the Social Entrepreneurship Committee, the Bryan School Undergraduate Programs Committee, the Economics Club and the Provost’s Student Advisory Committee. Adam studied in Hong Kong, China, during the fall semester of 2006 and currently studying at the University of Botswana in Gaborone for this semester.

Xai Lor is of Hmong descent and holds an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Business Administration from Western Piedmont Community College. She is currently studying for a Bachelor of Science in International Business. Xai has been working part-time for eight years while still maintaining a 3.13 GPA.  This will be Xai’s first trip outside of the United States and she will be studying at Kyoto Sangyo University in Kyoto, Japan.

Wes Salisbury is majoring in Finance with two minors in Art and Economics and is also pursuing disciplinary honors in Finance.  Wes is currently the President of the Future Financial Professionals student organization at UNCG and has completed an Investment Advisory internship with Deutsche Bank. Wes plans to study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in China.

Congratulations to them all and good luck!

L to R: Wes Salisbury, Xai Lor, Adam Landreth

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December 2008

Chancellor Brady Celebrates Thanksgiving With International Students!

Having a Family Away From Family--the Chancellor’s Thanksgiving Dinner by Mijin Chung.

This year I had a very special Thanksgiving holiday at Chancellor Brady’s home. About 30 international students of UNCG were invited for Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the Chancellor Brady and her husband, Mr. Heyer. I was so excited when I received an official invitation and I was looking forward to meeting the Chancellor and other international students. When we arrived to the Bryan House, which is the Chancellor’s current residence, Chancellor Brady and Mr. Heyer greeted us warmly and socialized with us until a traditional American Thanksgiving buffet was ready to serve. The table was full of delicious food and showed that a lot of thought and consideration had gone into the menu.

Chancellor Brady with International Students

A detailed menu, along with descriptions, was provided for those who were not familiar with traditional Thanksgiving food. Chancellor Brady and Mr. Heyer walked around each table and talked with us in a very casual way, sharing their travel abroad experiences with us and asking us about ours. I was impressed by their openness to different countries and their deep understanding of international students. I really enjoyed the family atmosphere of this gathering and felt that the time went by so quickly. Fox 8 evening news reported that our dinner was one of the most meaningful Thanksgiving evenings in Greensboro! Chancellor Brady enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving and shared some Thanksgiving traditions with the students, including carving the turkey, sharing the wishbone, and the concept of leftovers.

Chancellor Brady with Mijin Chung

I learned that one well-known Thanksgiving tradition is to share with others something we are thankful for, and I want to share with you all what I said: “I am thankful for having family away from family on this Thanksgiving Day.” Thank you, Chancellor Brady! I felt very welcome and truly at home.

--by Mijin Chung, M.Ed., Ed.S., NCS


November 2008

ISA Take International Students to U.S. Capital

Over fall break, international students of UNCG explored a new side of the USA. On Saturday, October 18, 51 students left Greensboro heading for the Nation's capital.  They stayed in a hostel located right in the middle of downtown DC.  It was very convenient to the National Mall, with its amazing historical sites and museums.   The students enjoyed seeing some of America's greatest monuments and memorials, including the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, museums and art galleries.  Some students even took a tour of the White House Gardens!  The IPC Washington DC trip proved to be an enriching experience for all those who went!

Washington Monument at Night

International Student Relaxing in D.C.
--by Carmen Prather


November 2008

Student Groups Making A Difference On Campus: African Student Union

Reem Disu is a hard working Communication Studies senior here at UNCG.  Originally from Ghana, Reem moved to the United States from Kuwait and transferred to UNCG from Asheville in Fall 2007, which is when she revamped the African Student Union on campus.

The African Student Union at UNCG was last active in 2002 but when Reem arrived at UNCG, she decided it would be a good thing to make it more active: “I wanted to meet more friends—make a connection and a network for the students of UNCG.” 

The African Student Union started with seven students and has grown now to 94 members!  The mission statement of the union is to be a strong and vibrant organization on campus to bring about unionization among African students.  There are three goals that the organization has: educate people in African awareness and issues; fundraise for African charities; and foster positive attitudes towards African people.

Last year, the African Student Union volunteered at events at the Children’s Museum in Greensboro, painting faces and performing traditional African drumming.  The group organizes meetings each Friday from 12-1pm in the EUC to discuss current campus events of interest, such as the university sponsored The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo program.

This semester, the African Student Union is focusing on hosting a fashion show to raise money for The One charity which helps children in Africa.  The fashion show was the entertainment after the first day of the International Student Leadership Conference at UNCG, held in the EUC auditorium.  Fashions on display at the show were a mixture of clothes they have borrowed from specialist African boutiques throughout Greensboro, and clothes that the members of the union have donated themselves.  The first half of the show showcased traditional African clothing while the second half presented African clothing today and how it has been influenced by and merged with Western styles.

To learn more about the African Student Union, please visit their Facebook page or Blackboard page.  Members of the African Student Union are from every region of Africa, with many African-Americans and faculty members joining the dinners, parties, and meetings.  Reem would like to emphasize non-African members are most welcome—the Union believes in inclusiveness and anyone can join so long as they have an appreciation for Africa and African culture.

November 2008

India Friday Fest!

Friday Fest this month included India’s presentation. A great crowd turned out for it and as we were all seated, two Indian students greeted everyone by giving us a “Chandan tika”—a powdered substance smudged in between the eyes—and a welcome of “Namaste.”  The presentation was opened up with a songlike prayer to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, and all the creative arts. 

This semester, India was presented by some of our Indian graduate students, who informed the audience about various aspects of Indian culture and society.  They were extremely informative on these topics—they discussed their major religion, Hinduism, and talked about several of the important gods and goddesses.  Ayurvedic medicine was an interesting topic and how its methods can cure many ailments and illnesses. 

The students talked about Bollywood stars and how important they are in Indian society.  These stars are especially prevalent in ads.  One student gave an amusing analysis of adverts for several products and how each country (India and the U.S.) differs in their approach to advertising.  He encouraged everyone in the audience to “Think like an Indian”, which included sharing their unique sense of humor.  The presentation was well done and every person who spoke was extremely knowledgeable on their topic.  I think everyone came away from India Friday Fest culturally informed and full of great Indian food.

By Katie Ostrowka

October 2008

Letters from Abroad: Studying in Scotland

This past summer, 3 BSW (Bachelors in Social Work) and 5 MSW (Masters in Social Work) students studied comparative social services for a month with Scottish students at the Glasgow School of Social Work.  The course was co-taught by Dr. John Rife and Dr. Betsy Lindsey of the UNCG Department of Social Work and Professor Graham McPheat of the Glasgow School of Social Work.  This International Educational Exchange Program has been ongoing for about 20 years.  Here are Angela Mayes’ reflections on her experience.

Going to Scotland this summer was my first time abroad, and my experience could not have been more positive. The Scottish students were warm and welcoming. It was as if we known each other for years.

On our first day of class we were asked to get into groups and discuss what stereotypes we had of each other. The Scots thought Americans were loud, violent, vulgar, and overweight. The Americans thought that the Scottish students would have red hair and not own a car. It was a good lesson to hear other people tell you their perceptions of America and to learn where they come from. Not one Scottish student had red hair, and none of the American students were packing a gun. Most of the stereotypes were burst within the first week. 

On our first weekend there we took a cross country trip to Northern Scotland. It gave us the opportunity to see the country in all of its majestic beauty. We had the opportunity to hike through the Highlands and meet some of the locals. Time and time again we met friendly welcoming strangers. Even now I struggle to put into words how breathtaking Scotland is and how amazing the people are.

Just a few things I learned while in Scotland.  We are more alike than we are different. A big portion of my interest in studying abroad was to find differences between the United States and Scotland. As it turns out, I found many more similarities than differences.  For example, while visiting different social service agencies around Glasgow and Edinburgh, we examined how systems differ.  The most striking thing I took out of those experiences were how every system, no matter how perfect it seems on paper, is not without its own flaws. Though Scotland’s systems of health care, juvenile justice, child welfare, and immigration differ from our own, citizens and employees alike talk about how the system is working and how it could be better. The Scottish are the most helpful people I have come to find thus far. Several times we would get lost and just stop and question where we were and how we get to where we were going. Oftentimes these questions were not directed at anyone but more of question put out there to the world. More times than not a Scot would answer, as if we had directly asked them the question. The cost of the trip pales in comparison to the experience I had. I lived in Scotland doing every day things such as washing dishes, reading the paper, going grocery shopping, and griping about having to get up for school. For four weeks I became a part of another culture. For four weeks I never stopped learning, never stopped experiencing things I had not experienced before. The experience I had in Scotland was absolutely priceless.
Angela Mayes, JMSW Student

October 2008

Bryan School's SAPA Program Still Going Strong

Owing to the continued success of the Bryan School Study Abroad Peer Ambassador program, the SAPAs are now entering their fourth term. Thirteen students were selected through an application and interview process to represent the Bryan School at study abroad recruiting events throughout the semester. In addition, SAPAs meet one-on-one with students interested in studying abroad during “coffee hours.”

Front row left to right: Anna-Patricia Lainfiesta, Ashley Bono, Jackie McCracken, Robbie Fisk, Natalie Bondy. Back row left to right: Lindsey Raeburn, Adam Landreth, Brittany Atkinson, Cynamon Frierson, Chelsea Litalien, Dillan Bono, Chelsea McGimsey, Anna Church

For some SAPAs, this is their fourth semester of service. Jackie McCracken writes, “being a SAPA has been an important part of my experience at UNCG.” Anna Church adds, “I loved being able to share my experiences with future study abroad students.”  The fall 2008 SAPAs represent a variety of majors and countries. For the first time, we have twins (Ashley and Dillan Bono) serving as SAPAs and  a couple (Chelsea Litalien and Robbie Fisk) who spent two semesters abroad together, one in France and one in Australia, where they both completed an internship.

Left to right: Sara Landreth, Jackie McCracken, Ashley Jacobson, Adam Landreth

Participation in the program is voluntary, but the ambassadors are invited to participate in community-building events as well as opportunities of career and leadership development. Last fall, five SAPAs represented UNCG at the NC International Leadership Conference in Fayetteville, where four SAPAs presented on the program. Adam Landreth commented afterward, “We inspired and were inspired.” The SAPAs also plan to present at this year’s conference held at UNCG. In addition, a career planning workshop was held last fall to help the SAPAs promote their international experience on their résumés and during job interviews.

For more information on this program, please check out the SAPA’s website at http://www.uncg.edu/bae/studentser/studyabroad/sapa.html.


September 2008

ISA Goes to Myrtle Beach

Each year, the International Programs Center organizes a number of trips and activities for the benefit of our international students. Trips this semester will include Washington DC from October 18-21, and New York, November 25-30. Our latest excursion was to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina over Labor Day weekend. During this trip, students enjoyed activities such as a night at Broadway on the Beach, Hard Rock theme park, dinner and entertainment at Medieval Times, and just relaxing on the beach. This trip allowed our international students to experience American culture while having fun in the sun!

Isbet Rebaj, Jorge Pablo Govela Sandoval, Udeep Shrestha, Berny Catto, Jeremy Ferdman, Montathar Faraon and  Annika Kiili.

Bertha Rodriguez Gomez, Ana Montes, Jorge Pablo Govela Sandoval, Udeep Shrestha, Jeremy Ferdman, Jacqueline Gordoa Plascencia, Annika Kiili, Montathar Faraon, Isbet Rebaj and Berny Catto.

Page updated: May 21, 2009

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