Category: International Main

International Student Receives Premier Award

Sakina Dhondia Receives William P. and Estan J. Bloom Award

The William P. and Estan J. Bloom Award honors a student who has improved relations among different groups. Past recipients have been chosen primarily for improving understanding and supporting interaction among groups for a common cause.

Sakina Dhondia finds that bringing people together for festivals – or even just coffee – can help UA students connect in ways they could not otherwise.

Thanks to her work with the International Students Association and as director of cultural experiences and diversity for the Honors College Assembly, she helped arrange activities, including the International Coffee Hour, the Diwali festival and the Crimson Culture Gala, that inspired interaction among the diverse student body of UA.

Dhondia, a finance and economics major, moved with her family from Delft in the Netherlands and now lives in Tuscaloosa. She has served as treasurer, vice president and president of the International Students Association, as well as a design partner for the Design for American project and budget director for Night to Shine, an Honors College initiative that creates a prom-like experience for students with special needs. She also works with the Alabama Transportation Institute.

Her parents are Juzer and Rashida Dhondia.

From – 2019 Premier Awards.

The ELI Welcomes Fulbright Students

This semester the English Language Institute (ELI) at UA welcomed ten Friends of Fulbright students from Argentina, as well as six Fulbright Long-Term English Placement students from Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Rwanda and Venezuela.

The Friends of Fulbright students take nine hours of English instruction per week and observe three University of Alabama classes related to their majors. The goal of the program is for students from Argentina to gain familiarity with attending U.S. universities and experiencing life in the U.S. In addition to classes, the students participate in cultural activities on and off campus. These students plan to pursue graduate degrees after completing their undergraduate studies in Argentina.

The Fulbright Long-Term English Placement students came to the ELI to improve their English language skills while seeking admission to U.S. university graduate programs. The students are enrolled in 20 hours of English classes per week and participate in seminars and cultural activities.

This is the second year the ELI was selected to host Friends of Fulbright and Fulbright Long-Term English Placement students. Abigail Stricker, a former Friends of Fulbright student studying biotechnology, said of the experience, “I enjoyed getting to know about American culture and getting more experience outside the Argentinian university.”

The ELI is pleased to partner with the Fulbright organization to support international exchanges.


International Exchange Students Welcomed to UA

In early January the Education Abroad staff collected UA’s new international exchange students from the Birmingham, Alabama airport. The University of Alabama is excited to host seven new exchange students and eight returning exchange students this spring. These students come from institutions in Italy, Australia, Scotland, France, Japan, Wales, England and China! They spent their first day in Alabama driving to Tuscaloosa and checking into their on-campus housing, as well as making other necessary trips through their new college town to get them fully settled-in. The majority of exchange students stay in an internationally focused on-campus housing program, which offers a small co-ed atmosphere for international students and other UA students who are interested in interacting with students from other nations. For an authentic American experience they ate lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, an American sports bar and restaurant. The Education Abroad staff enjoys introducing the exchange students to sweet tea, fried pickles, and ranch every semester.

Exchange students enjoying the ice rink in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The exchange students are always welcomed to The University of Alabama with an international student orientation where they are taught the classic fight song and taught how and when to say Roll Tide so that they can be accustomed to using it every day.  The Capstone Men and Women spent an afternoon introducing the students to the beautiful campus and surrounding areas. The students really enjoyed getting to know campus and the staff even learned some interesting new fun facts as well. All together, we had a great day that concluded with a run to Target, because who doesn’t love Target?

Exchange students seeing Bryant Denny stadium for the first time!

The University of Alabama Education Abroad office also takes our exchange students on regular monthly expeditions and events. In the past, events such as trips to the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, going to see a play in Birmingham, having dinner at local restaurants, and cooking a classic homemade Thanksgiving dinner have been educational and fun.

A campus tour led by a Capstone Woman.

ELI Student Wins Programming Prize

English Language Institute student, Javanshir Huseynli, won the Best Solo Hack prize at The University of Alabama’s Local Hack Day last Saturday, December 1.

The Local Hack Day, hosted by GitHub and the UA Association for Computer Machinery, is a hackathon which allows participants to create and complete interesting computer programming projects within a 12-hour time limit.

Javanshir worked from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to program an Android app that allows local guides to connect with tourists. He was one of 40 participants in the competition who submitted their work to be judged. As a reward for his hard work, he won an Amazon Echo Dot.

Javanshir Huseynli is a Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD) scholarship recipient from Azerbaijan. He is finishing his second session at the English Language Institute, and in the spring semester will attend UA computer science classes. He is working towards an undergraduate degree in mechatronics and robotics engineering.


Javanshir is shown here wearing a traditional hat from Azerbaijan.

Thanksgiving Dinner

ELI students were invited to the The University of Alabama Honors College First Friends Thanksgiving Dinner Party on Friday, November 16, 2018. Everyone enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with new friends. The First Friends program partners new exchange students at UA to meet fellow undergrads who can welcome them and show them the basics of student life in Tuscaloosa.

International Student Cultural Retreat

On Oct. 20, international students and ISSS staff went to a Fall Cultural Retreat which was held at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. The 40 students and staff who represented The University of Alabama at the retreat enjoyed visiting the Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama, a pioneer farm, hiking to the old ironworks facilities, seeing artists make their own hand crafts, and visiting “Trade Days” which is where people sell local food, handmade items, and antiques. Although there was a bit of rain throughout the day, it didn’t stop our students from having fun and exploring the state park grounds. International students were able to visit the Old Country store, see the Halloween decorations on display, and play games together near the campsite. Approximately 150 international students attended from various universities around Alabama including University of West Alabama, Samford University, Gadsden State Community College, and Jefferson State Community College. A Lebanese style lunch was provided by Regions bank, and The University of Alabama provided the snacks for the retreat. This truly was a cultural experience as students were able to learn about local Alabama culture, as well as make new friends from other countries!

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is a part of the Capstone International Center and is an integral part of an international student’s experience at The University of Alabama. ISSS helps F-1 and J-1 students maintain their visa status while studying at UA. The mission of International Student and Scholar Services is to provide essential services and innovative programs for The University of Alabama international students, scholars and their families to enable them to achieve their educational, professional and social goals. ISSS seeks to foster diversity and strengthen inter-cultural relationships throughout the UA campus and community. It is our commitment to promote understanding and respect for the world’s many cultures. We do that through offering weekly activities such as International Spouse Group which meets from 10-11:30am every Wednesday, and International Coffee Hour which happens from 11:30am-1:00pm every Friday during the fall and spring semesters. ISSS also sponsors special events such as the Fall Cultural Retreat for our international students. If you want to keep up to date with all the activities ISSS is hosting, follow us on Facebook @UAInternationalServices.

ELI Scholarships Winners

Congratulations to this session’s ELI Tuition Scholarship winners: Rudy from Colombia and Xiaoyang from China!

Rudy works at a local bank in Colombia. She told us that, “The U.S. is the best option to learn English because of the quality of education, which is known worldwide.” She is also interested in learning about American culture.

Xiaoyang will be a doctoral student at The University of Alabama after completing her studies at the ELI.

Every session the ELI awards tuition scholarships to current full-time students. The students must attend 80% of their ELI classes and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all ELI classes. Students must also write a short essay explaining why they want the scholarship.

If you are a current ELI student and want to apply for a scholarship for next session, you can find the application on the ELI Forms page.

Students Attend Lessons From Abroad Conference

On September 30th, 2018 two Education Abroad Advisors accompanied seven Education Abroad Interns and Alumni to Carrollton, GA, where they attended the Lessons From Abroad Conference. Lessons From Abroad is an organizations consisting of like-minded higher education professionals who aim to assist in the reentry process individuals experience when coming back to the US from abroad, especially those who have pursued educational sojourns. The conference kicked off with an inspiring speech by the Keynote Speaker, Vallera Gibson, who is the Diplomat-in-Residence for North Georgia, Tennessee, and North Alabama. Over the course of the day, students moved between various breakout sessions and received tips on applying for competitive programs like Peace Corps and Fulbright, learned how to make sense of their education abroad experience both in person and on their resumes, and how to navigate the job search after graduation. At the conclusion of the conference, UA students and study abroad alumni Shakerri Garrett, Madison Knapp, and Camille Carr were awarded prizes for their phenomenal photos from abroad.

The Education Abroad office at UA can help students find a program that suits their degree program, time frame, and budget. To begin the process of having a life-changing experience abroad, stop by the Education Abroad office in 135 BB Comer to attend a Study Abroad 101 session and talk with an advisor.

Two UA Students Selected for Critical Language Scholarships

July 19, 2018 | From UA News

Maria Huryn

Two University of Alabama students have earned Critical Language Scholarships for the summer 2018 term.

Lawrence Monocello, a doctoral student in anthropology from Erie, Pennsylvania, will study Korean in  Gwangju, South Korea. Maria Huryn, an undergraduate from Tuscaloosa, will study Russian in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Huryn, a member of UA’s Honors College, is majoring in international studies and economics with minors in Russian and Spanish. She is involved with the Alabama International Relations Club and sings in the University Chorus. She also works as a research assistant at The University of Alabama’s Institute for Social Science Research. In the summer of 2016, Huryn participated in the UA in Spain: Language and Culture study-abroad program, and she spent the 2017-2018 academic year studying Russian abroad in Daugavpils, Latvia, as a U.S. Department of Defense Boren Scholarship winner.

Lawrence Monocello

Monocello is studying biocultural medical anthropology in the department of anthropology. He studies how culture affects body image and the development of eating disorders among Korean men. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University and a master’s in anthropology from UA.

The Critical Language Scholarship program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. The program provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu.

The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

Students interested in Critical Language Scholarships, Boren Scholarships or Fulbright Awards may contact the Capstone International Center at for more information.


United Way Day of Action 2018

Continuing the annual tradition of serving the Tuscaloosa community, 34 Capstone International Center volunteers including faculty, staff, and students participated in The United Way of West Alabama’s Day of Action. The United Way organized 40 local service projects to assist nonprofit organizations and schools in the Tuscaloosa community. More than 500 volunteers came together for this year’s Day of Action to improve the community where The University of Alabama calls home.

The Capstone International Center volunteer teams spent their day at the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter, The Arc of Tuscaloosa, Temporary Emergency Services, and Stillman College. The team completed much needed yard work projects, painted dorm rooms, organized donations, folded laundry, engaged with the community, and learned about local organizations working to make a difference. One of these United Way agencies, Temporary Emergency Services, has been in the Tuscaloosa community since 1945 helping individuals and families in crisis situations by providing financial and other temporary assistance.

The United Way of West Alabama strengthens education, income stability, and health in our community by developing resources and partnerships. The Capstone International Center is honored to participate every year in the service opportunities that the United Way organizes in the community. Sharing our love of service with UA’s International students only strengthens our relationships!