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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
The University of Alabama’s English Language Institute has begun its second year as a partner with Kansai Gaidai University (KGU) in Japan. Several of the UA’s ELI faculty are providing a range of academic English courses for 100 Japanese students each year on site in Osaka. Courses include English-language skill courses, as well as content-based courses on global issues, world religions, and current events.
Kansai Gaidai University is a private Japanese university known for its focus on foreign languages, study abroad, and Asian Studies programs. The students enroll in the UA@KGU program in order to study abroad during their second and third years. Many graduates pursue careers in hospitality and hotel management.
ELI instructor Sybil Armstrong has enjoyed working for the program. “I have found students in the UA@KGU program to be enthusiastic, willing to work hard, cooperative, goal-oriented, and a pleasure to work with.”
In addition to the program benefiting the KGU students, ELI instructors also benefit. As Drew Sanford, the program’s director, states, “Teaching in the UA@KGU program has given me the opportunity not only to grow as an instructor but also to deepen my knowledge of the Japanese language and culture.”
The first ELI@KGU classes began in April 2017 and the offerings from ELI will continue through at least 2019. This continues a long association between the UA and KGU. The UA has been hosting international exchange students from KGU for nearly two decades.
University of Alabama student-produced magazine, Alpine Living, has been awarded a national Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists in the category of Best Affiliated Website.
This is the seventh national honor for the latest edition of Alpine Living featuring content from the travels of 15 UA students from the department of journalism and creative media to New Zealand in March 2017. The students produced a 100+ page, full-gloss magazine promoting the art, history, culture, people and traditions of New Zealand.
“I am incredibly proud of this team because they have demonstrated that when the bar is high and they strive for excellence, anything is possible,” said Dr. Kim Bissell. “Within three weeks of returning from halfway across the world, we had a print and online version of this magazine with content that was created and produced during our two weeks of travel. Alpine Living is unlike any other student-produced magazine in the country, and I am incredibly proud of this team’s efforts.”
The Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Award recognizes the best in student journalism nationwide. Other national finalists include Harvard University and the University of Texas at Arlington.
Other national honors for the New Zealand issue of Alpine Living include the following:
Best affiliated website, Region 3 winner, SPJ Mark of Excellence, alpinelivingua.com.
Honorable Mention, Feature Story of the Year, Associated Collegiate Press Award, “The Story of the Māori,” Elayne Smith and Madison Sullivan.
Fourth Place, Multimedia Feature Story of the Year, Associated Collegiate Press Award, “Resilient,” Christopher Edmunds, Cara Walker, Taylor Armer and Thomas Joa.
Second place, Online Magazine, AEJMC Magazine Division, alpinelivingua.com.
Second Place, Service and Information Feature Story, AEJMC Magazine Division, “Sea of Dreams,” Matthew Wilson.
Third Place, Single Issue of an Ongoing Magazine–Editorial, AEJMC Magazine Division, alpinelivingua.com.
The Alpine Living staff includes UA students Jonathan Norris, Mary Kathryn Carpenter, Taylor Armer, Hailey Grace Steele, Christopher Edmunds, Madison Sullivan, Kaylin Bowen, Lane Stafford, Elizabeth Elkin, Danielle Waddell, Thomas Joa, Cara Walker, Mary-Margaret Schmidt, Matthew Wilson and Elayne Smith. Students who are a part of the editorial team include graduate and undergraduate students in journalism and creative media. They go through a competitive and selective process in order to participate.
Turkey, a country with next-level Southern hospitality.
It reads like a tourism slogan, but UA graduate student Shelby Smithson can’t describe the country, its culture and its people any better.
“Turkish people are so willing to move mountains for a guest,” Smithson said. “The warmth of the culture is very endearing.”
Like most Southerners, the Mobile native knows genuine kindness and hospitality. She experienced it firsthand when she visited Turkey for the first time last summer, spending two months learning the language, culture and social work infrastructure.
Smithson, who will earn a master’s degree in social work on Friday, received a Fulbright scholarship and will return to Turkey in September to teach English.
She recently took part in the long-running UA School of Social Work’s Washington, D.C. internship program, where she worked at the International Justice Mission, the world’s largest anti-slavery and anti-trafficking organization. She hopes one day to have a career as an international social worker and make her home in Turkey.
“I’m ecstatic and can’t wait to go back,” Smithson said. “I’ve joked with people that [the selection committee] must have thought I was just obsessed with Turkey and thought, ‘I guess we should just let her in.’ And I’m sure there was some academic consideration, but I’ve also been heavily involved in the Turkish community in Tuscaloosa – I was on the Turkish Student Association, and I studied the language for three semesters.”
International social work
Smithson’s travel passion stretches back to high school, when she first began international mission work.
She completed a one-week medical assistance mission in Honduras prior to enrolling at UA, and a two-month mission teaching English to children in Central Asia the summer before her sophomore year.
The trip to Central Asia allowed her to develop relationships with community members and immerse herself in a culture, aspects she didn’t experience during her snapshot of the poverty she observed in Honduras.
Smithson was keen to embed herself in Turkish culture last summer, hoping for a similarly rich experience from her previous service trip in Kazakhstan. In Turkey, she stayed mostly with UA PhD student and close friend Burcu Ozturk.
“[Ozturk] was a social worker in Turkey, so we were able to meet with social workers and visit agencies in Turkey,” Smithson said. “It was eye-opening.”
Smithson said she began to learn more about trauma and international human rights violations while working on her MSW at UA. She completed a yearlong independent study with Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell, associate professor of social work and coordinator of international programs, which focused on neurobiological effects of trauma, and another independent study on international social work.
“Through the independent studies and other classes, I figured out the impact I want to make with social work. And it fit perfectly with my passion to be overseas. Then IJM was the perfect placement for me because it combined both of those things.”
While at the International Justice Mission, Smithson worked with specialists to develop training modules for field offices across the globe and provide research to plan and manage their programs.
Smithson worked specifically with the IJM’s aftercare team, which focused on restoring survivors of human trafficking and slavery and reducing their vulnerability. Throughout the spring semester, she developed training for the aftercare team’s new assessment tool and the accompanying guidance manual.
“We definitely got exposure to what was going on in the field every day, whether it was a rescue mission or a court case,” Smithson said. “I got to hear all these stories about survivors being rescued and restored, and what that looks like. They were great about giving me meaningful work.”
On her final day at the IJM, she received a surprise opportunity to help train the British Red Cross.
“I didn’t think I had any place being there,” she said. “But having that opportunity really showed me that, no matter what I was doing, it’s having a global impact.”
Internship experience aside, Smithson is grateful for the opportunity to work in D.C., an epicenter for public policy and international relief agencies. Networking was a built-in component facilitated by UA program coordinators, but students were encouraged to seek mentorships and professional relationships on their own.
Smithson said she’ll likely have to build considerable work experience before returning to Turkey full-time, but her experiences in Washington D.C. have provided contacts and a blueprint for her return.
“I didn’t realize what a difference the D.C. program was going to make,” Smithson said. “You could be on the metro with someone who works for the state department, or someone who can really make a difference. D.C. is unique that so many people who want to change the world are in this small area. I’ve made incredible connections that will take me far.”
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For the 2018–2019 competition period, 15 University of Alabama students have been selected for Fulbright Awards. The University of Alabama is a nationally ranked Top Producer of Fulbright Student Award Winners.
“Congratulations to UA’s 2018–19 Fulbright winners,” said Dr. Teresa E. Wise, associate provost for international education and global outreach. “Globally focused on-campus curricular and co-curricular opportunities and study abroad experiences help our students develop into world citizens who foster international understanding through programs like Fulbright.”
The highly competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study and research projects or for English-teaching assistantships. More than 11,000 applicants compete for approximately 1,950 awards each year. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, Fulbright is the largest U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals.
Two University of Alabama students received Fulbright Awards for research and study during the 2018–2019 academic year.
Nicole Henderson of Wellford, South Carolina, a doctoral candidate in anthropology, will pursue research titled “Um Ciclo Vicioso: Cultural Beliefs, Stigma, and Substance Use in Brazil.”
Natalie Kidd of Birmingham, a graduate in biochemistry will conduct research titled “Modulation of Regulatory/Suppressive Actions of Gamma T-cells with a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)” at the University of Kiel’s Institute of Immunology in Germany.
Thirteen UA graduates received Fulbright Awards to serve as English teaching assistants overseas for the 2018–2019 academic year.
Rachel Combs of Florence, a graduate in political science and German, will teach in Germany.
Jeremy Connor of Huntsville, a graduate in music performance (woodwind and percussion) and a current master’s student in German linguistics, will teach in Germany.
Carrigan Fain of Gardendale, a graduate in international studies with a minor in Spanish and captain of the UA women’s softball team, will teach in Malaysia.
Dwyer Freeman of Haddonfield, New Jersey, a graduate in German language and literature with a minor in critical theory through social study, will teach in Germany.
Maggie Holmes of Madison, Mississippi, a graduate in biology with minors in Spanish and psychology, will teach in Spain.
Madeleine Lewis of Huntsville, a graduate in religious studies and applied mathematics, will teach in Montenegro.
Richard Lewis of Birmingham, a graduate in English with minors in social innovation and leadership, business, and creative writing, will teach in Malaysia.
Taebryanna Sims of Mobile, a graduate in international studies with language study in French and Korean, will teach in South Korea.
Shelby Smithson of Mobile, a graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s in social work and studies in the Turkish language, will teach in Turkey.
Theresa Stoddard of Eads, Tennessee, a graduate in interdisciplinary studies, global inequities and human rights, and Spanish, will teach in Spain.
Kaylyn Williams of Hoover, a graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s in accounting, will teach in the Czech Republic.
Amanda Wolosz of Midland Park, New Jersey, a graduate in economics and finance with a minor in history, will teach in Poland.
Annika Wulff of Army Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, a graduate in communicative disorders and German language and literature, will teach in Germany.
“These students are drawn from many majors and include representatives of leadership programs on our campus, including the Blackburn Institute, the Blount Scholars Program, the Honors College, New College and the University Scholars Program,” said Dr. Beverly Hawk, UA Fulbright program adviser and director of global and community engagement in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships. “Through their individual community engagement activities overseas, these Fulbright winners will develop lasting international ties for Alabama and the USA.”