New International Instructors Boost Language Offerings at Stetson

Stetson University has collaborated again with the ALLEX Foundation to secure Asian language instructors and offer Mandarin Chinese courses.

ALLEX Fellow Renjing Lin joins Stetson University from Macau, China to offer Mandarin Chinese during the current academic year and through 2018-2019. His fellowship boosts Stetson’s ability to offer Mandarin to students consistently. Lin spent time teaching in Macau and Taiwan. His diverse experiences prepare him to bring multiple perspectives to the classroom.

“I really enjoy teaching here and a handful of students told me that they are also enjoying my class too”, said Lin. “I really like them and I am very happy that they are making progress day by day.”

Lin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance with specialization in financial engineering from the Unividade De Macua. Meizhou, his hometown, is in coastal Guangdong Province of southeast China that borders Hong Kong and Macau. 

The ALLEX Foundation enables universities to initiate or maintain high quality Chinese or Japanese language programs by providing professional trained, native Chinese or Japanese instructors. Lin is Stetson’s second ALLEX Fellow.

For a number of years, Stetson has collaborated with the Fulbright Program to attract Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs).

As FLTA at Stetson, Eman Elsayed Eltaher Mahmoud Abdelhalim of Alexandria, Egypt, joins the community to teach Arabic during the 2017-2018 academic year. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Second or Other Language (TESOL) from Notting Hill College in Alexandria, Egypt.  She also holds a certificate in negotiation and mediation from the Susan Marbarak Women’s International Peace Movement Institute for Peace Studies and the U.N. affiliated University for Peace.

Abdelhalim is already making an impact on campus. She recently served as a panelist at the Call for Action: Waging Peace discussion during Stetson’s celebration of U.N. International Day of Peace. She has a clear goal in mind as she continues to develop as a teacher.

“I want to make a significant change in the Egyptian education system to implement the modern and innovative techniques, especially for young learners”, she said.

Greici Buzzi joins Stetson from Brazil to teach Portuguese. Buzzi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Portuguese. She currently works with Pamela Cappas-Toro, Ph.D., assistant professor of World Languages and Cultures (Spanish), to offer Portuguese 101 and Portuguese 102 courses which are open to all students.

Hailing from Rodeio, Brazil, a Santa Catarina municipality in the south region of Brazil, Buzzi applied to the FLTA program to achieve two goals.

“This opportunity puts together the two things I pursue the most at this moment: (a) learning more about the American culture and about the English Language itself; and (b) teaching Portuguese”, said Buzzi.

An avid music fan, she has played guitar and piano since she was six years old from which she has learned discipline, determination and patience.

Welcome to HatterNation!

Read about 2015-16 international language scholars
Read about 2016-17 international language scholars

Stetson’s language instructors are housed in the Department of WORLD Languages and Cultures. ALLEX fellows are in residence for two academic years and Fulbright scholars serve one year. Language instructors are required to engage in professional development by taking courses at Stetson. Fellows also participate in New Faculty Orientation and other new faculty onboarding activities. The language instructor residency program is coordinated by WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning.

Stetson in Cuenca, Ecuador in 2018

Stetson’s Latin American Studies Program is offering a 4-week immersion experience in the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, Ecuador May 12-June 10, 2018.

The program cost of includes:

  • a one-unit B course (LAMS 200) taught in English by Dr. Sitler that will focus on the diverse cultures of Latin America and, in particular, on the 4 distinct cultures of southern Ecuador (Hispanic, Cañari, Saraguro, Cholo)
  • lodging in the home of a local family
    all meals
  • language exchanges with Ecuadoran university students
  • numerous group excursions such as hiking in El Cajas National Park, El Chorro del Carmen waterfalls, Incan ruins of Ingapirca,  the Cañari Amerindian town of Tambo, and
  • two nights (one a home-stay) in the fascinating indigenous community of Saraguro, a group of Native Americans moved there from Bolivia by the Inca in pre-Columbian times.

Program participants can also take a Spanish course (highly recommended) at the appropriate level for an additional cost.

Cuenca is one of the safest and cleanest cities in Latin America, and because of its elevation (around 8,000 ft.), it is refreshingly cool in May and June in spite of its proximity to the equator.

The Universidad de Cuenca, where courses will be held, is a large public university with around 16,000 students, many with a keen interest in getting to know students from the United States.

For more information, photos, and videos, join the Stetson in Ecuador 2018 Facebook page and/or contact Dr. Robert Sitler. Be sure to watch the video that includes many of the places included in the program on Youtube.

Stetson celebrates United Nations International Day of Peace

For almost a year, Roxanne Lewis of WORLD: The Rinker Center for International Learning, has been discussing Peace Day events at Stetson University. Together with Lindsey Graves of the Interfaith Initiatives and Kevin Winchell of the Center for Community Engagement, they executed a full day of activities aimed at examining ideals and threats to peace. Here’s a recap of our inaugural Peace Day event.

Ringing the Hollis Center Bell for Peace — 10 a.m.

United Nations International Day of Peace at Stetson University kicked off with a ringing of the Peace Bell in the same spirit that the U.N. heralds peace each year. The Hollis Center bell rang 10 times, once for each continent and once for each of Stetson University’s campuses and centers.

Qi Gong with Sensei Morris Sullivan — 10:30-11 a.m. | Hulley Tower
Sensei Morris Sullivan led a group of participants through the traditional practice of Qigong (Chi Kung), a form of martial art or medical or spiritual engagement. Participants learned basic traditional movements that integrated physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions. Qigong expands and moves life-force/energy, Qi (pronounced chee), throughout the body. Surprisingly simple to do, the Qigong exercise generated much interest in Sensei Sullivan’s Thai Chi sessions offered in the Hollis Center each week.

Ball Pit/Labyrinth Walk — 11 a.m.-2 p.m. | Palm Court/Hulley Tower

A ball pit was assembled to encourage conversation and self-exploration. Participants took turns settling into the pit and selected a ball with printed questions to be used as conversation starters. Questions ranged in scope from “What is your favorite holiday and why?” to “What is the one worldwide issue that has to be fixed first?” One enthusiastic participant declared the ball pit experience was “a highlight of her time at Stetson so far!” One administrator posted on Facebbok , “Today, I spent 10 minutes in the ball pit with these awesome humans…I did not want to get out of the pool. It felt like such a loving and safe refuge in our crazy world.”

Peace Wall — Throughout the day | Multiple venues

An 8×4-foot Peace Wall was created by the Stetson community to represent the community’s desire to live and work in a place of peace. Students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to leave a message of peace on the plywood wall. The Peace Wall will be on display at WORLD, the Cross-Cultural Center, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life on a rotating basis between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drop by to view it and add your peace message.

Lunch + Conversations: Cultivating Personal Peace, Conflict Resolution, and Women in Peace and Conflict — 12-1 p.m. | Conrad Hall

Participants enjoyed a catered lunch and facilitated conversations on one of three topics. Sensei Morris Sullivan led Cultivating Personal Peace, Kevin Winchell facilitated Conflict Resolution, and Amber Finnicum-Simmon led Women in Peace and Conflict. Almost 50 students and staff engaged in passionate, provoking, and respectful discussion on emotionally-charged topics. Students grappled with concepts that challenged values and worldviews. This event attracted the largest crowd of the day’s events.

Four Directions Ceremony with Stetson’s Organization for Native American Revitalization (SONAR) — 1:15-1:45 p.m. | Sorority Row Gazebo
Stetson’s SONAR conducted a traditional Four Directions Ceremony. As decedents of Native American tribes, SONAR students invited participants to form a circle which is symbolic of the world. They asked for blessing and peace from the four cardinal directions — East, South, West and North — and from Father Sky and Mother Earth. The ceremony is a ritual clearing bad spirits and evil and a call for peace and security. One participant said she felt this program was “deeply spiritual, authentically executed and extremely well presented”.

Meditation Flash Mob with Stetson’s Mindful Meditation Club — 5:30-6 p.m. | Stetson Green
At 5:30 p.m., Stetson’s Meditation Club took over Green with a Meditation Flash Mob. Club members posed cross-legged or in prone positions on the ground and began a mass meditation session. Passersby were encouraged to join. The event emphasized the importance of personal peace and wellbeing and highlighted a growing group of students engaged in consistent practice of serenity.

A Call to Action: Waging Peace — 6-7:30 p.m. | Rinker Welcome Center

The culminating event of Peace Day 2017 featured a five-person panel on pressing issues of Peace – personal, global and in daily work. Panelists agreed that peace is requires hard work from engaged, motivated people. Following the presentations, participants recorded how Stetson community members foster and grow peace. Ideas collected will be integrated into programming by WORLD, Interfaith Initiatives, and the Center for Community Engagement. Panelists included Jora Young, retired staff at The Nature Conservancy; and from Stetson University: John Richardson, public safety officer and U.S. Military Veteran;  Eman Fathallah, Fulbright Scholar of Arabic and instructor of Arabic; Maxwell Droznin, AmeriCorps VISTA and community engagement coordinator; Kevin Winchell, associate director of community engagement; and moderator Rajni Shankar-Brown, associate professor of education and Jessie Ball duPont Chair of Social Justice.

Peace Day 2017 occurs at a great time because on September 26, 2017, we will celebrate and examine our core values during Values Day. We are excited about welcoming our keynote speaker, acclaimed author and media entrepreneur Irshad Manji to discuss “The Diversity Dilemma“.

A number of activities counted as Cultural Credit events.

Annually, International Peace Day is observed across the globe on September 21. The General Assembly declared that date as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among nations and peoples. For more on Peace Day at Stetson, contact Roxanne Lewis, international student and scholar services coordinator at WORLD: The Rinker Center for International Learning.

Helping overseas students create home away from home

International students bring welcome diversity to campus, but to thrive they need support

At Portland State University two graduate students in the Conflict Resolution Program—one from Egypt, the other from Syria—recently set up a group to support students from countries at war. The students began their work before the Paris terror attacks in November 2015. After the attacks they decided to add discussions about safety and how the university could help international students feel they were an important part of campus life.

International students in the United States are witnessing a complex time both at home and abroad, which can affect how at ease they feel on U.S. campuses. A survey conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that political events have had an impact on the opinion of prospective students: nearly 40 percent of U.S. educational institutions saw a drop in international applications, especially those from the Middle East, for fall 2017.

“It’s about giving our international students the chance to experience being part of a university campus. And we also want our domestic students to have positive interactions with international students.”

To reach out to the students and allow them to voice concerns, Portland State holds a wellness check half-way through the first semester, in four languages—Arabic, Chinese, English and Japanese. “Our mission is not just about teaching people English,” says Julie Haun, director of the PSU’s intensive English language program. “It’s about giving our international students the chance to experience being part of a university campus. And we also want our domestic students to have positive interactions with international students.”

A solid link with college life

Not only do international students now come from an array of countries and cultures, they also have varying levels of academic achievement, which can make their needs more complex. “Part of the challenge is that we have different types of international students,” says Thomas Lavenir, assistant director at James Madison University’s Center for Multicultural/International Programs. “We have English learners in a bridge program, exchange students here for one or two semesters, transfer students, incoming freshmen and graduate students.”

One way to ensure the right support reaches students is to expand the orientation programs that are already mandated by the federal government for all F-1 and J-1 visa holders. JMU’s three-day orientation includes information sessions about campus safety as well as social gatherings. Fifteen students from around the world provide peer support and create a link between new students and the campus.

Other institutions have followed a similar path. At Southern Methodist University, orientation for graduate students was at first splintered across academic departments. Now, though, the office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) has taken charge of the process and disperses information about campus life, health and safety, enrollment, library and IT resources to all students. “Previously, some of the departments had one-day orientations, some were one or two hours, and some sent students to us,” says Anna Lippard, international services specialist at SMU. “ISSS began running orientation to make sure every international grad student is getting the information they need no matter what program they are in.”

These events help students unfamiliar with U.S. culture avoid costly mistakes. At JMU, Lavenir says, one student flew to Harrisburg, Pa., rather than Harrisonburg, Va., where the university is located; while another went to a hospital emergency room for a cold instead of seeing a doctor on campus.

“We try to use a personable, friendly approach to orientation so the whole ordeal of moving overseas and leaving your family behind can be made a lot smoother,” Lavenir explains. The peer-to-peer service, he says, “helps personalize the experience and make it more comfortable for students to ask questions.”

Fresh perspectives on complex issues

Arabic students make up nearly 10 percent of the international cohort in 2014-15 and contributed just under $3 billion to the U.S. economy, according to Al Fanar Media, a publication covering higher education in the Arab world. But the U.S. immigration debate and President Trump’s much-publicized travel ban earlier this year have made many feel unwelcome. Mahamadou Sissoko is from Mali in West Africa, and studies finance at Portland State. “The ban wasn’t about my country directly,” he told KGW, an NBC-affiliated TV station in Portland, “but it took away the feeling of security.”

Portland State staff in the intensive English language program reached out to Jahed Sukhun, a former colleague and vice president of the Muslim Educational Trust in Portland. He met with Arabic-speaking students and led role-playing exercises to address what they might do if they felt uncomfortable or harassed on campus. The goal of these activities is to improve integration and inclusion, making sure that the students benefit from and feel part of college life.

At PSU, Christina Luther, the director of the Office of International Student & Scholar Services (OISS), partners with the Middle East Studies Center, the Global Diversity and Inclusion Office and the Conflict Resolution Program to promote dialogue about sensitive issues. Working with the Global Diversity and Inclusion Office, the OISS has organized a forum to provide information about Islam and show attendees how the religion differs from its portrayal in the news. “It will offer a different perspective than what’s flooding the media right now,” said Jill Townley, PSU’s associate director of international student life.

Research shows that interactions with foreign students on campus increase empathy in their U.S. peers and better equip them for a competitive and global employment market.

A richer educational experience

Such activities foster a dialogue that holds benefits for the student body. Discussion about tricky topics prepares all students for working in a complex world after they graduate. Research shows that interactions with foreign students on campus increase empathy in their U.S. peers and better equip them for a competitive and global employment market. The study, conducted by academics at Duke University found that forming friendships with students from other countries enabled the U.S. students to build leadership skills, relate to people of different races and religions, acquire knowledge independently, formulate creative and original ideas and even improve their computer skills. “With the campus environment more diverse than ever before,” the authors write, “institutions should promote a welcoming, caring and productive learning environment and foster opportunities for meaningful, substantial interactions in order to enhance students’ educational experiences.”

The presence of international students enriches both campus and academic life. And providing the support that allows them to integrate makes for a more diverse and engaging experience for all—a big part of what higher education is meant to be about. As PSU’s Jill Townley puts it, “The more we can connect students of different faiths and backgrounds, the more openness and understanding will develop.”

This content was paid for and created by Terra Dotta. The editorial staff of The Chronicle had no role in its preparation. Adopted from 

A Rare Look at Early Russian Culture Comes to Hand Art Center

Pavel Ovchinnikov’s Enamel on Gold Bowl, Gold over Silver with polychromed filigree enamel, 1910. On loan from the Gary R. Libby Charitable Trust.

Stetson University’s Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center is exhibiting “Tradition and Innovation in Russian Art” through Oct. 14.

As 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the focus of the exhibit will be the impact of the revolution on modern art.

Visitors will have the opportunity to experience history through the interpretation of pre-revolution icons, photographs and Fabergé pieces, as well as post revolution sculpture and lectures by experts in Russian art and culture. Several scheduled events surrounding this special exhibit will be held at the Hand Art Center. All are free and open to the public, and include:

Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.: Andrew Murray Howe V of Atlantic Beach, FL, will lecture on “Empire and Empathy: Russian Photographs by Murray Howe,” a rare look at Pre-Revolution Russia.

A 1909 snapshot on a Sunday morning in the famous Thieves Market, Moscow. “I was mobbed by this crowd after taking this picture and had to be rescued by the Soldier-Police.” – Murray Howe. Photo courtesy of Andrew Murray Howe

The talk will feature photos snapped in 1909 by noted horse racing journalist Murray Howe, great-grandfather of the lecturer. Using a handheld Graflex camera, a state-of-the-art device allowing a user to shoot without a tripod, Howe took hundreds of photographs of everyday life in Russia, everything from pedestrians to street vendors and aristocrats. The talk will be held in the Hand Art Center, Seminar Room.

Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m.: Book Discussion with Mayhill Fowler, Ph.D.

Assistant History Professor Mayhill Fowler, Ph.D., will discuss her new book, “Beau Monde at Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine.” Fowler will also moderate a discussion with Daniil Zavlunov, Ph.D., a musicologist specializing in nineteenth-century music, and Katya Kudryavtseva, Ph.D., assistant professor of Art History at Stetson. This presentation will also be held in the Hand Art Center, Seminar Room.

Stetson Assistant Professor of History Mayhill Fowler has written a book examining the overlap between the arts and the state in the early Soviet Union.

Adapted from Stetson Today, September 19, 2017

How can universities help international students feel at home?

There’s never been a more important time for UK universities to nurture their international student population. With the number of applications from EU students falling after Brexit and the government’s approach to immigration deterring some of those from further afield, the quality of the student experience is key for recruitment and retention.

As the British Council’s Anna Esaki-Smith explains, the global education sector is becoming more competitive. “China, Japan and Malaysia are now aiming to increase inward mobility by providing international students with English-language curriculums, scholarships and less-expensive tuition fees when compared to those of the UK or US,” she says.

“In that kind of environment, it’s important for established universities to ensure that the international student experience meets expectations. Do universities deliver on the vibrant photos of engaging campus life being viewed by international students who have never left their home countries? Are home students aware of the benefits of an internationalised campus and encouraged to welcome their international counterparts?”


See full article in The Guardian: September 18, 2017

International Student Success Initiative adopts Konkeros employment tool

At Stetson University, we understand that bringing your student to an American university may be part of a bigger plan. Your goals may include enabling your student to gain work experience in the U.S. after graduation, or perhaps giving your student the opportunity to develop a prosperous career in the U.S.

If this is your case, the process to gain employment starts today.

Ideally, you are reading this message while your student is a first-year student, sophomore, or junior, because gaining employment in the U.S. requires significant time and effort.

The first action we recommend is to get an immigration attorney as soon as possible – even if this is your student’s first year. A good attorney will assess your student’s profile and determine the most viable employment/immigration strategy. An attorney may even help your student develop a profile that is more favorable for employers and immigration officers.

Understand that most international students gain employment in the U.S. through networking. For this reason, we strongly advise students to focus their job-seeking efforts on developing a professional network, instead of submitting work applications online.

Stetson University is the first higher education institution in the U.S. to implement Konkeros. Konkeros is the most powerful tool your student could use to find a job in the U.S.. The site includes a business ranking system, which can be used to find and rank all the companies most likely to hire your student. This platform provides a viability score to help your student rank prospective employers,. The score indicates which companies are more likely to hire your student based on your student’s profile and historical company data.

Stetson will also give international families, at no additional cost, a book entitled “Konkeros 2018: An International Student’s Guide to Finding Employment in the U.S.” This cutting-edge book describes in detail the process to gain employment in the U.S. The book will be available in the fall 2017.

Lou Paris
Instructor of International Business and New Venture Creation

Assistant Director, Prince Entrepeneurship Program

For more, see International Student Success Initiative.

A Typical Day at WORLD

What does a typical day at WORLD look like?

Roxanne Lewis, international student and scholar services coordinator, assists a foreign student.

Paula Hentz, director of international learning, consults with Professor Mercedes Tichenor on study abroad programming.

Roxanne Lewis is completly unaware that she’s still wearing a pig mask.

Roxanne Lewis chats with Professor Elisabeth Poeter at the annual Faculty Open House at WORLD.

Global Community Engagement Dashboard highlights international student outcomes

WORLD and the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness collaborated on the development of an interactive data visualization tool. The new Global Community Engagement Dashboard is designed to enhance Stetson University’s comprehensive internationalization efforts and position the University for opportunity planning around international and intercultural learning.

The first phase of the project focuses on Stetson’s global footprint including geographic diversity of students, international student enrollment and academic achievement. The dashboard illuminated several  strategic findings:

  • The international undergraduate student population increased by nearly 20 percent over the past two years (169 students in Fall 2014 to 208 in Fall 2016).
  • International students enrolled from 56 countries and five continents.
  • The international student academic profile has remained steady for the past three academic years. International students enroll about evenly in the College of Arts and Science and the School of Business Administration.
  • Fall 2016 average cumulative GPA for international students was 3.34 compared to 3.09 for domestic students.
  • International students demonstrate strong Fall to Fall retention; the Fall 2015 cohort retained at 88% compared to 78% for domestic students.

The dashboard was unveiled at the New International Parent Luncheon on August 16, 2017. The project is spearheaded by Roxanne Lewis, international student and scholar services coordinator at WORLD and  Angela Henderson, director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness. The next phase of project development will highlight student and faculty engagement in international study.

I invite you to use the interactive dashboard to run reports and get useful information on Stetson’s global footprint.

Resche Hines, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research and Effectiveness

Angela Henderson
Director of Institutional Research andEffectiveness