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|Volume 10 Edition 7: April 2011|
Exchange Student Reflection on Studying and Academic Training by Florine Gall
I am a French student from Lyon and I studied one semester at UNCG for my MBA thanks to the exchange program that UNCG and my University, Lyon 3 Jean Moulin, offered to all students willing to study abroad for one or two semesters. UNCG has a campus, so the life is very animated and full of activities. In France, you won’t find that amount of activities for students. This first semester spent studying has been a great experience. It allowed me, of course, to improve my English in a significant way but also to discover a country, a culture, and a people.
Here the studies are very different from France. You have to read and write a lot by yourself, your exams are most of the time multiple choice tests, and sometimes you are allowed to have you notes with you. In France, you have at least 28 hours of classes a week, but you don’t have to buy your books and read them or write papers. In this way it has been very interesting to face this study culture and try to deal with it.
Also to be an exchange student is exciting. You meet a lot of people from everywhere else in the world. American people are very curious about you, and this is a surprise because in Europe people are more self-centered maybe and don’t ask you that much about your country if you are a foreigner.
At the beginning of the first semester as an UNCG student, I was feeling that my English was improving and I thought that I should try to stay longer than 4 months of classes. To complete my Master’s Degree, I had to do an internship, so after 1 month of studying, I started looking for one. Thanks to a lot of time spent looking, I decided that I would do it even without being paid for my 35 hours a week. After 3 months, I finally found a Sales/Marketing Internship thanks to my UNCG coordinator Kaitlin Ritchie who had been helping me even before I was in the USA. The requirements (for academic training) were really easy to fulfill and in maybe 2 weeks, I was allowed to stay 5 months more to do my internship in the USA. Thanks to this opportunity, my resume is going to be better, and my knowledge about the American business culture improved.
I have been lucky to find a small company where the people are really nice to me, and make me feel comfortable, even if relationships at work are different in France from what I already experienced. People don’t eat that much together but separately whenever they want. It has been difficult for me at the beginning because in France the culture of the shared meal is very important even at work.
The most important part of my job has been helping to build a contact database for the company and then translating a lot of the commercial literature from English to Spanish or Portuguese. I am learning every day not only because of my duties but also because the people are moving all around and I am sometimes asked to help some people having a hard time finalizing their work on time.
To conclude, if I had to choose to do this trip, to study abroad and then to stay for an internship or to keep studying in France, I would, for sure, decide to come to the USA. It has been one of the most important years of my life. The exchange experience has contributed to developing my personality and my understanding of the world as a whole. Of course one point you have to consider, and that can make the difference, is the distance between you and the people you love. Even if you meet new people here, and build with them a new “family”, my family started missing me at Christmas and since then, it has been more difficult to be and live without them.
The positive point in missing your relatives so much is that you realize what is important in life for you, and makes you go home stronger because we know that “What does not kill you makes you stronger.”
The IPC congratulates Amna Latif, an international student from Pakistan, who has received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Division G-Social Context of Education's 2011 Distinguished Dissertation Award. Her dissertation is titled "A Multi-Method Qualitative Inquiry of Women’s Issues and Girls’ Access to Education and Literacy through the Implementation of a Critical Literacy Curriculum in Rural Pakistan".
Amna received her Doctor of Education from UNCG’s Department of Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations. She wishes to express her gratitude to her committee members for their guidance, encouragement, and support for her research: Drs. Leila Villaverde (Chair), Rick Reitzug, Kathleen Casey, and C.P. Gause. Amna also stated that, “The confidence and motivation that I received from my husband, Naveed, and my children Maryam (4 years), Fatima (2 years), and Ahmad (4 months) was tremendous. I would not have been able to complete my research and dissertation without their continuous help and support.”
Here is an abstract of Amna’s research:
Girls’ access to education and literacy in developing countries has received international significance in the past decade. This dissertation uses a qualitative approach in understanding girls’ literacy in rural Pakistan. It contributes in (1) addressing issues of literacy and school enrollment through literacy dimensions, (2) identifying socio-cultural norms that affect girls’ literacy, (3) understanding girls’ home and school practices, and (4) critical literacy curriculum design and implementation. The documentary highlights the work during the pilot study.
A total of forty girls’ and women’s narratives were collected to understand socio-cultural practices and girls’ curricular needs. Nineteen other participants were interviewed: educational, political and religious leaders, fathers, and teachers. The analysis indicates the importance of understanding literacy dimensions, including social and cultural norms that hinder a girl’s access to education.
Further, these norms are reiterated in a girl’s life as shown through girls’ family and school literacy practices. Critical literacy design using Freirean and feminist pedagogies integrated with Islamic principles show its positive impact on girls through its implementation. The findings have practical implications for educational leaders and policy makers that may potentially benefit them in increasing literacy and school enrollment among rural citizens, in particular that comprise sixty-eight percent of Pakistan’s population.