World Model UN Conference in Taiwan by Molly Chandler Hagan
The twelve hour flight to Taiwan was worth the wait. As we approached Taipei at night, it looked just like New York City to me only with Chinese characters. My trip to Taipei was for the World Model UN Conference that I attended with other representatives from UNCG. (Click here for the previous article on the conference).
At the Opening Ceremony of the conference, the President of Taiwan gave a welcoming speech. I was on the UN Development Program committee, which was fairly small with less than thirty members. There was only one other American in the committee. The rest of the committee was made up of students from France, Denmark, Australia, Germany, and about a quarter of the committee was from Taiwan. After a morning of debate we selected the topic “Protecting Biodiversity in the Developing World”. Since I was representing Burkina Faso, I felt my country had a strong interest in this.
Andrea Schronce, Diana Phelps, Kelsey Maher, Juan Miranda, Chandler Hagan,
and Brittany Atkinson in front of The National Palace Museum
Throughout the conference, we usually took our lunch breaks in a food court in Taipei 101, which is a mall attached to what used to be the world’s tallest building until 2007. The food was pretty hard for most of the delegation to adjust to—lots of noodles, questionable cuts of meat, decorated tofu—but I was happy to eat squid on a stick at one of the local markets. We went to a committee dinner at a famous dumpling restaurant where the baskets of dumplings just would not stop coming. They would pile up four baskets high, and four towers per table.
Kelsey Maher, Juan Miranda, Diana Phelps, Chandler Hagan,
Brittany Atkinson, and Andrea Schronce near Taipei 101
The venues for the social events at night were pretty amazing. On the first night we had a “Global Village” which was pretty much an international dance party at the Town Hall. We also had a cabaret night with some pretty entertaining performances from a lot of the different schools and the last night’s Farewell Celebration was at this famous club called the Luxe.
I really liked the people in Taiwan. Everyone seemed truly friendly and wanted to be helpful. They were also interested in you as a visitor to their country and would even want pictures taken with you just after meeting you. When I would be looking lost in the food court, a Taiwanese person would almost always come up and offer to help me decipher the dishes. The taxi drivers always wanted to practice their English with you. I felt a lot more welcome than I expected. All the street signs and metro stops were in English as well as Chinese which made it pretty easy to get around.
I honestly don’t know which I liked more: being in Taiwan or being in the World Model UN. Taipei was an amazing city with friendly people, but I also enjoyed my time with my fellow Burkina Faso delegates and the new friends that I made. I appreciated the challenge of the “model diplomacy” and enjoyed debating in the committee caucus. The UNC Greensboro delegation was very proud that at our first World Model UN conference, our delegate Reem Disu, won a diplomacy award in her committee, the African Union. Our group shared a great experience together and we’ve continued to stay in touch even as the class comes to a close. I hope to remain friends with all of my Burkina Faso buddies.
Chilean Exchange Students: Teaching English to Immigrants
A December article published by University Relations details some Chilean exchange students’ experience teaching English at the Doris Henderson Newcomers School. The students come from the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación (UMCE). Steve Flynn, former Director of UNCEP and Assistant Director of IPC, coordinates the students at UNCG as they take classes in the School of Education.
At the end of their program in December, the Chilean students were asked to write reflection papers on their time spent in the United States. Fabián Santis, who is featured in the “World Class” article, wrote the following about his experience at the Newcomers School, titled “Inspired. Changing”:
“The first day we went there [the Newcomers School] everything looked like a utopia. The principal told us that there were students from different nations in the world. He said that a lot of them were refugees; therefore, they had no idea about English. So...How can we believe that children from different countries in the world with different languages can all learn English?! It hard to believe it, isn’t it? …
As it appears in the article, my word for this experience is “awesome.” It’s still difficult to believe that the students that had no idea about English now are gossiping, playing jokes and loving…everything just in English…
This experience in Newcomers school was my time of inspiration as a teacher. Whenever I saw a student talking in English, raising his/her hand to answer a question or simply having fun with children from everywhere in the world, it made me think that teaching English in English is real. It is proved and you can do it if you want to do it… My new goal in life is to fix this educational problem by teaching real classes of English.
I got my inspiration, now it’s my time to change…”
Another student, Natalia Villalobos, wrote the following:
“Newcomers school is a place that represents more than an educational center, as most of the students are immigrants and do not have a stable family atmosphere, the school is like a second home for them.
I wish in the future my students could feel the same that these students feel. That school is important, not only to learn contents or subjects like math or history, but also like a place in which they can learn about life itself, society, people, values, etc…
Newcomers School is a ‘place where everyone has a wonderful story’ and I would like to listen to each one of them, and give my Chilean students the chance to communicate with people from other cultures, to create bridges among countries, to have friends all around the world, to understand that English can be a not only a language, but a instrument that can help them discover the world and change their lives.”
To read the full article on the Chilean exchange program, see “World Class.”
The Chilean exchange students are now back in their home country. Following the earthquake on February 27, the International Programs Center received several photos of the students helping with outreach efforts for Chileans in need. The IPC is proud of these students for making a difference both in the Greensboro community and in their home community.
Letter from Abroad… from the Editor by Katie Ostrowka
Greetings from Denmark! This semester’s eNewsworthy will be brought to you from the land of Hans Christian Anderson and Tivoli. I have left my post at the International Programs Center in order to pursue my graduate studies full-time. For the Spring, I am participating on an exchange with the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, where I am taking classes in—believe it or not!—American Studies. The classes are incredibly interesting and I am thoroughly enjoying the informal atmosphere of the Danish classroom. My classmates, all Danish, have been very friendly in welcoming me to the university.
A church in the town center of Odense
The semester has been packed full of exciting new places and faces and plenty of activities to keep me busy. I was greeted warmly by my Danish buddy, Julie, who has been a fantastic help in getting me situated and adjusted to life in Odense. During the first few days, she helped me register with the Danish government, secure a bike for transportation, and she even cooked dinner for me before watching a movie, complete with wonderful Danish candy. She has also given me all the practical information I need to get started here, such as where to find aspirin or a can of black beans. Additionally, the International Office provided a helpful orientation session about the important logistical and academic side of life in Denmark.
Me with my Danish buddy, Julie Lindskov Jensen
There has been plenty of snow here and I think everyone is ready for winter to end and spring to begin! Life in Denmark, though still new and exhausting at times, is proving to be an exciting adventure so far. I anticipate that I will have a rewarding experience here and hope that I can encourage others to follow my footsteps to the great land of the Danes!
And as always, thanks for reading!
Thanksgiving Excursion to New York City by Norma Velazquez
The week of November 25 through November 29 was special as international students and scholars had the opportunity to experience and celebrate the tradition of Thanksgiving in the company of friends. The Thanksgiving break trip provided the opportunity to appreciate friendship, life, and the beauty of New York City, a lively metropolis which welcomes visitors from all over the world. The city was full of color and majestic sights such as the Statue and Liberty, Empire State Building, United Nations, Rockefeller Center and the 2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Visiting scholars Hongxia Dai, Chiping Ji and Ying Chen enjoying some refreshments
during the Thanksgiving Dinner event
Over 100 students and scholars participated in the excursion, where they visited various sites and took unforgettable pictures of their experiences at these locations. Students and scholars were amazed by the color and brightness of the city at night as we were transported to Ulysses Restaurant which hosted the group Thanksgiving dinner. The bus ride back was full of laughs as students and scholars enjoyed watching movies.
The International Ambassadors had the awesome opportunity to be apart of the NASFA regional 7 Conference in Knoxville, TN during the last week of October. We had a great time! It was excellent to see another branch of international education and learn more about some of the processes that go into studying abroad to make ourselves more credible. It was also an excellent networking opportunity for us, as we met a couple of international educators who were interested in our organization and the workshop that we would be giving for the International Student Leadership Conference in November.
One of the greatest things that we learned at the conference was at the workshop we attended, the “Sons of Lwala.” In this particular workshop, there was a film shown that featured a young Kenyan that decided to give back to his community. The film documented his struggles to raise money for the health clinic he was building for his home community, as well as showing the sheer will power he had to make this dream possible. It touched us deeply, and gave us the motivation to get the film shown at UNCG for the Carolina Film Festival in February as well as tap into different offices on campus in order to make possible a workshop on service learning while abroad. Though it’s tough right now, we have hope that it will get done, because all it takes is just one highly motivated person to make a difference…and we are five.
The International Programs Center (IPC) created the position of International Ambassador (IA) last spring to unify and organize efforts to recruit more UNCG students to study abroad. The IAs are currently working with IPC to create a support group for students returning from studying abroad and dealing with reverse culture shock. Read more about the program in Special Programs (September issue).
Spending three weeks of my summer in Cambodia was the best academic/career decision I have made to date. Dr. Alice Smith was an unbelievably wonderful host. She treated us like professionals and friends, and let us jump right into her practice. With her accomplished model to guide us, we learned the patience and flexibility required to work with translators, while providing therapy and giving feedback to parents.
During our time in Cambodia, we worked at the Phnom Penh hospital where we learned to condense a semester’s worth of knowledge into a few usable points to empower patients to become their own speech pathologists. We quickly discovered that a gaggle of accessories is not necessary to provide exceptional services. We clearly understood when further referrals were needed and when they were not.
UNCG student helping child with reading
We learned the involvement of a different health care system and the value of connecting with a multitude of surgeons, nurses, audiologists, and organizations in order to follow through and ensure that the patients’ needs are met. Most striking was the universality of speech and language therapy. We were able to apply our knowledge of speech therapy to a different language as well. For example, we could detect hyper-nasality and sound error patterns in cleft palate patients in their own language and provide feedback to help correct the errors.
Cambodian doctors at work
Cambodian boy with hearing aid
Being in an unfamiliar place without the standard comforts of clinical practice in the United States solidified my confidence in the knowledge I have gained at UNCG and my abilities as a future speech-language pathologist. Given all this, my biggest joy was connecting with the Cambodian people. Cambodian hospitality left me smiling at every turn.
The purpose of this trip is for graduate students in the Communication Sciences & Disorders program to develop proper clinical skills and meet ASHA training criteria in the city of Phnom Penh while working with Cambodian parents, teachers and physicians in the development of culturally appropriate materials and methods for home-based treatment. Students work with the Phnom Penh hospital and Dr. Alice Smith, who is Cambodia's only full-time speech-language pathologist. For more information, contact Dr. Virginia Hinton at (336) 256-1498 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Students Travel to Washington, D.C.
Over fall break, IPC took students on a fun-filled excursion to Washington, D.C. The city offered the students an opportunity to visit popular tourist attractions, and enjoy D.C. nightlife while experiencing the nation’s capital first-hand.
The students spent the first night in Alexandria, Virginia, where they had a chance to experience King Street, with its unique restaurants and shops and the beautiful scenery along the Potomac River. The next two days were spent in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C. The student’s explored historic museums, various tourist attractions such as Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, and the Lincoln Memorial. In addition, students dined at popular restaurants, while embracing the opportunity to meet other students during their stay at Hostelling International. The students had an amazing time while in D.C., and the trip proved to be a fun time had by all who participated!
Sea Turtles Studies in Costa Rica by Megan Wallrichs
Arriving in the bustling chaos of San José, Costa Rica, twelve students under the direction of biology professor, Dr. Ann Somers, had only a fleeting opportunity to experience the city before being whisked away on a long bus ride. Tortuguero, our final destination and only accessible by boat, was still a two hour canal navigation full of wildlife.
It was lunch time when we arrived at the dock of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC) biological field station. At first it seemed the CCC was deserted, only a few meandering people on the property, three dogs, and the delicious aroma of lunch. Soon, we were greeted by Claire and Laura, the field directors of the CCC, and shown our living quarters for the next week. Once settled, we were introduced to a few of the research assistants ("RAs," the semi-permanent volunteers who stay for a few months) and learned that most of the other RAs were still sleeping, a routine we would soon learn to heartily embrace. The rest of the afternoon was ours to explore the property of the CCC or go into the village of Tortuguero itself—a five minute walk down a dirt path. Tortuguero is a village of 400 residents that relies substantially on ecotourism and therefore has a bit of a "touristy" feel to some parts, yet retains the peculiarities of a small village.
The schedule was strange to us, four groups containing an even mix of UNCG students with RAs split into two shifts of 8:00pm-12:00am and 12:00am-4:00am. Dressed in all black in order to keep a dark profile when working with light-sensitive turtles, the two groups parted in opposite directions to walk the designated 2.5 miles of beach for four hours, scanning for sea turtles that have come ashore to nest.
Researchers and UNCG students wear dark clothes so the nesting sea turtles can't see them in the dark
When it comes to recording data on sea turtles, timing is everything. Bothering the turtle with tape measures and calipers (used for various measures of the carapace, or shell) before she has started laying eggs can deter her from laying at all. If one waits too long and the new mother is in her last flick of camouflaging (throwing sand around with her flippers in order to camouflage the nest), it will be a race against time and usually mouthfuls of sand to get all the necessary measurements and tagging of the flipper before she returns to the sea. There are also countless groups on guided turtle-tours that we had to be mindful of.
This might sound tedious and arduous, and while it may be a little of both, it is definitely worth the late hours, bug-ridden beaches, and sand-filled shores to view these majestic creatures and have a role in the conservation efforts. While the green sea turtle population in Tortuguero itself is healthy, the same cannot be said for all turtle nesting beaches where the numbers have dropped dangerously low. At the week's end, we were sad to depart, but knew we were able to experience something that not many others will and that the Caribbean Conservation Corporation will continue its efforts for years to come.
Our Delightful Excursion to Myrtle Beach by Blane Stanaland
Each year, the International Programs Center organizes a number of trips and activities for our international students. Trips this semester will include Washington DC from October 17-20, and New York, November 24-29. Our latest excursion was to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina over Labor Day weekend.
The International Programs Center, International Student Association, and the International Fellows accompanied 56 students to Myrtle Beach over the Labor Day weekend. Everyone boarded the tour bus and took off at 8:00am on September 5. After a pleasant but still unsavory ride, we finally got there. It was well worth the time. Everyone was able to spend that evening at an upscale shopping district and do as they liked. Long waits for dinner didn’t upset us as the festive ambiance and fireworks more than compensated. Upon our return home, many of us went out to the beach to admire the beautiful full moon on the open water. It was quite a memorable experience, and many sang songs or just talked until sunrise.
The following day was available for us to do whatever we liked. Caravans ferried students to shopping districts, while others chose to lounge around the motel. It was cloudy but some people still went to the beach to relax. Even the few people who had school work to complete found time to enjoy themselves. The evening proved to be as eventful as the previous night. Afterwards, nearly everyone went outside for further conversation and stayed there into the wee hours of the night.
As much fun as we had, it was time to return to Greensboro on Monday. Surprisingly, no one was late nor was there protest. The return home was much longer than expected due to holiday traffic but few noticed until we finally reached the North Carolina state line. We arrived at 6:30 p.m. Most people I’ve talked to told me they enjoyed the trip with the only complaint being that it should have lasted longer. I have to agree with them.