December 22, 2010

Prince William's Engagement

The news of this royal engagements are all over headlines everywhere! Prince William, son of the late Princess Dianna, proposed to Kate Middleton last month in Kenya. These two have a long running history of an "On again off again relationship" that always proved that no matter what they retreated back to one another. No matter the distance Kate and Prince William kept their personal squabbles to themselves and were loyal to their relationship.
This royal relationship has come as an utter surprise to everyone other that their immediate families as Prince William asked her parents for her hand in marriage. This 9 year relationship has finally reached the ultimate commitment, as their wedding is scheduled to take place late summer 2011.Queen Elizabeth, Prince William's grandmother is estatic about the engagement and is very proud that Prince William will be marrying Kate. She thinks she is a lovely girl, as the rest of his family adorea her.
Their relationship started as a genuine friendship 10 years ago as they were in college together in Scotland. They held a press interview just to
shed a little light on their recent engagement and express how happy they were this time has finally arrived. Prince William proposed to Kate with his mothers engagement ring. This is extremely sentimental as Princess Dianna expressed that she would love for him to give it to his fiance' if she would accept it. Kate graciously accepted and the two are pleasantly planning for the ceremony!
This will be an event to remember and already scheduled guests are: Elton John, a close friend of Princess Dianna's who is said to perform, The Obama's, and Sean Combs to mention a few.

December 13, 2010

2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference

Guest blogger: Maddy Baer

Recently I learned about the International Climate Champions initiative of the British Council. The International Climate Champions initiative is part of a range of activities within the British Council designed to build understanding of and drive action on climate change.

In 2008 the program launched in 13 countries (Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) and then grew to encompass more than 800 International Climate Champions in 29 countries.

In 2009 the program expanded to 60 countries across the globe, recruiting over 1,300 young people who are passionate about and committed to taking action on climate change. These champions are not only leaders in their communities but are also participating in international peer networks, both in person and online, to share ideas, projects and experiences. Participants range in age from 11-35.

I spoke with participants from Indonesia and China who were returning from the conference in Cancun. During their visit, they met with fellow participants from 28 countries as well as spending time with the government delegations from their respective countries. Young men in their late 20’s, one was pursuing graduate work in mathematics, the other a Fulbright Scholar working on his PhD in agricultural economics. When they complete their U.S. studies, they will return to home and work to motivate young people to advocate for, and devise solutions to the challenges presented by global warming.

To learn more about the program and initiatives, opportunities to lead, innovate, and research go to:

December 9, 2010

Let's Talk Education

As we wind down to the end of the semester, there are more than enough concerns for college students. The stress of exams, affording books for the next semester, and even more importantly affording to expense one’s education. There are major issues facing collegians are the rise in tuition costs. The tuition at UNC Charlotte has gone up this semester about $1700. I began looking online to see if this has become a major concern of other institution and I was suddenly surprised with my findings.
Tuition has gone up more for public institutions more than private institution for about 32%.  This is extremely shocking because the expectation would be for the private universities and colleges to take the cake in the expense arena. Even more shocking I came across several international articles with collegians facing the same challenges of affordability with the rise in tuition. It is a known fact that a college education is extremely important in today’s market and economy, so we work vigorously to find the monies to be able to continue our dedication for a higher education. It can become very frustrating, which brings me to this very interesting article found published by the New York Times.
British Students were furious with the sharply rising tuitions fees. Mentioned by a French writer, British aren’t really known for demonstrating. “They simply don’t believe in it”. November 10, 2010 students apparently had reached their boiling points. They took to the streets in excess of tens of thousands of students and were very vocal and physical by vandalizing Conservative Party Headquarters.
This is extremely disturbing because I don’t think, we as a student should be forced to react so angrily with fighting for our tuition costs.  It’s completely understandable that our fees are steadily on the rise, simply because the costs of everything in this economy has taken a substantial increase. The questions we pose have to do with the benefit to us as students. We want to continue our education so we can be positive contributions to society, but the financial burdens are becoming unaffordable, discouraging, and at times impossible. Will there ever be changes? It no longer local it’s international, and collectively we feel frustrated and defeated. Do we truly have a voice? If so, who is listening?

November 29, 2010

It's all Positive

As I searched for an article to feature on this week's blog, I noticed that every article I found highlighted death, terror, war, negativity and insults. I could not simply submit a google search to find anything positive to receive "International News". I entered those two words and was subsequently bombarded with nonsense and sadness. I then re-entered my search to say, "Positive International News". The results were slim; however, my findings were very gratifying.
I came across the website . This website brought a huge smile to my face to say the least. I have gone through and read multiple articles and I can't chose one over the other to highlight. Therefore, I chose to highlight the entire website. This site was designed to show the different positive things going on worldwide. There are many different aspects covered in every nation. Two articles I will say that were very nice reads are: "Tom's Pipe Dream Becomes a Reality" and "Annie Lennox Woman of the Year Award". So feel free, browse the site, and check it out!

November 24, 2010

What’s Happening in the Community

I recently observed the substantially growing arena of International development, involvement, and awareness going on in the Charlotte community and in campus involvement. I would like to take a brief moment to highlight some of the different international organizations in our Charlotte community, there purpose, and how you may potentially become involved! We are very excited about the growth of our diversity in international relations in the greater campus and charlotte community, and would love for you to experience the same joy. We have a lot of support and leadership in enhancing the ability for other to grow in and experience other cultures, heritages, and backgrounds. Sit back, relax, and admire some of the organizations highlighted as Charlotte is pumping the gear and changing pace to increase International relations and development near you!

In the Greater Charlotte Community:

International House:

Info: The International House promotes international understanding by serving as a center for diversity, advocating for people of diverse national backgrounds and facilitating professional and cultural exchange programs.

To accomplish its mission, the role International House plays in the community is threefold:

Center for International Diversity

We provide a meeting place where Internationals and Americans can establish and strengthen relationships, and promote cultural awareness by connecting with people who share an interest in language, culture, or ethnicity.

Immigrant Advocacy Program

We provide legal representation and other resources to guide over 600 low-income internationals through the complexities of U.S. immigration law.

Citizen Diplomacy Programs

We play an important role in America's citizen diplomacy efforts by partnering with the U.S. Department of State and United States Agency for International Development to implement two U.S.Government sponsored programs: the International Visitor Leadership Program and Community Connections Program.

Location: 322 Hawthorne Lane, Charlotte, NC 28204

Contact: The office – 704.333.8099

If you are interested in learning more about this organization please visit their website at:

The Latin American Coalition:

Info: The Latin American Coalition is dedicated to serving Mecklenburg County’s 75,000 Hispanic families with the services that allow them to overcome language, economic, educational and cultural barriers while offering the wider community opportunities to learn about and connect with the Latino population. Also, to promote full Hispanic participation in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, by informing, educating and advocating for the Latin American community. Ultimately we aspire to help build a diverse and vibrant Charlotte-Mecklenburg community which embraces, supports, and respects people of all cultures and backgrounds.

Location: 4949 Albemarle Rd, Suite B, Charlotte, NC 28205

Contact: Jess George, Executive Director – 704-531-3848

If you are interested in learning more about this organization please visit their website at:

CIEE International Work and Study Program:

Info: CIEE's mission is to: “Help people gain understanding, acquire knowledge and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.

We approach our tasks aware of the great responsibility we are given to help mold tomorrow’s citizens in a complex and fast-changing world…”

We encourage you to welcome a foreign student into your home. Open your hearts to a special young person and allow them to experience the American way of life inside a warm and loving family environment. CIEE provides an opportunity to gain new insights and renewed appreciation for different cultures, as well as an unforgettable adventure for you, your family and your exchange student. Discover the difference you could make by becoming a Host Family.

Location: 4542 Glenlea commons Dr., Charlotte, NC 28216

Contact: Iztok Umek – 704.697.9730

If you are interested in learning more about this organization please visit their website at:


In the Campus Community:

Office of International Programs:

Purpose: strives to strengthen international education at the University as well as in the Charlotte community. On campus, it seeks to make international understanding and global awareness a fundamental part of the curriculum and an integral part of campus programming. To this end, it promotes curriculum development, faculty research, and program implementation in the various colleges; administers the University's English Language Training Institute; and coordinates campus activities related to international students and scholars, education abroad, international exchange, cross-cultural training, and world affairs education

Location: 2nd floor, College of Health & Human Services Building

Contact: The Office - 704-687-7755

*The OIP website is filled with countless resources that would allow anyone the ability to indulge in the many opportunities and events afforded to our campus community, faculty, staff, and students.*

If you are interested in learning more, please visit their website at:

Caribbean Culture Connection:

Purpose: The purpose of this Organization is to enhance the understanding of the Caribbean through the sharing of cultural experiences and social interaction between its members.

Contact: Natasha Webster - 704-560-8573

If you are interested in learning more, please visit their websites at: and

Education Abroad Association:

Purpose: To stay active internationally! EAA aims to advocate study abroad among the University population. EAA reaches out to students interested in study abroad by providing Peer Advising for studying abroad and fun campus programming. We serve as a connection for study Abroad Alumni! Also, returning Study Abroad students often face challenges adjusting to life in the US and at UNC Charlotte. We connect to these students, and listen to them share their common international experiences. We provide resources such as Re-Entry Workshops, we advocate using the Counseling Center, Career Center Guidance, and topic discussion groups (long distance dating, dating internationally, etc.).

Contact: Rebecca Hallatschek

If you are interested in learning more, please visit their website at:


Now that you see a little of what’s going on in Charlotte, join the crowd and get involved! These are a few amazing opportunities for one to expand their horizons. Let’s start with you!

November 17, 2010

Visit the Official International Education Week website for more!

Please visit the official website to learn more about the purpose of International Education Week and how to get involved!
International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.

We encourage the participation of all individuals and institutions interested in international education and exchange activities, including schools, colleges and universities, embassies, international organizations, businesses, associations, and community organizations.


The Word on Campus about International Education Week

As we prepared for International Education Week I spoke with two members of our UNC Charlotte family. I decided to delve into the opinions of one faculty and student worker in the Office of Education Abroad. Melissa Watkins, Lead Advisor and Teresa Herman, student worker, were very helpful on their perspectives of the importance of International Education Week.
As I met with Ms. Watkins, I posed several questions that would hopefully enlighten the audience to the advantages and potential challenges associate with international relations and cultures as it may pertain to IEW. She made it very clear that she was extremely excited about IEW and she felt it was a “Great opportunity to highlight international initiatives on campus, bring awareness to international students, and encourage US students to get involved locally and connect and develop relationships”. I also asked her does she feel IEW is an opportunity beneficial to the campus and does she believe it should be a program we should continue? “Most definitely, IEW is an opportunity for American students to develop friendships and relationships with international students that could last for a lifetime. With the longevity of a program like this, the barriers or differences between the cultures will one day become a past memory.”  This week will be a great week and many more to come, I hope that all students take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and experience the greatness of many different cultures around them. One thing she does hope students get away from are staying close with their friends and not branching out to experience other cultures different from themselves. Also, she hoped to see more involvement from the American students at UNC Charlotte. “IEW is an amazing opportunity for all, not just international or American students”.
Ms. Watkins was extremely informative and a joy to converse with. She has a great understanding about the advantages and sometimes challenges of International Education Week.
Teresa Herman is a student worker in the OEA. She has dealt with all different cultures in the OEA and loves her job and the role she plays in helping students gain knowledge that will help them reach goals of studying abroad, and even involvement on campus. I too asked Ms. Herman what she thought about IEW. She was very joyful and well spoken as she feels, “IEW gives people the opportunity to have an open mind about different cultures and the benefits of these week long programs go both ways and benefits all students and faculty involved just the same”. A question I posed differently to Ms. Herman as she is a student leader on campus was From a student’s perspective what do you think we could do as students differently to encourage participation? Her thoughts were clear as she thinks, “We have to have many events that encourage interaction. There should be more collaborative efforts between International student organizations, and American student organizations on campus. With more acceptance, understanding, effective publicity, and participation – International involvement and relations on campus would soar”!
As I thoroughly enjoyed the interviews of both Ms. Melissa Watkins and Ms. Teresa Herman, I completely agreed. We definitely encourage participation, for the Office of International Programs works extremely hard to orchestrate these programs and events for the greater campus community! We invite everyone to come out and celebrate as we appreciate and glorify every culture and must never forget, “We live in a melting pot seasoned with diversity, and the product is always amazing”! So enjoy International Education Week, broaden your horizons, and learn something new!

November 9, 2010

The Haiti Relief Project

As we seek to engage more in the Charlotte community, we hope to shed light on the different efforts of various community projects, even events hosted by collegiates in the area focusing on international awareness and involement. Johnson C. Smith University hosted a Haiti Relief Project on Saturday at their University in efforts to keep the support rolling for detrimental earthquake affecting Haiti, and to appreciate the Haitian culture. The Haiti Relief Project seems to be a big project at their institution. I was pleased to experience the program, for it was organized with great detail and executed nearly perfectly.

The program lasted about two hours and was jammed pack with fun, music, and information regarding Haiti and their culture. It seems as if they tried to bring haiti to us - which was phenomenal, if I must say so myself. After the benefit concert, I spoke with their program coordinator who expressed his utmost satisfaction with the results. He says - "this has taken a lot of planning, organizing, time and dedication on our part, and to see it blossom to such a success makes it all worth it!"  I proceed to ask him what their plans were for the continued support for relief in Haiti, his response was so gratifying - "We can only do our bests, our main goal is to keep people interested, informed, and willing to help. We live in a country where we have so many things afforded to us. The least we can do is lend a helping hand".

Going out into the campus community and the greater Charlotte community is a major goal I have as an intern for the next few months. I love the fact that our communities are taking such interest in international cultures and perspectives. Stay tuned weekly for forth coming blogs!

November 4, 2010

Some Recommended Reading...

You're two-thirds of the way through the semester and your brain is churning with new interests. Looking ahead, here are several new scholarly books to consider as you push yourself to the next level.

All titles and descriptions are excerpted from http:/ The Chronicle Review, October 8, 2010.

For those of you who attended Dr. Tom Rogers' (Asst. Prof. Africana Studies) Global Perspectives Talk last week on ethanol production in Brazil, this book may hold particular interest:

Forro and Redemptive Regionalism from the Brazilian Northeast: Popular Music in a Culture of Migration by Jack A. Draper III, Peter Lang Publishing. “Combines literary and cultural studies perspectives in an analysis of the analysis of diasporic nostalgia in forró, a musical genre that represents the experiences of impoverished northeastern Brazilians displaced from their region for economic reasons.”

Several other titles of interest might be:

Made in Mexico: Tradition, Tourism, and Political Ferment in Oaxaca by Chris Goertzen, University Press of Mississippi. “Focuses on Oaxaca in study of how crafts and festivals in Mexico are shaped by the combined interests of tourists and “tradition bearers.”

The Law and the Prophets: Black Consciousness in South Africa, 1968-1977 by Danel R. Magazine. Ohio University Press. “An intellectual history of the Black consciousness movement and the theological turn in South African politics.”

Starring Mandela and Cosby: Media and the Ends(s) of Apartheid by Ron Krabill. University of Chicago Press. “Examines the impact of television on politics in apartheid South Africa through a study of the immense popularity f the Cosby Show; argues that the program, with its portrayal of a black family, helped lay the groundwork for the release of Nelson Mandela.”

Dismantling Democracy in Venezuela: The Chavez Authoritarian Experiment by Allan R. Brewer-Carias. Cambridge University Press. “Argues that all branches of the Chavez government have attacked the Venezuelan constitution.”

World Rule: Accountability, Legitimacy, and the Design of Global Governance by Jonathan GS Koppell. University of Chicago Press. “Combines quantitative and qualitative approaches in a study of 25 GGO’s or global governance organizations, including the World Trade Organization and the International Labor Organization.”

October 29, 2010

Halloween Here and Abroad

October in Charlotte is when autumn kicks into high gear. Pumpkin patches emerge everywhere and candy sales soar. Halloween festivities are a given in the United States. While the holiday’s origins stem from Celtic cultural and Christian religious traditions, if you grew up here, chances are pretty good most of that got buried under mounds of candy and your ghost costume. Each of us has our own memories and either love or hate the holiday.
So what about other countries?

A quick look at highlights comparable celebrations around the world. Explore Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico, the bonfire tradition commemorating a British traitor on Guy Fawkes Day in Great Britain, and the Japanese tradition of lighting candles to guide the spirits of their ancestors to where they were born.

A glance at suggests some not-to-miss parties around the world during this time. Whether you’re in Ireland, France or Thailand, there’s a celebration worth attending!

For more information on festivals commemorating the dead around the world, check out:

Have a safe Halloween!

September 14, 2010

Upcoming Events

Greetings UNC Charlotte!

Ok, by now you've had a chance to figure out your schedule, time your parking searches and are likely just getting (re-)introduced to the geese. While you pick your extra-curricular activities and pack your schedule, here are a couple more events to add:

1) International Speaker Series kicks off with Adrian Wooldridge talking about "The New Face of Globalization." Wooldridge is the management editor for The Economist (recommended reading!) and writes the Schumpeter column for the online version. Mark your calendar for Monday, September 20 from 3:30-4:30 PM in the Dale Halton Reading Room of the Atkins Library.
2) 35th Annual International Festival - it's older than most of you and is UNC Charlotte's longest-running tradition. It's free. It's all-day. Music, dancing, art, crafts, entertainment, what more do you want? Take the opportunity to explore countries and ethnic groups from around the world - meet some new people, taste new food and learn about different places.

September 3, 2010

No Email?!

So there's this list that comes out every year to inform the old fogies at your local institution about the changes they can expect from the incoming batch of freshmen. This year's list, not unlike others, has generated quite a fair amount of discussion in our offices - well, discussion and shock, actually.

The full list would make this the longest blog post to date. So instead, here's the full article for the Class of 2014 and below are the top three - incidentally, the three that have generated the most discussion.

1) Few in the class know how to write in cursive. (Show of "hands" please - is this true?)
2) Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail. (This was a true surprise and recent evaluations by one of our programs confirmed this statement. So, what do you use? FB? Skype? Video games?)
3) “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.” (We agree. And keep going West until you've traveled the world. And make friends at UNC Charlotte from around the world. Visit our offices! Be engaged in Niner International.)

Ok, and here are three more fairly random associations with the new class, just for fun:

19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.
50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.

Comments/clarification/arguments welcome from Class of 2014 or otherwise!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

August 19, 2010

International Students Reflect on Time at UNC Charlotte

For the second year in a row, the office of Intercultural Outreach Programs, housed in the Office of International Programs, has hosted a group of 30 Fulbright graduate students for a three-week introductory course to American graduate studies. This year, students came from Chile, Mauritania, Czech Republic, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Iraq and dozens of other countries. The three-week program is designed to prepare them for what to expect when they continue on their journey to another U.S. institution for their graduate studies. In the process of learning the ins-and-outs of available campus resources, teaching styles and communication tips, they got a pretty good sense of UNC Charlotte. And, they were impressed!

So, kudos to the students, faculty and staff who directly participated in welcoming these students to the U.S. and working with them for the next step in their journey. And thanks to those who indirectly participated by creating a welcoming atmosphere and environment for our international guests. It's great to be part of 'Niner International.

Best of luck to these students - thanks for sharing your thoughts!

August 18, 2010

All Things International at Atkins

Welcome to UNC Charlotte! You are about to be inundated with information relating to campus activities, class schedules, extra-curricular opportunities, parking and anything else you can imagine. Here's one more resource you should be aware of - particularly if you have any inclination to anything international in your studies.

In Atkins library, if you need anything related to "international", there is one person you must know: Librarian Frada Mozenter. Whether you’re an international student at UNC Charlotte or conducting research on an internationally-themed paper, Frada is the person to get you the information you need.

Frada has been the reference contact for the social sciences for twenty-nine years and knows the system, resources, tips, tricks and search criteria inside and out. She can pull books, current newspapers, articles from around the world and peer reviewed journals at the click of a button. You may know a few choice words to search, Frada knows more. And she knows how to maximize searching for the most answers. When NI met with Frada, she had just finished pulling up over 600 references for a faculty research project.

She’s not just a resource for enhancing papers. Frada knows the library from the inside and has been appointed to represent Atkins to international students and faculty as the Library Liaison to International Students. Beyond assisting with search criteria and presentation guidelines, she gives tours and instructional presentations so that students become more familiar with what to expect when using the library and so they know how many options really are available.

As Atkins continues to grow and respond to the many needs of the UNC Charlotte community, it’s incredibly useful to have an inside person who can communicate the changes or just answer questions. Which areas are quiet zones? Where can I access the internet? Where do I find “Journal Name”? How do I access information on “X” country? Where do I find analyses of “X” world event? Frada Mozenter is that person.

August 17, 2010

For the Artistically Inclined

In a nod to those who would prefer communicating with pictures rather than words, check out this creative piece by Christoph Niemann on his perspective of a flight from New York to Berlin via London.

Any favorite flight stories?

August 12, 2010

The Easy Button

Staples has a commercial out - well, an entire brand actually - centered on "the easy button." Besides wondering how they managed to get cake batter to shoot up about 4-feet onto the actress's face after dropping to the floor, it's striking that the idea of purchasing school supplies needs an easy button. In fact, it seems the whole process of getting ready for school needs an "easy button". There seems to be little that is easy about preparing for a full year of college - undergraduate or graduate. And for those students who are coming from another country, there's a whole extra layer of adjustments to make.

Lucky for you, there's an easy way to get your international perspective throughout your UNC Charlotte years - actually, several easy ways. We have various programs, events, websites and initiatives going throughout the year for students to participate in depending on what you're comfortable with and/or interested in. We'll post these options here and also on our calendar of events so there's no reason you shouldn't know about how easy it is to include some intercultural learning in many of the activities that you already consider important: traveling, making new friends, having new experiences and graduating as a competitive job seeker.

So, we'll have plenty about "how" to do it. Let's take a minute to talk about "why" do it. For that, we'll rely on outside sources so as not to "toot our own horn/button."
  • From the NY Timesa business bio - it's the 2nd page that has the good stuff.
  • This one requires some extrapolation (7 Skills Every Worker Needs), but if you're not sure how having an international experience can develop your "marketability" in these areas, ask anyone in the International Programs' offices.
So, while you're gearing up for the demands of another busy year, consider how you can easily gain international learning (and why you should) just by doing the things you'll be doing anyway.

July 13, 2010

Int'l Education for Future of Charlotte

Want to hear what business and community leaders think about having an international perspective upon graduation? Perhaps you'd rather hear it from a student? We've invited a panel of four people to reflect upon the changing nature of Charlotte and the realities of an international Charlotte - what can we do to be effective citizens and employees of the city? Though they'll be giving their perspective and opinions, the purpose of the Community Conversations program, with the Levine Museum of the New South and UNC Charlotte, is to engage in discussion about the topic at hand. So you'll have plenty of opportunity to ask question, debate or just listen to ideas about an international future for Charlotte and for UNC Charlotte students.

Panelists include:

Kurt Waldthausen, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany (North Carolina) & Founder and Chairman of the German Language and Culture Foundation

Alina MacNichol - Executive Director, Charlotte International Cabinet

Kareem Abdelnabi - Study Abroad Alumnus, UNC Charlotte

Lalit Mandel - international graduate student in Electrical and Computer Engineering, UNC Charlotte

Plan to attend on Wednesday, July 21 from 6:00-8:00 PM at the Levine Museum of the New South (200 E Seventh St.). The event is free and open to the public, but you do need to register. To see the invite and to register, click here.

Oh, and there's a reception included.

July 6, 2010

Student Profile: Lina Garcia

During the interview with NI, Lina mentioned “another change” multiple times. It seems her life has been a steady stream of events that would shake most people. Instead, Lina, over and over again, identifies the challenges, creates solutions and works through it – as a good engineer would – and then passes on her lessons learned to others. Her life, her academic pursuits and her leadership in the College of Engineering earned her recognition at the UNC Charlotte International Women’s Day ceremony and caught the attention of NI. This is her story.

Lina's life started in New Jersey for a few years before her parents decided to move to Colombia when she was seven. Though she knew of Colombia from her parents, “knowing and going are completely different.” A quick adapter, she made friends, went to school and embraced life in South America for five years. At twelve, a sensitive time for most middle-schoolers, Lina’s family moved again – back to the United States – to North Carolina. Another change. Lina again adapted to a new life, a new set of rules and norms and new friends. She added another skill to her portfolio as well: “the ability to appreciate what she has here as well as to distinguish between cultures.” This skill would surface throughout her time in college.

The oldest of two girls, Lina was the first to navigate the college decision and application process. Her dad sat with her as they looked at Lina’s strengths and interests to determine a career path. One application went in: to UNC Charlotte. Specifically to the Lee College of Engineering. She was accepted and went through another change: entering college. And, her parents and sister moved back to Colombia at the same time. Another change. She accepted her independence with a resolve to successfully navigate her college career in computer engineering.

Another change. After three years she decided computer engineering wasn’t the best fit and switched to systems engineering. In her words, systems engineering is “engineering with business decision-making involved.” It added more time to her anticipated graduation date, but would give her a degree in a field to which she could commit to a professional career. A tough decision, and phone call to her family, but the right decision for her.

With a significant background in change management, MAPS was a natural place for Lina to get involved to share her experience with other students. Committed to “students helping students succeed”, MAPS is a program for engineers to develop skills beyond the classroom to further enhance their careers. Students have the opportunity to be coached by other students in areas of leadership, global skills, transitioning to college and employability/internships. Small groups meet weekly to discuss areas pertinent to the track they chose.

Obviously, NI is most interested in the global track. Each session, students look at the business practices of a different country. The countries are selected based on industry leaders, particularly those with offices in Charlotte – France, Germany, Korea and Russia being among those mentioned. The sessions explore such components as history, keys to success, travelling, behavior and body language. For Lina, the giving and receiving of business cards with two hands when in Japan stood out as a salient example of a small cultural difference that could have a big impact for a graduate looking for a job with a Japanese firm.

A trip to Germany over spring break (part of Global Perspectives in Engineering) – another change – was another opportunity to enhance her skills and portfolio for a more competitive skill-set upon graduation.

Another change – graduation May 2011. Lina is prepared to navigate the global market, to rely on her skills to recognize and appreciate cultural differences, to adapt and to lead.

July 1, 2010

Matt Damon Performs Declaration of Independence

Happy 4th of July to those who are celebrating. Here's a reading of the Declaration of Independence by Matt Damon from the History Channel.

Next week: student profile of an Engineering Student at UNC Charlotte.

June 21, 2010

Mama always said...

Here are some selected proverbs from around the world. No doubt some of these thoughtful sayings are common in many countries - feel free to add your own in the comments.

"Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains." (Yiddish Proverb)

"Who seeks a faultless friend remains friendless." (Turkish Proverb)

"If three people say you're an ass, put on a bridle." (Spanish Proverb)

"Being young is a fault which improves daily." (Swedish Proverb)

"After dark, all cats are leopards." (Native American Proverb - Zuni)

"All roads lead to Rome." (Roman Proverb)

"All roads do not lead to Rome." (Slovenian Proverb)

"All things good to know are difficult to learn." (Greek Proverb)

"Bad is never good until worse happens." (Danish Proverb)

"Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother." (Moroccan Proverb)

"Fall seven times, stand up eight." (Japanese Proverb)

"A father is a banker provided by nature." (French Proverb)

"Goodness shouts. Evil whispers." (Balinese Proverb)

"Goodness speaks in a whispher, evil shouts." (Tibetan Proverb)

"If work were good for you, the rich would leave none for the poor." (Haitian Proverb)

"Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors." (African Proverb)

"When spiders unite they can tie down a lion." (Ethiopian Proverb)

This could go on and on. Here are the two sources, from the thousands that came up from google, that were used for this list:

June 7, 2010

Do Sports Have a Stage in International Peace?

Unless you live under a rock, you've likely seen mention of the upcoming 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa this month. Facebook is buzzing with posts and reposts of the Nike commercial - Write The Future - along with some trash-talking and team cheering. ESPN has a page of World Cup posts that then expands to a full page of rumors, blogs, stats, scores, flags and all the latest - they've also come up with some creative commercials, as one would expect.

If you do live under a rock, here are the two commercials and then on to the point.

And this one from ESPN, which leads in to the broader point....

The ancient Olympics were started as a religious celebration to Zeus. It was during this time that all wars ceased - weapons were not allowed in the stadium - and ample time was provided for returning home without fear of attack or provocation. It was a sacred time to honor Zeus with the ultimate of human performance. Since it was believed that Zeus had predetermined the winner, judges were present to gauge the moral and ethical performance - cheating was absolutely not tolerated.

And throughout the years, there have been other efforts to use athletic competition as a way to slowly bridge the gap between war and peace. Consider the article from The Atlantic, "Can Sports Bring World Peace?" that considers the suggestion - with examples supporting and contradicting the statement. Is it fair to place such expectation on competition? Is it reasonable to place such expectations on the athletes?

June 1, 2010

Student Spotlight: Briana Jordan

Briana Jordan of UNC Charlotte has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship to Turkey on an English Teaching Assistantship. Jordan is one of over 1,500 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2010-2011 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. She is a graduate student in UNC Charlotte's TESL program with a wide range of experiences. According to Brad Sekulich, Director of the Office of Education Abroad, "Briana is an excellent candidate and well-deserving of this award. She will represent global UNC Charlotte well."

In her own words, here is Briana's perspective on the opportunity.

"My love of learning and desire to explore the world comes from my family background. My mother, a 30-year teacher, taught me the love of learning. My father, an Army medic, taught me the joy of exploring. Because my father was in the Army for 22 years, my childhood was spent in such diverse places as Colorado, Germany, Alabama and Texas. I feel blessed to have been exposed to so many different regions and people as a child. Being open to new people and cultures was a prerequisite for being an army brat. My parents were the primary influences on my intellectual development because they wer both very adamant about learning and education. Although not wealthy, my parents never let me go without any book, microscope, chemistry set or computer that I might have wanted. Even though neither of my parents received a university degree, they instilled in my siblings and me the importance of education.

My educational background is quite varied for someone who is now looking to be a teacher. After falling for fashion in high school, I went to college to study apparel and textile merchandising. Upon completing a BS in that field, I wanted to gain more business knowledge and took advantage of an accelerated MBA program East Carolina offers. I completed my MBA in 2004 and started as an executive trainee for a major department store. While, I have been working in fashion retail for the past 10 years, I have realized that my thoughts always return to my original love of cultures, specifically art and religions, history and education. A year ago I decided to leave the sometimes shallow world of fashion and start down a career path that will be more rewarding and meaningful to me.

As an adult, I have traveled to quite a few interesting places including Hong Kong, Italy, Costa Rica and Turkey. Through these experiences, I have gained a wider perspective of the world that we live in and the great diversity of the people who inhabit it. A particular experience that I had in Turkey that I found to be compelling was the day that I was touring the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. While staring at the ceiling, I did not notice the group of children gathering around me. I looked down and all of a sudden there was a group of about 30 kids staring up at me and pointing. They tried to say hello to me and take my picture. It was not until this happened coupled with the fact that they were more surprised to see me and not my very blonde friend that I realized that I did not see anyone else in that large city of African descent or with dark skin. At that moment, I realized they were just as intrigued by me and my culture as I was with theirs. I want to return to Turkey because I have never been to a place where I felt so welcomed and yet so different. I think of it as a personal challenge to have the opportunity to be the first African American that some have seen outside of television adn to be able to make the first impression of a culture that they have only watched from afar. I am the type of person who is always willing to educate others about my culture and background adn in fact encourage conversations about the differences and similarities between people. I believe that the more we know and understand about one another, the better we can work together.

In the immediate future upon finishing the program for TESL, I plan to teach ESL in primary or middle school for a few years in North Carolina. I would like to eventually earn an advanced degree in TESL and teach at the community college level. My main goal is to be a positive and motivational figure in the lives of people who are trying to better their lives through education and cultural understanding."

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit: For information about Student Fulbright opportunities, contact the UNC Charlotte Office of Education Abroad at 704-687-7747.

May 27, 2010

Summer Travel Resource

Next week a contingent from the Office of International Programs at UNC Charlotte will head to Kansas City, Missouri for what I believe is the largest group of international educators in one place at any one time - thousands of people from around the world who work to send students abroad, welcome students from abroad and provide opportunities for everyone in between to engage the world with an international perspective will convene in the middle of the United States for a week of sessions, networking and exploring a city very few of us have been to.

Learning how to travel well requires a lot of trial and error along with a significant dose of advice. Helpful colleagues are one source; another favorite is a blog from The Economist. Granted, it is more for the business traveler, but the occasional updates on airline quality, airport shenanigans, travel advice and other miscellaneous information keep everything in perspective.

So, whether you're traveling abroad this summer for credit (have we pushed that enough yet, get in to the office and set up an information session), getting ready to attend school in another country for a semester, year or full degree, traveling for business or pleasure, or just stuck in an airport or train terminal for an indefinite amount of time, check out Gulliver.

Bon voyage!

May 17, 2010

Challenge to Graduates - Keep going. Keep giving. Keep engaging.

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement address at George Washington University after agreeing to speak only if the GW community completed 100,000 hours of community service. And, they did - through service in and around the nation's capital and around the world. Her message: "Keep going. Keep giving. Keep engaging...I'm asking your generation to be America's face to the world."

A message worth repeating for UNC Charlotte graduates and those coming through Niner Nation in the years to follow.

For an overview of her address, click here.

Congrats 2010 Niners!

May 11, 2010

How to Choose When in Spain

Repeat guest-blogger Ron Iacone (see his Top Ten tips when traveling in Europe posted in March) shares his perspective on three distinct areas of Spain to help the would-be Spain-bound study abroad student choose the best place to spend time honing Spanish skills, having new experiences and tasting authentic Spanish cuisine.

Case Analysis: Spain
After narrowing down your chosen study abroad country to Spain, you now face another dilemma: where to go? Spain may be a small country—especially when compared to the United States—but what it lacks in size it makes up in diversity. Spain’s most prominent cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are only two among scores of others, each bringing to life a different facet of the Spanish Kingdom. Using these unique characteristics will, without doubt, help you narrow down the city/region you would like to study in.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity—thanks to my parents and, of course, the superb support of the study abroad department—to live in Spain for an academic year. I spent one semester in Santander, with the Semester in Spain program, and the other semester in Madrid. When my studies were finished in the Spanish capital, I moved to Granada to cap off my study abroad experience. If you’re wondering exactly where these cities are, they’re easy to find: draw a line down the center of Spain, and you’ll find Santander, Madrid and Granada at the top, middle and bottom of the line, respectively. Accordingly, I experienced life in Northern Spain, the capital, and Andalucía, Spain’s southernmost region. And its here where I’ll offer you—the potential study abroad candidate—some advice on how to pick a good place to live.

Northern Spain
Green! The rolling hills, mountainous landscape and surrounding areas are most certainly green. The beaches, many of which are found alongside cliffs that jut out into the ocean, only add to the beauty of this region. It is rainy however—hence the green—and can be a bit cold in winter, but the advantages of living here far outweigh its disadvantages. I lived in Santander, the capital of Cantabria, and recommend it as a great introduction to Spain. The splendor of Santander is matched by its surrounding regions, which among others include Galicia, Asturias, and the Basque country. Northern Spain’s inhabitants are friendly people, but “breaking the ice” is usually necessary to bring out their extroverted side. The student population, however, is a bit different. Many are eager to learn English and hear about America, so “breaking the ice” is relatively easy. Once you meet friends, you can count on keeping them for the rest of your life. The nightlife here is unique, with many people congregating on the streets before heading out. It does get cliquey, however, so taking the initiative to meet people—although intimidating at first—is well worth it, as most are welcoming to foreigner. It is very cheap to live here—by Spain standards—which is why many Spanish people come to this region to vacation. Northern Spain has many intimate cities, and developing a relationship with the culture and people will come naturally. Life here is a bit slowed down and for the most part, relaxing. Living in Northern Spain will no doubt be a memorable and beautiful experience.

This is the capital. Madrid is a bustling and fast-paced city, with people from the entire world coming here to live. Just like New York City, Madrid is a place that never sleeps, and I would describe my experience living there as an adventure. It is hard to find a word that describes everyone in general, as the sheer diversity this city has is unmatched anywhere in Spain (well, it seems like diverse would be the credited word). The city as well, is one of the cleanest I’ve been to in Europe. The architecture and history represented in the city will make you take the long way back to your place, as just walking down the street can be filled with surprises. The Spanish people that fill these streets—at all hours—can keep you entertained for hours. Getting out of the piso to go walk around, grab a calamari sandwich (yes, its good and is a well-known sandwich in Madrid) will be a daily activity. The things to do here are endless, so being bored is impossible. It follows that because Madrid is the capital, there are many events and activities held here that draw lots of people. Going out and meeting Spaniards is bound to happen, whether you take the initiative or not. Surprisingly—and this has happened to me—you may think you’re talking to a Spaniard, only later finding out that it was someone from another country who just happened to have a good grasp of the Spanish language. Time does pass by fast here, so “missing Madrid syndrome” is common. Just like New York City, Madrid is expensive. There are ways to budget as always, but plan on spending more money. It may be a bit harder to speak Spanish here, as many people—mostly foreigners to Madrid—speak English, but never falling into that trap is easy to do: just don’t speak English. All in all, the advantages of this city far outweigh everything else. If you’re looking for an adventure that will truly expand your global awareness, Madrid is the right place for you.

Flamenco dancing and beautiful weather year round rule this place. The architecture yields a strong African influence with many domes and arches built right into the buildings. The people here are some of the friendliest I’ve met in Spain, although the Spanish is not so “user-friendly.” It will take some time and practice to master andaluz as it is spoken very fast. Between the beaches, landscape and warmth the people bring you here, Andalucía is a great place to spend your time studying. I lived in Granada, and made some of my best friends there. Other people who’ve lived there can probably say the same thing and everybody who visits automatically falls in love with the city. The personality and openness of the population is extremely inviting, and making Spanish friends—quickly—would be very easy, regardless of your level of Spanish. I would also characterize the people here as outdoorsy, as every park, sidewalk, restaurant, bar and anywhere is filled with people. If you come to Andalucía—just like Madrid—you will never be bored. In addition, the tapas bars here are incredible. Nowhere in Spain are they as good, and every Spanish person can vouch for that. The portions are massive and can include numerous items, each of which are specialties to the area. This region is very cheap, and spending money should be the least of your worries here, as should living well and having a great time. If you’re unsure of where to go in Spain, you can never be wrong by choosing Andalucía.

Good luck with your choice! If you want to study abroad next semester, visit our Office of Education Abroad for an info session -

April 30, 2010

Today's Students: Do you agree?

An article in the May/June 2010 International Educator publication presents an interview with John Zogby suggesting that the students of today - and more specifically, those born between 1979 and 1991 - are First Globals. Below are some excerpts from the article.

IE: What is a First Global? (p.23)
Zogby: I use the name interchangeably with 18-30-year-olds not because everyone in this age group fits the description but because those with passports, global social networks, and a planetary sensibility dominate the whole cohort...I define them by their sense that the world is their playing field...It was the first time I ever used the phrase that suggested that this group is not defined by facts they know but by their awareness: "They may not be able to immediately find Darfur on the map, but what sets them apart among earlier cohorts of twenty-somethings is that they know there is a Darfur on the map..."

IE: You have defined today's young people as "First Globals." What traits do First Globals have that other generations did not? (p.22)
Zogby: It is the name I give to those Americans born between 1979 and 1999. Over half have traveled abroad, are the age cohort most likely of any to consider themselves "citizens of the planet Earth," are least likely to feel that American culture is inherently superior to the cultures of other peoples, tell us that America will most likely "look like Barak Obama 20 years from now because he looks like us," are most likely to favor the United States cooperating with international agencies and protocols in responding to crises, and are most open-minded to immigration and immigrants. They have been introduced to open borders throughout their lives via MTV, fashion, the Internet, and social networking. Thus, the whole world is their playing field..."

IE: What does it mean for this generation of students to be "global citizens"? (p. 23)
Zogby: They literally have a world full of choices. They are not limited by space or geography. Sometimes the choices can be overwhelming and stifling but being a First Global means redefining who they will respond to their world...Employers will have to get accustomed to new definitions of tenure and longevity. First Globals want to move. Today's twentysomethings will have had four jobs by the age of 30 and ten by the age of 40. So now our focus as employers is not to ensure their loyalty for long-term employment but instead keep them loyal because we need to ensure that they will leave happy. Blogging and tweeting about a bad experience travels now at the speed of light..."

IE: In recent years, education abroad has become more popular among college students. Do you think the outlook that First Globals have about the world has increased interest in studying abroad? Do you think First Globals do or will have more interest in studying abroad differently than students in generations past? (pp. 24-26)
Zogby: One thing that is notable already about First Globals is how much they are changing philanthropy. Crises are less remote to this group and their ability to act by spreading the word (and pictures) virally is as impressive as their contributions to texting..."

For the full article, including more information on Zogby, click here.

Do you agree?

Here are some other thoughts along a similar line of inquiry attempting to understand today's students:

Is this accurate?

How would you describe today's student - today's UNC Charlotte student?

April 29, 2010

Flash Mobs & Dancing & Around the World

A post to share a few entertaining videos of the creatively-inspired around the globe - and perhaps to inspire International 'Niner creativity for the upcoming week of exams! Good luck!

At an Australian University:

14 months and 42 countries:

Sound of Music in the Train Station:

April 20, 2010

Crossing Borders by Heather Johnson

Guest Post by Heather Johnson
Graduate Student
Submitted as part of the 2010 Crossing Borders Writing Competition

How My International Experience Has Changed My World View

As our bus pulled into Guanajuato, Mexico for the Healthcare Comparative program with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with the immediate visual sensation of culture. The narrow cobblestone streets, the multitude of colors displayed by the homes on the mountainside and in the vallye, the decorative churches, the fountains, the plazas, the costumes of the mariachi bands, and the masses of the people bustling to their destinations. I could not scan the streets without consuming a piece of the heritage and culture of this city.

Although I could not understand the language well, through observation I could sense that family was a central value to this culture. Entire families traveled together to run their daily errands. Numerous children played in the plaza gazebos while parents and grandparents looked on from the benches. The interaction and connectedness of these families could be felt.

In America we value individualism, advancement and technology. We tear down the old and replace it with the new. Families are often isolated from public view and are even isolated from each other in their homes. Our world turns on building new and bigger buildings, on making and buying faster cars, on acquiring wealth to purchase the grand home, on innovation and the latest technology, adn on how to achieve our goals the quickest way possible. We seem to beleive that preserving old ways of life, old buildings, old cars, old homes or even preserving time with each other is not advantageoius to our individual or country's advancement. My international experience in Guanajuato opened my eyes to a void I have never felt; the void of a missing cultural piece in my own life and in my country. To me there is a peace in this busy city. The peace in knowing that this city and these people have withstood the test of time, advancement and pressure by outside worlds, such as the U.S., and have preserved not only the ancient buildings but their traditions and way of life. This preservation of culture is peaceful to me and has inspired me to continue travelling abroad.

As I watched other students and overheard comments of their experience I could not help but recognize that there were two differing lines of thinking about the impact of our international experience. One line of thinking was akin to cultural absolutism; where a student will approach an international experience from a judgmental point of view. Where they can not grasp the culture and long for the Starbucks every morning, the 24-hour gym, their personal car, their favorite hamburger and their internet. They can not understand how a population is able to achieve their goals in these old buildings, how they can fit all their activities in when they are forced to walk everywhere, how they have the time to sit with their families and enjoy the sunshine. These types of students are frustrated that they do not have the ability to update their Facebook status to let the world know what they are doing. Instead of seeing the beauty around them and in just being in this beautiful city, they are confined by their pessimism and criticism of this amazing culture. They can't see that the American way is not always better. The other line of thinking understands and appreciates that this culture, this city, these people have survived and will survive as they continue to embrace and preserve their old buildings, their cobblestone streets, and their 2-hour afternoon siestas. This line of thinking is based on openness.

These students, of which I am one, have opened their eyes, their minds and their hearts to the richness of the city, its ways of life and its heritage. I have seen a world so vastly different than my own and I truly appreciate the difference. The memories I have created in this short week and the numerous pictures I have taken will forever be ingrained in my thinking. This international experience has changed my world view in that it has opened my mind and my heart to embrace and support different cultures.

I will return to the United States and miss being "forced" to sit and enjoy my coffee because there is no "to-go" cups at the small cafe or McDonalds on every street corner. My waistline will miss being "forced" to walk to my destination instead of taking ga car. My mind will miss being "forced" to enjoy the company I am in face-to-face because the internet does not work in the old building where I am staying. My lungs will miss the 24-hours of fresh air as there is not central heating or air conditioning in this beautiful city. My eyes will miss the colors of the homes piled on top of each other on the beautiful mountainside. My nose will miss the smells from the street vendors' local foods and fresh flowers. My heart will miss seeing the ornate churches with their painted murals and hanging chandeliers. My soul will miss observing families and children interacting in the public streets. This international experience has positively changed my perspective of my own world and opened my eyes to a beautiful and rich culture.

April 19, 2010

Crossing Borders by Toma Kusakawa

Guest Post by Toma Kusakawa
ELTI Student
Submitted as part of the 2010 Crossing Borders Writing Competition

Evolution from My Immaturity

Eleven months have passed since I came to the United States of America from Japan. During this seemingly short period, I have learned so much about myself and also noticed a great deal of difference among nations. In addition, I discovered the pleasure of studying languages and interacting with people who have different backgrounds from mine. I never expected that my life in this nation would be as splendid as it has been so far. I never expected that I would gain such a sense of maturity.

Before I came to America, I was far from being a good student in school. I hated studying, I did not do my school work seriously, and I just graduated from my university without any accomplishment. I had never had a dream. Moreover, at my university I did not even look for a job, which almost all the Japanese college students do at their universities. This was because my parents had encourage me to study abroad in order to earn a master’s degree in the United States after graduation. I had already decided to do that because I thought it would be pleasant, since I was interested only in English and I could also escape from working.

I set a goal of studying Teaching English as a Second Language in graduate school in the U.S. because it was a program in which my father earned his master’s degree and in which I was interested. In addition, I expected that improving my English and obtaining a degree in the program would be easy. However, after I spent some time in the U.S., my views of the world evolved. Everything was different from Japanese culture, for example, what people usually ate, how they behaved themselves, and especially how they managed their time. By observing people working on their school work, I discovered that graduating from college in America is extremely difficult, unlike graduating from my college in Japan. Furthermore, I realized how naïve and immature I was, and how weak my English actually was, especially my speaking and listening abilities, even though I had been learning English for more than 10 years in my mother country. I seriously regretted that I had not studied diligently in school; therefore, I resolved to begin studying English in earnest to attain something in my life for myself.

After making this resolution, I entered the English Language Training Institute at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in order to better prepare myself for graduate school. It was actually a big challenge for me after discovering my immaturity. At the beginning, I was really stressed and frustrated about studying and living in a different country every day, because of my naïveté and the weaknesses in my English. However, I managed to overcome the situation and my English gradually improved due to my determination and the help of my teachers and ELTI staff. When I had trouble with my English, my teachers talked with my any time and gave me marvelous advice and encouragement. Likewise, the ELTI staff helped me with the necessities of daily life outside of school, such as obtaining a driver’s license or leasing an apartment. This assistance reduced my stress and frustration. My life became comfortable with their help. I learned that human beings cannot live alone.

More importantly, through the school, I could meet a lot of international people and make a lot of precious friends from a variety of countries: Saudi Arabia and Turkey for instance, which I had never known about. It undoubtedly enlightened me about other countries and cultures. I discovered how interesting learning other cultures is and became much more interested in international people or other countries than I was before. At the same time, I came to realize that I enjoyed studying and living in the U.S. I became assured that coming to the U.S. had been a wonderful decision.

As the number of my American friends as well as international friends increased, my life became more pleasant. My English language has improved greatly thanks to their help and I also learned more about diverse cultures, such as sharing an apartment with friends, which is unusual in my country. Most importantly, although I had never considered being a teacher in my life, while I was studying with international people at ELTI and observing the teachers teaching us English as a second language, I began thinking that I seriously wanted to be a teacher like them in my country, and teach children practical English. I finally acquired a reason to aim to study in graduate school. This experience allowed me to have a dream to chase for the first time in my life.

Thus far with my life in the U.S., I have had many valuable experiences that I would never have had in Japan. Everything I see or hear is fresh and pleasant for me. If I had not come to this country, I would never have had a dream nor would I have known about America or other foreign countries, people, and cultures. This experience has changed my point of view in a remarkable way; I am taking away with me my dream and evolving maturity. Even if I am not accepted to graduate school in the future and have to go back to my country, I will never think that I wasted time or money. I have had a priceless and fruitful experience that will be very useful in my future endeavors. I would like to thank my father, mother, my family and all of the people who have taken care of me and helped me improve my English language. I am truly looking forward to experiencing new facets throughout the rest of my life in America.

April 16, 2010

Crossing Borders by Marion Scotti

Guest Post by Marion Scotti
ELTI Student
Submitted as part of the 2010 Crossing Borders Writing Competition

Nowadays, having an international experience is primordial. For us international students, it starts with the learning of English at elementary school. Indeed, English is the universal language and makes the connection between countries. Consequently, if people know how to speak English, it is easier to communicate with the ones who come from other nations. Most of the time, in addition to English, students start learning another language in middle-school. However, this is not the only way to have an international experience. For example, traveling or working in other countries can be other ways to have a contact with the rest of the world. In my case, after having traveled a lot, I desired to study in the United States.

I am from France, a European country. The culture is based on the traditions of Christianity, even though people are not as practicing as they used to be. Traveling a lot since I was a child has helped me to open my mind and develop my vision of the world. The simple fact of going out of my own country helped me to discover that the world doesn’t end at its boundaries. I started to travel in Europe, in the Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain and Croatia. It was really interesting for me to discover other languages, architectures and cultures. Every time I came back, I had learned a few words from each language. Then, I began to travel on other continents, such as Africa. I really discovered other cultures than mine and it was at this moment that I found that religion has a huge role in that difference. Indeed, the way people dress, the way they organize the plan of the cities, the way they live is different, according to religion. Therefore, customs and traditions are also dissimilar. The food and the way people consume it differ from European countries. For example, Muslim countries’ inhabitants can neither eat pork nor drink alcohol because of their religion. Even though traveling is a good way to discover another culture, another way is to live in total immersion in a different country.

Four years ago, at the age of 14, I decided to go to America after graduating from High School in order to improve my English. My goal was to spend one entire year to discover the United States and its culture. I have always been attracted to this country, in part because of the movies I saw on TV or in the movie theaters. Everything seemed better than in my country: life seemed funnier, and people appeared to be nicer and friendlier. Consequently, last year, before graduating from High School, I started to research about the place and the school where I wanted to go in the United States. In August 2009, I arrived in Charlotte. I started to take my English courses in the ELTI (English Language Training Institute) at UNC Charlotte. At the same time, I started meeting a lot of people from all over the world. I could discover different cultures from Japan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Since we could not communicate in our native languages, we had to speak English all the time. At first, it was really hard because French words could not stop coming out instead of English. In the end, I could speak fluently in English very quickly. However, it is not always easy to live with other cultures. Everyone has to remain respectful and tolerant towards others, even though his/her culture is different.

Having an international experience is very important and rewarding. It really helps me to be more open-minded, more tolerant towards others and to develop one’s culture. Having an international experience can teach people many life lessons. In my case, I developed my knowledge concerning the different cultures and opened my mind. However, living with people coming from other countries is not always easy. Tolerance and respect are very important notions everyone should keep in mind. My international experience has not only helped me discover other countries and cultures, but also to learn how to live in another society than mine, and to accept the fact that the world doesn’t stop at my country.