UW’s Tianjin program gives UW students strong boost in Chinese

Brendan Dowling had never studied Chinese—or any other foreign language—when he received a grant to travel to China during his first year as a student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

After returning to Madison after his semester abroad, Dowling, of Carpentersville, Ill., enrolled in several Chinese courses. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that he decided to major in Chinese.

In just two-and-a-half years of study, Dowling’s Chinese speaking and listening skills had reached an advanced level. Then, he gave his language learning a further boost by returning to China in 2013 through the 11-week UW Intensive Chinese Language Program at Tianjin, a summer program offered by International Academic Programs (IAP).

While many UW–Madison students enroll in study abroad programs to advance their language studies, what distinguishes the summer program in Tianjin is its intensive focus on perfecting students’ knowledge of the Mandarin Chinese language. Participants earn a year’s worth of language credits in one summer session.

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WIOC-Urban League initiative introduces middle schoolers to other countries, cultures

Kaylah Cruz Herrera posed a couple of questions to her young audience at Madison’s Toki Middle School: Where do you want to go to study abroad? What language do you want to learn?

Kaylah Cruz Herrera talks to Toki students about Morocco

Kaylah Cruz Herrera talks to Toki students about Morocco

Herrera, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, prompted the sixth and seventh graders, one by one, to respond. A few declined, but most mentioned a language – e.g., Spanish, Tibetan – or named a location – e.g., Paris.

She wanted to make it clear that studying abroad was an experience within their reach, noting that she took advantage of an opportunity as a high school student in Racine.

She talked about her experience as a scholar in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program, funded by the U.S. State Department, which enabled her to study Arabic for an academic year in Marrakech, Morocco.

Herrera became the first in a semester-long lineup of presenters at the International Club, a new collaboration between the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium (WIOC), based in UW–Madison’s International Institute, and the Urban League of Greater Madison.

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Thinking about blogging while abroad? Learn from those who have blogged

Audrey Hanson’s family and friends in the United States didn’t have to wait for her to return from Ghana to learn about her challenging, yet exhilarating six-hour trek straight uphill to Wli Falls, the highest waterfall in West Africa.

While studying abroad during the spring of 2013, Hanson kept a blog, Going to Ghana, which allowed her to share her experience with people around the world just days or even hours after her adventure.

“I tried to blog every weekend or every time I went on a trip to explore the country,” says Hanson, a senior at the University of Wisconsin–Madison majoring in international studies and pursuing certificates in global health and African studies. “I also knew that this was one of the main ways to share my experiences, so knowing that people were reading it kept me motivated.”

Many UW–Madison students who study abroad discover that keeping a blog not only can keep loved ones informed of their daily lives in another country, but also serve as a diary to reflect upon when they return to the United States.

However, maintaining a personal blog when living and studying abroad comes with certain challenges.

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Gold’s Fulbright experience comes back to benefit UW–Madison students

If Susan Dillon Gold hadn’t received a Fulbright grant seven years ago to teach reproductive health classes to HIV-positive adolescents in Kenya, an entire community would likely not exist today.

While doing two months of volunteer work in a Kenyan orphanage in 2003, Gold, a University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate and nurse, became aware of how little people living in that area knew about HIV. That inspired her to apply in 2007 for a Fulbright grant to return to Kenya for 10 months and evaluate “an adapted curriculum for HIV-positive adolescents about reproductive health,” she says.

The Fulbright Program, founded in 1946, is a competitive, grant-based initiative “designed to increase mutual understand between the people of the United States and the people of other countries” and provide individuals like Gold opportunities to engage in rewarding and often life-changing cultural immersion.

While in Africa, Gold conducted classes in an orphanage and at community-based clinics in the slums of Nairobi, working with HIV-positive adolescents.

“They were all expected to die,” Gold says.  “Now, with the availability of medications and accurate information, they can live a long, healthy life and protect themselves.”

Now a nurse clinician working in the Infectious Disease Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Gold returns to Kenya every year, taking 10 undergraduate students with her to teach the classes and observe and participate and support HIV care.

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International students explore volunteer work at UW-Madison

American students today are exposed to the idea of doing public service by the time they reach high school, if not earlier.  By the time they enter college, volunteering has become second nature.

That’s not necessarily the case for students who come to U.S. universities from other countries. International students often get their first taste of volunteer work while in college.

At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, many international students discover volunteer opportunities through the Morgridge Center For Public Service and International Student Services (ISS), home to the Millennium Development Goals Awareness Project (MDGAP) and the ISS Reach Program. Both the Morgridge Center and ISS are located in the Red Gym.

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At symposium, some undergraduates take on international topics

The annual Undergraduate Symposium showcases the “research, creative endeavor and service-learning” of hundreds of students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, encompassing all areas of study, including the humanities, fine arts, biological sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences

Presentations and posters featured at the 2014 symposium, held April 10 at Union South, covered a variety of subjects, from “Political Humor and Networks on Twitter” and “Improvements in the Delivery of Radionuclide Therapy” to “Grassland Bird Nesting Chronology in Wisconsin” and “Religion and Lawn Care Practices.”

Several participants tackled topics with an international focus.

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DiPrete Brown revisits personal journey through novel

Lori DiPrete Brown has traveled professional pathways that have taken her to countries around the world, as a global public health educator, researcher, and author of policies and guidebooks, working with international agencies and educational institutions.

Her journey is deeply rooted in an intensely personal odyssey that DiPrete Brown took three decades ago – an experience that continues to serve as the underpinning for her work. Recently, she found a powerful means to share that formative chapter of her life.

DiPrete Brown, who leads global health education programs for the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, served in 1983-85 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, working in a home for orphaned and abandoned teenage girls. The experiences of accompanying some of the girls to obtain documentation from their places of birth and to search for their birth mothers inspired her to write a novel, Caminata: A Journey (Global Reflections Press, 2013).

DiPrete Brown will read from Caminata: A Journey and sign copies of the book on Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m., at A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham St., Madison. The event is sponsored by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin–Madison, UW–Madison Global Health Institute and Division of International Studies.

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Alumni talk about leveraging language skills into careers

“What can I do with this language?”

It’s a question that Michael Kruse often hears from undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which offers instruction in dozens of languages – from those most widely used to many that are less commonly taught.

“Everything is being done in different languages. Anything you can do in English can also be done with a foreign language,” says Kruse, an advisor in UW–Madison’s Language Institute. “It is important to think about your interests and the impact you want to have on the world.”

To offer some perspectives on “what to do with this language,” two UW–Madison alumni who found their own answers – Lora Klenke  and Brett Schilke – spoke to students about their careers and how language skills can be a crucial tool not only abroad but also in Wisconsin’s job market.

The program, “Languages for Life,” was sponsored by the Language Institute, International Internship Program, and Russian Flagship Center, with funding from the College of Letters and Science Anonymous Fund.

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IAP Scholars promote study abroad with ‘Share Your Experience’ projects

Being able to share her study abroad experience with other students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison “made it that much more meaningful for me, because I began to feel like what I had to say and what I experienced abroad had value,” says Kiana Murphy.

Murphy, a junior majoring in English and creative writing, studied last summer at the University of Westminster in London. “I am now able to share parts of the world with other people, and encourage them to experience that world for themselves too,” she says.

Murphy was among the first 12 students to go abroad with support from the International Academic Programs (IAP) Scholars Program. All students who receive this award must agree to do a “Share Your Experience” project when they return to campus.

But Murphy and others make it clear that talking about their experiences and promoting international academic programs means much more than simply fulfilling a scholarship requirement.

Launched in February 2013, the IAP Scholars Program aims to help all students – especially first-generation college students, students who are going abroad for the first time, students with a cumulative GPA above 3.8, and students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields – to “Discover the world…and bring the world back to Wisconsin!” with individual scholarships starting at $1,500.

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Joe Elder looks back at 60-year journey

As noon approached, the seats in Ingraham Hall, Room 206 – a frequent venue for scholarly lectures on international topics – filled quickly.  This audience had come to hear a speaker who easily could deliver a extensive series of academic talks, but, on this day, they had come to celebrate the individual, his distinguished career and legacy.

Joe Elder

Joe Elder

Joe Elder circulated around the room, greeting old friends and colleagues, members of the university community, and others as they arrived for his program, titled “Sixty Years of Asking Questions.” Meanwhile, staff from the Center for South Asia, which sponsored the March 13 event, began distributing pieces of cake – yet another sign that this was no ordinary scholarly lecture.

In his talk, Elder led the audience on a journey through his career, particularly the earlier days. In typical fashion, he spiced his narrative with humor and humility.

Elder, a professor of sociology, languages and cultures of Asia, and integrated liberal studies, has taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison since 1961. Hundreds of students have enrolled in his classes each semester to learn about life in world cultures. This semester is Elder’s last.

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