AIDS Memorial Quilt frames discussion

A 12’-by-12’ AIDS Memorial Quilt — created to memorialize lives affected by AIDS — served as the backdrop for a discussion about HIV/AID that drew participants from on and off the UW-Madison campus, on December 11, 2014, at UW-Madison’s Red Gym.

The discussion featured Dr. Ryan Westergaard, an assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, talking about his research combating HIV/AIDS and providing care to patients in Dane County.

Rachel Bowers-Sword, an HIV case manager at the AIDS Network in Madison, also spoke. Bowers-Sword served as a community health volunteer with the Peace Corps in Ecuador (2011-13), where she helped a university design and implement a health campaign (starting with a fair for World AIDS Day) and facilitated student training about sexual health and HIV/AIDS prevention.

The event was sponsored by the Division of International Studies, the Global Health Institute, and the UW-Madison Peace Corps Office.

Peace Corps AIDS quilt 017 Dr. Ryan Westergaard talks about providing care to HIV/AIDS patients. Click here to see more photos from the event.

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World Appreciation Day brings middle schoolers to UW-Madison

World Appreciation Day brought 400 middle school students, teachers, and chaperones from nine schools in southern and central Wisconsin to Union South on the UW-Madison campus on  November 17, 2014, for a morning of sessions to introduce the languages, cultures, histories, politics, and traditions of various countries.

The event was sponsored by the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium (WIOC) and International Reach at UW-Madison, in celebration of International Education Week.

Featured activities included performance/demonstrations of Okinawan-style drumming and Brazilian Capoiera, and concluded with a visit from Bucky Badger.

The program included 24 break-out sessions led by 28 presenters.  These included sessions on Taiwan’s lunar year celebrations, Irish dance, traditional Chinese games, Philippine monsters, German song and dance, Russian fairy tales and music, ancient Tibetan chants, Vietnamese water puppetry, and Hausa language and culture. Other sessions introduced middle schoolers to Japan, Africa, Peru, Persia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, and Bollywood.

Participating schools were: Assumption Middle School, Wisconsin Rapids; Patrick Marsh Middle School, Sun Prairie; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monona; O’Keefe Middle School, Madison; Bartels Middle School, Portage; Elkhorn Middle School; Belleville Middle School; Glacial Drumlin School, Cottage Grove; Fort Atkinson Middle School.

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Middle school students learn about games in Indonesia. Photo by Kerry G. Hill/UW-Madison Division of International Studies

Click here to view more photos from World Appreciation Day.

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Advisory Board members, UW students talk about international experiences

Advisory Board Oct 2014 061The Advisory Board for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of International Studies heard reports from a variety of students about their recent global experiences during the Board’s fall meeting on Friday, October 24, 2014, at the University Club.

On Thursday, October 23, two of the board members — retired Ambassador John Lange and Anthony Carroll — shared their experiences and advice with a group of students at an information session for the Washington, D.C., Semester in International Affairs. Lange and Carroll are among the UW-Madison alumni closely involved with the 10-year-old program.

Click here to view more photos

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Photos: Kerry G. Hill/UW-Madison Division of International Studies

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Chancellor recognizes DC Semester Program

Chancellor Blank poses with the current cohort of D.C. Semester students, along with UW alumni Leon Weintraub and  Tony Carroll.

Chancellor Blank poses with the current cohort of D.C. Semester students, along with UW alumni Leon Weintraub and Tony Carroll.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – University of Wisconsin–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank recognized the Washington, D.C. Semester in International Affairs at a special reception in the nation’s capital on October 20, sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

Tony Carroll, who is among the group of UW–Madison alumni who helped to start the program 10 years ago, introduced Chancellor Blank at the event, held at the National Press Club. Carroll is a corporate lawyer and business advisor on international trade and investment.

“Tony and his fellow Badgers had seen too many students go to D.C. to sharpen pencils and count staples,” Blank told the audience. “They wanted to create a program that would place outstanding students in organizations willing to provide substantive, meaningful work – the kind of work that helps prepare students to become leaders in a global society.”

The D.C. Semester Program, an undergraduate program offered in the fall by the UW–Madison Division of International Studies, combines an international affairs-focused internship and weekly seminars that feature prominent speakers and distinguished UW–Madison alumni who work in professional, academic, and diplomatic fields related to international affairs.

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Joe Elder gets sweet UW honor

UW-Madison’s Center for South Asia hosted an ice cream social on Thursday, September 4, 2014, for Joe Elder, the long-time professor of sociology who retired this year. Elder was honored with a special flavor of Babcock Hall Ice Cream — Joe Elderberry.

Honoring Elder with an ice cream social seemed fitting, since Elder has, for the last 10-plus years, hosted weekly ice cream socials for the students in the South Asia summer language program, footing the bill himself when other funds were unavailable.

In addition to the ice cream served at the social, some of the Joe Elderberry Ice Cream was given to the University Club to serve in his honor and, in line with Joe and Joann Elder’s values of social justice, batches of the special flavor were donated to two Madison food pantries to serve with meals.

Presenting Joe Elderberry Ice Cream.

Presenting Joe Elderberry Ice Cream.


Click here to see more photos of this event.

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Global Gateway opens up world for UW students

Joann Huynh had no intention of studying abroad when she came to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“I had never been far from home or my parents, let alone out of the country,” says Huynh, of Chicago.

Yet, she found the new UW Global Gateway Program too enticing to pass up – a fully funded opportunity to study in China, the country her parents had left in the 1980s. So she applied to become one of 15 UW­–Madison undergraduates to embark on a four-week, faculty-led experience in Shanghai this summer.

“When I was accepted to the program, my parents initially said ‘no’ to me going,” Huynh says. “I was expecting it, since from what they remember about China, it was unsanitary and dangerous. … It took a lot of convincing, but I was dead set on taking advantage of this opportunity.”

After spending a month in China, she reports, “I learned what it means to be a global citizen with an appreciation for different cultures, especially if you are coming into a new experience with preconceived notions.”

International Academic Programs (IAP), the study abroad unit of the Division of International Studies, developed the UW Global Gateway Program to engage undergraduates who might be curious about studying abroad, yet reluctant about plunging into an overseas academic experience.

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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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