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Discovering a Nation: ISAC Trip to Washington, D.C.

Panthers meet with Congressman John Lewis (D-GA5) on Capitol Hill during the annual International Student Associations Council (ISAC) Trip to Washington, D.C.

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) recently travelled with 40 Georgia State international students for the annual International Student Associations Council (ISAC) trip to Washington, D.C.  The excursion, which is in its tenth year, allowed for students to discover American history, government, and democracy in action through tours of monuments, museums, memorials in the Nation’s Capitol.  Additionally, the group took a daytrip to Monticello, Virginia to visit the mountaintop home of Thomas Jefferson.

This year, the students were also treated to a special visit with Congressman John Lewis (D-GA5) on Capitol Hill.  Representing several nations, from Cote d’Ivoire to Ukraine, the international Panthers held a lively discussion with Congressman Lewis on civil rights and justice in the United States and Crimea.

For more information on next year’s trip, which is coordinated in collaboration with Recreational Services’ Touch the Earth program, please contact Mike Townsend in ISSS at ctownsend@gsu.edu.

To view photos from this year’s trip, please visit OII’s Flickr page.

Fall 2014 SAP Fair - Harris

Georgia State Students Show Strong Interest in Education Abroad Opportunities at Bi-annual Fair

Approximately 1300 Panthers attended the fall Study Abroad Fair, where leaders of education abroad programs spent the afternoon helping Georgia State students learn more about the numerous options they have to go global.

Georgia State senior Briana Harris, who studied abroad in Granada, Spain with Modern & Classical Languages, volunteers at the Fall 2014 Study Abroad Fair.

This year’s fair featured 39 Georgia State faculty-led programs, 15 program providers, four Georgia State offices, three Georgia State colleges representing over 30 exchange programs, and four programs from neighboring University System of Georgia schools.  Information on funding opportunities were also available, as the organizers from Study Abroad Programs incorporated administrative offices and informational scholarship tables to the mix of exhibitors, where students could learn about the International Education Fee (IEF) and Global Experience scholarships.
“My advice to students who want to study abroad is don’t hesitate and don’t worry about your financial situation,” senior Briana Harris, who studied abroad in Granada, Spain with Modern & Classical Languages, said.  “I ended up winning an IEF scholarship and paying a little out of pocket, but it was so worth it!”
Harris is one of the 816 Georgia State students who participated in an international education experience last year.  She is also one of many returnees who served as a volunteer at the fair, where students had the unique opportunity for one-on-one discussions with study abroad alums and the faculty directors who personally lead the programs overseas.

As an added convenience, the United States Postal Service (USPS) once again teamed up with fair organizers to present the ‘passport fair’ booth during the event, where officials provided on-site processing of new passport and renewals for roughly 50 faculty, staff, and students.

With flexible program options, ranging from 10 days to year-long experiences, studying abroad as a Georgia State student becomes more popular every year.

Exhibitors at the Fall 2014 Study Abroad Fair remarked that the continuous flow of students kept them very busy all day, while several others praised the very good turnout.

“Many program directors commented that there seemed to be more genuine interest in studying abroad from the students at the fair, and more first and second-year students were present,” Colette Fournier, an advisor in Study Abroad Programs, said.

One exhibitor remarked that the continuous flow of students kept them very busy all day, while several others praised the very good turnout.

In the days following the event, Study Abroad Programs reported an uptick in the amount of students enrolling in the spring programs, which have impending application deadlines this October.  Additionally, student attendance in the office’s daily Globe Trekker Seminars, or the informational meeting that covers the basics of studying abroad, including the numerous scholarship and funding opportunities, have increased.

Panthers Abroad this Fall

This fall, Georgia State was awarded the most Benjamin A. Gilman international scholarships in the state (academic year 2014-15).  Awarded to undergraduate students who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints, the scholarship aims to diversify the national study abroad student population.  The seven Gilman recipients are currently studying in South Korea, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and Japan.  Clifton Ndubuisi, a senior in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies who is currently in Jordan studying Arabic, was also awarded the prestigious Boren Scholarship this fall.  Ndubuisi received the $10,000 scholarship in addition to his Gilman scholarship, providing him with $14,000 of financial aid towards his academic interests abroad.

Georgia State also boasts three Fulbright recipients this fall.  Rebekah Callari, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award, and is currently on her program, where she is teaching English in Colombia.  In addition, Daphne Orr, the assistant director of the Intensive English Program in the College of Arts and Sciences was awarded the Fulbright International Education Administrators Program (IEA) Award, where she is currently researching higher education systems in Germany.  Lastly, Dr. Kris Acheson-Clair, faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences Applied Linguistics & ESL department, was awarded the Fulbright Global Teaching English as a Foreign Language Award to teach and research intercultural communication in Honduras.

For more information on Study Abroad Program at Georgia State, please visit http://mystudyabroad.gsu.edu.

For photos from the Fall 2014 Study Abroad Fair, please visit OII’s Flickr page.

The Office of International Initiatives at Georgia State University is responsible for the strategic integration and coordination of the University’s international initiatives, partnerships, grants, program development and management, events and activities, student and scholar services, and study abroad programs.  For more information, please visit http://international.gsu.edu.

A Selfie is Worth a Thousand Words: International Students Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity

In any given circumstance, this photo is all too familiar.  A group of young adults on the beach . . . during college spring break . . . taking a selfie.

But what happened before and after this particular snapshot reveals a much bigger picture.

Last month, 15 members of the Georgia State community packed their bags and headed to Dade City, Florida for the International Student Associations Council (ISAC) Service Learning Spring Break Trip with Habitat for Humanity.

Amazing Grace: the Authentic Ambassador

Grace Lee - Amazing Grace - May 2015

The fear of the unknown is real.  Just ask Grace Lee.

A second-generation Korean-America, she grew up in the suburbs of Georgia and was never immersed in the Korean culture or language.

This will all change come July, when Lee, a public policy graduate of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (B.S. ‘12) and admissions counselor in Undergraduate Admissions, will travel to South Korea to serve as a cultural ambassador for the United States as a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant.

Naturally, she has some fears about this next step in her life.  But like the lyrics of this song, though fear is present, with grace, it can be relieved.

“I’ve never grown up with my culture and race being the majority. People are going to expect me to speak Korean and understand the culture,” Lee said. “I have been worried if I will be able to adjust and assimilate to my own culture while being the majority. But I’m ready, now.”

Lee credits her extensive undergraduate leadership experience and support system at Georgia State for preparing her for this venture.

6 - Grace Lee - Amazing Grace - May 2015

“Being able to interact with people from all walks of life and have friends from all over the globe was a privilege. I’m very blessed to have gone to such a diverse university and had the opportunities to take full advantage of it,” Lee said.  “Everything that I have learned and earned at Georgia State has prepared me for this next experience.”

Lee is one of over 1,900 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2015-2016 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.  Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.  The program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Jennifer Gerz-Escandón, the Director of National Scholarships and Fellowships in the Honors College, supported Lee throughout the Fulbright application process.

“The mission of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program — promoting mutual understanding among nations through citizen engagement — resonated with Grace and a seed was planted.  I am thrilled that she was selected,” Gerz-Escandón said.  “Grace and Fulbright are truly a perfect fit.”

Media Contact

Homma Rafi
Media Contact
Office of International Initiatives
404-413-2533
hrafi1@gsu.edu

Before she departs, Lee will take part in Fulbright’s intensive Korean language program as well as receive TESOL certification to prepare her for her assistantship.  While in Korea, a Georgia State task force country, she will be placed as an assistant English language teacher in a rural community where she will also live with a Homestay family.

Lee plans to use her newly acquired language skills to conduct a Fulbright community service project with focus on the nation’s elderly generation as a tribute to her grandparents, who lived through the Korean War.

“I was extremely close to my grandparents, but I couldn’t speak with them because of the language barrier,” Lee explained.  “I plan on paying tribute to their important legacy through my interviews with the elderly population. This generation is the soul of Korea, the history of the culture. I want to help preserve that.”

As a past study abroad program student with the Confucius Institute at Georgia State, she also knows the importance of an international education.

“Global competency is a skill set, it’s ubiquitous,” Lee said.  “Being a global citizen is so much more than the resume. It’s being able to walk into a room and speak with anyone.  It’s being able to communicate with people who think differently than you. It’s the life skills you learn.”

In turn, she plans to advise Korean students and their parents on the college admission process in the United States.

“I think study abroad should be a necessity as a college student,” Lee said.  “I will be an ambassador for the United States, representing American education, and I want to help give Korean students the same opportunity.”

Lee is excited to be a newcomer in Korea in her second international education experience.

“I’m looking forward to being totally removed from everything I know, being totally uncomfortable, and being lost for a little bit.  I’m ready to experience that culture shock,” she said.  “I have a good glimpse of who I am, but I want to fully understand my cultural roots because I don’t think I will be able to fully help other people or be impactful until I know where I have come from.  I’m always going to bleed blue, but I’m ready to understand a different side of Grace Lee.”

To keep up with Grace Lee during her Fulbright experience in Korea, please visit her Instagram or Twitter pages.

To learn more about Fulbright programs, please contact Jennifer Gerz-Escandón, the Director of National Scholarships and Fellowships in the Honors College, at jgerzescandon@gsu.edu.

The Office of International Initiatives at Georgia State University is responsible for the strategic integration and coordination of the University’s international initiatives, partnerships, grants, program development and management, events and activities, international student and scholar services, and study abroad programs.

Mentoring Initiative Helps Refugee Students Navigate College

CLARKSTON, Ga. – A new Georgia State University mentoring program pairs young adults who are refugees and immigrants with seasoned college students who have roots in the international community.

Called the Mentoring Initiative for New Americans (MINA), its goal is to help new Americans learn English, navigate the often-confusing college admissions process and provide social support along the way.

MINA is the brainchild of Dr. Heval Kelli, a Syrian refugee and Georgia State alumnus who is now an Emory Hospital cardiology fellow, and Dr. Mary Helen O’ Connor, a senior faculty associate and the Perimeter College coordinator with Georgia State’s Office of International Initiatives.

The program is aimed at individuals, such as 20-year-old Khawla Alabdullah. Six months ago, Alabdullah, who had come to the United States with her mother from war-torn Aleppo, Syria, could not speak English. Since then, she has learned enough to explain, “I want to be part of this program so I can learn English and go to study at Georgia State and become a nurse someday.”

Media Contact

Homma Rafi
Media Contact
Office of International Initiatives
404-413-2533
hrafi1@gsu.edu

Leanna Deeb also struggled with English when she came as teen to the United States with her family from the Middle East, speaking only Arabic. Now fluent in English, the Palestinian émigré is a biology student at Georgia State. She became a MINA mentor to help students like Alabdullah navigate the college admissions process, connecting them with resources they might not otherwise know are available to them.

“People helped me (along the way) understand how things worked, and I understand the struggles for newly arrived Americans,” she said. “And there are still issues that are hard to navigate for anyone, like how FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) works,” she said.

Recently, Deeb met with Alabdullah and other international students interested in college during a MINA workshop at Georgia State’s Clarkston Campus.

Students such as Deeb are an essential part of MINA, which also encourages mentors and mentees to give back to the community when they are able, said Kelli. He knows their struggles. As a young man, new to the United States from Syria in 2001, Kelli learned English from customers at the restaurant where he worked as a dishwasher.

“For every dish I washed, I studied English more,” Kelli said.

O’Connor taught international and refugee students in her previous job as an English professor on the Clarkston Campus, advocating for her students’ success.

“My life’s work has been teaching refugees,” she said.

The idea for MINA sprung from a chance meeting between Kelli and O’Connor at a Clarkston grocery store. She was helping a recently settled Syrian refugee family buy groceries. He was there helping his mother shop. The two started talking in the checkout line. Already active as a volunteer for the Clarkston Community Health Center, and founder of a young physicians initiative at Clarkston High School, Kelli already shared O’Connor’s vision to help refugee students succeed in college.

To learn more about MINA, please visit their webpage and contact Dr. Mary Helen O’Connor at moconnor10@gsu.edu.

The Office of International Initiatives at Georgia State University is responsible for the strategic integration and coordination of the University’s international initiatives, partnerships, grants, program development and management, events and activities, study abroad programs, and the Confucius Institute.