Syria: Education in Crisis during a Time of Conflict

February 4th, 2016

Source: Telegraphy/UK 

On January 21, 2016 I listened to a webinar hosted by AACRAO concerning Syria and supporting refugee access to higher education. The presenters, Annetta Stroud, Senior Evaluator at AACRAO and Monica Ibrahim, EducationUSA Adviser, Syria, provided a thorough overview of the current state of Syria’s education system and the severe impact of the on-going conflict on the country’s infrastructure, including schools and universities. The picture is very grim and it is difficult to envision that there is an end in sight to the fighting between government forces and those of the opposition and ISIL/Daesh.  We have seen the images of the death and destruction and the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing their homeland to neighboring countries and Europe in search of safety and stability. The refugee camps in Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt have reached and exceeded their maximum capacity. UNESCO and NGOs have set up temporary schools for the children living in the refugee camps.  Alternative methods of teaching have been implemented and still some students risk their lives to return to Syria just to participate in their high school final examinations. The situation is grim to say the least and lives have been disrupted and an entire population of people traumatized and displaced beyond levels we can ever comprehend.

Drone image of Homs, Syria

The following are highlights of the information gleaned from the webinar as well as facts on refugees provided by UNESCO.

Brief History of Conflict

  • March 2011 Syrian crisis began when anti-government protests in Deir al-Zour and Damascus broke out.
  • July 2011 military defectors set up the Free Syrian Army.
  • 2013 Syrian Interim Government was formed and set up its own Ministry of Education.
  • 2014 ISIL had made huge gains in the region.

Status of Syria’s 7 Public Universities 

Source: Bahrain News Agency

Source: NY Times

  • Aleppo University – has 7 faculties in Idlib City which is under the control of the Assad Regime January 13, 2013 – 1st day of examinations at Aleppo University was disrupted by a bomb that killed 87 people, mostly students. The Ministry of higher Education suspended all exams at all higher education institutions.
  • Tishreen University – is under the control of the Assad Regime, was attacked in November 2015.
  • Damascus University & Syrian Virtual University – are both under the control of the Assad Regime. On March 28, 2013, Damascus University was targeted when mortar bombs landed in the College of Architecture killing 15 students, after which the University was forced to close.
  • Hama University in Hama & Al-Baath University in Homs as well as elementary and secondary schools in Hama and Homs are regularly disrupted because of ongoing conflict.
  • Al-Furat University in Deir al-Zour is under the control of the regime, but in the outskirts of the city ISIL/Daesh have control of region. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, one professor at the University was tortured and killed by Assad Government forces in 2014 and accused of being part of Al-Nusra Front.

Facts on Deaths and Refugees

  • The Syrian human rights group reports 1,629 students have been killed by government forces as of 2014/15 with estimates of 35,000 university students unlawfully detained.
  • UNHCR reports approximately 12,000,000 registered refugees from Syria scattered amongst refugee camps in Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt.

News on Ministry of Education 

  • There are 2 governments in operation at this time in Syria: the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) and the Syrian Interim Government.
  • Because of the conflict, the MOE in SAR has placed the entire curriculum of secondary education on-line to allow for students to self-study. In this case, students will not receive a report card or transcript for each year of study. The only document they will receive is the certificate for final exams for the Secondary Baccalaureate which provides them access to tertiary education at the universities in Syria.
  • SAR’s MOE makes available exam results for 2014-2016 on their website (this is the link to obtain exam results for the scientific track of the secondary bacc. exam) – To verify the student’s exam results, enter the person’s exam # and province, or his/her name and other info (DOB), choose either literary/ scientific stream.
  • 2010/2011 – 380,000 students were enrolled in institutions of higher education throughout Syria.

Facts about university credentials

  • The wall paper degree diploma is only issued at the request of the university graduate.
  • Certificates of Graduation are issued more commonly than the wall paper diplomas.
  • Only one primary original official transcript is issued by Syrian Universities which will have security features such as a clear tape, wet seals, and stamps.
  • Additional certified copies are available to students and to receive them they have to take the originals to the institution which will make the duplicate copies and place the wet seals and stamps. [NOTE: Certified copies need to have the wet seals from the university itself and not just the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.]


Facts about elementary and secondary students

Source: Al-Jazeera News

Source: Japan Times

  • Under the current state of conflict, school children on the average have been out of school for 4 or more years.
  • Enrollment rates of children at school in Aleppo is at 6%
  • We’ll definitely see huge gaps in school attendance at elementary and secondary levels.
  • In areas that are controlled by the SAR government, the MOE is seriously committed to providing students access to elementary and secondary education and continues to administer grade 9 and grade 12 leaving certificate exams.
  • These exams are administered only in the areas that are under the control of the SAR government. They are not accessible in the contested areas.
  • In the SAR/government controlled areas, there is a huge population of displaced people; many displaced students can’t register for schools because they don’t have their papers, ID/birth certificates and prior school records.
  • MOE is now allowing students without papers to register at schools.
  • Electricity, water shortages in schools hinders regular classes and attendance. It’s also forcing a double shift approach to instruction. There will be 2 cohorts as a result of this double shift instruction which means classroom instruction hours have been shortened to fit the 2 cohort class schedules.

Education in regions under SYRIAN INTERIM GOVERNMENT (SIG)

  • The SIG has formed its own MOE which is called the Higher Commission for Education (HCE).
  • They have revised the Syrian national curriculum and removed the following courses: National Socialist Education and History as well as any mention of the Baath party.
  • The SIG HCE administers its own Baccalaureate examination in those regions of Syria which are under the control of the opposition party as well as in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
  • Approximately 10,000 students have taken this Bacc exam by the SIG’s HCE each year starting in 2013.
  • They use a different grading system and include a barcode on the Bacc certificate for security measures.
  • The SIC Bacc certificate is not recognized by the SAR government and would not grant admission to universities in Syria.
  • The Turkish government has recognized the SIG HCE Bacc certificate.
  • The French Foreign Ministry has accepted this credential from 10 refugees to date who have been admitted to 1 university in France (name of French university is unavailable).
  • No other nation has recognized the SIG and the SIG HCE Bacc Certificate.
  • The non-governmental organization known as Syrian Commission for Education has been administering the Libyan curriculum to refugees in Turkey in 2013, 2014, 2015. The students take the Libyan National Leaving Examination.
  • Refugees in Turkey can decide if they want to opt for the Libyan National Leaving Exam or the Syrian Bacc administered by SIG’s HCE.
  • Most Syrian refugees don’t take the Turkish curriculum for secondary education because of language barriers.
  • Some Syrian refugee students return to government-controlled regions in Syria to take the exam by the SAR’s MOE which is very risky.
  • At universities, may students study at home and go to campus only to take exams.
  • Many universities have closed their main campuses and moved offices and classes to less risky locations and offer classes from homes and apartments.

It is anticipated that with the large numbers of students preparing for the SIG Baccalaureate high school examinations in refugee camps, we will begin to see these credentials for evaluation and admission to U.S. colleges and universities. Since the SIG baccalaureate examination certificate is not recognized by the SAR Ministry of Education and the international community, except for Turkey and the French Foreign Ministry, it would be interesting to see how the academic community in the U.S. will interpret and handle this credential. We will keep you updated on any new developments that concern the Syrian education. Please join us on our FaceBook page and follow us on Twitter. Stay tuned and connected.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Apollonian v. Dionysian Music Experience

January 28th, 2016


The other day, while listening to KCRW’s weekday program, Morning Becomes Eclectic, I was listening to a new Coldplay song called “Major Minus”, a big and absorbing musical tapestry that you can get lost in. I also thought about the film premiere of the Electric Daisy Carnival on Hollywood Boulevard the other night, where Kaskade and Jason Bentley were deejaying and the crowd went over the edge.  Several people got hurt but most had a great time.

Then I saw a picture taken the other day at the El Rey performance of the punk rockers Pink Eyes, where the lead singer was handing the microphone over to an ecstatic fan held aloft  in the mosh pit.

It occurred to me that all three musical items, the Coldplay song, the Pink Eyes show, The Electric Daisy Carnival were modern day versions of the Dionysian concept from Greek mythology that was revived by Nietzsche’s book The Birth of Tragedy.

Let me explain: According to Greek mythology, both Dionysus and Apollo are songs of the über god Zeus. Dionysus is the god of wine, ecstasy, and intoxication. Dance.  Body. Music.

Apollo is cerebral: the god of the sun, reason, and dreams. Head music. Music to meditate or levitate by.

I listen to a lot of classical music and jazz. Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, Debussy, Coltrane, Miles Davis. Also tropical latin music by Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Celia Cruz, and others. I like dancing to Latin music, but have to remember various steps and combinations moves. And as listeners to my KCRW shows know, I love the Brazilians too: Jobim, Dori Caymmi, Gal Costa, and many others.

I guess my preferences run more to the Apollonian. I sit in my living room, enjoy a glass of wine, and focus my listening on these artists regularly. I sit still in the sweet spot, focus on the music, and absorb the beauty.

The Electric Daisy Carnival, Kaskade, electronic music, the Coldplay song, raves, mosh pits are a collective flight into ecstasy, where people happily leave their normal senses behind and become engulfed in music. Ecstasy, after all, means “out of body”. It can and does get wild. That’s the essence of the Dionysian experience.

Apollonian involves stillness and thinking. Dionysian involves movement, dancing, individual and collective trance and ecstasy. The later sufi works of John Coltrane are a combination of both—works like A Love Supreme and Ascension seek closer union with the Divine. Ditto for works of the late qawwali (qawwali=sufi music from Pakistan) singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

I guess I enjoy both musical experiences, but my musical lifestyle tends to be more Apollonian than Dionysian. Which one defines your musical preference?


Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons

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China and Fraud…an On-going Problem



In a recent article in The Boston Globe the spotlight was back on China and the “wave of admissions fraud striking U.S. schools.” The issue of fraudulent transcripts from China is not new to those of us involved in the evaluation of international academic credentials. I still remember one of my colleagues, a senior evaluator at ACEI, who had traveled to Beijing several years ago and had first hand eye witness experience with fraud. She had visited a bookstore in Beijing and when she used its back door to exist into the alley she had come face to face with a vendor who had on display a wide range of blank diplomas and transcripts bearing the names of known Chinese universities. For a fee, a person could purchase a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or a Doctorate, in a major of their choosing from Beijing University or Shanghai University and present said document to prospective employer or unsuspecting college admissions officer overseas. I can still hear how flabbergasted my colleague was from the tone of her email. She couldn’t believe her eyes that this was happening in public and in broad daylight.

When it comes to college admission, falsifications of documents from China covers everything that plays a part in the U.S. institution’s decision process, starting with paying someone else to complete the application and essay, to fraudulent letters of recommendation, financial statements, passports, SAT and English language proficiency test scores, to academic transcripts and diplomas/degrees. It is, therefore, unfortunate and an occupational hazard but we cannot not speak of Chinese educational credentials without having our dander up and be suspicious of their authenticity.

When it comes to academic documents, especially those from China, it is more of a case of guilty before proven innocent. At the moment, the one approach most of us involved in credential evaluations, at least those of us who work for companies that are approved and endorsed by the Association of International Credential Evaluators, require our Chinese students to first have their academic documents verified by either one of the following 2 non-governmental Ministry of Education designated entities in China: China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) and China Higher Education Students Information and Career Center (CHESICC).  This step in our evaluation process has proven very effective.  (Just to be sure, in case you’re wondering, we don’t receive any fees or royalties from these entities.) Those students who have nothing to hide, contact either one of these entities, depending on the type of verification required and request to have their verified academic documents sent directly to our company. And then there are those who put up a big fuss, claiming it to be an inconvenience and costly (yes, the CDGDC and CHESICC do charge the student a fee for the verification). The bigger fuss they make, the more insistent we are in the verification. If there is no problem with their documents, then obtaining the verification should be a piece of cake.

We recently had an applicant from China who submitted photocopies (not original or official) of his academic transcripts and refused to go through the CDGDC for the verification.  As a rule, we do not accept just photocopies of academic documents for evaluation from anyone and anywhere. This individual was incredulous and did not want to have his documents verified and even accused us of being ‘unethical,’ which is an interesting twist on using reverse psychology to win a point.

According to the article in The Boston Globe: “Justice Department officials (in the U.S.) in  May (2015) charged 15 Chinese, including a Northeastern University student, in a testing scheme in which some students paid others as much as $6,000 each to take their SAT and English proficiency tests. Students in China ordered fake passports and sent them to co-conspirators in Pennsylvania, who took their exams.” The article continues: “More than 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from US universities in 2014, according to a report by WholeRen Education, a Pittsburg-based education consultancy). Around 80 percent of the cases involved poor grades or cheating.”

Bottom line is, given that the U.S. continues to be the preferred destination for Chinese students for study, cheating on their U.S. college applications and transcripts will prevail. U.S. schools need not be blinded by full-paying international students, especially from China to boost their budgets. If all U.S. schools implement a strict verification policy, they not only benefit from capitalizing on the international student but also enjoy the peace of mind that their admission decision was based on bona fide and legitimate documents.

The Frustrated Evaluator

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Facts on the New Philippine K-12 Education System

January 14th, 2016

Until recently, the Philippines primary and secondary education entailed 10 years of schooling, of which the first 6 years covered elementary/primary school and the last four year covered high school.  The Philippine Department of Education, Sport and Culture has announced ending the Grade 10 (6+4 primary and secondary) system and implementing new reforms concerning the country’s primary and secondary education which are as follow:

Using the Philippine Government’s website as a primary resource, below are highlights of the new reforms:

The new K to 12 Program covers 13 years of basic education with the following key stages:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3
  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 10 (Junior High School) [compulsory]
  • Grades 11 and 12 (Senior High School)

(Kindergarten + 6 years cover basic / primary education, followed by 4 years of junior high school, and 2 years of senior high school)



Implementation of the new K to 12 has been accomplished in the following stages:

  • SY 2011-2012: Universal Kindergarten implementation begins
  • SY 2012-2013: Enhanced curriculum for Grades 1-7 implemented
  • 2013: K to 12 enacted into Law
  • 2014: Curriculum for Grades 11-12 finished

a) Transition to the New System in Public Schools


Note: Program implementation in public schools started in SY 2012–2013 and will be carried out in phases. Grade 1 entrants in SY 2012–2013 are the first batch to fully undergo the program, and current 1st year Junior High School students (or Grade 7) are the first to undergo the enhanced secondary education program. To facilitate the transition from the existing 10-year basic education to 12 years, the Philippine Department of Education is also implementing the Senior High School (SHS) and SHS Modeling.

b) Transition to the New System for Private Schools


Note: Private schools design their transition plans based on: (1) current/previous entry ages for Grade 1 and final year of Kinder, (2) duration of program , and most importantly, (3) content of curriculum offered.

Below is an overview of the curriculum and subjects for each stage in the New System:

philippine_4 Kindergarten

The Kindergarten Curriculum Framework (KCF) adopts the general principles of the       National Early Learning Framework (NELF) with the intent to ensure Kindergarten        learners have a smooth transition to the content-based curriculum of Grades 1 to 12.

philippine_5Elementary/Primary & Junior High School (Grades 1-10)

The curriculum for Grades 1 to 10 includes the following subjects:
• Mother Tongue
• Filipino
• English
• Mathematics
• Science
• Araling Panlipunan
• Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP)
• Music
• Arts
• Physical Education
• Health
• Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP)
• Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE)

philippine_6Senior High School (Grades 11-12)

Senior High School is two years of specialized upper secondary education; students may choose a specialization based on aptitude, interests, and school capacity. The choice of career track will define the content of the subjects a student will take in Grades 11 and 12.

Each student in Senior High School can choose among 3 tracks:

Business, Accountancy, Management
Humanities, Education, Social Sciences
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)
• Technical-Vocational-Livelihood
• Sports and Arts

Core Curriculum Subjects:

(There are seven Learning Areas under the Core Curriculum: Languages, Literature, Communication, Mathematics, Philosophy, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences)

• Oral communication
• Reading and writing
• Komunikasyon at pananaliksik sa wika at kulturang Filipino
• 21st century literature from the Philippines and the world
• Contemporary Philippine arts from the regions
• Media and information literacy
• General mathematics
• Statistics and probability
• Earth and life science
• Physical science
• Introduction to philosophy of the human person/Pambungad sa pilosopiya ng tao
• Physical education and health
• Personal development/pansariling kaunlaran
• Earth science (instead of Earth and life science for those in the STEM strand)
• Disaster readiness and risk reduction (taken instead of Physical science for those in the STEM strand)

Applied track subjects:
• English for academic and professional purposes
• Practical research 1
• Practical research 2
• Filipino sa piling larangan
• Isports
• Sining
• Empowerment technologies (for the strand)
• Entrepreneurship
• Inquiries, investigations, and immersion

Specialized Subjects:
• Accountancy, business, and management strand
• Humanities and social sciences strand
• Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics strand
• General academic strand


Elementary Education: Students who complete 6 years of elementary education receive the Certificate of Graduation.

Junior High School Education: After completing Grade 10, a student in the vocational technical track of JSH can obtain Certificates of Competency (COC) or the National Certificate Level I (NC I). After completing a Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track in Grade 12, a student may obtain a National Certificate Level II (NC II) on passing the competency-based assessment of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). NC I and NC II improves employability of graduates in fields like Agriculture, Electronics, and Trade.

Senior High School Education: Students who complete Grade 12, received the Diploma (Katibayan) from the school, and the Certificate of Graduation (Katunayan) form the Department of Education. They are also awarded a Permanent Record or Form 137-A what lists all classes taken and grades earned.

The transition period from the old to the new system will end with the 2016-2017 school year.


Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert President & CEO


Alan Saidi  Senior Vice-President & COO

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Mad About English: A look at 4 Countries and their Use of the English Language

January 7th, 2016

As a child growing up in Tehran, Iran (circa 1960’s & 70’s), I attended Bonyade-Nov, a private co-ed school that covered kindergarten and grades 1-5. In the mornings, our classes were taught in Farsi and in the afternoons, instruction was switched to English. We were taught English by our Farsi-speaking teachers and with that knowledge at age ten I spent two months during the summer holidays at Stoke Brunswick School in East Grinstead, England. It was sort of a summer camp for non-English speakers. I was lucky to befriend an English girl, Fiona Campbell, whose mother Mrs. Campbell was the housemistress for the girls’ dormitory at the School. Fiona really helped me with my conversational English and in a matter of days I had acquired the perfect British accent.

All others attending the School were mainly from various parts of Europe: Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Holland, Spain, Portugal and varied in age from 13 to 19. At ten, I was the youngest and not wanting to be left out, I immediately told everyone that I was 13. Fortunately, my command of the English language, which was stronger than my European counterparts, helped give me the confidence I needed to support the additional three years I’d sneakily tagged onto myself. I was so comfortable in conversing in English that my teacher, an Oxford University student who was working over the summer by teaching English to a group of privileged children, wrote a letter to my parents praising me as a “marvelous chatterbox.” Fact was that I was the only one who bothered to make an effort and would engage him in conversation on topics as pedantic as pop music, current cinema, to more sophisticated discourse on history, politics, and God while the others stared sleepily ahead waiting for the morning sessions to end before the start of the afternoon fun.

On returning to Tehran, I was so pleased with my short stint at the English summer school that I urged my parents to ship me back to England to continue my studies. My wish came true within weeks after receiving news of the sudden closing of Bonyade-Nov. Soon after, I was back on board a plane with my mother heading to London and settled at Charters Towers School, a private international boarding school in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, where I spent the next 5 years completing my secondary education and preparing for the GCE O’levels, one of which was in English Language and Literature. From Charters Towers, it was only natural that I continued heading west, across the Atlantic, to the U.S., to complete my university education. After all, it was George Bernard Shaw who said: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” Though, Oscar Wilde would have disagreed having said: “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except of course, language.”

Today, non-native English speakers need not travel to English speaking countries in pursuit of studies taught in the English language. Many universities around the world, where English is not the official tongue, have begun to offer English as a medium of instruction in order to attract international students and even prepare their native students for the global economy.

Below are examples of 4 countries which have embraced English as the medium of instruction or regard it as the primary language of learning after the native mother tongue:


1. South Korea: English with an American Accent


In South Korea, learning English and speaking with an American accent are akin to a national obsession. Though South Korea allows only citizens from select countries such as Canada, the US, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Ireland to work as ESL instructors in the country’s public school, preference is to hire instructors from North America. Some teachers even fake an American accent to secure the teaching job. For more on this topic, click on this link to PRI:

2. Germany: Popular Destination


More and more U.S. students are looking at Germany as a destination to pursue their higher education while less German students are seeking university studies in the U.S. By teaching university subjects in English, a report issued by the Institute of International Education, shows the number of US students coming to Germany in 2014 rose by 9% compared to the previous year, peaking at 10,377. The attractiveness of attending a German university has much to do with the rising cost of higher education in the U.S. and cost of living but the idea of studying in Europe is also a key factor. For more on this topic, click here:

3. Indonesia: Mandatory English


The Indonesian government will make bilingual curriculum mandatory at universities effective at the start of 2016.  The government sees it necessary that students must learn interact in English in order to prepare them to compete in the ASEAN Economic Community. For more on this topic, click here:

4. The Netherlands: Bad English


In an effort to attract international students and prepare Dutch students for an international career, Dutch universities and colleges have been introducing English as medium of instruction for their degree courses, but there have been some pitfalls. According to research by students’ union LSVB, almost 60% of students polled said the lectures at Dutch universities and HBO colleges which were given in English were so bad that they were incomprhensible and impeded their learning. For more on this, click here:

No matter what we think or wish, English (besides soccer) continues to be the language that serves as the common denominator amongst most people from around the world. The learning of the English language or using English as the medium of instruction is rapidly growing in demand around the world. English is here to stay, at least for the long run.

For a little fun on the English language, check out the video clip of Eddie Izzard, the British comedian in this link from PRI’s The World:

Share with us your experiences, if any, of studying English abroad.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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3 Facts on New Year’s Resolutions:


December 31st, 2015

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition most commonly practiced by Western countries but also practiced by some countries in the East. A New Year’s resolution is when a person makes a promise to do something that is an act of self-improvement.

1. Making New Year’s resolutions goes back to some 4,000 year ago, when Babylonians celebrated Akitu, a 12-day festival in March when the spring harvest came in. They made promises to their gods at the start of each year and resolved to clear all debts and return any objects borrowed.

2. The Romans, under Emperor Julius Caesar, moved the first day of the year to January 1 in honor of the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. It was in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII set January 1 New Year in concert with the Gregorian calendar and since then it has been the official date to ring in the New Year by most countries. [Source: History]

3. And, in the Medieval times, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.

In this week’s blog, we have invited members of the ACEI family to share their New Year’s resolutions for 2016 and here are a few who were willing to make their resolutions or goal public:

“My New Year’s resolution this year is not to give up anything or start doing things I usually don’t do, but it is to cherish and enjoy things I already do and have.”

~Sanjin Gacina, Senior Credential Evaluator

“My yearly resolution always revolves around: Make every year better than the last.”

~Jennifer Hutnich, Senior Credential Evaluator

“I need to be more patient.  I don’t like to wait in line (markets, restaurants, shops, etc.) and if the lines are long, I don’t buy anything.” 

~Katherine Kang, Senior Credential Evaluator

“I’m looking forward to 2016 with a positive attitude, strength and good health and quality time with my lovely family.”

~Nora Khacheturians, Executive Director

“I never adopted the tradition of new year’s resolutions. I just want to try to be the best version of myself every day… one day at a time. ¡Feliz año nuevo! Sending you good wishes for the New Year.”

~Yolinisse Moreno, Director of Communications

“I resolve to submit my book proposal to prospective literary agents in 2016. (And, I will most likely resolve not do this!)”

~Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, President & CEO

And, to close, here’s one from the newest member of the ACEI family, Brian Aguilar, whose message for 2016 is just too good and inspiring to be shrunk down to a sound bite:

“The word “resolution” puts too much pressure on people and has lost its meaning over the years. It’s become more of a selling point for businesses (particularly fitness clubs) to cash in on people’s lack of discipline and commitment. For that reason, I choose not have a resolution, but rather, set goals for the year and lay out a plan that gives me the chance to challenge myself and have fun as I hit a series of checkpoints along the way. In 2016, I find myself looking forward to 5 major things. 

The first is starting school again and working on my certificate in Marketing with a Concentration in Social Media and Web Analytics through the UCLA Extension program. I’m excited to learn about innovative ways to use social media platforms to reach niche audiences, specifically in the promotion of film and digital media.  

Secondly, I want to break a new threshold in my fitness journey and finally cut down to 15% body fat. I’ve learned a lot since starting this journey two years ago. This goal requires a significant shift in my lifestyle that I am now ready to make. 

I’ve had the privilege of meeting some amazing artists in the last couple years and I plan to collaborate more with them and jump start the production of entertaining (yet socially aware) digital content . 

Aside from personal goals, I will be taking the beginning steps to incorporate my family’s small business, and thus work on a legitimate retirement plan for my parents.

2016 is looking to be an expensive year. Therefore, innovative financial strategies are also in order. Aside from formal plans I have set with my bank, I will be taking on the 52 Week Money Challenge, where a small amount of money is set aside each week, starting with $1 the first week in January all the way up to $52 the last week in December. 

I am ending 2015 on a high note and plan to carry that positive energy over into the new year. I look forward to seeing all the great things come out of 2016, not only for me, but for everyone around me. #2016Ready”
~Brian Aguilar, Client Relations Officer

From all of us here at ACEI, we wish you and yours a very Joyous and Prosperous New Year! Happy 2016!

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Season’s Greatings

Season Greeting

December 24th, 2015

A great deal, all positive, has been taking place at the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).  2015 was yet another productive year for ACEI. We celebrated our 21st birthday and introduced our 7 business standard processing time; the fastest in the country. We also rolled out a monthly webinar series on topics related to Diploma Mills, the Future of Higher Education and Emergence of Online Education, as well as country specific updates. Please sign up here so you can stay abreast of upcoming webinars.

We demonstrated our commitment to the field of international education through our participation and attendance at various regional and national conferences such as AACRAO, NAFSA, AIEA, NAGAP, and SHRM, as session presenters and exhibitors showcasing our various services.  In addition, we continued our contribution to the field on topics related to international education and world cultures through our weekly blog “Academic Exchange,” and our monthly newsletter, “The Report.” As proud Charter and Endorsed Members of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, we have been actively involved in the Association’s monthly Credential Forums and helping organize its first Annual Symposium on Standards to be held on March 23-24, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ.

As we prepare to wrap up 2015 and head home to our families for the holidays, we wanted to share a few fun facts on Christmas. We all know that Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. There are also several Christmas traditions that are not related to Jesus but have been adopted and included in the celebration. We’d like to share with you this video from The Business Insider that provides a list of five of the biggest traditions. Please click the link below:

The most popular Christmas traditions have nothing to do with Jesus

Thank you for following our blog in 2015. We look forward to providing you with more fun, thought provoking and insightful posts in 2016.

Have a Happy and Wonderful Holiday Season!

Our best,

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute Team


ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

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Filed under Gratitude