Monthly Archives: May 2017

Fulbright: A Two Year Photographic Journey

May 26th, 2017

During my two years in the Fulbright Program, I have taken thousands of photographs. I seem to have just as many stories about my students, the community I live in, and the nation I call home. In writing this, I wanted to give a diverse glimpse into the life of a Fulbrighter in South Korea and the development of my relationship with my students over the past two years. Living abroad is full of many complicated feelings: joy, depression, homesickness, excitement – there is no short story that can encapsulate the experience, but I hope through this photographic essay I can share life in the Land of the Morning Calm.

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First, Let Me Take A Selfie, 2015
After three months, my first selfie with my students.
Until this moment, we had not reached the friendship point of pictures. I entered my school with a strong dedication to teach the English language as a professional. And part of this came with me creating distance between the students and I, not fully comprehending the culture of touch (hand holding is appropriate with teachers) or engaging with students outside of the classroom. In short, I had a lot to learn about being a good teacher. After a month, I began to change my approach and opened myself up to the students, which in turn lead to this moment on October 2, 2015 when I asked a few girls for a picture.

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An Artist At Work, Work Being My Classroom, 2015
I caught a student drawing in class. Usually, I would take away the drawings and talk with the student after about paying attention. When I walked up to this particular student she was so engrossed in her work she didn’t see me. Instead of taking the papers I stood and watched. After all, who am I to disturb an artist in the midst of a masterpiece?

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Special Snowflakes, 2016
The project was supposed to be simple. We had ended class early and I wanted to decorate the classroom with snowflakes. Some of my students listened to the directions. Others decided they knew how to make a snowflake.
Most of these students were wrong:

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The Battle of Sungsim, 2016
The first snowfall of the year brought with it the usual festivities. My students have a tradition of using dustpans as shovels and tossing the snow at each other. Just a word of advice to anyone reading this – if a group of teenagers have dustpans and you have a lone snowball, always remember you are older and will be the automatic enemy if you engage them in battle.

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Hanji, 2016
Hanji is Korean paper and has a long history on the peninsula. It can be used to make art and clothing. During my first year in Korea, I began taking lessons from a woman who has been making hanji art for 20 years! My teacher is an amazing woman who speaks 5 languages and is one of the happiest people I have met. Pictured is one of my projects, but don’t be fooled! My teacher saved it multiple times from my butterfingers!

 

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Closet, 2017
This past week we did a lesson on secrets, many of which broke my heart. In Korea, same-sex marriage is not legal, although being with someone of the same gender is not criminalized (military code exempt). You can be fired for your sexuality and support groups for LGBT rights are still growing. It has been painful watching students who have come out to me struggle with their identity, unable to share it with their peers. I have no clear answers – many expats simply say “its another culture” and brush aside the issue. But working with students who are in the closet changes the entire experience. And the worst part is not having answers or a fix for the situation.

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Do You Hear The People Sing?, 2017
Earlier this year President Guen-Hye Park was ousted after a money scandal. Millions filled the streets of Seoul demanding she be impeached. When the court ruling came down impeaching Park, the country erupted into celebration. On May 9, 2017, Jae-In Moon was elected president. Watching the whole process was intense. In my city there were nightly protests and my students covered their classrooms in signs demanding Park resign. The whole nation was against her and there was no way to stop the people. As one of my students said after the election, “Korea is a democracy, today shows our power.”

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Good-byes, 2017
I had to rent a hanbok before I left, pictured here in front of my school. It has been an amazing journey and one I will not forget. Leaving Korea—there are no words to describe how I feel and perhaps that is the best. My students have transformed my life for the better. I am more compassionate, I am more patient, I laugh everyday, and I have found my calling in education. I just don’t know how I will live without them… or the kimchi.
안녕히 계세요.

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Nikki R. Brueggeman

Biography
Nikki Brueggeman is a graduate of the University of Washington s where she earned a master’s degree in 2015. She is originally from the town of Walla Walla, Washington where she was raised around sweet onions and wine barrels. Nikki currently teaches at Jeonju Sungsim Girls High School where she works with the most beautiful, vivacious, and hilarious girls on the Korean peninsula.

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25 Action Items to Foster Diversity & Inclusion on College/University Campuses

05/18/17

diversity

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, ACEI hosted a webinar on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion. We would like to offer you highlights of our webinar in this week’s blog.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is any aspect that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another, but it also means appreciation of and respect for differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion.

Some may define inclusion is a state of being valued, respected, endorsed, and supported. It’s also about focusing on the needs of everyone and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their greatest potential.

To look at this big picture, diversity is the mix; think of inclusion as getting the mix to work together harmoniously.

How to foster diversity and inclusion for admissions?

Here are 16 immediate steps you can take to help you develop a program that supports and encourages diversity and inclusion on your campus:

  1. Have your message be open to all groups
  2. Develop videos saying, “You are welcome and safe here”
  3. Mix up housing for international students so that students from different countries room together
  4. Make sure the international admissions staff has professional development in creating inclusive classrooms
  5. Do not exclude domestic students from diversity and inclusion
  6. Prepare host students on how to interact with international students
  7. Expand programs from international students (social and classroom activities)
  8. Share high impact positive stories, using alumni, parents, and staff.
  9. Recruit and retain staff with international education experience and training
  10. Allocate financial resources to create and implement programming for international students
  11. Provide more staff resources and training for creating diversity and inclusion
  12. Provide professional development for faculty and staff to create learning spaces that multicultural and inclusive
  13. Provide opportunities for domestic and international students to learn about themselves and others, have them realize we have more in common than not.
  14. “By understanding someone else, you better understand yourself”
  15. Create co-curricular programs that foster language and cultural proficiency
  16. Provide mentoring for international students by domestic students

Here are additional steps to keep in mind to ensure the programs you have set in motion continue to advance your institution’s mission of cultivating diversity and inclusion:

17. Alter your approach to allow for various learning styles. Evaluate what works and what doesn’t

18. Survey and reach out to international students, parents, and alumni to see what is working and what is not

19. Communicate to your international students that you are investing in them

20. Change how you instruct to various learning styles

21. Help students gain confidence

22. Foster online meaningful discussions and engagements

23. Move the focus from teach to student to community. Have shared narratives

24. Create pathways to help international students immerse into a host culture

25. Prepare your campus for a global student body (learn language phrases, have international clothing/food week)

In closing, when you say, “you are welcome here” also say, “You are to be who you are and we welcome you.”

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 www.acei-global.org.

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International Student Mobility: 2017 Trends in International Student Recruitment

May 11th, 2017

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ACEI is pleased to share the 2017 report prepared by Study Portals in this week’s blog.  The following is an excerpt from the report. To read the full report, please click here

These days, there is a widespread and wide-ranging conversation about globalization; but only by visiting classrooms in every corner of the world can you see it in action. International students around the world are part of a movement bigger than themselves – a movement involving millions of people at thousands of campuses.

At the moment there are more than 5 million students pursuing their education outside of their home countries – a number three times that of international student enrolments in 1990l. By 2022, the number of internationally mobile students is expected to reach 7 million. The most significant growth in international education comes from Asian students, who are looking to study abroad in English.

International education is now open to the masses, and no longer only available the world’s elite. This expansion is particularly driven by a rising middle class that now exists on every continent.

Student mobility, like many other economic and social principles, follows the laws of supply and demand: The popularity of study destinations correspond to the number of globally-appealing programs that different countries offer, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. These are, unsurprisingly, also the countries with the highest number of English-taught programs around the world.

China’s and India’s rise to the word’s top 10 most powerful economies (and South Korea currently holding the 15th place) has given rise to an increased demand for higher education. These three countries are also leading sources of globally mobile students. One in every six international students now comes from China, while Asian students make up more than a half of the world mobile students.

International education is on a static phenomenon; it is influenced by international politics, changing demographics and economic factors.

What do we expect to see in the cooing year, based on our expert insights and the mountain of data we have gathered on international study choice? Here are our top predictions for the year!

Please click here to read the full report and learn more about Study Portal’s top predictions for 2017.

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Study Portals  is the international Study Choice Platform. StudyPortals’ Mission is “Empowering the world to choose education.” How? By making study choice transparent globally. StudyPortals help universities with easier and more effective international marketing and recruitment solutions.

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 www.acei-global.org.

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Tree Trees

May 5th, 2017

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When I was in college, just by chance I ended up at a party for the international students, (free beer) and there, to my surprise, I made some of my best friends to this day. You know when you instantly connect with someone? Romantic or not, it’s rare and there is something special about the sheer dumb luck it would take for a kid from the Netherlands and a kid born an hour and half outside of Los Angeles should meet and become (dare I say it?) best friends.

Not my first friend from out of the country, Ralf and I (pronounced Rolf in Dutch but forced to take Ralph as his American name by sheer repetition) have become close like only a few friends I’ve had in my 26 years. We talk about anything and everything but I would be lying if I said we didn’t discuss the norm for two people from different countries quite frequently, i.e. cultural differences between the US and The Netherlands, the EU, The World at large, long political talks about what’s wrong with America, what’s great about America, what’s wrong with Europe, what’s great about Europe, Life, Humanity. No doubt, it is a big part of our relationship and I enjoy it fully, as I suspect he does.

That being said, I think some of the greatest joys comes from the subtle teasing that comes from a close friendship. Little jabs about “fat Americans” a few remarks about outdated Christmas traditions (see Zwarte Piet) here and there help us recognize the differences between ourselves and our cultures in a way that transcends either, humor.

An example, my best friend Ralf speaks perfect English, it’s just, his accent has him say “tree” instead of three. It makes really no difference with context and so is generally a non-issue. So, one time, near Christmas, we’re at a bar just chatting when Ralf notices funny albeit bawdy ornaments on some trees.

“Look at that tree” he pointed.

With a sly grin I asked him, “How many trees are there?”

Ignoring the odd question, Ralf responded earnestly, “tree”

“Yes Ralf, I know they’re trees, but how many of them are there?”

“Tree”

“So just one?”

“No tree!”

I think my smile gave away the joke and Ralf, realizing my mischief, and being a genuinely great person, tilted his head back in guffaws, causing groups of patrons to stare.

Although small, I think this is one of the better moments of my life, not because of some great accomplishment but the realization that we are heading into a globalist world, and how great it is that our conversations, our relationships, our lives can be enriched and diversified by this. Increasingly in America you hear the term Globalism used as a slur. Those who use “globalist” as a derogatory term could not be more wrong.  The world has always been heading toward globalism and there are so many benefits worthy of discussion: Economic stability, increased understanding and decreased xenophobia, trade. You can expect all this from Globalism…. or maybe you’ll just share a laugh with a new best friend.

Alex Brenner

Alex is a graduate of UCLA’s creative writing program and helps ACEI’s international applicants in his role as Client Relations Officer.

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