International Accents

E.g., Thursday, November 27, 2014
E.g., Thursday, November 27, 2014

My grandma, Youa Lee, an old Hmong woman who traveled from the mountains of Laos, through the refugee camps of Thailand, to the hot fields of California and the cold factories of Minnesota, was 93 when she died. My grandma was a refugee from America’s Secret War in Laos. A widow with nine children, she raised seven sons into men and two daughters into women. She would become the root of a tree that carries the fruit of more than 300 descendants.

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The Organization for the Active Support of International Students (OASIS) will present its annual Bridging Fiesta on Saturday, April 6, 2013, from 7-10 p.m. in Old Brick, 26 E. Market St, Iowa City. This event is open to the public. Tickets must be purchased in advance at the Iowa Memorial Union box office and the cost is $5.

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You may recognize her striking face from fashion spreads in Elle and Vogue or the Victoria's Secret runway, but Alek Wek has another story to tell. Not that of an international supermodel but of the struggles of life as a refugee. On April 5, Wek will tell the story of her personal journey as a refugee and her current work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) when she appears as a guest on International Programs’ WorldCanvass television and radio program as part of the UI Provost’s Global Forum on Refugees in the Heartland. WorldCanvass will be held in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber from 5 to 7 p.m., on Friday, April 5, 2013, and the public is invited to attend.

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Shannon Fogg, a specialist in the history of everyday life in France during World War II, will present “Restitution: Reconstructing Jewish Lives in Twentieth-Century France” on Thursday, April 18, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in 2520D University Capitol Centre. This event is free and open to the public.

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In an upcoming UI presentation, Clemencia Rodríguez, professor of communication at the University of Oklahoma, will present part of her extensive research on how Colombians turn to community media – including radio, television, video, digital photography, and the Internet – as tools to forge lives for themselves and their families that are not entirely colonized by armed conflict and its effects.

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The Provost's Global Forum "Refugees in the Heartland" will feature panels and discussions about refugee resettlement, rights of refugees, the long history of refugee resettlement in Iowa, international refugee crises and related management challenges, and will bring together refugee experts and refugee leaders from the Midwest and the nation.

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Film producer Devon Terrill didn’t pursue filmmaking until after her graduation from the UI, but the experiences she had during her undergraduate education – including studying abroad – had a big impact on her career path.

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International immigrants are attracted to the Midwest, and Iowa specifically, for its low unemployment rate and cost of living, diverse economic sectors, and educational opportunities, said Amy Weismann, associate director for the University of Iowa’s Center for Human Rights.

“Especially for refugees, people come from places with violence and economic strife where they fear authorities,” she said. “Iowa is much less anxious and a more accommodating place to live and not only survive but thrive.”

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As part of Iowa City’s first carnaval celebration this summer, the University of Iowa Museum of Art will present two spring-time talks by carnaval designers. The first is by architect and interior designer Jaime Cezário. His free, public lecture will be held in the Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, March 25.

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Who is a refugee? What distinguishes refugees from immigrants? When and how is refugee status recognized by nations and governments? How do refugee crises arise and what can be done to aid refugees in resettlement? What’s the history of refugee resettlement in the Midwest? These are just a few of the questions WorldCanvass guests will address on the April 5 program “Refugees in the Heartland.” The program takes place from 5-7 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of Old Capitol Museum and is free and open to the public.

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Crossing Borders in International Programs is holding several panel discussions and a guest lecture as part of its Study Day 2013, to be held March 28-29. All events will be held in University Capitol Centre 2520D and are free and open to the public. No prior registration is required.

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Iowa’s universities boast graduation rates above the national average, but have produced mixed results in pursuit of goals set by the Iowa Board of Regents, which governs the universities.

The University of Iowa, where more than 48 percent of students finish school in four years, performed the best. Its graduation rate is just shy of a 48.3 percent goal. The regents want each university to achieve its graduation goals by 2016.

Students, however, sometimes prefer to pay more to stay in school longer. Internships, semesters abroad and demanding majors like engineering are all common reasons for not graduating in four years, students and university officials said.

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To mark the second anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies and the Department of Religious Studies would like to invite you to a jointly sponsored film showing of "Buddhism after the Tsunami - The Souls of Zen 3/11 Japan Special".

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With more Chinese students showing up on University of Iowa class rolls than ever before, the Henry B. Tippie College of Business last month invited its faculty and staff to a workshop on how to pronounce the students' names. Meanwhile, Chinese students are flocking to the tutoring center to become fluent in English.

The introductory lessons in Chinese, hosted in early February, drew about 50 participants to the Judith R. Frank Business Communications Center, the business school’s tutoring center. Some participants likened the experience to a fifth-grade classroom -- administrators and faculty members huddled in groups of four or five, trying and failing to pronounce sounds never used in English.

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In October 1833, a book purporting to be the autobiography of the famous Sauk and Fox leader, Black Hawk, appeared in Cincinnati. In the 1830s, Euro-Americans were clamoring for “Indian stories,” and this volume of recollections by the principal warrior in what became known as the Black Hawk War — whose final battle was pitched on the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois — was an instant sensation.

Although some contemporary reviewers dismissed the book as the fabrication of Antoine Le Claire, the biracial (French-Canadian/Potawatomi) founder of Davenport, others continued to believe in its authenticity, their views bolstered by the undeniable fact that in the 1830s there were many books written and published by Native Americans — books recounting Native writers’ objections to the Jackson administration’s policy of removal, the erosion of their treaty rights, or often simply their life stories.

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This fall, a group of adventurous students will leave the familiar surroundings of the University of Iowa for the bustling city of Mysore in South India where they will explore India's rich classical heritage and the contemporary forces that are rapidly reshaping this powerful nation today.

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Anand Patwardhan, a leading activist documentary filmmaker in India, will be visiting the University of Iowa Tuesday, March 12, to discuss his approach to cinema as political activism. His presentation will be held from 5-7 p.m. in 2390 University Capitol Centre and the event is free and open to the public.

For nearly thirty years, Patwardhan’s courageous work on slum-dwellers and women’s rights, on people displaced by massive dam projects, on the political manipulation of Hindu-Muslim conflict, and (most recently) on the fight for social equality by India’s Dalits (i.e., “untouchables”) has provoked controversy, broadcasting bans, Supreme Court cases, and a great deal of public awareness.

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Iowa Literaria, the electronic journal of the Master of Fine Arts in Spanish Creative Writing program at the University of Iowa, is online as of Tuesday, Feb. 26. Created with the support of the UI’s Digital Studio for Public Humanities, it has been designed as a space to reflect on the art of creativity, to approach the complexities and challenges of creative writing, and to publish a variety of literary pieces.

The inaugural issue contains a dossier on the great Chilean poet Óscar Hahn, who just received the National Prize on Literature of Chile, the most prestigious literary award in that country. Hahn was professor of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese here at the university for more than 30 years. He is now retired.

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Faculty members in the Department of Asian and Slavic Languages at the University of Iowa have received a $90,000 grant from STARTALK, a unit of the federal National Security Language Initiative, for their program “Bridging the Gap through Standards and Technology: STARTALK for Teachers.” The program provides unique professional training for teachers of Russian as a foreign language in the United States.

This is the second grant received by this team—Irina Kostina, UI lecturer; Anna Kolesnikova, UI visiting professor; and Marina Kostina, CEO of Wired @ Heart—from STARTALK for the development of their teacher-preparation program.

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In interviews with 40 international students at four research universities, Chris R. Glass was struck by the relative absence of Americans from his subjects' stories. The interviewees, half undergraduate and half graduate students, described close relationships with their international peers, including those coming from countries other than their own. But while they frequently characterized their American classmates as friendly or helpful, only rarely did they seem to play a significant role in their lives.

"Only one student has described a significant relationship with a U.S. peer and that student was from Western Europe and that peer was her boyfriend," said Glass, an assistant professor of educational foundations and leadership at Old Dominion University. "That to me is a striking omission from the stories that they're telling."

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The UI African Studies Program is holding a public lecture, featuring Ruramisai Charumbira of the University of Texas-Austin, on the topic “Black Colony, White Memory: The Price of Commemorating Occupation in Rhodesia, 1890-1980.” The presentation will be held Monday, March 11, from 4-5:30 p.m. in Room 2520D, University Capitol Centre.

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Despite controversy at a Canadian university that led to the closing of its Confucius Institute, officials at the University of Iowa say they have taken measures to prevent the same occurrence.

Confucius Institutes, which can be found in several countries around the world, are organizations designed to help create stronger ties between China and the community the institute is located in. These institutes are meant to educate communities about Chinese culture and language.

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UI undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who have secured summer internships with human rights organizations in the United States or internationally should consider applying for the Kenneth J. Cmiel Funded Human Rights Internship Program.

Honoring the late Kenneth J. Cmiel, an internationally-renowned scholar of the history of human rights, these awards provide funding to selected students who will be working with a local, national, or international non-governmental organization or governmental agency engaged in human rights related advocacy, research, or education. Program funds cover travel and living expenses associated with the internship.

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Chinese students at the University of Iowa may be used to hearing their names rendered into unrecognizable sounds by linguistically challenged faculty but it probably doesn't help them adjust to life in Iowa.

That's why the Tippie College of Business has begun offering a variety of programs focused on bridging the cultures, including a recent workshop to teach faculty and staff how to properly pronounce Chinese names. And not a moment too soon. This year, Tippie has 497 international students, 15 times more than the 34 international students enrolled in 2005; 412 of them are from China.

The workshops were attended by about 50 faculty, staff, and administrators and were conducted by Xi Ma, a program associate in the UI Confucius Institute in International Programs.

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This year, the University of Iowa Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival will be Sunday, Sept. 29 as a kick-off to the week’s homecoming events, creating a new fall tradition for a popular event that has traditionally been held during the spring semester for the past 22 years.

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