MACIE in the News

Peace Corps gives students opportunities to help others

October 5, 2014 - BGNews - Myah Lanier

The Peace Corps is a two-year commitment that promotes traveling, diversity and helping different cultures around the world.

The organization has been in Bowling Green for quite some time.

One aspect that can determine the Peace Corps’ success is the volunteers, which are usually graduating students.

They usually get an average of ten thousand volunteers a year, according to Peace Corps Recruiter Annabel Khouri.

“We get such a great turnout because we have great recruiting,” she said. “We give information on campus at the career fairs, at Campus Fest and we partner with different organizations who want to make a difference.”

Striving to make a difference is something they strive for and in order to do so they offer a variety of programs for volunteers.

“There are many sectors. [Volunteers] can be an education volunteer, a health volunteer or agriculture and environment volunteer,” Volunteer Jessica Batterton said.

The beginning process usually takes about a year before volunteers are even in another country.

“It was a very long application process. I had to [have a] medical examination to be able to go and do the job,” Batterton said. “Once I was done with that, I got a letter saying where I was stationed and I went there to start my education training.”

Not only is the experience to be worth it, she said, but it’s also one that students can afford.

In order for students to afford to participate, the government funds it.

“We get about $200 a month to cover all expenses,” Volunteer Lindsay Goldberg said. “It’s enough money to live off of because we are going into another country and their cost of living is different from the U.S.”

Some volunteers say the reason for joining the organization is for the learning experience, both culturally and academically.

“This was a way for me to go abroad and take on different challenges with a long commitment,” Goldberg said.

Professor Sherri Horner, a former volunteer, said the opportunity was great and one that made her who she is today.

“After I graduated, I wanted a job that was meaningful and where I could be in the position to help others and travel, so this was a great way to do so,” Horner said.

Horner said the goals of the organization have been successful and provided students with new culture perspectives.

“[The Peace Corps] helps you build a lot of personal development, I think it provides you with great opportunity to go overseas and do volunteer work. Students should really consider becoming a peace Corps Volunteer,” Batterton said.


Bowling Green State University News 2014 August / Traditional healing in a modern world

Martin named Fulbright Student Scholar to Indonesia

Traditional healing in a modern world

By Bonnie Blankinship

As graduation speakers are fond of saying, the commencement ceremony does not represent an end, but a beginning. That is certainly true for Samantha Martin, an August graduate in the Cross-Cultural and International Education (MACIE) program at Bowling Green State University.

Martin with some of her students at the Islamic High School of Panekan, in East Java, during her Peace Corps service.

For Martin, commencement was the next steppingstone in her evolution as a scholar. She is preparing to return to Indonesia in early September, this time as a Fulbright Student Scholar. She served in the island nation as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2010-12. Backing her at BGSU has been a campus-wide support team of faculty and staff.

Martin will conduct a case study of traditional healing practices on Java, the most populous of the thousands of islands that make up Indonesia.

“I have been approved for my research permit from the Indonesian government and am now waiting for my visa to be processed,” she reported. “I have been doing some preliminary research. I received some great help from Dr. Jeremy Wallach and Dr. Esther Clinton in the popular culture studies department at BGSU, who directed me to some great materials and books on Indonesian culture and history. They both have experience in Indonesia, and Dr. Wallach in particular has done quite a bit of research there himself.

“I've also been starting to connect with the existing Peace Corps network in Java, and hopefully those connections will help me learn about communities that may be interested in hosting me and participating in the research project.”

Student Fulbright grants are very selective; this year there were only 12 research grants and about 30 English-teaching assistantships given. The application process is difficult. Martin said she’s grateful for the support she received from BGSU’s International Student Services.

“They were wonderful. They helped me refine my proposal and tailor it. Having their advice and experience was invaluable.”

Martin with neighborhood children who studied English with her after school most days.

Martin said she also received important advice and assistance from Dr. Nancy Patterson in the School of Teaching and Learning, who had been a Fulbright scholar, and MACIE director Dr. Christopher Frey, who had also worked with the Navajo people, as Martin did in her undergraduate program. “We shared the same experience, around 10 years apart,” Martin said.

Patterson, who has worked with Martin on two grant submissions related to Indonesia, said, “Sam is a singular person who is the perfect mix of compassion and initiative. Whenever I work with her, I learn about myself, which is the sign of a true teacher and humanitarian. Most impressive is her command of Bahasa Indonesia, which I have seen her use with fluency and grace on our Skype calls with her good friends at Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang. Sam Martin will continue to elevate BGSU’s reputation in Indonesia, and I relish hearing about her work in years to come.”

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, and an important trading partner. Yet, like most U.S. citizens, Martin knew almost nothing of the country until she served there with the Peace Corps. She was part of the first cohort to serve there since 1964 following President Barack Obama’s 2009 re-opening of relations with Indonesia.

The complex culture of the island nation resonated with Martin.

After having personally experienced traditional healing practices both while on Java in the Peace Corps and while she was a student teacher in the Navajo Nation as an undergraduate at Indiana University at Bloomington, Martin became interested in how a person in today’s world becomes a traditional healer, and what their status is in their community. And, in the case of Java, how contemporary Indonesian Islam overlaps with secular Javanese healing arts, and how traditional practices have evolved.

“In rural areas, people may identify as Muslim, but the elements of traditional culture may be a little stronger,” Martin said. “I’d like to know which traditional cultural practices are still being held onto and why. And whether young people are still becoming healers and what their path is toward that.”

“I want to be contributing something, not just taking information from them and leaving”Martin’s master’s thesis is a case study of women healers in south-central Indiana. “The possibilities for a comparative project on healers’ experiences in the U.S. and Indonesia are exciting to me,” she said.

In addition to her research, Martin also will do volunteer teaching in local schools during her Fulbright stay. “I want to be contributing something, not just taking information from them and leaving,” she said. “I like teaching and working with kids.”

Indonesia is a rich mix of all the influences over the centuries from the various traders who came through, bringing with them their religions and cultures. Among them have been Arab, Indian and Chinese traders, Buddhists and Hindus, and 300-plus years of Dutch colonialism. Two typical dishes, meatballs and fried rice, reflect the multicultural background of the country.

“It’s been 65 years since independence from the Dutch and now there are burgeoning markets and a lot of money there, although there are huge income gaps,” Martin said. “The country is also very wealthy in natural resources. Technology is booming, and they’ve effectively skipped over landlines and now everyone communicates by cellphones. They access the Internet daily from their smartphones. Indonesia is quickly becoming globalized and more prominent on the international scene.”

Martin will be based during her 10-month sojourn at her host university, the Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang, and will travel to rural communities to interview from eight to 15 traditional healers and their clients in depth. She expects to draw on her connections in several areas and then, through them, meet others, staying with local families at times.

Getting around on Java is not nearly the challenge it can be in some countries, Martin said. “Java is the most densely populated island in the world and there’s so much public transportation that it’s easy. It’s not the two-hour bike ride to even see anyone that is often associated with Peace Corps service.”

Reflecting on her life so far, she said, “I never thought when I entered the Peace Corps and was assigned to a nation I knew nothing about that Southeast Asian Studies would turn out to be so interesting to me. But MACIE helped give me some direction, and helped me develop my thesis project. That’s what’s so special about MACIE: you have a group of really neat people with such diverse experiences and it’s still small enough to be very intimate.”

Before learning she’d been accepted into the Fulbright program, Martin was accepted by several U.S. universities’ doctoral programs. Her Fulbright experience on Java is sure to enrich and inform her future educational and professional choices.


Home News 2014 February / Global education on a personal scale

They come from around the globe, from rural areas and cities. Many have never been outside their own countries. And while all teach English, only a few are from countries where English is spoken regularly — making for an interesting variety of accents, dialects and perspectives, noted Dr. Christopher Frey, co-director of the BGSU Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) Program in the College of Education and Human Development.

The bond of shared experience being forged among the 17 outstanding secondary language arts teachers, who have converged on BGSU for a six-week, intensive learning experience, and their hosts will make it hard to say goodbye, said Zahra Ailane, a high school teacher from Algeria. “I’ve already been wondering about how we’ll do that. We’ve learned a lot from each other,” she said.

Six area schools are also partnering with BGSU to welcome the visitors to observe and teach classes and interact with teachers and students. The international teachers have had home stays with partner-school teachers, BGSU faculty and the Bowling Green and Marion communities, and have visited Chicago, Columbus and Detroit. Their visit will culminate in a post-program debriefing in Washington, D.C.

The University and community will have the opportunity to meet and chat with the group at International Educator Night from 6-8 p.m. this evening (March 3) in the Multi-purpose Room at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Hosting will be the BGSU International Democratic Education Institute (IDEI), the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Northwest Ohio World Affairs Council. Another get-together will be held at Eastwood Junior High School on March 11.

This is the second time BGSU has hosted an International Research and Education Board (IREX) group; last year focused on science and English teachers. This year, BGSU is providing the experience with the overarching theme of “Gender Equity and Gender-inclusive Approaches to Teaching and Learning.”  The theme is embedded throughout the series of workshops and seminars, said Dr. Sharon Subreenduth, a School of Teaching and Learning faculty member, co-director of IDEI, and director of the IREX-TEA Program at BGSU.

“We have developed a customized program for our TEA fellows,” she said. “Also, we are the only institution that is offering this specific focus on gender, so we are serving as a pilot for the IREX organization as they will likely utilize this focus for future TEA programs.”

TEA fellows utilize multiple readings and engage in activities as a way to reflect on and analyze their own experiences related to gender dynamics in their classrooms, educational and societal culture in general as well as educational policy and social media.

“Bringing a diverse group of seasoned educators onto campus to interact with faculty and students has been invaluable for us to learn more about what is possible and good about education here and abroad,” said Frey, School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy Studies.

The group has movingly heard from one of the teachers about the duress schools in his country face when confronted by drug gangs demanding extortion money, about the challenges facing both girls and boys in some countries over being able to continue attending school, and the danger of even teaching English in some places, where some see it as an unwanted foreign presence. Or simply about having to teach 60-100 students with few of the materials an American teacher would take for granted.

“And yet they work around obstacles and continue being very good teachers,” Frey said.

There have been overturned assumptions in the other direction, as well. Ailane said she was surprised to learn that not all children in the U.S. have Internet in their homes, as in Algeria they do. But there is greater use of technology in local classrooms here, she said, while it is mainly available to science and math teachers in her school. And though she finds U.S. classrooms to be “much noisier,” the teaching methodology is very similar.

The collaborative TEA Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and administered by IREX, a nongovernmental organization. It is implemented at BGSU by IDEI.

The goal is for the teachers to adapt what they learn here, not only from BGSU but more importantly from each other, and find culturally authentic ways to share and implement when they return to their home countries, Subreenduth said.

The 2014 IREX-TEA Cohort consists of English educators from Yemen, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Senegal, Nigeria, Nepal, Jordan, Iraq, India, Honduras, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Algeria.

Bringing it back home: Coverdell Fellows at BGSU

By Kristen Bunner (MACIE)

Bowling Green State University is attracting a new set set of graduate students who have skills in adapting to other cultures, developing and managing projects, dealing with language barriers and leveraging limited resources. These assets to classrooms across BGSU are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have opted to pursue the government's Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. Coverdell offers lifetime eligibility for financial assistance toward education through partnerships with over 70 schools throughout the country, including BGSU.

The University's Fellows program is expanding this fall with the addition of five new programs to the roster, which began over five years ago with the Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education (MACIE).

The new master's degree offerings are in business administration, Spanish, public administration, food and nutrition, and American culture studies (which is also available in conjunction with graduate certificates or as a doctorate).

Steve Hagerman, 27, of Berkley, Mich., was accepted as the first Fellow this fall, in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. Hagerman, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Puerto Armuelles, Panama, from 2010 to 2012, said he was attracted to BGSU for its outstanding scholarship package and the intensive, one-year MBA program.

The hallmark of the Coverdell Program is that Fellows are required to complete internships in underserved American communities, allowing them to bring home, and expand upon, the skills they learned as volunteers. Hagerman said he's looking forward to the internship opportunity as a chance to be productive and make an impact.

"Another attraction of doing the Fellows program at BGSU was in some way a continuance of the Peace Corps experience, as the summer internship will involve working with an underserved community here in the area," he said.

As a community economic/youth development volunteer in Panama, Hagerman worked as a counselor in an urban public high school, focusing on teaching life skills and sexual health education. He also integrated leadership development into athletic activities and English education.

See the full story at: http://www.bgsu.edu/offices/mc/features/2013/10/bringing_it_back_home.html

MACIE students and faculty contribute to IREX-TEA Project at BGSU

Although the languages they speak and the classrooms they use may be vastly different, when you put teachers from around the globe together they all want to focus on one thing-how to become better teachers.

For the past six weeks, 20 teachers from 17 countries have immersed themselves in professional development workshops and American culture. The holistic program has enabled them to learn more about themselves as teachers and the way of life in the United States, but has also presented the BGSU community and several local schools the opportunity to learn about their cultures.

The State Department Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) Program brings outstanding secondary science and English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers from abroad to the United States to further develop expertise in their subject areas, enhance their teaching skills, and increase their knowledge about the U.S. IREX, who administers the State Department TEA program, is an international nonprofit organization providing thought leadership and innovative programs to promote positive lasting change globally.

The core of the BGSU program titled, "Empowering Teacher Leaders for 21st Century Teaching and Learning," focused on the academics and field experience. Because the 20 TEA fellows are experienced educators and viewed as leaders in their communities, social studies education faculty member Dr. Sharon Subreenduth, principal investigator (PI) of the grant, pulled from the strengths of BGSU's master's degree programs in curriculum and teaching as well as classroom technology when conceptualizing the grant proposal.

Cross-curricular interdisciplinary general pedagogy sessions served as the base of the program. Technology classes started midway through before the group dived into content-specific pedagogy, which were accompanied by content-specific technology workshops.

"Our technology sessions move beyond the basics to a more indepth and intensive focus on effective classroom technologies that actively engage students in content development. We actually have content-specific technology workshops that IREX has not seen included before and were pleased with," said Subreenduth.

One of the main goals for TEA fellow Manjula Sivakumar of India was to implement technology in the classroom to handle large groups of students while giving them individual attention. After completing the program, Sivakumar said, "The technology classes helped me learn multiple technology tools to make my teaching-learning environment interesting and provided methods to assess large classes effectively and quickly."

Even though for some it may be difficult to integrate technology in their classrooms when they return home, for Subreenduth, it's important that the teachers now have another avenue of professional development and can incorporate technology into their own planning and preparing in order to be productive in the classroom.

In addition to the pedagogy and technology workshops, the teachers actively participated in inquiry-based discussions and curriculum. They also engaged in multi-disciplinary methods of teaching EFL and science, including hands-on exercises, roundtable discussions and small-work technology seminars.

"We wanted them to examine and develop authentic curriculum materials, because they have to develop and submit at least two lessons before they leave," said Subreenduth. "We also wanted to deepen their beliefs and reflections on teaching through inquiry-based activities."

With these goals in mind, the academics and the field experience are closely connected. "We were hoping that they would make better sense of what they learned while they were here with what they're seeing in the classrooms or even the gaps they're seeing in the U.S. classrooms," Subreenduth said. IREX provided a reflection guide for the TEA fellows to use with their partner teacher, which allows them to reflect on differentiations such as classroom management, assessment or planning.

The field experience was positive for both the TEA fellows as well as local schoolchildren. "I think it was good for my students to see someone of a different culture in the teaching perspective to understand that a lot of our strategies are the same," said Cynthia Blubaugh '03, seventh grade English language arts teacher at Perrysburg Junior High School and partner teacher for Salam Saleh of Jordan.

"A lot of the ways we approach the class are the same even though we are from two very different backgrounds, especially visually when you first see her, dressing differently with the head dress and everything, it was very good for them to understand that we're all human beings. The only difference is that we may believe a few different things or might dress differently or speak a little differently, but basically the principles are the same," added Blubaugh.

Saleh taught two sessions in Blubaugh's classroom - one on Jordan and another on stereotyping. "It was a really cool, hands-on lesson where she talked about how we're alike, how we're different and how people are more alike than different throughout the world," said Blubaugh. "That was a great opportunity for the students."

"Although people are of different races, ethnicities or cultures, they can get along successfully if they focus on their similarities rather than their differences," Saleh said when asked what she will take away from this program.

Birgy Lorenz of Estonia shared a similar reaction to the field experience. "Now I see that children are children and teachers are teachers as mothers are mothers all over the world," she reflected. Despite differences in some methodical approaches, schedules, lesson planning and management, as well as compulsory curricula subjects and how they are implemented in schools, she recognized a lot of similarities.

Experiencing firsthand the "real" student and teacher life in the U.S. was a highlight for

Manjula Sivakumar of India. "I could share lot of things like our culture, school community and parent community, as well as the education system and society with the U.S students, and also had an opportunity to learn theirs," Sivakumar said.

"In addition to the academics and field experiences, the program included significant cultural activities. It's quite holistic," Subreenduth said. When conceptualizing the grant proposal, she thought it was important to have a cross-cultural component that engaged faculty and graduate students from the School of Teaching and Learning as well as the Master of Arts in Cross-cultural and International Education (MACIE) Program.

The teachers were immersed in a variety of activities to get a more authentic sense of American culture. In fact, the TEA fellows became so familiar with current trends in the U.S. that they joined the Harlem Shake phenomenon and created their own video.

Dance seemed to be a favorite interest among the group, given that they also had an impromptu two-hour dance party following a dinner hosted by Dr. Savilla Banister, a classroom technology faculty member. Organized trips and activities were planned by Dr. Christopher Frey, co-PI and MACIE graduate coordinator, and his team of six graduate students. The TEA fellows visited Toledo, Detroit, Columbus and Chicago or New York City, exploring Toledo's Cherry Street Mission and landmarks and attend sporting events.

Local families also hosted the teachers for two weekends. During the homestays, the teachers experienced a wide range of activities from a hockey game to a radio talk show to visiting places of worship and joining in family dinners. "I think for some people who come from cultures where staying or visiting in someone's home is not very common, that might have been a new experience for them … It's good for them to see beyond the public buildings and museums to see how people really live," said Frey.

The teachers seemed to agree with Frey. "The homestays were unique opportunities to experience the American way of living," said Serge Pacome Yao Pre of Cote d'Ivoire. "I noticed that beyond their busy days, Americans have time to care. Thanks to all these wonderful families who didn't only open the doors of their houses, but also the doors of their hearts."

Frey believes that over time, it's the personal relationships that people build across national borders that help to sustain peaceful, friendly relationships between countries.

"So that might seem like a bit of a stretch, but I really do believe it's these kinds of interactions where people can see each other in their everyday lives … they can see that there are a wide range of people in societies around the world," he said.

He explains that the way that the grant is conceptualized some of these teachers may have another 20 years in their career impacting tens or hundreds of thousands of students in the future. "So hopefully if we are able to give them a good experience here and show them some of that complexity of the United States, it doesn't allow for easy 'America is like this' or 'America is not like that.' It will help young people abroad to better understand what the United States is like, and I think the same thing can be said at a smaller level here with the TEA fellows working in the local public schools."

The State Department TEA Program was sponsored by the Bowling Green State University International Democratic Education Institute.

(Posted March 25, 2013 ) Please see pictures and the full story at: http://www.bgsu.edu/offices/mc/features/2013/03/finding_common_ground.html

Peace Corps Coverdell Program expansion approved for BGSU

BOWLING GREEN, O. (January 29, 2013).—Peace Corps and Bowling Green State University are expanding the degree opportunities available through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which provides significant graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers. The expansion gives BGSU one of the largest Coverdell fellows programs in the country.

The new master’s degree offerings at BGSU will be in Business Administration, Food and Nutrition, Public Administration, and Spanish, in addition to a Ph.D. in American culture studies. BGSU’s existing Coverdell Fellows partnership is a Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education (MACIE).

“The Peace Corps is delighted to have Bowling Green State University as a partner in the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program,” Acting Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “This new partnership enables returned Peace Corps volunteers to continue their work in public service through meaningful internships in underserved American communities. Experience overseas and graduate studies position Peace Corps Fellows to launch a career by combining coursework with service.”

For the complete story, please see: http://www.bgsu.edu/offices/mc/news/2013/news126401.html

MACIE Students Recognized at 2011 Graduate Student Awards Ceremony

MACIE students were recognized at the BGSU Graduate Student Senate's 29th Annual Graduate Student Awards Ceremony, held on April 21, 2011. Leslie Pacheco ('11) and Conor Harmon ('12) both received the Outstanding Research Assistant Award in recognition of their contribution to a longitudinal study of adolescent achievement in Fremont, Ohio schools, a project directed by Dr. Margaret Booth. Oluwadamilare Adeyeri ('12) was recognized as one of two Outstanding International Students, and Benjamin MacKenzie received first place in the Colloquium Presentation and Poster Contest. Several MACIE students were also nominated for awards, including Natasha Truong for Outstanding Graduate Student, A'ame Kone for Outstanding Administrative Assistant from the Women's Center. Congratulations to our outstanding students!


BGSU Recognized for Peace Corps Efforts

(16 March 2011, Toledo Free Press

For the first time, Bowling Green State University has made the Peace Corps list of the nation’s top colleges and universities for producing volunteers. BGSU appears at No. 25 in the Medium Colleges and Universities category with 21 active undergraduate volunteers in 2010. The list also counted down the top large and small colleges and universities, as well as graduate schools. Leadership and Policy Studies Professor Margaret Booth thinks BGSU’s appearance on the list is connected to her Peace Corps Fellow Program.

“I think it has brought notoriety to Peace Corps on campus,” Booth said. “It’s very active on campus. It’s very active in the community.”

Article continues here.

MACIE News Archive:

"MACIE students bring synergy, energy to campus" (8 Feb 2010):

"Peace Corps Fellows to Enrich BGSU Campus Life" (22 Sept 2008)

MACIE is initiated as a Peace Corps Fellows program (2008):
"Peace Corps Fellows to Enrich Campus Life"

"New MACIE degree bridges cultures, 'knowledge gap' for teachers" (30 Oct 2006)