Julie George (left) receives the Ornelas award from Barbara Toth, director of the BGSU Human Relations Commission.
Compassion, service earn Julie George the Ornelas award
Julie George, English, was presented the Miguel Ornelas Human Relations Award April 16. Her efforts on behalf of international students and their families, both in and out of the classroom, have helped create a more welcoming environment for them as well as raising awareness among local citizens about other cultures.
The Ornelas award is given on the basis of nominees’ overall impact on the campus community, their creativity and uniqueness and the degree to which their actions have mobilized others and enhanced the role and mission of the University.
George teaches in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program of the English department, and served as program director in 2003.
“Julie impresses me as a person who has no bias,” wrote nominator Ruijie Zhao, a graduate student in rhetoric and writing. “She always listens to people attentively and expresses her concern but never makes hasty judgments. She shows respect to people of different ethnicities and cultures. Such qualities are vital to being a successful ESL instructor.”
George organizes her classes so that students learn English through culture, Zhao said. “She not only exposes her students to American culture through various activities but also encourages her students to discuss their home cultures in the class as a way to teach students to embrace differences and promote diversity. Therefore, in the classroom, Julie is a very competent instructor who not only teaches students English but also promotes BG’s core value—respect.”
In addition to her classroom teaching, George serves as the director of Global Connections, a nonprofit organization dedicated to befriending and helping international students and their families in the Bowling Green area. Each year, she organizes a free garage sale in early August through Global Connections to provide international students with furniture, cooking utensils, linens and other items needed to start their lives in Bowling Green.
George’s efforts go far beyond the traditional school day. She organizes driving schools each month during the academic year for international students and their spouses. Every Wednesday, she volunteers to teach the Community English class to nonnative English speakers, mainly international students’ spouses. On Saturdays once a month, she drives international students and their families to shop at Toledo international markets.
When two international students were killed in an auto accident last January, George, along with other Global Connections volunteers, tried to provide comfort and help to the surviving students and close friends by bringing them food, providing consolation and staying with them every day in the first couple of weeks to help them deal with the traumatic experience.
“She cares both about the material life and spiritual life of the international people here at BG,” and her help in removing cultural barriers and smoothing out everyday problems allows students to thrive in their academic life, Zhao wrote.
Her work to promote mingling of people of different ethnic backgrounds fosters positive human relations and was recognized in spring 2007 at the annual international dinner, where she was presented the Community Service Award by the World Student Association of BGSU.
April 28, 2008