April 14, 2021

Alumni Trio Adapt to Teaching in Madrid, Pandemic Style

When quarantine began in March 2020, Chloe Morton ’19 decided to improvise, creating virtual scavenger hunts to engage her middle and high school-aged students. It’s a typical assignment in the age of COVID-19. But she also had to add English subtitles. After all, she is teaching in Spain. One third of each graduating class at […]

Sarah Moran: Travel Guide

Sarah Moran began studying abroad even before she could read words on a map. When she was 5, her family participated in an exchange program in England through her father’s company.

Sarah Moran '10, found her way back to UMW in 2017, when she became the study abroad coordinator for the Center for International Education. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Sarah Moran ’10, found her way back to UMW in 2017, when she became the study abroad coordinator for the Center for International Education. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Over the years, she’s added nearly 20 stamps to her passport, hiking and rafting in Slovenia, quilting in Cuba and biking a tiny island off the Australian coast. Her wanderlust also led her to the University of Mary Washington.

“I knew when selecting a college that I wanted to study abroad, so Mary Washington was a great fit,” said Moran, a 2010 alumna who spent a semester in Ireland while completing her bachelor’s degree in business. Seven years later, she returned to UMW, this time as study abroad coordinator for the Center for International Education (CIE).

One-third of each graduating class – about 300 students – study abroad during their time at UMW, Moran said, so her office is always busy helping them find their way through the world. CIE also helps international students navigate life on campus and in the United States.

In her role, Moran, who also earned an MBA from UMW’s College of Business, organizes faculty-led programs, juggling behind-the-scenes work like logistics, marketing and finances, so instructors can focus on their classes and students. She also helps coordinate the CIE Peer Advisor program, alumni activities and social media outreach. Since COVID-19 hit in March, she’s been doing all of this from home while caring for her 15-month-old daughter.

“The pandemic may have thrown a wrench in everyone’s plans,” Moran said, but CIE is encouraging students to explore options so they’re ready to travel when the time comes.

“Leaving Mary Washington, even for a little while, is hard,” she said, “but the experiences you will find abroad, and what you’ll discover about yourself, are worth it.”

International Education Week 2020, Nov. 16 to 20, celebrates cross-cultural learning. Visit the CIE website or call (540) 654-1434 for more information about faculty-led trips, exchange partnerships and other UMW-approved experiences outside the United States.

 

“I knew when selecting a college that I wanted to study abroad, so Mary Washington was a great fit,” said Moran, who now helps current UMW students plan their travels and professors coordinate faculty-led trips. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

“I knew when selecting a college that I wanted to study abroad, so Mary Washington was a great fit,” said Moran, who now helps current UMW students plan their travels and professors coordinate faculty-led trips. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Q: How can students prepare now for future study abroad experiences?
A: We hosted “Travel Tuesday” Q&A’s earlier this fall semester, which were a great way for prospective students to ask questions of study abroad alums and program staff. CIE is also attending virtual admissions events and hosted a panel during Family Weekend.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Helping students go abroad and have a fulfilling experience when they didn’t think it was a possibility.

Q: The most challenging?
A: When students don’t take responsibility for their own experience and are disappointed that it didn’t go the way they expected.

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I like to read and listen to audiobooks, go on long walks and watch Netflix. I also enjoy puzzles and coloring.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: Growing up I wanted to be a pastry chef, and I was a Junior Olympic fencer in high school.

Q: What’s next on your travel bucket list?
A: My next big trip is Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: These days, I often repeat the phrase “strength, peace and patience.” I also like “Happiness is a journey, not the destination.”

Marketing Class Partners with Students Across the Globe

Studying abroad is as much a part of University of Mary Washington culture as bench-sitting or playing Frisbee on Ball Circle. One-third of each graduating class – about 300 students – spends time learning overseas. Not this year. As COVID-19 continues to sweep the globe, international travel – like commencements, reunions and all large gatherings […]

Marketing Class Partners with Students Across the Globe

UMW students aren’t able to study abroad due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But this fall, an international marketing class is engaging in cross-cultural learning by partnering with students at a university in the Czech Republic to better understand global consumerism.

UMW students aren’t able to study abroad due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But this fall, an international marketing class is engaging in cross-cultural learning by partnering with students at a university in the Czech Republic to better understand global consumerism.

Studying abroad is as much a part of University of Mary Washington culture as bench-sitting or playing Frisbee on Ball Circle. One-third of each graduating class – about 300 students – spends time learning overseas.

Not this year.

As COVID-19 continues to sweep the globe, international travel – like commencements, reunions and all large gatherings – has been put on hold.

But the pandemic hasn’t halted cross-cultural learning at Mary Washington. This fall, an international marketing class taught by College of Business Associate Professor Kashef Majid has partnered with a university in the Czech Republic to better understand global consumerism and how certain brands and behaviors can transcend cultural differences. Connecting on Zoom, students have discussed everything from fashion fads to technology trends, discovering similarities and differences between young adults living on opposite sides of the world.

“You can study marketing trends in foreign countries all day long,” said senior Ginny Summers, “but in order to succeed in business, you need to be able to have a respectful conversation with someone from a different culture.” Read more.

Sainz Discusses COVID’s Impact on Study Abroad Programs in Diverse Education

Associate Professor of Spanish and Center for International Education Director Jose Sainz

Associate Professor of Spanish and Center for International Education Director Jose Sainz

Associate Professor of Spanish Jose Sainz, director of UMW’s Center for International Education, recently spoke to Diverse Education about the impact of COVID-19 on study abroad programs.

At the University of Mary Washington (UMW) in Virginia, Dr. Jose A. Sainz, director of the Center for International Education, said it was clear early on that “travel was going to be impossible” this past summer. What followed was canceling all international travel for fall 2020 and any faculty-led programs and conferences — as well as deferring students still interested in international programs for the spring of 2021.

And while deferred programs at UMW are set to run between May and July of next summer, “the caveat to those programs is that [the university] can cancel those programs any day,” Sainz said. However, if airlines, travel, and quarantine measures are not “deal breakers,” then students may still have the opportunity to go.

Original international program plans for spring 2021, such as extracurriculars, may be altered given safety concerns. Some museums abroad may not allow students to go as a group and congregate, Sainz explained.

“So, you have to kind of rethink — in terms of activities — what you want to incorporate in your program,” and then, give students guidelines for their independently-led assignment, he said. Read more.

A message from President Paino regarding ICE decision on international students

The University of Mary Washington is alarmed by the recent decision from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency barring international students from entering or remaining in the United States in the event that they are able to enroll only online this fall. UMW has and will continue to welcome international students as valuable members of our community. These changes to student visa policies are arbitrary and damaging to the University, our students, and our region.

While the University is and will continue to monitor the situation, ongoing developments, and current legal actions, UMW is also taking specific steps in response:

  • The University, with the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office, is exploring how best to support the Harvard/MIT lawsuit challenging the forthcoming rules that bar online study for international students.
  • The University’s Director of the Center for International Education, Dr. Jose A. Sainz, is closely following developments and has been in communication with and providing support to all UMW students likely to experience impact from these policy changes.
  • International students may continue to avail themselves of academic and social support services such as advising, virtual access to the library, the James Farmer Multicultural Center, and the Talley Center for mental health as long as they are enrolled at UMW.
  • As part of UMW’s plan to reopen this fall, and as documented in our submission to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), UMW has committed to materially supporting international students in meeting federal guidelines for self-quarantine following entry into the United States prior to the start of classes.

To start the 2020-2021 academic year, UMW intends to offer courses delivered in multiple modalities: online, hybrid, and face-to-face. The process of deciding which courses will be taught in which modality is ongoing and evolving as circumstances change. Such choices will always be made in the interest of public health, the well-being of our faculty, staff and students, and our commitment to high quality instruction.

A particularly pernicious aspect of the Department of Homeland Security’s decision is that it irresponsibly pressures institutions to make decisions about teaching modalities that have nothing to do with health or pedagogy. Institutions of higher education must remain flexible in order to best respond to trends in public health data and the wellbeing of students and employees. If circumstances warrant, courses that are currently scheduled to meet face-to-face on campus must have the ability to go online without derailing the educational attainment of international students.

Fall 2020 is clearly an exceptional one for the entire world. Higher education has repeatedly assured students and other stakeholders that this environment is an anomaly and adversity mitigated only when we share responsibility and work together as a community. Yet this ruling seems to indicate that international students are secondary contributors to American education. It is a misguided framework, and most educators will attest to their experience that international students stand equal with U.S. students in their intellectual, social, and financial impact. The richness and diversity of thought brought by a variety of cultures are crucial to a global perspective that benefits all students and this nation. Either we stand together during this pandemic or we are all fundamentally weakened and vulnerable.

Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer Vows to Continue Service

For Peace Corps volunteer Sebrine Abdulkadir ’19, posted in the southern African country of Botswana, the upheaval happened fast. On a Monday morning in mid-March, she received an email saying she and other Peace Corps volunteers worldwide would be evacuated from their posts because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In three hours Abdulkadir packed what possessions […]

Campus Update on Coronavirus

To students, faculty, and staff:

As members of our community return from spring break, when many of us have been traveling, we would like to provide an update on the global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Rest assured that UMW’s medical and emergency management officials have taken proactive steps and are continually monitoring the situation and are regularly in touch with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

There are no confirmed cases in our community or in Virginia. At this point, VDH recommends self-quarantine only for individuals who have traveled to or been in close contact with residents of China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea. In addition, the same protocol is recommended for anyone who has been in physical proximity with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

We realize many students, faculty, and staff have traveled widely during the past week. While the risk of contracting COVID-19 is lower if you have not traveled to any of the four countries named above or been in close contact with someone who has, we urge all members of the campus community to practice vigilance in regard to their health.

As a means of ensuring your safety as well as the safety of the campus community, we ask that you inform student health via this link of where you have traveled in the past several weeks.

The symptoms associated with COVID-19 are similar to the common flu – fever, cough, shortness of breath, and other respiratory complaints.  Students who are ill or think they may be ill should stay home from class and must contact their instructor via email or telephone to discuss appropriate adjustments. Faculty will be provided guidance on ways to accommodate students who may temporarily need to participate or complete assignments remotely. Faculty members who have questions about how to do this may find assistance through the Center for Teaching and Digital Learning Support.

As with any cold or flu, it is important for everyone to follow these self-care habits to reduce the chance of infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid eating or drinking after others or sharing e-cigarettes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

There is currently no treatment available for COVID-19; for more than 80% of people who contract the virus, cases are mild and the virus runs its course. However, if you test positive with coronavirus, VDH recommends self-isolate for 14 days so as not to expose anyone else to the virus.

If you have medical questions or are in need of a thermometer, please call the Student Health Center at 540-654-1040.

For any other questions or concerns, please email healthupdates@umw.edu or call/leave a message at 540-654-1999.

Further information on COVID-19 can be found at Virginia Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and/or x211 (press 9).

We continue to work closely with local, state, and federal health officials, and we will regularly update the campus.

Your well-being is a top priority. In our commitment to minimizing the health risks to our students, staff and faculty, we will provide as clear and timely communications as possible.

Sincerely,

Juliette Landphair, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Mary Washington
540-654-1062
Jlandpha@umw.edu

 

UMW Goes Global as Peace Corps Top Producer

Teenage boys can be a handful, no matter which country or culture they come from. Amal Hajjami learned that fact within her first few weeks of Peace Corps training in Morocco, when the 2019 alumna encountered a young man who was a bit of a troublemaker. He refused to participate or follow the rules – […]

UMW Goes Global as Peace Corps Top Producer

Teenage boys can be a handful, no matter which country or culture they come from.

Amal Hajjami (front row, far right), who graduated from UMW in 2019, is among the dozen Mary Washington alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. The University was just named a Peace Corps Top Producer.

Amal Hajjami (front row, far right), who graduated from UMW in 2019, is among the dozen Mary Washington alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. The University was just named a Peace Corps Top Producer.

Amal Hajjami learned that fact within her first few weeks of Peace Corps training in Morocco, when the 2019 alumna encountered a young man who refused to participate or follow the rules – when he even bothered to show up – but she wouldn’t give up on him.

“During training, we’re taught that we shouldn’t push these individuals away,” she said, “but instead, give them leadership responsibilities.” Soon the teen was stepping up and helping out. “He showed me that once you start encouraging people, the outcome will change.”

Hajjami is among a dozen Mary Washington graduates serving worldwide in the Peace Corps, to which the University of Mary Washington has once again been named a top contributor. UMW jumped to number seven – up from 15th last year – among small schools on the 2020 Top Volunteer-Producing Schools list, released this morning.

Securing this prestigious ranking is a longstanding tradition for the University, which has earned a spot on the list since 2005. For 12 consecutive years, UMW has been included among the top 25 colleges and universities with fewer than 5,000 students. A total of 270 alumni have joined the Peace Corps since its 1961 inception.

“Mary Washington’s culture of service keeps fueling students’ interest in continuing their commitment to populations served by the Peace Corps,” said José A. Sainz, director of UMW’s Center for International Education (CIE). “It pushes their boundaries and offers many opportunities for them to become better global citizens.” Read more.