June 17, 2021

Colleges cautiously optimistic for future of study abroad (NBC29)

Sainz Interviewed About Study Abroad During the Pandemic

Professor of Spanish and Center for International Education Director Jose Sainz

Professor of Spanish and Center for International Education Director Jose Sainz

Professor of Spanish and Center for International Education Director Jose Sainz was interviewed for an article in the Independent-Messenger about study abroad during the pandemic.

Jose Sainz, director of the UMW Center for International Education, said that although the university’s summer travel abroad programs are cancelled, students are allowed to independently study abroad. Students may choose to study abroad by partnering with individual companies or the university’s providers.

“Should their travel destination be within the travel guidelines of the Department of State and the CDC’s, students are free to travel as they please,” Sainz said. “We do have a number of students that are very interested.” Read more. 

 

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.

Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Study Abroad, Student Exchange Programs (Diverse Education)

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 Global Service

At their swearing-in ceremony last summer, Sebrine Abdulkadir, left, and fellow Peace Corps volunteers wear clothing handmade from traditional Botswanan fabrics. Abdulkadir’s service was cut short when the Peace Corps evacuated volunteers due to coronavirus.

At their swearing-in ceremony last summer, Sebrine Abdulkadir, left, and fellow Peace Corps volunteers wear clothing handmade from traditional Botswanan fabrics. Abdulkadir’s service was cut short when the Peace Corps evacuated volunteers due to coronavirus.

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 she could from her house in the village of Good Hope, near the South African border. She left other belongings in the care of colleagues who had worked with her on projects to educate young people about HIV/AIDS.

By Monday evening, she was on her way to Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. And Wednesday morning she began her journey home, flying through South Africa and the United Arab Emirates before arriving in Washington, D.C.

“I didn’t really believe it till I was walking onto the plane,” Abdulkadir said. “It was stressful. I didn’t really have the chance to say goodbye.”

After a two-week quarantine upon returning to the United States, Abdulkadir has joined her mother and 7-year-old brother at home in Alexandria, Virginia. From her independent adult life and her own house in Botswana, the 22-year-old finds herself once again under a parent’s roof and contemplating her next steps. Read more.

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.

UMW to Offer Japanese Language Courses

Japanese Minister of Public Affairs Takehiro Shimada (second from the left) and Takeshi Yoshida of the Japan Foundation (far right) visited UMW today to celebrate the announcement of the University’s new Japanese language program, funded by a grant from the Japan Foundation. From L-R: Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Betsy Lewis, Mr. Shimada, Provost Nina Mikhalevsky, Center of International Education Director Jose Sainz, Professor Steve Rabson, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Mr. Yoshida. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Japanese Minister of Public Affairs Takehiro Shimada (second from the left) and Takeshi Yoshida of the Japan Foundation (far right) visited UMW today to celebrate the announcement of the University’s new Japanese language program, funded by a grant from the Japan Foundation. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Spending a semester in Japan, UMW senior Kaitlin Viloria was in a shop when a young woman asked her a question. The woman spoke no English and Viloria’s Japanese was limited, but they still managed to strike up a conversation.

Viloria wishes she was more proficient, she said, “but in that moment, I was proud of my ability to overcome the language barrier.”

Future Mary Washington students who travel to Japan will be able to communicate with confidence, thanks to the Japanese language courses UMW will offer starting this fall. Earlier today, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Keith Mellinger and Center for International Education Director Jose Sainz joined guests from the Japanese Embassy, faculty, administrators and city officials at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center to announce the new program. Japanese Minister of Public Affairs Takehiro Shimada gave a talk after the ceremony. Read more.

Peace Corps Top Producer: UMW Alums Serve Globally

2019 Peace Corps Top College

Once again the University of Mary Washington’s alumni commitment to global service has earned UMW recognition as a Peace Corps top producer.

Mary Washington took the 15th spot among U.S. schools with fewer than 5,000 students. The distinction marks the 11th consecutive year UMW has made the top 25. More than 260 Mary Washington alums have served the Peace Corps since its 1961 inception. Read more.