Category Archives: International & Study Abroad

Internationalizing Parkland Curriculum: A Personal Journey

A few years ago, Parkland College Study Abroad Coordinator Jody Littleton challenged me to think about how my classes could be different and possibly even better through adding more cultural reflection. When teaching in the quantitative sciences, it is easy to overlook the power that curriculum infused with an international perspective can have on student learning.

I had fallen prey to the mindset that I just needed to “get through the material” as presented in the book and on the Course Information Forms. After ruminating on her suggestion, though, I realized that I might be able to teach specific topics better if I created well-thought-out assessments with a global outlook. Jody and I continued the conversation, and when several Parkland faculty partnered with Joliet Junior College to travel to China a month ago (March 2017), I joined in.

It was a trip of a lifetime that opened my eyes to what may have been missing from my teaching. For one, this trip made my feet itch with the desire to travel outside of the US for my professional development. How can I teach about unique nutritional deficiencies, different modes of physical activity in the world, living quarters’ impact on health, medical training, and more if I only have a book for reference? I also quickly realized that my perspectives on China had been missing critical pieces of information; once abroad, I was able to form a holistic picture of Chinese culture and better compare it to the US as well as other to countries I have visited. While many topics I had studied prior to my trip were “mostly correct,” visiting China clarified several misconceptions, gave me a new appreciation, and allowed me to better understand the full picture.

What I Learned During the Faculty Study Abroad

  • I was shocked to see how quickly China is becoming Westernized, to the point that McDonald’s delivers in many cities in China. At the train station waiting for the bullet train, there were two KFC restaurants as well as a McDonald’s in one moderate-sized train station.
  • At the farmer’s market, we saw many choices that we don’t see in the United States. Lamb intestine, cow stomach, chicken feet, and more were sitting out for purchase from morning until evening, with patrons bringing them home to cook for dinner. When we were invited to eat with the Nanjing Technical School faculty and deans, we were able to sample more of the local fair, including duck heads, a native delicacy. (In case you were wondering, you eat duck heads like oysters.)
  • Most places we ate at served food “family style” with a turntable in the center. Plates were significantly smaller than in the US. Because everyone is sharing, I didn’t want to take more food than would be socially appropriate, so, it encouraged me to eat more modest portions than I am accustomed to eating. I also learned that rice is often not served in China if the host would like to impress you with the quality of food offered. Rice is not the food of the rich. The rich eat a meat- and fish-based diet with significantly fewer vegetables than China has historically consumed. In turn, there is a marked rise in obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes.
  • Even on good days, the smog in some locations of China would impede my ability to see the sun and, possibly, my ability to synthesize enough vitamin D to meet my nutritional needs without supplementation/fortification.
  • Toilets in China are often similar to the stalls you see here.  We discussed that women would realistically need to retain the ability to perform a deep squat if they were to use a public toilet. However, it seemed of little concern as many older individuals in China had a greater range of motion than we see in the US. Possibly due to the toilets?
  • When we visited a local park at 10  a.m. during the weekday, we noted that many people engaged in exercise…dance, tai chi, fencing, badminton, etc. Retirees in China do not retire to the couch. They get out during the day to enjoy other’s company as well as keep active physically and mentally.

How What I Learned Changed My Curriculum

  • Now, in each module of my BIO 120 class (Fundamentals of Nutrition), students have the opportunity to present a module-specific cultural comparison between China and the US. During the digestive system module, students can discuss the incidence of specific GI disorders in China relative to the US. For example, a student researched and found a higher incidence of lactose intolerance/maldigestion in China due to both environmental and genetic factors.
  • My KIN 288 (Exercise Physiology) class is finding peer-reviewed journal articles comparing topics such as air quality impact on VO2max, changes in childhood obesity rates in response to Westernization, and the selection and training of Olympic hopefuls in China.
  • In all of my classes, students have the option of creating a video focusing on the cultural comparison between China and the US. We are partnering with our PCTV studio, and many of the videos will become available on YouTube mid-May.

Overall, visiting China was a surreal, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I constantly took pictures, spoke with locals, and absorbed all the nuances I could. Other Parkland College faculty who participated in this grant echo my sentiments, and we plan to collectively present  about our experiences this September. We look forward to sharing more of our perspectives then.

[An associate professor in  Natural Sciences, Toni Burkhalter was Parkland College’s Teaching Excellence Award winner for 2016].

2017 International Cultures Fair

20th Annual International Cultures Fair 
Thursday, March 30, 11am–4pm
Parkland College Student Union

Photo by Heather Coit/The News-Gazette
Zilkia Guzman, a second-year Parkland Student, shows off the Henna work, created by Mahomet-based Zainab Susi, at the 19th annual Cultures Fair at Parkland College’s Student Union in Champaign on Thursday, March 17, 2016.

Everyone is invited to attend the Cultures Fair at Parkland College this Thursday. The event is free, and will feature an exciting lineup of musical artists and speakers from around the world. There will be a jerk chicken lunch in U140 to raise money for a new international student scholarship. Student clubs and organizations will also have tables with information and fun activities, including henna tattoos!

U140
11:30–1: JERK CHICKEN LUNCH, catered by Caribbean Grill (tickets $6; all proceeds go to a new International Student Scholarship).  Until the food runs out!

1:30–2:10 Japanese Tea Ceremony.  Japan House from UIUC will present Chado, the Way of Tea, which is one of the most time honored Japanese traditional arts. It encompasses all of the different Japanese art forms, aesthetics, and philosophy. Codified almost four hundred years ago by Sen Rikyu, the greatest tea master, the four spirits of tea signify the highest ideals of the Way of Tea: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.

3–4 pm: Campus Talk:  Professor Hua Qin from the University of Missouri-Columbia uncovers the relationship between migration and the environment in China and how this information may lead to better sustainability and policies in China.

Main Stage Student Union
11:00–11:45: Super Mazumzum: Playing Afro Beat, Soukous, Township Jive, Malawian Afroma, and more, Super Mazumzum is Champaign-Urbana’s premier African Jazz band performing music from artists ranging from Manu Dibango to Mafikizolo.

Noon–12:45: Jean René Balekita and Bomoyi: Congolese rumba with flavors of gospel, jazz and African rhythms. Bomoyi means “life” in the native language of Lingala. In addition to Lingala they sing in English, French, Kikongo, Swahili, and Tshiluba.

1:00–1:30: Gah Rahk Mah Dahng: Korean Traditional Percussion student club at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They play a genre called Samulnori, featuring four different instruments. These instruments were traditionally played together in prayer for good harvest. Nowadays they are often played for both musical performance and social protest.

2:00–2:45: Los Guapos: an instrumental quartet specializing in folk and popular music traditions of Latin America. The group performs a unique blend of Cumbia, Peruvian Chicha, Conjunto Cubano, and psychedelic rock styles.

Parkland Student Club Tables
English Conversation Club, German Club, Spanish, Study Abroad, Japanese Culture Club, Club Latino, henna tattoos, and more!

The fair is being sponsored by the UIUC’s Center for Global Studies, through support of the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI NRC program. Additional funding has been provided by the UIUC Center for African Studies and the Center for Latin American Studies as well as the Division of Arts and Sciences, the Counseling and Advising Center, and Student Government at Parkland College.

Seville Spain Street Performers

Enjoy some Seville, Spain, street music today, compliments of Scott Barnes, one of our study abroad students in Spain. Sign up for study abroad and you can experience these wonderful performances in person!

Contact Jody Littleton at jlittleton@parkland.edu or 217/351-2532 today.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/oM4m0c8p1GI

Know Where to Go for Flamenco in Seville, Spain!

This blog is from Christopher Scott Barnes.  He is studying this semester in Seville, Spain.  We offer study abroad here and many other places!  If you are interested in Study Abroad, contact jlittleton@parkland.edu.

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When gypsies arrived in Spain in the 15th century, they brought with them a style of song and dance that later developed into what is considered today as contemporary flamenco. flamenco-sign

The tradition became popular in Spain throughout the 20th century, as the “gitanos” began performing for tourists here in Seville and other cities.

In multiple locations, visitors can still see the famous “tabloas,” in which performers display a spectrum of intense emotion through song and dance. One of the best spots in the city for flamenco is at the Museo del Baile Flamenco, which is where I was lucky enough to enjoy a proper show for the first time.flamenco-4

Accompanied by ICS professor Judy Cotter, a small group of students and I sat front row for an intimate performance. Afterwards, I was able to meet the star of the show, Victor Bravo, who is also the dance director of the museum. When I asked him if he could provide me with a quote about the show that evening, he replied by telling me that flamenco cannot be summed up in a few words or a couple of sentences.flamenco2

The art has a rich history and has played a significant role in Spanish society for many years. The Jewish and Arabian influence that makes up the culture of southern Spain can easily be felt in the singing, which is accompanied by Spanish guitar. The flow of it all is directed by the movement of the dancers who keep time by stomping their feet, clapping their hands and rattling castanets. The rhythm of the show varies as each performer takes their turn in the spotlight.  The volume goes from a hush to a crescendo as the performers show individual style as well as collective coordination.

It all adds up to an authentic, theater-like event and an evening that is worth the time and money. I highly recommend that future students experience flamenco while they are in Seville. I also recommend having dinner at Bar Estrella just around the corner from the museum. Que rico!

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Morocco: Gateway to Another World

Scott Barnes, a Parkland student, is living in Seville, Spain for a semester study abroad. As part of his study abroad experience he visited Morocco. I am looking forward to what he has to say!

Remember YOU can study abroad too.  We have lots of different experiences. Check out our study abroad options at http://www.parkland.edu/international/studyabroad

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When I first arrived in Europe, I knew very little about the history of the various countries in it and had very little knowledge about the many cultures that exist here. Other than the secondhand information I received via the media throughout the years, I didn’t have much of an idea about libarnes-blog-2016fe abroad.

The differences are what I noticed first and foremost, and those differences are what most students struggle with, initially. Changing mealtimes and sleep habits as well adjusting to the foreign way in which people greet each other and conduct themselves requires some time to understand and get comfortable with.

Despite the differences, there is a lot that Americans and Europeans have in common. Those similarities were brought to light after I took a trip to Morocco.

I hadn’t realized how much the way in which I live echoes the European way of life until I spent some time in the Rif Mountains. The social norms that westerners share exist to a lesser degree in northern Africa. For example, it is uncommon to see men and women together in a public setting and much of the daily routine is centered around practicing religion.

barnes-blog-3Although my visit to Morocco was very short, it had a significant impact on me. Rather than providing a detailed, firsthand account of the various activities that the International College of Seville planned out for our trip, I prefer to share with you what I found to be truly rewarding about the experience. It is wonderful to have pictures of riding camels and eating in authentic Moroccan restaurants, but what is more valuable is the perspective that is gained from visiting different countries and meeting new people. The stimulation that comes from trying to understand a different way of life or to see the perspective of things through another cultural lens has been life-changing for me.

The name of the game in the touristic areas of Morocco is buy and sell, and merchants love to engage in the act of negotiation. There are no set prices and the bargain to be had is largely determined by the ability of the buyer to be resolute. The confidence of knowing a low price has been paid may be confirmed by the statement, “you haggle like a Berber!” The country is a great place to purchase gifts for friends and family back home and that seems to be the objective for most of the tourists who visit. The products offered vary from handmade gifts and food to just about anything they think people might want to buy.barnes-blog-5

To my surprise, many Moroccan people know English and speak it very well. It is necessary when dealing with foreigners, and their linguistic capability is impressive. Many of them learn English at a very young age and likely have been speaking more than one language since they were children. In fact, it is normal for Moroccan people to speak three or four different languages; English, French and their own dialect of Arabic are the most common. I found that after the exchange of money was complete, the sellers were more open to conversation. A lot about their culture was conveyed in those brief interactions, and it was easy to feel their affection and see the kindness in their eyes.

barnes-blog-4Superficially, consumerism is obviously a part of their way of life, and tourism certainly supports the economy, but there is much more to the culture and history of Arabian people. There are stories behind the faces in the shops of the medina, or “Old Town,” district of Tetouan, or within the painted blue walls of Chefchaouen. There is a way of greeting people, of falling in love, of raising children, and of experiencing life that is unique to the culture.

I have found that tasting the different flavors, seeing the sights, hearing the sounds, and smelling the scents of various cultures is enlightening. The best way to learn about other countries is to visit them. Sharing face to face conversations is rewarding, even if the interaction is minimal.

barnes-blog-2Moving beyond being a tourist and finding commonality with people of another race is what is truly beneficial about traveling. Also, to tell the story of the person who sold you the gift makes the act of giving it more enjoyable. I may have left with a pair of high quality, handmade Moroccan leather sandals, but the real present is my new found view of the world and my life.

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of studying abroad is the easy access to other worlds and the subsequent comprehensive understanding of culture that results from those adventures.

Study Abroad Spain: The Experience is Sinking In

Communication major Scott Barnes’ new study abroad acquaintance Corey Davis learns he should live life back home like he’s living it in Spain. “Get off the couch and quit watching Netflix,” I think, is a great message for all of us! Check out Corey’s interview below.

Remember, anyone can study abroad; I have people of all ages and backgrounds go on these trips. We have 10-day, 4-week, and 15-week programs available at a variety of times in the academic year.

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The experience of living in another country is really beginning to set in, and most of the students at ICS are starting to understand how this program is changing the way they think and live. Corey Davis provides some wonderful insight into that phenomenon in this short interview.

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***The Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs and Parkland College work together to provide opportunities for Parkland students to study abroad. Multiple programs in various countries are available every semester. Students interested in enrolling should contact study abroad coordinator Jody Littleton via email at jlittleton@parkland.edu for more information.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton teaches speech communication and serves as Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]

China Study Abroad: The Dining Experience

I asked Ryan Mills, a study abroad student from Parkland College who is currently in China, to send me some reasons why students should study abroad in China. Ryan is so enthusiastic that he sent me quite a list! The first reason to go to China, according to Ryan? Food!

Remember, anyone can study abroad; I have people of all ages and backgrounds go on these trips. We have 10-day, 4-week, and 15-week programs available at a variety of times in the academic year.

Plus, travel to China through two study abroad options:
Summer 2017 travel to Nanjing, Beijing, and Shanghai (June 1–15)*
Fall 2017 option available in Xian, home of the Terra Cotta Warriors.

Scholarships available for summer 2017 to degree-seeking students if they take 8-week WCE 364 001 (Conversational Chinese), which meets March 27–May 15 (M 6:30–8:30; cost is $139 with textbook  included).

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Who doesn’t like food? Imagine eating at your favorite Chinese restaurant almost every day but ten times better. The food is fantastic and very affordable.

china-foodGet ready to put the fork down and pick up the chopsticks. If you get tired of Chinese food, there is always Pizza Hut, Burger King, McDonald’s, and KFC to reach your inner American, (all chains actually taste way better in China than they do in America).

Eating at a restaurant with friends is different than back in the States. Part of the culture in China is to share everything you have with others, especially the food. When you order food, you don’t get a single dish for yourself, you share all dishes with the people at the table, get a little piece of everything, and split the fare evenly. It’s awesome.

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***The Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs and Parkland College work together to provide opportunities for Parkland students to study abroad. Multiple programs in various countries are available every semester. Students interested in enrolling should contact study abroad coordinator Jody Littleton via email at jlittleton@parkland.edu for more information.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton teaches speech communication and serves as Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad

Hopefully you’ve already seen Communication major Scott Barnes’ introduction last week, as he began his life-changing educational experiences in Spain. In this latest post, Scott entices all students to try study abroad, listing some fabulous reasons for doing so.

Remember, anyone can study abroad; I have people of all ages and backgrounds go on these trips. We have 10-day, 4-week, and 15-week programs available at a variety of times in the academic year.

Enjoy some tapas for me, Scott!

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I now have firsthand knowledge of what culture shock is! But I also know that it just takes a few deep breaths and a little bit of time to overcome it. Despite the difficulties of living day-to-day life in a foreign country and speaking a language that is relatively new to me, I have survived. I have just completed week number two of my first semester studying abroad, and the experience has been all I thought it would be and more.

I have been in Seville, Spain, for 14 days and am already beginning to see how this experience will impact the rest of my life. I have spent the last year of my life contemplating pros and cons, researching Spanish culture, practicing the language, and wondering if the investment is worth it. I can say with confidence that it is!  I made a serious commitment and left behind the comforts of home in order to further my education, and I recommend every college student do the same. There are many reasons why studying abroad is a wise decision. Here are just five of them.

Resume. Students whose main objective for pursuing a college degree is to increase employment opportunities should put study abroad at the top of their list. The workplace is becoming increasingly diverse, and companies are looking for employees who have an understanding of other cultures. Therefore, a solid candidate is one who possesses intercultural competency and an ability to speak multiple languages, two skills that are immediately put to the test when studying in a foreign country.

Immersion. There is only so much a student can learn sitting at a desk. The classroom is a great setting to gain knowledge about any given field of study but, as many students already know, learning how to apply that knowledge is essential to developing a career. The process of learning a new language is much the same. I have taken three Spanish courses at Parkland and have spent hours memorizing vocabulary and verb conjugation. I’ve learned more about the language in the last two weeks than I did during those three semesters. Studying was a great way to prepare myself but actually being immersed has forced me to understand the nuances and begin to think in a “Spanish” way, which has been a truly stimulating experience for me.

Networking. In the short amount of time I’ve been here in Spain, I have already made new friends as well as professional acquaintances. In my opinion, meeting new people and increasing the Rolodex is just as important to career ambitions as developing a well-rounded portfolio or an impressive resume. To have contacts in other countries increases the reach of my social circle. It also fosters more global awareness and provides different perspectives on worldly issues. My social and professional life will be forever changed because the connections I’ve made here.

Culture. Spending a significant amount of time in another country gives students the benefit of moving beyond the limitations of being a tourist and helps them adopt new ways of thinking and living. I began my journey in Paris, France, and have been to multiple cities since then. I have been lucky enough to spend time in different houses and hostels around France as well as in Madrid and Barcelona. I spent at least a few days in each location and made an effort to interact with the locals, which has actually been pretty easy to do! Studying outside of America has helped me realize what it’s like to be a foreigner as well as develop a better understanding of my own culture. I’ve also gotten an outside perspective on the United States and how American culture is viewed here in Europe. I think that this insight and knowledge is very beneficial to my intellectual development and is valuable to me no matter what career path I choose to take. Interacting with people from various cultural backgrounds has been enlightening in many ways for me.

Experience. Studying abroad has presented me with a myriad of challenges. Whether it was dealing with the feeling of being homesick or confronting the uneasiness of culture shock, these adverse situations provided me an opportunity to grow and have boosted my self-confidence. I have bonded with travelers from all over the world as well as other American students who have had the same kind of experiences. In many ways, studying abroad is a good excuse to visit new lands and learn about new cultures. Once inside Europe, it is relatively cheap and easy to travel to multiple countries and experience multiple cultures. There are many new activities and customs to experience that aren’t available in the States. All of this adds up to a rewarding and enriching experience for those who are curious about the world and a new way of life different than what they are accustomed to.

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***The Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs and Parkland College work together to provide opportunities for Parkland students to study abroad. Multiple programs in various countries are available every semester. Students interested in enrolling should contact study abroad coordinator Jody Littleton via email at jlittleton@parkland.edu for more information.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton teaches speech communication and serves as Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]

Parkland Study Abroad: Meet Scott Christopher

What’s the first thing a student tells me when they come back from study abroad? This was the best experience of my life and has changed my life forever.” I encourage you to follow Communication major Scott Christopher Barnes on his life-changing experience abroad and live vicariously through him until you can go on your own Parkland study abroad! In this first video, Scott introduces himself and a few new friends.

Remember, anyone can study abroad; I have people of all ages and backgrounds go on these trips. We have 10-day, 4-week, and 15-week programs available at a variety of times in the academic year.


***The Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs and Parkland College work together to provide opportunities for Parkland students to study abroad. Multiple programs in various countries are available every semester. Students interested in enrolling should contact study abroad coordinator Jody Littleton via email at jlittleton@parkland.edu for more information.

Parkland, U of Cinti Sign Int’l Transfer Accord

The start of another academic year at Parkland College brings a new crop of international students arriving from all over the globe to begin or continue their studies in the United States. New for fall 2016, Parkland has recently concluded a transfer partnership agreement with the University of Cincinnati specifically for international students.

The UC International Transfer Degree program gives international students the opportunity to begin working towards a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati as soon as they arrive at Parkland College, with the guarantee of future admission and scholarships.

So how does the transfer partnership work?  Any international Parkland student can sign up for the partnership at any point during their studies and receive information about fulfilling the transfer requirements. Although the UC College of Engineering and the Art and Design programs are excluded from the direct-transfer partnership, students can seek transfer into more than 300 different UC academic programs. Once interest is indicated, the student(s) will be contacted by a transfer advisor from the University of Cincinnati, who will advise them in required coursework, regularly check in on students’ progress, and even facilitate a campus visit to UC!

Upon successful completion of the Parkland associate’s degree, the student will then be guaranteed admission to the University of Cincinnati, main campus. What is more, those students will automatically be eligible for a scholarship between $5,000 and $15,000, renewable for three years!

Transfer students from Parkland are also eligible to participate in UC’s Cooperative Education Program, ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. As a part of this program, students have the opportunity to take a paid job for a year as part of their academic program, gaining valuable experience while expanding and completing their education. In addition to positions in Cincinnati and all around the United States, the Cooperative Education Program places students in jobs around the world, including India, Germany, and Chile!

About the UC
Ranking among the top 150 National Universities by U.S. News and World Report, the University of Cincinnati has made clear strides, under Jon Weller, towards increasing its value among international students. More than 3,000 international students from 110 different countries around the globe call UC home.

Cincinnati itself possesses unique international flavor and celebrates a strong German heritage. Restaurants and nightlife drawing inspiration from all around the world are found in downtown, near campus, and along the Ohio River. Major international companies such as Procter & Gamble, General Electric Aviation, and Macy’s are also headquartered around the city.

Be on the lookout for upcoming events for international Parkland College students with the University of Cincinnati!

For more information about events or the UC International Transfer Degree, contact Chris Jackson (cjackson@parkland.edu) or visit the International Admissions Office, U234.

Sunny and Warm: Study Abroad in Morocco Part 3

Sophomore Del Jacobs, one of several Parkland students immersing themselves in Arabic culture during a three-week trip to Morocco this month, shares her Week Three adventures below. This opportunity came about due to a three-year federal grant Parkland has obtained to boost foreign-language study. In year one of the grant (AY 2015), students taking Portuguese classes were able to study abroad in Brazil last summer.

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May 30
MarrakechThis morning we went to the Majorelle Garden, a moorish villa and garden built by Jacques Majorelle in 1931. The garden has 1,800 species of cactus; some look like aliens. The house and grounds were bought by Yves Saint-Laurent. Saint-Laurent collected Berber crafts and household items while he lived in Marrakech. The small studio pictured has been converted into a Berber museum. Marrakech3The Berbers are Moroccan mountain people, some think of European decent, who specialized in crafts such as rugs, jewelry, and clothing.

Marrakech2This afternoon we visiterd the Saadian Tombs built between 1578-1603. They were discovered in 1917 and restored by the Beaux-arts service. There are 60 members of the Saadi dynasty interned there. The wood carving and stucco work is amazing.

Bahia3We also visited the Bahia Palace, which is located on the northern edge of the medina in the Jewish quarter. Bahia2Built between 1859-1873, this is an enormous palace covering 8 hectares. There was no plan; each part of the palace is very different because it was built section by Bahia1section by artisans from all over Africa. They used several materials including Carrera marble, glazed terra cotta tiles, blue and yellow ceramic screens, and painted cedar.

 

June 1
We traveled by bus from Marrakech to Fez and made a stop in Volubilis.Volubilis1

Volubilis is a partially excavated Berber/Roman city located between Meknas and Fez. It was founded in the 3rd century B.C. and is a UNESCO world heritage site. This was the most western part of Africa conquered by the Romans. You can see a family of storks on top of a pilar, the aqueduct, the victory arch, and a mosaic.

Volubilis3         Volubilis2This was the most interesting stop we’ve made so far. The country side is one of the most fertile agricultural areas in Morocco. In this part of Morocco some farmers use modern farming equipment. They grow olives, corn, wheat, grapes, sunflowers and pumpkins. They also raise sheep and use donkeys for transportation. This is a very pretty part of Morocco with gently rolling hills and cypress trees.

June 2
thumbnail_IMG_0319Today we toured Fez. The first picture shows the medina, which is the largest in the world. It has 10 miles of walls, 11 gates, 275 mosques, 400,000 people live there and 80,000 stores.

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The gate is called Bab el-Semarine, Gate of the Ferriers, also known as the blue gate. The entrance leads to the food section of the medina.

 

 

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The building shown is the Gregorian Mederssa Attarine dormitory for the nearby ancient university built in 1325.

I had a delicious lamb tagine for lunch. The rest of our day was spent visiting the leather, weaving, and pottery section of the medina. Fez is the most authentically preserved medina in Morocco. It’s certainly the most interesting, I really enjoyed watching all the artisans at workIMG_0333.

We were invited to the Embassy by the public affairs section. There are no pictures of the Embassy due to security issues. Embassies report to the U. S. State Department and employees work for the foreign service.

The Embassy just moved into a new building about a year and a half ago; there is a family of storks living just outside the walls. It’s a beautiful building and has been certified LEED gold. The building was constructed by local contractors to a certain stage, then certified cleared contractors take over. Certain construction jobs must be completed by US citizens. The walls, doors, and glass are extra thick, it takes muscle to open the doors. There is tight security, we could only enter with our passports, no bags or cell phones.

Working for the foreign service sounds like a lot of fun, but you have to like change. Employees must continually work their way up the ladder and must tenure in 5 years or they are out. Posts last 2-3 years and employees are expected to be interested enough to do their own research on the next country they will work in. Employees can and should transfer between sections; some of the sections are management, political, and economic. It’s hard on spouses because if they want to work they must find it on their own or telecommute. The State Department provides housing based on family needs such as size or pets. If you pay 50% of parents’ expenses, they can live with you. An employee should be outgoing, work well with others (teamwork is essential), and be able to network with known and unknown people.

We listened to three employees about their experiences in the foreign service. Although we didn’t get a tour of the building it was certainly an interesting day and an honor to be invited. Our picture will be on the U S Embassy Rabat Facebook page.

June 3
We have reached the end of our trip. I loved everything about Morocco.

The food was outstanding. There was only one thing I didn’t like, a dessert that was made with 14 spices, almonds, and raisins typically served by the Berbers.

The people were really nice; they are just like us in their private lives. The women do cover up in public, but I noticed that the younger generation seems to be modernizing; they wear western clothes. Some wear scarves, but a lot don’t. I never felt uncomfortable while walking, but I was always with someone after dark.

Morocco is an inexpensive country to visit. One US dollar equals ten Dirhams. You get the best deals on leather, pottery, and woven goods. The only difficulty I can see is transportation. To get from city to city, you must have a car. Morocco is putting in a high-speed rail system, but it won’t be completed for several years.

I recommend this country for anyone who is looking for a non-western cultural experience. There is so much to see and do, I think you should plan to stay at least 10 days.

Happy travels!
Del

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***For the upcoming academic year (2016-2017), Parkland’s foreign-language grant program focuses on learning Chinese, with an opportunity to visit the country of Taiwan in summer 2017. Study abroad scholarships will be offered for this country, too, for degree-seeking students finishing the language course. For more information, give me a call!

Jody Littleton
Associate Professor, Communication
Study Abroad Coordinator
Parkland College
217/351-2532

 

 

 

 

Sunny and Warm: Study Abroad in Morocco Part 2

Sophomore Del Jacobs, one of several Parkland students immersing themselves in Arabic culture during a three-week trip to Morocco this month, shares her Week Two adventures below. This opportunity came about due to a three-year federal grant Parkland has obtained to boost foreign-language study. In year one of the grant (AY 2015), students taking Portuguese classes were able to study abroad in Brazil last summer.

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May 23

Chefchaouen, the blue city
Chefchaouen, the blue city

Today, we traveled to Chefchaouen, also known as the blue city of Morocco. It’s located about 80 miles southeast of Tangier. The blue paint has a mosquito repellent in it. We walked from the top of the hill to the bottom. This is definitely a shopper’s haven. We spent the day shopping and stopped at Darkoum for lunch.

May 24
Moroccofood3Moroccan food is really good; so far everything I have tried here is excellent. The picture shows tajin, which is both the name of the vessel and the dish. Tajin can be made with beef, lamb, chicken, or fish. There are two kinds here, chicken and fish. The sides are a green salad, radishes, olives and bread. There is also a dish of pears and bananas.

Moroccofood1The bread is used as the utensil. You break a bite size piece off and scoop the food on to the bread and pop it into your mouth. Moroccans eat a lot of bread. We have been given at least 10 kinds so far, it’s eaten at every meal. I have had so much bread that I can’t eat anymore. I’ve asked to use a spoon instead.

The most popular drink is tea. It’s made in a pot that holds 5 to 6 small glasses. They add 8 tablespoons of sugar to the pot and a handful of mint. Our host mother told us that she goes light on the sugar and only adds 7 tablespoons. Their tablespoon is bigger than ours, so you can imagine how sweet it is. It’s so sweet that my ankles were swollen. I’ve had to ask that my tea be made without sugar, just the mint.

May 26
IMG_0145Today, we took a drive west of Tangier. We took a short camel ride, which was okay with me because the fun part is getting up and down. One day, I will return to Morocco and do a camel safari in the Sahara.IMG_0157

Next, we stopped at the cave of Hercules. It’s the most famous site in Tangier. The cave walls were carved out into small wheels that were used to grind grain.

Our last stop was a beautiful seaside town called Asilah. It would be the perfect place to retire. It’s quiet, and all the buildings are white with blue doors. As you walk around town, at almost every turn there is a mural. Many artists and musicians live in the town, and they hold art and music festivals every year.  IMG_0159

We had a lovely fish lunch before driving back to Tangier. It was a very nice day!

 

 

 

May 28
Saturday we drove from Tangier to Marrakech, an 8-hour drive.  The scenery was rural and we saw many subsistence farms which had various types of vegetables. The farmers were plowing the small fields with a single blade plow, pulled by either a donkey or a team of cows.Rabat

We broke the drive by stopping in Rabat to see the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. The mausoleum was commissioned by his son Hassan II and designed by Vietnamese architect Vo Toan who used Carrara marble. The candelabra is made of pierced and engraved copper. This was a beautiful stop; the entrance was guarded by two guards in ceremonial dress, on horseback.  Bouznika

We stopped in Bouznika for lunch. The road leading to town was loaded with restaurants. We ate at Restaurant Dayga and had several types of roast meat including lambDayga. All of us loved the food and we finished everything which must have been 16 pounds of meat. Lunch cost $160 for the 16 of us, including beverages.

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***For the upcoming academic year (2016-2017), Parkland’s foreign-language grant program focuses on learning Chinese, with an opportunity to visit the country of Taiwan in summer 2017. Study abroad scholarships will be offered for this country, too, for degree-seeking students finishing the language course. For more information, give me a call!

Jody Littleton
Associate Professor, Communication
Study Abroad Coordinator
Parkland College
217/351-2532

Cultures Fair 2016

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Parkland College Cultures Fair 2016
Thursday March 17, 10–3, Main Stage Student Union and U140

Everyone is invited to attend the Cultures Fair at Parkland College this Thursday.  The event is free, and will feature an exciting lineup of musical artists from around the world.  There will also be activities in U140, including language lessons, henna tattoos, free international snacks, and music.  We will be raising money at the fair for Build Congo Schools.

Schedule
10–10:45: Belly Dancing (Classy Combinations)
11–11:30: Parkland International Student Performance
11:30–11:50: Chinese Silk and Bamboo Ensemble (Priscilla Tse, UIUC)
Noon–12:45: Jean René Balekita and Bomoyi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
1–1:45: Bali Lantari, traditional Indonesian dance and music (led by I Ketut Gede Asnawa, UIUC)
2–2:45: Capoeira Angola (Denis Chiaramonte, UIUC)

Classy Combinations Belly Dancing Troupe
Classy Combinations promotes education and demonstration of Middle Eastern dance, with fusion flavors of Flamenco, Turkish, Persian, African and Tribal. We support meaningful fundraisers and promote culturally diverse programs in dance and music, while celebrating and encouraging the traditions of global community. We enchant audiences with our always family rated shows and very diverse variety of skills and specialties within the elegant Belly Dance!

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–Day 1 Taste of Champaign 2012 Choreography by Cindi Adkins

Priscilla Tse, Chinese Silk and Bamboo Ensemble
The Silk and Bamboo (sizhu) Ensemble is a string and wind group that represents a typical, traditional Chinese musical form. Like Shanghai Tea-house and Cantonese music, it often includes strings such as erhu and gaohu fiddles, pipa and yueqin lutes and the yangqin dulcimer as well as the dizi flute, sheng mouth-organ and percussion instruments such as the ban and gu clapper and drums.

Jean René Balekita and Bomoyi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
A professional musical ensemble featuring Congolese rumba with flavors of gospel, jazz and African rhythms. Bomoyi means “life” in the native language of Lingala. In addition to Lingala they sing in English, French, Kikongo, Swahili and Tshiluba. Well known in Congo Jean René Balekita and Bomoyi have recently gained enthusiastic audiences in the United States. Jean René on acoustic guitar is joined by vocalists Laeticia Kyungu and Joyce Nkama with Victor Matondo on bass guitar.

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JEAN RENE BALEKITA ET LE GROUPE BOMOYI

Bali Lantari, traditional Indonesian dance and music
Bali Lantari is a private group based in Champaign and Urbana area is specializing in performing arts of traditional Indonesian dance and music under the direction of I Ketut Gede Asnawa.

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I Ketut Gede Asnawa’s Original Balinese Gamelan Music ‘Catur Rawita’ (The Beauty of Four), is a composition for ‘gamelan ahgklung’ that involves singing and …

Capoeira Angola
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is usually referred to as a game. It was developed in Brazil mainly by West African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. It is known for quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for a wide variety of kicks, spins, and highly mobile techniques. The Capoeira Angola Centre of Mestre João Grande, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, is led by Denis Chiaramonte.

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Roda de Abertura do 5th Vem Vadiar 2012 Champaign-Urbana USA,Organizado pelo Centro de Capoeira Livre Como Vento e Denis Capoeira.

The fair is being sponsored by the Center for Global Studies, through support of the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI NRC program, as well as support from the Centers for African Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ketut Gede Asnawa playing gamelan instrument. Photo by Folake Osibodu
Ketut Gede Asnawa playing gamelan instrument. Photo by Folake Osibodu

Parkland: An International Campus

Did you know Parkland College has the most international students of any community college in the state of Illinois? In educational terms, “international student” refers to those students who study in the United States on visas. Currently, more than 300 visa students study at Parkland College!

 

However, Parkland is far more international than that. Loads of Parkland students not studying with visas come from all over the world. Many were born here in Champaign-Urbana to immigrant families or moved here with their families at a young age. Surprising to many, Champaign-Urbana is one of the most international cities in the region. Between the large numbers drawn by the University of Illinois, familial ties, and the cities’ refugee-friendly reputation, thousands of families have found their way to C-U.

So where do Parkland College international students come from? They, too, come from all over: Saudi Arabia, the West Bank, Cameroon, Qatar, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Armenia, Angola, DR Congo, China, France, Brazil, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Liberia, Kenya, Albania, Australia, Venezuela, Japan, Israel, Canada, Mali, South Africa, Portugal, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Russia, The Philippines, Colombia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Mexico, Algeria, and Indonesia.

International students come to Parkland for a number of reasons, but one of the major ones is the English as a Second Language or ESL program that the college offers. While most universities require a certain score on an English exam for admission, an international student can come to Parkland without English proficiency and take ESL. The ESL program prepares students for academic and career English, rather than basic English conversation skills they might learn in an English class in their home country. Students from the ESL program have gone on to earn degrees from Parkland and then transfer to universities all around the country, to study a variety of fields.

Today, English is considered to be one of the global languages of business. Foreign students who learn English AND study a specific subject at Parkland College are in a position to stand out in an increasingly global economy. On the other side, American students can learn a great deal and gain new perspective from their international peers.

Find out more about Parkland  College’s opportunities for  its international students by visiting our International Center. Students from countries outside the U.S. can find out about applying to Parkland here. Join an inspiring community of global citizens, learning together!

[Chris Jackson is an international admissions advisor for Parkland Admissions and Records.]

Go Ahead, Go Global!

Global Cultural Competence (HCS 236-201) is an exciting new course being offered at Parkland College in the spring! It promises to be a fun course in which to learn about other cultures from around the world.

There is increasing need in the US to develop better global cultural competence so that citizens work and communicate effectively with people from around the world, especially in the workplace.

cherry-blossom-9110754This course will feature interactive learning projects that engage students in learning about global cultures and developing effective cross-cultural communication skills for the workplace.

Course curriculum is designed for Health Professions, Criminal Justice, and Education majors but is open to all students.

The course will be taught by Michele Spading.  It is a two-hour, hybrid, late-start course that meets Mondays, 3-4:50 p.m.

HCS 236-201 is part of a project sponsored by the Center for Global Studies at UIUC, through support of the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI NRC program.

International Soccer Day

International Soccer Day at Parkland
Parkland Men’s Team against the University of Illinois Club Team
Sunday October 18, 24 pm, Parkland Soccer Field

An International Soccer Day will be hosted at Parkland College on October 18. Even though it is called International Soccer Day, every student, employee, or visitor of Parkland’s campus is welcome to join us. A major reason for the event is encouraging students to come to the home game for the Men’s Soccer team, starting at 2 p.m. in the Parkland soccer field.  Free snacks and prizes will be provided.

Our men’s team is doing great this season. It includes six international players from all over the world: Dan White and Keenan Meddings from England, Carlos Martinez from Venezuela, Paulo Pereira from Portugal,  and Gustavo Giordani and Victor Santos from Brazil.  Under the support of Coach Sikora (who has coached numerous All-Midwest Athletic Conference and Region 24 selections) and Coach Galeski, our men’s team has won eight games so far this season (pre-season included).

The opposing team is a strong team from the school on the other side of the town, the University of Illinois Club Team. Since both teams are performing great this season, we believe the game on October 18 will be an exciting one.  What’s more, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is advertising the soccer game with the international students there. That means there will be a lot of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students going to the soccer game at Parkland. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the university beats us on the amount of audience at our home game?

So come join us! Let’s show our Cobra pride and share the passion, together. Soccer game action and fun—isn’t that a perfect combination for a Sunday afternoon?

This event is organized by the the Alliance of International Students (AIS), which consists of five Parkland students who competed for and won prestigious yearlong campus scholarships. The mission of AIS is to bring together the international student community on Parkland’s campus. AIS students demonstrate leadership by creating campus activities, disseminating information, and creating bridges between campus groups. For questions, please contact internationaladmissions@parkland.edu.

[Article written by Guanheng Lo, an AIS student.]

 

3D football soccer ball with world teams flags. brazil world cup 2014. Isolated on white with clipping path

New Perspectives: Study Abroad in Brazil

Sophomore Marnie Leonard (third from left, below) was one of several Parkland students taking a Portuguese language class last spring who were then able to immerse themselves in the culture during a two-week trip to Brazil last month. This opportunity came about due to a three-year federal grant Parkland has received to boost foreign-language study.

As you will see, Marnie gained more than a deeper understanding of Portuguese.

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I was very nervous about this trip. I had never been so far away from home for so long before, and it was my first time abroad. It felt really daunting to be going to a place where I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to communicate with people who lived there. I was always more excited than nervous to embark on the trip, though!

group
Students from Parkland and Joliet Junior College attended the trip to Brazil.

We went to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraty, and Mogi Mirrim. In Rio, we saw Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Copacabana beach, and the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral. We also visited a favela, or slum, and got to witness firsthand the extreme poverty that so many Brazilians live in. In São Paulo, we went to several museums and to Ibirapuera Park, the Brazilian equivalent of Central Park in NYC.

favela 2
Here’s a look at life from the favela.

Paraty is a preserved colonial town, so we saw a lot of cool baroque architecture and learned the history of the port there and its ties with Portugal. While we were there, we also visited an island village populated by fishermen. It was so beautiful and untouched by the outside world, but just like the favela, its people lacked many of the resources and basic assets we take for granted in the United States.

I think my favorite part of the trip was Mogi Mirrim, though. Mogi Mirrim is a really small city in São Paulo state. This is where the trip started to feel more like a study abroad rather than a vacation. We went to the college there, Fatec College, a technical school of about 1,000 students. It was really interesting to meet the Brazilian college students and interact with them (as best we could with the language barrier) and learn more about what it’s like to live day to day in Brazil. What made it so cool to me was the fact that this was an experience I never would have had the chance to have if I had just been a tourist in Brazil—and they were so excited to meet Americans. The Brazilians were all so warm and welcoming that it was hard to leave them when the time came to go.

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US and Brazilian students get acquainted at Fatec College.

This trip was so incredible, I would go on it again in a heartbeat. I gained a new understanding of worldwide poverty. I met people my own age who come from a different world and yet still had things in common with them. I now have a new appreciation for language and how difficult it is to master a new one. These are all new perspectives I will carry with me in returning to my normal life, and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to obtain this outlook.

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For the current academic year (2015-2016), Parkland’s foreign-language grant program focuses on learning Arabic, with an opportunity to visit the country of Morocco in summer 2016. Our AY 2017 opportunity will explore Taiwan and the Chinese language. Short-term summer study abroad opportunities and scholarships will be offered for both of these countries, too. For more information, give Jody a call!

Jody Littleton
Associate Professor, Communication
Study Abroad Coordinator
Parkland College
217/351-2532

In Love with Life: Study Abroad in Dijon

How can a Parkland College Study Abroad experience make you feel? Just ask Klairyn Karmazinas, a second-year Dietetics major (and International Studies minor) who has just returned from our Dijon, France, Study Abroad, June 25-July 25. She’ll make you want to pack your bags today.

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Klairyn in Paris
Klairyn in Paris

“I’ve never been so truly happy in my life. I have absolutely no words for the past weeks I’ve been in Europe. The people, the memories, the confusion, the adventures, the laughter — I wouldn’t trade a single moment for anything in the world.

I’m in love with life. I’m in love with the people I’ve met, the people I haven’t met, the places I’ve gone, the places I haven’t gone, everything I’ve experienced, and everything I’ve yet to experience. I am coming home an entirely different person.

Klairyn in Provence
Klairyn in Provence

I’ve learned that the beauty of language is that somehow we always make it work. It might not be pretty, but it’s a pretty amazing thing. I spent the last four weeks with people from every corner of the world, and if they’ve taught me anything, it’s that life is pure bliss. I was searching for something when I left the States; I’m not entirely sure what that something was, but I know I found it and I know that I’ve changed. It’s been such a blessing to do this, and I swear my heart could explode with the pure joy that’s inside me.

To the amazing people I’ve met, thank you SO much for the endless memories, and I can’t wait to make more. I miss you tons and love you bunches. You all hold a special place in my heart, so please don’t forget me.”

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Ready for your life-changing moments in a different country? Check out our upcoming Study Abroad opportunities at:  http://www.parkland.edu/international/studyabroad. Spring semester’s Study Abroad deadline  is October 15, 2015.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton is Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]

 

Expand Your World: Foreign Language Study

What are some benefits of studying a foreign language?

In addition to fulfilling the language requirement that some of Parkland’s 4-year partner institutions have, studying a foreign language is a great way to expand your mind and your world. According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), language learning can benefit all students. Specifically, language learning boosts the development of reading skills, and it correlates with higher academic achievement on standardized tests.

Interestingly, research has also shown a correlation between language learning and students’ ability to hypothesize in science.

Parkland College offers instruction in 6 foreign languages:
Arabic
French
German
Japanese
Portuguese
Spanish

Don’t be afraid to try a new language; you’ll never know whether you like it unless you try it. Plus, as described earlier, even a small degree of language study has advantages. Check out Parkland’s class schedule for the upcoming semester to see when a language class you are interested in is being offered.

(For more research on the benefits of language learning, visit www.actfl.org.)

[Wendy Patriquin, interim director of the Humanities department,  specializes in English as a Second Language.]

Why One International Student Flies

“Why do you want to be a pilot?” Many people ask me that question followed by whether my plane has a bathroom.  No, it does not. Normally I would answer, “you know, it’s cool to fly.” And shrug. But writing this piece made me think about the real reasons why I cannot give up flying.

More Friendliness
I am from Beijing, a city that has 21 million people. Everybody is in a hurry to get somewhere, and there are hardly any interpersonal relationships. Strangers never smile at strangers, and I don’t know my neighbors. The city looks heated but cold.

I always say this to people about flying: ”Think about it: If you are stuck in a 3 by 4 square-foot box for six hours, you need to be a nice person.” This is how I feel when I am at the Institute of Aviation. I don’t feel distant to anyone: the experienced check pilots, the 65-year-old student pilot, the “top-off, please” fuel guy, the Flightstar staff, or the air traffic controllers whom I have never met. There is one thing that connects us, aviation. But it is never dull because every one of us shines in his or her own way.

More Females
I will emphasize one of the pronouns I just used: his or HER. Everybody knows that aviation is a tough field for women. The female representation is tiny, and I just found out that out of the 1.4 billion people in my country, there are only 142 female airline pilots.

But at the Institute of Aviation, I am proud of our female representation. We have a female chief pilot whom we all look up to. We have girls trying to be pilots at the age of 16. This is a very special feeling for me, seeing the strong women empowerment at the institute. My family, which holds the Asian conservative value most dear, believes that I should have a life that a girl “should have,” that is, get a stable salary job and be a great mother. I am completely okay with this idea, but I am going to connect that job with flying airplanes. Even with all the pressure from my family, I never thought I would give up flying. Thanks to all the examples at the Institute of Aviation, I am more determined than ever.

More Freedom to Ask
Thinking in a second language is hard; now imagine flying using a second language. I never wanted to admit that this is an obstacle because I want my instructors to treat me the same as everybody else. But sometimes, it does take an extra question. My education until the day I entered college was “do as I am told.” If my teacher told me that a hexagon is a beehive, then it could never be anything else. This might be an exaggeration, but we were afraid to ask questions.

But when it comes to training to be a safe pilot, one of the most important reminders we receive here is “never be afraid to ask your controllers.” Now, according to Bill (my instrument rating instructor), I am his “I have a question” and “I completely understand” girl.

Aviation has reshaped my entire life. I transformed from the girl who almost settled to be an accountant for the rest of her life to a proud female pilot. The University of Illinois led me to the love of my life, and Parkland College saved it.

So you want to know why I want to fly airplanes? Well… you will have to experience it yourself.

 

[Fran Tao, a student from China, is taking flight training at the Parkland College Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois.]

International Students on Parkland’s Football Teams

International students play football for Parkland College! Wha???? Parkland College has a football team?

Yes, Parkland does have a football team—two, actually. We have a women’s team and a men’s team.

Oh, sorry for the confusion about the reference to ‘football’. What the rest of the world calls ‘football’ we, in the US, call soccer.

Parkland College Soccer actionParkland College has had a football/soccer program for many years, and our international students have played, and continue to play, key roles in establishing our program as one of the best community college programs in the US. As you may know, football is played, from an early age, in all parts of the world. The US is a relative new-comer to the sport, so the global perspective and experience our international students bring to the game is highly valued.

Currently, the women’s team has four international students on the roster. The team is 12-3 overall on the season. They begin post-season play with the first match of the Region 24 tournament against Lincoln College at noon on Sunday, October 26. More information is available at: the women’s soccer schedule page.

The men’s team also has four international students on the roster and are currently ranked #22 in NJCAA poll. The men’s team is also tearing it up on the soccer field at 12-3. They begin post-season play with a match against Lincoln Land in the Region 24 tournament on Saturday, October 25 at noon. Find out more information at: the men’s soccer schedule page.