CIEE Participant Testimonials

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2008 Participants

Joan Hartley

China – the very name conjures multiple images, from ancient civilizations to recent economic expansion. For two weeks CIEE seminar participants were able to see how rapid change is impacting Chinese society, and how the country struggles to preserve the uniqueness of its fifty-five minority cultures. In thirteen days, we traveled to seven sites. We visited the villages of two minority nationalities in the southwest, the Tunpu and the Miao, to learn of the challenges faced there as young parents, wanting to participate in the economic boom, leave the farms and their children in the care of grandparents to travel to coastal industrial cities. We heard of plans to expand infrastructure into the remote western provinces, which are rich with natural resources desperately needed to fuel the seemingly unstoppable industrial expansion. Many minority nationalities reside in the western provinces and will face dramatic changes due to this expansion. Truly, this was a remarkable opportunity to observe China as it endeavors to create stability in the face of extraordinary change.

Bob Pryor
Seminar: On the Silk Road in China

Bob PryorOverwhelming. Intense. Exhilarating. Paradigm-shifting. These are some of the words that describe my 2008 trip on the Silk Road in China. Yet they don’t adequately describe the totality of my Silk Road experience. There is just too much semiotic excess. So I will stick to “overwhelming.” Overwhelming in terms of geography – 2,000 miles from Beijing in the east to Kashgar in the west, from the plains of the ancient Chinese capital of Xi’an, to the sand dunes of the Gobi and Taklimakan Deserts, and the 16,000 foot peaks of the Tien Shan mountain range, the Celestial Mountains, the Chinese call them.. Overwhelming in terms of history, 5000 years of it – the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terra Cotta Warriors and tomb of the first Qin Emperor, the Mogao Grottos with gigantic Buddhist sculptures and cave paintings, the ruins of ancient cities over 2,000 years-old, Muslim temples dating from the 15th century, and a 3,800 year-old mummy named Loulan’s Beauty. Overwhelming in terms of people, cultures, religions, and nationalities – the Han, Uygur, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Kazakhs, outdoor bazaars everywhere, some that never seem to end and sell everything except chicken’s milk. Overwhelming in terms of the contrast between ancient history and postmodernism, the opulence of the mega-cities (sky scrapers everywhere) and the poverty of the countryside. Overwhelming in terms of nearly everything, even the 5-star hotel accommodations! For myself, a life-changing experience that I will be processing for years to come. One thing I know for sure: I want to go again!

John Sneed
Seminar: Identity, Community and Culture in Contemporary Turkey
John Sneed

The Turkey seminar was well programmed, effectively run, and delivered all that it promised. From university lectures, to explorations of various aspects of Turkish culture, to visits to a host of historical and archeological sites the program was both wide and deep. I highly recommend the CIEE approach; and for those interested in exploring a country which, in the midst of forging a new identity for itself, reflects some of the major issues of our times Turkey could not be more informative and welcoming.

John Sparks

John SparksThis was a crash course in Chinese history, on the ground, and among the cultures of China's borderlands. From the Olympic "Bird Cage" in Beijing, glimpsed through a driving rainstorm, to the donkey haggling at the livestock market in Kashgar, at China's far western desert fringe, we got to sample a spectrum of the China's diversity in the context of its ancient trade routes to central Asia. The lectures and site visits combined to provide a much greater understanding of where China is coming from and where it might go in the future. The CIEE trips are a great opportunity for P.C.C. employees to expand their horizons in comfort and among learned colleagues. 

2007 Participants

Charlie Sieracki

Charlie SierackiMy faculty development seminar in June 2007 offered a unique opportunity to deepen my knowledge of the practice of Islam in secular countries such as France and The Netherlands. Visiting the mosques and schools, getting briefed by local leaders and national experts, and learning with other American professors in a seminar format was deeply rewarding. I now hope to integrate some of these perspectives in my Writing courses.

Cynthia Killingsworth

Cynthia KillingsworthInitially, I had hoped my trip to Cambodia and Vietnam would allow me to learn about the business environment and practices in these countries. When I returned to the classroom I realized that the impact was much greater. As expected I was able to add an international perspective to the technical aspects of my curriculum, but more importantly just mentioning my travel experiences had the immediate effect of welcoming my international students to share their own experiences and observations with the entire class. This has been the best learning opportunity for everyone!

Usha Ramanujam

Usha RamanujamAttending the CIEE seminar in Ireland during the summer of 2007 has been a remarkable experience for me. The exposure to Irish culture and political, religious and economic background has personally improved my knowledge about the country. It was fascinating to learn about how Ireland has become a high wage, high cost economy due to its recent economic boom and its current efforts to sustain the growth. After the trip, I have established contacts with a few of the seminar participants at different universities and this networking has allowed me to explore additional ways to research and contribute to the internationalization efforts in my courses. I feel grateful and privileged about the opportunity and hope to participate in future CIEE seminars.

Andrew Butz
Andrew Butz

My 2006 CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar 'Central European perspectives in the E.U. was among my most rewarding of all learning experiences. We were immersed for nearly two weeks of academic, university life among faculty and dignitaries of Budapest and Prague. And so we also enjoyed the music, art, food, customs & history of Hungarian and Czech cultures.

Kim Smith

Kim SmithMy CIEE experience in India was so amazing! We had fascinating lectures by highly respected professors and activists and experienced the incredible diversity of Indian life and culture. The CIEE seminars are very well organized and worth every penny. I reference my experiences in India at least once a week in my classes and discussions with others. The lessons I learned truly changed me, both personally and professionally, and have expanded my understanding of the world. Thank you so much for the opportunity!

Cheryl L. Scott

As Dean of Business and Humanities, I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about both the cultural aspects and businesses in India. This experience helped me to project directions in international education for the division. A few of the most memorable experiences were meeting with women who owned businesses as well as touring call centers. I would recommend the CIEE experience to anyone who is interested in international education.

Bryan Hull
Bryan Hull

To teach for many years, and to do it well, requires the ability to grow emotionally, intellectually, maybe even spiritually. Of course, because our workload presses upon us with a great deal of force, we are tempted to repeat what we know. But, the affects of such stagnation should scare us. When I went on the CIEE trip to Turkey, I went out of a sense that I needed something that only that country could give me. I wasn't sure what that would be exactly. During that amazing two weeks, however, and the years that followed, I did read different works, listen to the news differently, seek patience and fortitude in new ways that I had only vaguely longed for before. This trip continues to feed me. I bide my time before I once again sip tea with the Turks.

John Mery

John MeryCIEE Spain and Morocco: I learned a lot more than I expected to. I was primarily interested in this trip from a historical point-of-view and was impressed with the depth and breadth of the knowledge I acquired in this area. In addition, I learned many important things I did not expect to, such as contemporary social and economic issues between these two beautiful countries. The site visits, lectures and panel discussions helped make this a very enriching experience.

Melody McMurry

Melody McMurryI attended the 2006 London, UK CIEE seminar: "The Disunited Queendom" and spent a week in morning lecture/seminars with faculty from all over the eastern U.S. In afternoons we toured Parliament; the urban Docklands site of the 2012 Olympics, the Bangladesh community in NE London with Toynbee Hall social settlement community and the Women's Museum; the Imperial War Museum in South London, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington to exhibits on Modernism and Che Guevarra. Since I was able to stay on in London for an extra week I also visited Highgate and Hamstead, Kew Gardens, Regents Park, the National History Museum (although I missed the Darwin exhibit!), and generally spent quite a bit of time on the tube from here to there observing World Cup spectators. I use these experiences in all Sociology courses I teach.

Alan Cordle

I had the privilege of spending three weeks in three beautiful and interesting places in South Africa. Although the focus of our seminar centered around race relations, we learned that nearly everything in the country was and is influenced by apartheid, which ended in 1994. Highlights for me included: a visit along with an NYU sociologist to a sangoma (traditional healer) working out of a closet in a rental building; hearing Xhosa spoken in Khayelitsha Township; and a week-long solo safari, driving on the "wrong" side of the road in Kruger National Park. I also enjoyed hearing/seeing live music a few nights.

Elizabeth Bilyeu

In June 2006, I spent time in Brasil with a dynamic group of twelve U.S. college and university faculty in the CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar “The Changing Social Face of Brasil.” We were constantly bombarded by Brasilian nationalism around their soccer (futebol) team playing in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. When Brasil plays soccer, the entire country stops to watch! In Salvador, we were introduced to the passionate traditions of religion and lifestyle developed by Africans who came as slaves in the 1550s to work coffee and sugar plantations. Outside of Sao Paula, we visited an MST encampment and talked with its idealistic leaders. Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) is Brasil’s controversial 22-year-old Landless Workers Movement of approximately 1.5 million members. Our travels gave us opportunities to come to adore the Brasilian cuisine -- to understand how fresh fruit and how strong coffee can really be. As an art historian, I brought back to my classes ideas to share about Brasil’s Modern Art Movement, and stories about visiting buildings by renowned Modern architect Oscar Neimeyer.

Greg Rapp

Greg RappMy CIEE trip to Brussels, Belgium, the capital of the EU, was outstanding! I attended seminars on international institutions and globalization. Besides the seminars, the trip provided many opportunities to learn more about the culture of the Benelux countries and to network with college educator’s from around the country. It was truly a great experience.

Barb VanAmerongen
Barb VanAmerongen

Women and Gender Issues Seminar was intense. There was hardly a minute where some or all of your senses weren’t being over.

In a word, my trip to India as part of the Women and Gender Issues Seminar was intense. We were pushed to our limits - to observe, to participate, to question, to share. But the pace was never beyond the capabilities of the participants. The organization of the seminars was superb, the compatibility of ALL of the participants was wonderful, and the opportunities that the whole experience allotted us were beyond measure. I feel very fortunate to have had this experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Tom Huminski
Tom Huminski

My CIEE seminar in Cambodia and Vietnam was one of the most rewarding--and intense--experiences of my life. I had expected to learn about the aftermath of decades of war and the challenges of rebuilding--and I did learn much. But I did not expect to intimately understand the real lives of Southeast Asians and, in turn, to learn what it means to be an American in the world.

Bonnie Starkey

The focus of the trip to Cambodia and Vietnam (as part of CIEE Study Seminar attended summer of 2006) was a comparison and contrast of how reconstruction and reconciliation are being handled in the two countries.

The trip was very intense and immensely rewarding. I am still processing the experience. It has given me a glimpse of what others have experienced so that I might better understand us all. I am very thankful for this opportunity!

April Ann Fong
April Ann Fong

My 2007 CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar "Exploring China's Southwest: Culture, Society, and Ethnicity on the Frontier" was eye-opening to me as a Chinese-American, a biologist, and a person. We met different Chinese minority groups and even stayed in a minority Miao Village as the first western guests! We had seminars on everything from Daoism and Buddhism to population issues. I have incorporated so much of what I learned and saw into my classes. The whole experience was amazing!

DeLyse Totten
DeLyse Totten

I recently attended an International Faculty Development Seminar (IFDS) in south India that was truly an outstanding. My experience in India included meeting with leaders from a broad range of backgrounds, thought provoking discussions and real life stories. Integrating an international perspective into courses is important, but being able to relate first-hand knowledge brings the issue to life. India's economy has changed dramatically in the last few years due to the growth of high tech in India and being there helped me to understand the impact of these changes in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. This experience has not only to made me better informed about our world, but it has also inspired me to encourage my students and others at PCC in their endeavors to better understand our increasingly global environment.

Past Participants

Margaret Campbell McCrea: China; Marlene Eid: Japan; Samuel Morgan: Japan; Jane Rognlie: India; Candy Solovojo: Japan; Leslie Riester: China; Deborah Sipe: China; Reine Thomas: Cambodia & Vietnam, Brazil, India; Rosa Bettencourt: Cambodia & Vietnam; Larry Clausen: China; Michael Dembrow: Ghana; Sylvia Gray: India; Diane Kamali: France & The Netherlands; Katy Nadal: India; John Olmsted: Turkey; Judy Zimmerman: India