March 2018

Celebration of Chinese New Year

Thank you to all who joined us in the International Center to celebrate Chinese New Year 2018. We had over 70 participants attend. Chinese New year is one of the most important traditional holidays in China. It is a festival marking the start of the new year. It begins on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, also known as the Lunar New Year, and is celebrated with family and friends, special meals, fireworks, and gift giving.

A special thank you to:
Preston Lawing - for creating the dragon
ICAA - for assisting with the promotion of the event
Bohao Liu & Ruyou Fan - for making the wonderful dumplings


Margaret Klonowski Writing from Galway, Ireland

My very first impression of Ireland – the moment I stepped out of the airport, the first time my feet hit Irish soil – was that the air smelled different. That was my first impression. The air smells different. It wasn’t the display of fireworks and angel chorus singing from above that I had imagined, but that was my truthful first impression, and now I’m stuck with it. Still, my under-whelming mundane first impression gave way to much more exciting second, third, and fourth impressions. The picturesque expanse of lush, green acres of pastureland sectioned off by low-lying, weather-beaten stone walls greeted me on my bus ride from Shannon Airport to Galway, and although utter exhaustion defeated me about 20 minutes in, I knew I had a lot more beauty and excitement awaiting me in the months to come.

It’s been just over five weeks that I’ve been here studying at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Situated on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is rich in history and tradition. The heart of the city, only a 10-minute walk from campus, is vibrant and compact, and offers a variety of activities and photo-ops. An average day for me here in Galway consists of drinking too many cups of tea, exploring the shops in the heart of the city, and, lest I worry you by omitting it from my list, studying hard. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to face while being here hasn’t had much to do with the fact that I’m in a foreign country where they drive on the wrong side of the road. No, the biggest adjustment has been, in a surprising twist of events, the school itself, and not just the Irish-students-party-nearly-every-night-of-the-week aspect of student life. No, it’s the sheer size of NUI that still baffles me – roughly 20,000 NUI students is a far cry from the population of SMU. Despite this, the material I’m learning – Irish literature, Celtic mythology, and the indigenous arts to name a few – are making my time here worth it, and the history that Ireland has to offer, both in and outside of Galway, make every day an adventure.

Learning Through Collaboration

The De La Salle Language Institute’s spring semester began with a collaboration involving two undergraduate courses. Students from Dr. Karen Sorvaag’s ED 445 Advanced Literacy Methods for Diverse Learners class spent several weeks observing ESL teaching and learning strategies within a number of the language institute’s courses. In addition, the ED 445 students were paired with international students for the purpose of acting as conversation partners and tutors throughout the semester. These future educators are now meeting weekly with SMU’s English language learners. Additionally, Dr. Lori Charron’s COM 250 Intercultural Communication class joined a group of international students for an afternoon of activities encouraging reflection on not only the differences but also the similarities of communicating across cultural and language boundaries. While completing an interview project for the course, the COM 250 students will continue their interaction with SMU international students throughout the semester. Both of these partnerships are much appreciated.

A few of the ED 445 students shared the following comments:

“Sometimes it is easy to take for granted the language you are native to, and when you are exposed to the time and dedication it really takes to learn another language, I believe your level of patience working with students and or people learning a second, third or fourth language is increased.” Ciara Kowalczyk, senior

“I reminded myself that I might not know everything about the students because of the language barrier, but I should try my best. Another part I took away is it is essential for us to be inclusive of others…” Monika Patel, senior

“One of my favorite parts has been seeing the students around campus more often now and being able to be a friendly face to say hello to.” Katie Homan, senior

“I was edified by their collaboration with one another as a community. The classroom experience truly highlighted the beauty of Lasallian education.” Sister Marie Faustina, RSM, senior

“I have loved working with Firjah this semester! She is such a sweet young woman, and her desire to learn English is so inspiring. She never gives up even when it becomes difficult…” Michelle Wegrzyn, senior

Student Profile - Alessio Caselli, from Ferrara, Italy

Just Sayin’
Molly Lohnes

When I assigned an exemplification essay last fall, I was saddened by one of my student’s examples of stereotypes he’s encountered on our campus. His words prompted me to share a portion of his essay so that we recognize the effect our words have even if they are meant in fun. We are fortunate that our international students have chosen to learn with us, and we are fortunate that they can teach us about the rest of world. Environmental biology major Alessio Caselli, from Ferrara, Italy, allowed me to share his words so that we can learn from him.

American people of my age don’t care about my stories from Italy but instead prefer to make me say something funny because of my accent or make me do hand gestures. And that’s one of the reasons why I was so disappointed by American people: they see me as a mere stereotype of a culture that they believe is inferior to theirs. I have met a lot of people since I arrived here, … and the first thing that almost all of them did once I told them I was Italian was the hand gesture with all the fingers touching in the middle of the hand. That is for some reason what Americans think we do all day in Italy…t’s true that we use it, but only when we ask various types of questions, usually when we are angry. So every time someone calls my name and makes that hand gesture, all I can think about is how those kids believe that we use only those gestures and how horribly wrong they are. Another thing that people usually do when they do that gesture is say “It’s a me, Mario,” a phrase said by a fictional character that represents an Italian plumber in the videogame Super Mario. This game was made by a Japanese company, and I really don’t know why they decided to make him Italian, but that decision marked the future of Italians forever. So now people ask me to say that phrase while making the hand gesture, but apparently, it’s not enough for those people; in fact, every time I’m eating or doing something someone just asks, “Do you have this in Italy?” like it is a third world country without food or water. And those questions make me really uncomfortable because I don’t like that people see me as a poor guy who is trying good things for the first time while in fact we have probably more things than America.

Meet Our Visiting Scholar from Xi’an Polytechnic University (XPU)

Professor Hongyan Cong has been a member of the Saint Mary’s community since January 12, 2018. She is here as a visiting scholar, learning more about higher education in the U.S. and also taking classes in English as a Second Language and Art. She is the Director of Video and Animation Department and Assistant to the Dean at XPU, located in Xi’an, China. Her research interests are digital image art, audio-visual art, film art and photography. She has attended many events on campus, including theatre productions, an art gallery show, Page Professional Series events, cross-country skiing, and several women’s basketball games. She has even shared some of her dumpling-making skills with students and staff!

Professor Cong is the second visiting scholar from XPU and this type of interaction is part of developing a relationship with an international partner. Thirteen students from XPU have attended Saint Mary’s to date, and the hope is that continued development of the relationship will result in additional students and connections that are a part of our internationalization efforts. She will be on our campus through graduation in May. If you’d like to get to know her, please send her an email at

From the Immigration Corner

World map made of flags
At Saint Mary's, there’s always a chance you’ll make new friends from all over the globe. You might even run into someone from your part of the world.

Here is a list of SMU's 60 international students (undergraduate and OPT) by country of citizenship; Cameroon (1), Canada (3), China (35), Colombia (1),Ethiopia (1), France (1), Italy (1), Nicaragua (1), Philippines (2), Poland (2), Saudi Arabia (4), Spain (1), Sweden (2), Taiwan (1), Uganda (1), United Kingdom (1), Venezuela (1), Vietnam (1).

Students by region; Africa (3), Asia (39), Europe (8), Latin America (3), Middle East (4), North America (3).

Upcoming Study Abroad Fall Program Deadlines

Study Abroad Through Saint Mary's Affiliated Programs
The following are the application deadlines and locations

CIMBA - Consortium Institute of Management and Business Analysis

Application Deadline April 15, 2018

Paderno del Grappa, Italy

HECUA - Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs

Application Deadline April 15, 2018

Quito, Ecuador
Auckland, New Zealand
Coleraine/Belfast/Derry, Northern Ireland
Oslo, Norway
Montespertoli, Italy

Spanish Studies Abroad

Application Deadline May 15, 2018

Seville, Spain
Alicante, Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Córdoba, Argentina
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Havana, Cuba

SAI - Florence University of the Arts

Application Deadline June 15, 2018

Florence, Italy

If you have any questions about these study abroad programs, please email Vicki McDonald, Coordinator of Study Abroad at or call Ext. 6996.