Spring 2016

group of students

Nigel Glenny, Program Director for HECUA’s Democracy and Social Change in Northern Ireland program, came to campus last month to promote HECUA and reconnect with past HECUA participants. HECUA’s Northern Ireland program provides participants an in-depth study of Northern Ireland as it transitions from the many years of sectarian conflict known as “the troubles” toward an inclusive democratic society.

During the semester long program, students immerse themselves into their host country through their studies, guided field experiences with local speakers and site visits, and a seven-week, near full-time, internship. Students become active in efforts toward building a peaceful future in Northern Ireland.

The Democracy and Social Justice in Northern Ireland program leaves our students with a meaningful experience. Marcy Mueller, a Saint Mary’s graduate of 2012 and participant of the spring 2012 Northern Ireland program, came away with a greater understanding of herself and made wonderful relationships with program participants and community members. She now works in youth ministry in Dubuque, Iowa.

Becca Carroll, graduating in May, participated in the program in the fall of 2014 where she completed an internship at The Junction, an organization focused on activities that aim to develop relationships, understanding, and mutual respect in the community. Through the experience, Becca found a passion for the work of restorative justice which she hopes can lead to a fulfilling career in criminal justice.

Mitchell Shuster, a participant of the fall 2015 program, gained understanding through listening to people’s stories and having conversations over tea. Mitchell also made meaningful friendships while joining the University of Ulster’s Magee Ruby Club.

Learn more about HECUA, at hecua.org.

International Education Week logo

The International Center will be organizing our first ever International Education Week celebration November 14-18, 2016. International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education on the Winona campus. If you would like to learn more about International Education Week and how to get involved, please feel free to contact the International Center. More details on activities and programming will be announced in the fall.

audience at presentation

April 5-8, Becky Vogel and Molly Lohnes attended the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Convention and English Language Expo in Baltimore, MD. With more than 6,500 attendees from more than 75 countries, this is the largest gathering of TESOL professionals. The TESOL Convention provided over 1,000 learning sessions in which scholars from around the world shared the most up-to-date research and practices in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages. In addition, participants were able to examine the latest materials in the Expo Hall, Electronic Village, and Technology Showcase. On their return, Becky and Molly were eager to share with their colleagues all the information they had gathered; both appreciate the opportunity they were given to attend the convention, and everything gained from the experience will be directly applied to their work within the International Center.

students at embassy

Maria Garza-Cienfuegos, Director of International Students Services, joined a group of Midwest colleagues on a recruiting trip to Washington, D.C. through Study Minnesota Embassy Visits. Study Minnesota is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes MN as a final destination for international students studying abroad. It is sponsored by the U.S. Commercial Service at the federal level and the Minnesota Trade Office at the state level. Study Minnesota’s main goal is to offer outreach opportunities for student recruitment to its 39 educational institutions in Minnesota; SMU is one of these institutions. One of the highlights of this trip was the opportunity to network at the highest diplomatic levels where public relations efforts have a significant role in recruiting international students. In addition, at the embassies of Colombia and Mexico, Maria was able to speak about experiences with exchange students that SMU has had from international Lasallian Universities. Her discussions also included information regarding SMU’s ESL program located on the Winona Campus. At the Mexican Embassy, she had the opportunity to ask more questions about Proyecta 100,000, a program that aims to send Mexican students to the U.S. SMU submitted two English language learning Proyecta 100,000 proposals, one for teachers during Summer 2016 and a second for college students for Fall 2016.

student holding photograph

Jase Pater is the winner of the 2016 Study Abroad Photo Contest. Jase studied abroad during the summer of 2015 in Paderno del Grappa, Italy through the CIMBA program. During his time in Italy, he was able to take an entrepreneurship course for his entrepreneurship major and a communications course for his electronic publishing minor. Jase was also chosen to be a CIMBA Social Media Ambassador, an experience that came with the opportunity to connect with other program participants, add another experience to his resume, and earn a small scholarship. To learn more about the CIMBA program, please visit, cimbaitaly.com.

Title of photo: Gateways of Venice, Venice, Italy

group of students

For the past several years, the education department has requested several of the international students attend Professor Elizabeth Donahue’s class entitled, “Human Relations/Diversity/Indian Cultures,” a class for undergraduate education majors. The purpose of the request is to share and compare information about the different educational systems in which the international students have participated before coming to St. Mary’s University. Thus, on Wednesday, April 6th, Eman Almubarak from Saudi Arabia, Yue Cheng from China, Brother Francisco Boniche from Nicaragua and Marcin Sak from Poland participated in a panel discussion from 11:10 to 12:00. The education majors appreciated learning about both the educational systems of various countries and the experiences that the international students have had while studying here on campus this past year. Both the education majors and the international students felt a valuable connection was made through this experience.


Several members of the SMU community have asked our Muslim students to share their thoughts about ISIS, and for one reason or another, they are reticent to participate in panel discussions. However, one student was willing to share her opinion in writing:

After the current situation of ISIS and Donald Trump's remarks against Muslims, l feel that I'm personally a target of the current debate about Muslims in the United States. I also feel that women who wear headscarves and veils, which declare their Islamic identity, in particular, are afraid of these attacks. Wearing of headscarves on the street these days requires more courage. Sometimes I feel that there are insults and hostile looks, and I am treated badly when shopping or just walking in the streets. I am always weary from being blamed for ISIS’s atrocities.

People don't know that Islam is different than ISIS, and we call them terrorists too; they are NOT Muslims. I think those who are afraid of Muslims do not have any personal relationship with Muslims or they have the wrong understanding of Islam from the media today. I'm wondering what we can say to American society for it to understand that these people are not like us, and we do not understand their behavior and their thinking either. I also feel helpless and disappointed that I cannot impact Donald Trump's campaign of hostility toward us.

Soccer players

Several SMU international students have been involved in the Winona State University Indoor Soccer Tournament sponsored by WSU Soccer Club. It was a four week tournament held at Winona State with games on Friday and Sunday nights. The Saint Mary’s team, “Northern Thunder,” was one of the six teams that participated in the tournament. The indoor soccer season at Winona State ended this past Sunday with “Northern Thunder” claiming the championship honors. Each player from “Northern Thunder” received a T-shirt and a medal. In addition, the team received two trophy cups, one that honored the special player of the tournament, Mohanned Naquib, and the other honoring the championship team. The SMU international students who participated were: Musab Al Fagham, Mohanned Naquib, Mohammed Alharbi and Mohanna Aloufi. Congratulations to these players and to their teammates!


Congratulations to the following students who are participating in commencement on May 7, 2016.

Ilham Muhammad Albalawi, Saudi Arabia
Biology Nuclear Medicine Technology

Mohammed Essa Alharbi, Saudi Arabia
Biology Nuclear Medicine Technology

Mohanned Adel Naquib, Saudi Arabia
Biology Medical Technology

Thao Minh A. Nguyen, Vietnam

Jiajing Yin, China

Lin Zhao, China

Katarzyna Justyna Plawiak, Poland
Computer Science/International Business

Saron Mekasha Yifru, Ethiopia
Computer Science

Christina Yohanna Weldai, UK

Dong Min Lim, South Korea
International Business/Marketing


Hangxi Fan, China
Geographic Information Science

Yangcheng Liu, China
Geographic Information Science

Jinzhou Rong, China
Geographic Information Science


Please click here to see upcoming International Holidays, 2016.

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Faculty, staff and students,
Thank you so much for a wonderful year. The International Center wishes you a safe and fun summer!