April 2018


You may recognize Sara Páez’s face if you’ve ever ordered a sandwich at the cafeteria or attended activities on campus. If you don’t, you must not get out much because Sara seems to know everyone. Her outgoing, caring personality has enabled her to make the most of her semester here at DLI, both academically and socially. We thank her brother, José, a DLI and SMU alum himself, for convincing Sara to follow in his footsteps and join us. Her desire to improve her English skills drew her away from her home in Valencia, Venezuela, after she finished her coursework in business administration at Universidad José Antonio Páez in January.

She describes Venezuela as a country with “beautiful people, culture, and places that is now hard to see and enjoy” because of a corrupt government, which is a “bad form of communism with a dictator instead of a president.” Though Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a wage hike last month, the minimum wage will increase only to $6.13 per month, according to CNNMoney. Therefore, it’s no surprise that most of the middle-class professionals, including all of Sara’s friends, have fled Venezuela leaving behind the lower and upper classes, the latter being those connected with the government. Petroleum production has been stopped and most companies have shut down. Because the government determines prices, daily necessities are too expensive for most people to afford. Groceries operate with a lottery system based on citizens’ national ID numbers, where certain numbers determine the day on which a person may shop, yet only the first 100 customers are allowed into a store. Sara described her father getting up at 3:00 a.m. to line up for a ticket to be one of the first 100 at many stores because the ticket alone doesn’t guarantee that there will be food on the shelves. He may have to visit several stores to purchase what he needs. As a result, many people are starving and resort to begging on the streets or crime. Theft, kidnapping, and murder have become major problems in Venezuela as poverty drives people to do whatever they can to survive. Sadly, the capital city of Caracas is the second most dangerous city in the world, with Sara’s hometown being twenty-seventh, according to a Daily Mail survey published last month. The health care system is suffering as well; there are no beds available in public hospitals, medicine must be bought in Colombia, and patients have to bring their own anesthetics with them. Transportation is also an issue without petroleum and repair companies to sell replacement parts for individual and public vehicles.

Despite the political situation, Sara has a positive outlook and hopes that things will change in the future. She will return to her parents and pets, the beach, and the warmth of her country in June and then look for a job in another country. Wherever she may end up, she will be sure to share the warmth of her country, culture, and people.


Study Abroad Photo Contest Winners 2018


1st Place Winner
Liam Hahn
"On the Edge of the World"
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland



2nd Place
Kate Dulak
"Sneak Peak of Venice"
Venice, Italy



3rd Place
Grace Homer
"Busy Streets"
Rome, Italy



Yuchen Cui, a senior majoring in graphic design, currently has several pieces of his artwork on display during the Senior Art Exhibition at the Lillian Davis Hogan Gallery in the Toner Center. Yuchen is from Xi’an, China and began his studies at SMU in 2016 after transferring from Xi’an Polytechnic University. After three years of studying film and television production in China, Yuchen made the decision to transfer to SMU in order to study art while gaining a broader educational experience. After graduating from SMU, Yuchen hopes to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in either New York or California. Yuchen is a talented individual, and everyone is encouraged to view his work now through May 12, 2018.


As a follow-up to the student profile in our last newsletter, I asked Alessio Caselli what the real Italy is, not the stereotype, and if he could tell the people of SMU and Winona anything about Italy, what he would say. He responded with the message below:

"The classic Italian stereotype is the fact that we talk using hand gestures. Of course, a stereotype comes from a real fact, and in this case, it is true that we implement hand gestures while we talk, but it is not something that happens often. Most of the time we use them to signal people that can't actually hear us or if we don't want to be heard by everybody. … Italy is so complex in every detail, like every other country, of course, so it is almost impossible to think about something in particular in a situation like this. To the people at SMU and in Winona, I would definitely ask them to try actual food or experience parts of culture from Italy, but since I'm not a good cook, I can only suggest they listen to Italian music and watch Italian movies, with translations of course. I believe that when people think about Italy in the past, the only thing that comes to mind is how Mussolini joined forces with Hitler. Basically, everybody knows what happened during that war, but the greatness of the Roman Empire is unknown to a lot of people, or it's just forgotten."


A total of 21 students are currently studying In Rome, Italy at the Generalate, the mother house of the DeLaSalle Christian Brothers. Alexis Zagal and Alex Schmid from Saint Mary’s are among the group.

LUCE students in Rome, Italy meet with Dr. Norman Barth, Chief Economist - First Secretary, and Dawn Bruno, Deputy Senior Commercial Officer, U.S. Commercial Service from the Embassy of the United States of America. Also included is Dr. Shelly McCallum-Ferguson, Professor of Business (left). Dr. McCallum made the journey between Winona and Rome two times to instruct a business course for the students.

Sylvia Poggioli, Senior European Correspondent for National Public Radio (second from the right), visits with the LUCE Study Abroad students to share her knowledge about the European market, the recent Italian elections, and the Vatican.

The Vatican

Be the next students to spend a Lasallian Semester in Rome!
Lasallian Universities Center for Education (LUCE) - Spring Semester 2019.

This semester length program gives students from Lasallian universities the opportunity to study and live together at the Lasallian Universities Center for Education (LUCE) in the Generalate in Rome, while completing major, minor, and general education requirements at their home institutions. Two professors will lead the program while living at the Generalate with the students, teaching courses, and conducting program sponsored excursions.

If you have any questions about this program, please email Vicki McDonald, Coordinator of Study Abroad at vmcdonal@smumn.edu or call ext. 6996.


March 27-30, De La Salle Language Institute instructors, Molly Lohnes and Becky Vogel, attended the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Convention and English Language Expo in Chicago, IL. This conference was host to over 6,300 TESOL professionals from more than 70 different countries. Scholars from around the world shared the most up-to-date research and practices regarding teaching and learning specific to the field. Over 1,000 learning sessions were available in addition to TESOL’s Expo Hall and Electronic Village, which provided the latest classroom materials and electronic resources. Both DLI instructors appreciate the opportunity to attend the convention and are excited to apply what they have learned within the International Center.


Arriving at Saint Mary’s University in August 2017, Kun-Tung Chou, also known as Donny, spent the academic year studying the English language within the DeLaSalle Language Institute and immersing himself in the customs and cultures of the United States. Wanting to share his experience, Kun-Tung wrote the following essay.

My Study Abroad Experience in the U.S.A.

Due to career development, I need to improve my English ability. Consequently, this is the first year and my first time to study abroad. Everything is shocking to me, and the weather is very different from my country. Snow is amazing, and I like it.

Because of stereotypes and news, everyone thinks the United States is a dangerous country. Crimes, drugs or racism may affect people. However, I do not encounter these problems in my life. I like Winona and Saint Mary's University of Minnesota because everyone I know is kind and willing to talk to me. This is very important to me to improve my speaking ability. They are patient and intelligent because they always know what I am saying even if I don’t speak the complete sentence or use strange tones. I am so glad that I chose Saint Mary's; it makes me learn in the correct way. If you ask me what is difficult to adapt to, I will tell you the eating habits are very different. I cannot eat pizza, ice cream or hamburger every day. Fortunately, the chef is considerate; he prepares Asian food for foreign students. Not only food, but also the campus holds a special party to celebrate Asian festivals.

Thoughts about education are very different between Asian countries and the United States. For example, in my country, we spend lots of time on our majors; however, we seldom care about the other things. Conversely, western education notices sports, social ability, personality development…etc. Everything is accepted as long as it is legal. You don’t need to care about if you are different. Encouragement replaces scolding; everything in the United States is free and open minded. Convenient and numerous resources not only help me find extra information but also I can learn another skill by myself. Having conversation partners or joining different activities can exchange our perspectives and cultures; it can help me improve my language and join this big group more quickly.

I come from Taiwan. I never regret studying in Saint Mary's University as an ESL student because professors Becky, Molly, and Lorraine are professional and earnest. They help me improve my second language effectively and solve my life problems. I felt homesick in the past but because of Vivien’s support, I feel SMU is my second home. I appreciate Vivien who is a staff member in Saint Mary's University.


Faculty, staff and students,

The International Center wishes you a safe and fun summer! It has been a great year!