October 2017

International Center Student Activities

The International Center plans a series of activities each semester for International Students. This semester included a fall picnic, ice skating, and trips to the Eagle Center and Lark Toys. Yet to come, an October trip to Mall of America, a special Thanksgiving lunch and a Christmas party.

student workers

The International Center is pleased to welcome two new student workers this semester, senior Oscar Castro and graduate student Lu Hou.

Oscar is double majoring in Global Studies and Spanish. He attended a LaSallian high school and cherished the quality education that the Brothers and LaSallian educators provided him. The values that were instilled in the students were something that really became a part of who he is, so he decided to look to another LaSallian school. Oscar came to visit Saint Mary's University of MN and fell in love with the bluffs and with the community. One thing he was looking forward to in going to college was being able to embrace new cultures and meet people from all over the world. "I would like to let the rest of the campus know that the International Center is open to all to come hang out, and they need to take the time to get to know the international students and make them a part of this Saint Mary's family." Upon graduation from Saint Mary's, Oscar wants to either take some time to volunteer abroad or join a law firm to see if immigration law would be the right field for him to get into. A word of advice that he would offer any new incoming international students is that although it is important to stick to your roots and remember where you came from, make sure to put yourself out there and try some new things.

Lu's graduate program is GIS (Geographic Information Science). She chose Saint Mary's because her friend recommended it, and she thinks it's a very safe and peaceful place, which is suitable for studying. For her the atmosphere of the International Center (IC) is very relaxing and staff is so friendly that it makes her feel warm when she works in the IC. She hopes more domestic students will get involved with international students to help enrich each other's cultural experience. She would like to be a teacher in a college when she returns to China. As for advice to future students, be brave and be yourself!


New International Center Staff

Vivien Yun Skranka

Vivien Skranka

My name is Vivien Skranka. I am originally from Taiwan. New York Times calls it an island of green in Asia. CNN calls it an island of impossible beauty. Europeans once called it Formosa.
I graduated from Saint Mary’s with a MA in International Business many years ago. I recently started my career at Saint Mary’s in May as an International Admission Counselor at the Admission Office and Coordinator of International Student Services at the International Center.
My job is very unique because I have the opportunity to work with prospective international students by helping them to apply to Saint Mary’s. I also work with enrolled students to assist them with adapting to American culture, adjusting to student life, and as a Designated School Official (DSO) advising them with maintaining their immigration status.
I was very fortunate to be able to study in Taiwan, Australia and the U.S. The experiences I gained were not only academic, but I also learned to appreciate other cultures and traditions, embrace people from different backgrounds and become familiar with different international education systems. Studying in different countries started my career in the international education field, and I have developed experiences assisting with international education fairs, hosting international culture events, and advising international students.
I am excited to be able to return to Saint Mary’s to contribute to this community by working with two departments with a strong desire to help students achieve their personal and academic goals.
Saint Augustine of Hippo once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” If you have not yet had many opportunities to travel overseas, then let our international students bring the world to you.

Here are two links:
CNN Travel
The New York Times



Lorraine Vassallo

Lorraine Vassallo

Hello~ Hola~ Ciao~ Bonjour~ مرحبا ~ 你好 ~ Hallå!

My name is Lorraine (Vassallo) and I am excited to be a part of the De La Salle Language Institute staff at Saint Mary's Winona. While I look forward to getting to know you all, here is a little information about my journey.
In 1995, I moved to Rochester, MN from the Mediterranean island of Malta. Growing up in a country immersed in a rich and diverse heritage, I was inspired from a young age to learn new languages and to seek the understanding of cultures from around the world. The love of languages, coupled by my fascination with inquiry and investigation, led me to pursue studies in education. In Malta, I worked as a Biology and Chemistry teacher at Stella Maris College (a Lasallian school).
When my husband was offered a job to work in Rochester, I, of course, followed him, and here we are, 22 years later. We have a son Tim, who is a senior in College, out in California. As he approached high school, I decided to return to school and pursue studies at Saint Mary’s University in Winona, obtaining a degree in Modern Languages (Spanish and French) and an M.A in ESL. I chose the latter field because it effectively combines my love of culture and language with education.
My passion is to educate students, in particular English learners, by providing them with skills and tools that enable them to communicate more effectively, to reach their full potential and to participate more fully in our society. I hope that working together, we can learn from one another and develop a deep appreciation of cultural pluralism.

The Vatican


 Rome, Italy! 

Special Scholarship - $2,000 this year

Application deadline approaching fast, October 16th!


• Program dates February 9 - May 4, 2018

• Study and live with students from other Lasallian institutions

• Course subjects include art history, business, ethics, history, Italian language, literature, sociology & theology

• Saint Mary’s institutional aid and all federal and state aid (except for work study) is applicable

student on bike

So what do international students do when they don’t have a U.S. driver’s license and want to explore Winona? Hail a cab? Yes, but that can be expensive. Ride Winona Transit? Yes, but the hours are so limited. Borrow a bike? Perfect solution! The International Center now has ten bicycles available for our students to check out so that they may explore, shop, and get some exercise at their convenience, and at no cost. Locks are provided with every bike, and helmets and baskets are also available. Thus far, this program has been well received as most bikes are borrowed on a regular basis, so, international students, if you want to see Winona, come check out a bike!

The Conversations Have Begun!

Over twenty domestic Saint Mary's students have volunteered to be partnered with international Saint Mary's students through the De La Salle Language Institute’s Conversation Partner program. The volunteers, freshmen through seniors majoring in a variety of subjects, have committed to meeting weekly with their international partners. The partners decide the time and location of these meetings. Partners often choose activities such as sharing a meal together or attending an on or off campus event; their choices are diverse. The goals of the Conversation Partner program include not only assisting with the development of international students’ English language abilities but also promoting cross-cultural understanding for all participants. Extending English language learning from the classroom into the international students' extra-curricular lives and helping international students understand and adapt to U.S. culture are extremely valuable features of this program. At the same time, the program aims to provide all those involved with opportunities to see the world from differing perspectives - ultimately creating understanding, tolerance and new friendships.

world flags in globe shape

Hello from the Study Abroad Office. Since becoming the new Coordinator of Study Abroad, I have had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to London and visiting our London students. Currently, we have 10 students total. Check out our London Blog and see what's happening this semester.

If you have any questions about any of our study abroad programs please stop by the Study Abroad Office in the International Center (the Heights) or call ext. 6996.

Vicki McDonald, M.A.
Coordinator of Study Abroad


Rome, Italy
Application Deadline October 16, 2017

Faculty Led Short-Term Programs
Application Deadline December 1, 2017

Business 460: Business & Culture in Europe
Travel to Austria, Czech Republic, and Germany.
May 14 - 30, 2018

English 360: Literature on Location
Travel to London, England
May 19 - June 3, 2018


Spanish Studies Abroad
Application Deadline October 15, 2017

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

CIMBA - Consortium Institute of Management and Business Analysis
Paderno del Grappa, Italy
Application Deadline October 15, 2017

SAI - Florence University of the Arts
Florence, Italy
Application Deadline November 1, 2017

HECUA - Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs
Application Deadline November 1, 2017

Quito, Ecuador
Auckland, New Zealand
Northern Ireland
Oslo, Norway

World map made of flags

We have received 19 new students for fall 2017. There are a total of 54 undergraduate international students enrolled (including 6 OPT students).

Where are our students from? Cameroon (1); Canada (3); China (32); Colombia (1); Ethiopia (1); France (1); Italy (1); Nicaragua (1); Poland (2); Saudi Arabia (4); Spain (1); Sweden (2); Taiwan (2); United Kingdom (1); Vietnam (1)