SIT Graduate Institute Alumni Newsletter, Fall 2021

A Note from Carla Lineback, Director of Alumni Engagement

As you may have read in President Sophia Howlett’s August update, there’s a lot going on despite all the disruptions caused by the pandemic. This summer, SIT was able to run several in-person programs abroad, and in August we were thrilled to be able to host an in-person commencement for our SIT Graduate Institute students.

While the Vermont campus has been without students over the past year, it wasn’t completely quiet. SIT remains an important southern Vermont community partner as a Vermont Foodbank distribution site; for BIPOC COVID-19 vaccination clinics; and as a contingency location if first responders need to quarantine in large numbers. 

SIT mourns the passing of William Alan Hodson, long-time professor and director of the World Issues Program (WIP), SIT’s former undergraduate degree program. He was a proponent of sustainability and environmentalism. David Bozetarnik, WSP 3 1990 and MAT 38 2006, wrote a piece for the Brattleboro Reformer remembering Dr. WAH, as he was affectionately known. If you have memories you’d like to share, please send them to alumni@sit.edu. We will compile them and share them in a blog post.

Please enjoy reading about fellow alumni, and I hope you’ll consider sending your own update for inclusion in a future newsletter to alumni@sit.edu

Alumni News

(Listed by year of participation)

Peter Boggs, MAT 4 1973, has been learning Spanish in his retirement. He has studied in Ecuador and Peru. He started a course in Panama when COVID-19 hit, and he was ‘trapped’ in his apartment for three months before taking a humanitarian flight back home. 

Robert “Bob” Ericksen, ICT 17 1975, did his graduate internship at the Friends World College campus in Kenya. He is now retired from a career in international education at US universities—St. Louis University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, California State University, Fullerton, and UCLA. He says, “SIT gave me an amazing education and I had been quite networked with SIT colleagues and events early in my career. I’m deeply grateful for the education I received.” 

Elizabeth Usovicz, MAT 11 1980, is a management consultant and 24-year member of Rotary International. For more than 20 years, she has been a passionate advocate for at-risk children in Malawi, and has written 10 grants funded through the Rotary Foundation benefitting children in Malawi. In 2016, Elizabeth led a training team to Malawi that worked alongside Malawian teachers in village primary schools to develop and deliver an after-school program to encourage children, especially girls, to stay in school. She has served Rotary in numerous leadership roles and began a two-year term on Rotary International’s global board of directors in July.

Michael Sampson, WIP 8 1981, published The Leadership Development Tool Kit, a book that provides a set of tools for effective people leadership and includes real-life examples of how a leadership development program gives rise to self-motivated, high-performance individuals and teams that produce long-term results.

Ann Smith, MAT 15 1984, is now retired after 30 years teaching ESOL mainly in two Title I middle schools in Houston and Austin, Texas. She has recently self-published Here! Immigrant and Refugee Youth Through the Eyes of Their Middle School Teacher, a candid collection of stories based on her experiences as an ESOL educator. More information about Here! is available on her website, authorannsmith.com. Ann would love to hear from her SIT classmates and/or any SIT graduate who is passionate about educating our immigrant population. Write to alumni@sit.edu to be in touch.

Barbara Becker, PIM 49 1992, published an incredibly moving book, Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind. It includes a few stories that grew out of her SIT education, from an internship in Bangladesh to time with survivors of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, as well as Lakota descendants of the Massacre at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  

Alvino-Mario Fantini, Experiment Italy 1985, Experiment Group Leader Spain 1998, PIM 55 1995, launched a new quarterly publication to expand the diversity of the European media space. Bringing together diverse writings and perspectives on art, literature, philosophy, and politics, the publication—provocatively titled “The European Conservative”—seeks to make available content routinely ignored by the mainstream media. Mario says that at SIT he learned to resist groupthink, which can stifle debate and suppress minority viewpoints. Working cross-culturally with teams from Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, the UK and the U.S., Mario has reconceptualized and redesigned this English-language thought journal and is significantly expanding distribution. “My hope,” he says, “is not only to raise awareness of ideas and writings that can find no platform or outlet, but also, in the process, to remind people that the dominant media and entertainment giants do not fully reflect the dazzling variety and rich traditions of different European cultures.”

Johan Uvin, MAT 19 1988, is the new executive director of the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts. He served at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-17 as senior policy advisor, then deputy assistant secretary, and later assistant secretary (acting). At the Department of Education, he coordinated all strategy development for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). 

Maryanna Phillips Koehring, MAT 30 1998, was selected by the U.S. Department of State as an English Language Specialist. Her project focused on business English skills at ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Maryanna specializes in curriculum development and instruction for English for Specific Purposes. She lives in Amman, Jordan with her husband and three teenage children.

Deniece Dortch, PIM 64, ISLM 2004, was awarded the 2021 American Education Research Association’s Carlos J. Vallejo Memorial Award for Emerging Scholarship. The award recognizes an advanced doctoral student or assistant professor whose scholarly contributions are poised to contribute to scholarship in the field of multicultural/multiethnic education. Deniece is a visiting assistant professor of higher education administration within the Department of Education Leadership with the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at The George Washington University. She was promoted to tenure-track assistant professor with her department in fall 2021. Deniece’s research and teaching grapples with systemic oppression across multiple axes. She uses critical phenomenological approaches to understanding how African American undergraduate and graduate students experience and respond to race and racism at predominantly white institutions of higher education. She is especially interested in how psychological violence and fear is experienced, manifested and reproduced in the academy. Her most recent projects explore intra-racial relationships, racial agency, isolation, as well as maladaptive behaviors and their effects on persistence in higher education.

Reagan Jackson, PIM 64 IE 2004 and Experiment Group Leader Japan 2005, 2006, 2007, published Still Here: A South End Mixtape From An Unexpected Journalist. The book includes a collection of some of her most important and award-winning journalism over the past 10 years. Read a review in the South Seattle Emerald

Tyrel Nelson, TESOL Certificate 2007, published a new memoir, Travels and Tribulations, a collection of short stories based on the people and places of his travels. Staying busy during the pandemic, Tyrel has also added to his previous titles and released second editions. 

Abigail Jacklyn Behrends, PIM 68 ISLM 2008, has professionally taught internationally for years and published her photo works as well as had six photography shows across the United States in places such as the National Press Club and the Andy Warhol Museum, among others. She has worked for the states of South Dakota and Wisconsin as an archeologist. She was an archivist for and worked on a documentary film for the Robert F. Kennedy family in New York City. The film is titled Ethel and was nominated for five Emmys. Abigail has since published fiction in the form of novels, short stories, play script and a poem. 

George “Teddy” Florea, CONTACT 2009, started Soul Dreamers, which connects eco-learning with youth involvement, community strengthening, and responsible tourism. The project will launch in Sierra Nevada, Colombia.  

Ramina Murshudova, PIM 69 IE 2009, works at the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan, managing a large portfolio of exchange and English-language programs. She published an article “Has COVID-19 Affected Students’ Attitudes towards Online Education? A Case Study of Azerbaijan” in the international journal, Caucasus Analytical Digest.

Marcella Caprario, SMAT 30 2011, started working toward a PhD in applied linguistics at Northern Arizona University. She is focusing on intercultural pragmatics with the goal of contributing to intercultural communication training for all English users.  

Ian Hefele, PIM 71 ISLM 2011, and Sarah Wiggins, PIM 74 IE 2014 and Experiment Group Leader Spain 2015 and Mongolia 2017, were two of 20 young professionals named as 2021 Emerging Leaders of Southern Vermont. Individuals were nominated based on their work as community leaders and volunteers, and for their professional accomplishments and commitment to serving the region. Conor Floyd, SIT Study Abroad Nepal 2014, who was also among this year’s group, works at Food Connects, whose co-founders are Richard Berkfield, PIM 67 SD 2007 and Katherine (Gillespie) Jandernoa, PIM 68 SD 2008.

Rysheema Dixon, DC 2 SD 2012, founded RD Innovative Planning and is the first and youngest black woman serving as city councilwoman at- large for the City of Wilmington, Del. She works to create an experience of opportunity and inclusion for youth and families living in the underserved areas in the inner city. Read the summer article about her in Impact Magazine

Monica Dugo, PIM 72 IE 2013, launched YouTube channel, LUXOMUNDI. The channel promotes international travel and interviews expats around the world. She mentions SIT in her first episode. 

Rajib Timalsina, CONTACT 2015, is working on peace education research development in collaboration with colleagues from Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Nepal, and the UK. 

Faculty News

Dr. Melissa Whatley, SIT assistant professor of International and Global Education at SIT, recently co-authored an article about the impact of study abroad on the academic success of community college students. Read the article

Dr. Alla Korzh, SIT professor of International and Global Education, published her qualitative research in a minimum-security prison for women in Ukraine in Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education. Incarcerated women’s education experiences have not been represented in the field of comparative and international education to date. It’s time to hear their voices. Read more.  

Diane Larsen-Freeman and Mary Scholl, both experts in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), together have been affiliated with SIT’s MA in TESOL program for more than 50 years. The two are among 30 U.S. specialists being honored by the U.S. Department of State for their expertise in English language learning as part of a celebration of 30 years of the U.S. English Language Specialists program. Read more.

Opportunities

SIT and World Learning is hiring! Among the open positions are:
• Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
• Senior Director of Global Education
• Operations Coordinator for Youth Programs.

There are positions for all levels of experience, and based in locations around the world, so please be sure to check out current openings on the employment page.

Interested in becoming a leader with Youth Exchange Programs for summer 2022? We are seeking experienced and inclusive educators to lead groups of high school students on cross-cultural exchanges! The Experiment leaders guide a group of 10 to 16 high school students on a journey abroad. Youth Program leaders facilitate an immersion exchange program in the US for 3 to 4 weeks with youth from Iraq, Canada, and Latin America. The application will be available this fall. If you would like to receive more information and a notification when the application is open, email groupleaders@worldlearning.org.

The fall 2021 Critical Conversations webinar series has begun! The webinars come in a variety of formats and topics—learn to cook a Jordanian meal or participate in talks and Q&As with Dr. Homi K. Bhabha from Harvard and IHP alumna Kerlyne Jean-Baptiste, among many others. These webinars are designed to inspire community-wide dialogue on global, interdisciplinary issues.

About the Organization

Scholarships for Experiment and SIT programs may be available to Experiment or SIT alumni and their family members.

The Experiment in International Living provides immersive summer programs abroad and online for high school students. Intercultural connections between young people are now more important than ever. The world is ready to recover and rise to new challenges, and The Experiment is committed to working together across cultures. Now accepting applications for summer 2022. Apply by Jan. 17, 2022, for priority admission. experiment.org

The SIT World Languages Center is committed to promoting and preserving indigenous and less commonly taught languages while also providing critical, specialized courses in widely studied languages. Online and in-person language courses for college credit are open to high school, undergraduate and graduate students, and adult learners.
sit.edu/sit-world-languages-center

SIT Study Abroad provides academically rich undergraduate semester and summer programs, most with field research or internships, and International Honors Program comparative study. Apply by Nov. 1, 2021, for spring 2022 programs. studyabroad.sit.edu

World Learning’s Global Programs work to create a more peaceful and just world through education, sustainable development, and exchange. Our programs advance leadership in more than 150 countries. worldlearning.org

Let’s Be Social!

World Learning Inc., the nonprofit parent organization of School for International Training and The Experiment in International Living, offers high school, undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. World Learning Inc.’s summer programs (through The Experiment in International Living) help high school students experience another culture. SIT Study Abroad offers semester- and summer-long undergraduate programs that address critical global issues on all seven continents and includes the International Honors Program comparative studies. SIT Graduate Institute offers graduate degrees in low-residency and global formats. World Learning is working to create a more peaceful and just world through education, sustainable development, and exchange. Founded in 1932 as The Experiment in International Living, the organization that has become World Learning, Inc. was inspired by Dr. Donald Watt’s innovative idea to improve understanding across cultures and nations by sending U.S. students abroad to live with families to expand their worldviews.