SIT Graduate Institute Alumni Newsletter, Fall 2022

A Note from Carla Lineback, Director of Alumni Engagement

Last month, we experienced a wonderful day of celebration on the beautiful campus in Brattleboro. Following an SIT commencement ceremony for 54 newly minted changemakers was an equally inspirational commemorative marker dedication honoring the deep and long partnership between World Learning, SIT, The Experiment, and the Peace Corps.

During the commencement, Dominique Ciavattone, SIT Study Abroad Kenya 2012, Experiment Group Leader South Africa 2019, and SIT MA Climate Change and Global Sustainability 2021, gave a moving and inspiring speech to her fellow graduates. Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn not only spoke at commencement but also at the commemorative marker celebration, along with U.S. Representative Peter Welch and Katherine Long from U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy’s office. We also were humbled by the words of Timothy Shriver, Sargent Shriver’s son, that were read aloud by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Javonni McGlaurin, PIM 76 International Education 2016, from a letter he sent for the occasion.

“No alliance of organizations or people have done more to break down the walls of misunderstanding and fear that have divided culture from culture, religion from religion, country from country, people from people. And furthermore, no group of organizations or team of individuals have done more to stay the course in these days of increased division and polarization.”

Read more about both events here: Shared History of World Learning, SIT, and Peace Corps focus of events.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the passing of three individuals that had an influence on many alumni. They are part of SIT’s rich history and are remembered with great fondness.

Mary Hayward was director of career services and professional development for a number of years at SIT and she continued to coach and counsel alumni well after her retirement. She passed away in August after a battle with bone cancer. She was very active in the Brattleboro community.

John Vogelsang was a visiting professor of organizational conflict transformation. He was a prolific writer and published many articles and monographs, co-editing two books and a volume of articles with former SIT faculty member Aqeel Tirmizi, “Leading and Managing in the Social Sector: Strategies for Advancing Human Dignity and Social Change.” John passed away in March.

Paula Green, founder of SIT’s Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT) summer peacebuilding program, passed away in February. She touched the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Despite retiring from SIT several years ago, she continued to be connected and is dearly missed by our community. Read more about her work here: In memory and honor of CONTACT founder Dr. Paula Green.

Alumni News

(Listed by year of program start)

Deborah Allen Fleming, Experiment Spain 1969 and ICT 11 1972, was reminiscing about her time on campus and doing the “luggage hike.” She had done her internship in Cameroon thanks to an SIT alum. She spent her career as a professional librarian and is semi-retired working in a high school as a bilingual instructional assistant. She is currently planning a permanent move to Portugal followed soon by her daughter and grandchildren.

Mark Wentzel, World Issues Program VII 1980, joins Ignite School, a primary and secondary school in Dubai, UAE. He will be the new head of wellbeing and inclusion and U.S. accreditation lead. One of Ignite’s distinguishing features is its reputation as an authentic American school, based in part on its requirement that all core teaching staff have a U.S. teaching license and at least one U.S. university degree.

Donna Winseck Omata, MAT 11 1980, is a retired ESL instructor. She served in the Peace Corps in Korea from 1976–1979 and taught at the University of Colorado in Boulder and St. Vrain Valley Public Schools.

Tom Luce, MAT 5 1987 and Experiment Group Leader France 1994, founded Human Rights Accompaniment in Haiti, working to provide human rights from 2004–2011. In 2010, his attention turned to creating the scholarship program Hope for Haiti: Education to help at-risk children. Tom says, “SIT certainly has been part of my inspiration to do this work.”

Thom Namaya, PIM 39, has published “Vermont My Home on Blue Heron Pond,” a collection of his poetry, stories, and photographs that celebrate Vermont. He says it is an homage to the people and the land of Vermont.

Dean Fusto, MAT 22 1991, was appointed executive head of school of the School of the Blessed Sacrament. He has held several leadership positions in New England independent schools including the Bement School, Northfield Mount Hermon, the Putney School, and Upward Bound. Most recently, he served as president and head of school at Brandon Hall School in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Brandon Hall, Dean executed a number of projects, including the school’s first innovation and arts wing, newly renovated dorms, a school farm and nature overlook, and classroom expansions.

Jon Nordmeyer, MAT 24 1993, taught at international schools in Taipei, Istanbul, Shanghai, and Bangkok after leaving SIT. He is currently the international programs director at WIDA, a research center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jon says he regularly presents at international conferences where he often runs into SIT graduates. He has had the opportunity to work on many interesting projects, including co-editing the book “Integrating Language and Content” (TESOL, 2010) with SIT professor Susan Barduhn which also featured other SIT authors. Recent publications include: “What Does Equity Really Mean for Multilingual Learners?” (Educational Leadership, 2021), “Glocal Network Shifts: Exploring Language Policies and Practices in International Schools” (Global Education Review, 2021), “Teacher Collaboration During a Global Pandemic” (Educational Leadership, 2020), “The Yoga of Collaboration” (Language Magazine, 2020), and “Saying is Believing: Why Names Matter” (The International Educator, 2020). He writes, “I remain grateful for my experience at SIT, not only for the deep understanding in TESOL but also for the commitment to social justice and recognition of our shared global interdependence.”

Sarah Wright Cardinal, MAT 20 2001, was awarded the Ehor Boyanowski Academic of the Year Award by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia. The award “celebrates faculty who contribute in significant ways to our citizenry and democratic landscape, our intellectual life, and our economy.” The award comes after a two-year canoe-building project that aims to bring more Indigenous content into course curriculum and research. She is an assistant professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, Canada. Read more about Dr. Cardinal here: A canoe is not just a boat. (Photo below)

JaDawn Wright-Morgan, CONTACT and PIM 60 Intercultural Relations 2002, has 20 years of experience in technical assistance, training, program management, and quality improvement programs and currently serves as the deputy director for the Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center where she is “creating social justice and cultivating culturally responsive practices.” She believes her work aligns with her purpose and shares, “For far too long silence, shame, poverty, racism, and sexism have led to death. I am committed to addressing the intersectionality of these issues so that everyone can experience equality in health and so many other aspects of life.” (Photo below)

Jennifer Quigley, PIM 63 Intercultural Management 2003, is senior director for government affairs at Human Rights First. She oversees efforts to advance critical human rights policy reforms in Congress and the executive branch. She also leads the organization’s advocacy work to protect the rights of refugees and access to asylum protections and resettlement. Prior to joining Human Rights First, Jennifer worked for the U.S. Campaign for Burma, including as the president/executive director focusing on U.S. Burma policy and the promotion of human rights, refugees, and democratic change in Burma.

Michelle Balek, PIM 65 Sustainable Development 2005, celebrated 40 years as a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador and has served in or on the Iowa Department of Social Services; Catholic Charities in Texas and Iowa; Holy Ghost, Dubuque, as a pastoral associate; the National Staff of Pax Christi USA; Franciscans International as the North America region coordinator; and the Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America as the delegations coordinator.

Farah Council, PIM 67 Conflict Transformation 2006 and CONTACT, has been promoted to director of operations and organizational effectiveness at New Mexico Voices for Children where she has been working since early 2017. She has an extensive background in nonprofit management, program design and evaluation, training and facilitation, fundraising, and equity and inclusion advancement among other skills. She previously served as program manager at The Institute for Inclusive Security, where she led a program in a conflict-affected setting to advance women’s inclusion in peace processes in Sudan and South Sudan. (Photo below)

Beth West, PIM 67 International Education 2007, reports that she made a pandemic-pivot into a new role as director of a nascent teaching academy within Nuvance Health, a community health network in Connecticut and New York. She keeps one foot in the international world serving as faculty in the Global Health department for the network and is developing intercultural curriculum for the network and seven international partners sites.

Cristie Thomas, PIM 68 Social Justice 2008, is the executive director for the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust in Virginia. Her role focuses on business and building development, economic development, and vitality in downtown Gloucester. Prior to this role, she worked in civic engagement and community development for 12 years. (Photo below)

José Alfaro, PIM 70 Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management 2010, is founding director of Latinx Leadership and Community Engagement at Everytown for Gun Safety. His work centers on movement-building, policy advocacy, and electoral campaigns with an anti-racist, community-centered approach. His organization has been hosting a national listening tour to bring together leaders from several organizations and movements to look at the intersectionality between issues like gun reform, climate justice, and reproductive rights, along with organizing in low-income and immigrant communities and with communities along the border including gun owners. Read more about José and his work here: SIT alum José Alfaro organizes Latinx communities around gun violence.

Susannah (Susie) Morris, PIM 71 International Education 2012, was appointed assistant dean of international programs at UCLA Extension in January. Previously, she served as the director of global education and initiatives and study abroad and away programs at San Jose State University. There, she helped navigate the pandemic by developing a virtual program that served 400 students during the academic year.

Alexandra Wallace, PIM 74 International Education 2014, is the director of learning abroad at the University of Utah and responsible for providing leadership to the Learning Abroad team and serving as a campus advocate for academic programs abroad. Previously, she served as the manager of global faculty-led programs at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. There, Alexandra worked to develop new programs with faculty, mapped out short-term and semester programs with providers and tirelessly ensured students’ success abroad.

James (Jim) Rawl, PIM 75 Intercultural Leadership and Management 2015, is director of school-age programs at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center in Rhode Island. As stated in the press release about his new role, Jim can play the ukulele; he briefly lived in the Philippines; he was a competitive swimmer for 15 years; he was recently granted dual citizenship by Hungary; he remotely interviewed for his new job while he was making his way through Costa Rica, where he had just gone scuba-diving with bull sharks. (Photo below)

Amy Leap Miller, PIM 76 Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management 2016, has been working for Virginia Commonwealth University for three years and is now the assistant director of global learning & education abroad. She says she’s “looking forward to continuing to grow professionally at VCU GEO, serving this incredibly talented and diverse student body, and working alongside some amazingly inspiring, innovative, and supportive colleagues!”

Congratulations to Geoffrey Moses, MAT 49 2017, who has been selected by the U.S. Department of State for a 10-month fellowship project training teachers and teaching English in Estonia at TTK University of Applied Sciences. He is one of only 200 U.S. citizens selected for the 2022-23 English Language Fellow Program. Read more about Geoffrey’s fellowship here: SIT alum Geoffrey Moses named to prestigious U.S. English Language Learning Teaching Fellowship.

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SIT and World Learning are hiring! There are more than 40 positions requiring various levels of experience based in locations around the world. Please be sure to check out current openings on the employment page.

Interested in becoming a leader with Youth Exchange Programs for summer 2023? 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 10–16 high school students on a journey abroad. Youth Program leaders facilitate an immersion exchange program in the U.S. for 3–4 weeks with youth from Iraq, Canada, and Latin America. If you would like to receive more information and a notification when the application opens this fall, email [email protected].

SIT and The Forum on Education Abroad offer joint credentialing for The Forum’s Professional Certification in Education Abroad program. This program is intended for students and professionals who want to certify their knowledge and expertise in the practice of education abroad. The program is structured around The Forum’s Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad.

Join more than 20,000 SIT Alumni @ School for International Training’s LinkedIn! Is School for International Training listed in the education section of your LinkedIn profile? If not, add it (or change it*) today so you can begin networking with alumni of both SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute programs. LinkedIn’s Alumni tab makes it easy to see who else is in your metro area, find fellow alums that work at companies or organizations you may be interested in working for, and so much more. *If you currently have ‘SIT Graduate Institute’ listed in your LinkedIn profile you are absolutely welcome to leave that, but you will find many more alumni in tab on the School for International Training page.

SIT’s Critical Conversations Webinar series received a top award for Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media from The award recognizes creative, visionary approaches and original ideas in marketing, advertising, and digital media. It was presented on June 2 during the NAFSA conference in Denver, Colorado. SIT launched the Critical Conversations Webinar Series in fall 2020, at the height of the pandemic. It allowed SIT to maintain a presence in the global education community during a prolonged shutdown when study abroad programs were canceled and students and faculty were not in classrooms. Look for information this spring!

Want a t-shirt or a hoodie? Something with an SIT logo? Check out the online stores for The Experiment, SIT Study Abroad, SIT Graduate Institute, and World Learning!

About the Organization

Scholarships for The 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 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. Accepting applications for summer 2023 this fall.

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 Study Abroad provides academically rich undergraduate semester and summer programs, most with field research or internships, and International Honors Program comparative study. Now accepting applications for summer and fall 2023 programs.

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.

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.