SIT Graduate Institute Alumni Newsletter, Spring 2023

A Note from Carla Lineback, Director of Alumni Engagement

Putting these newsletters together is always an uplifting experience. I love reading the alumni updates and hearing all the different ways alumni are contributing to a more just and peaceful world.

My daughter and I recently enjoyed reading “Thunderous,” a graphic novel co-authored by Natalie Peeterse, World Issues Program 1997. Motivated by the fact that Native American stories make up only one percent of children’s literature, Natalie centered the story around a young Lakota woman. Read more about Natalie and her book.

I hope 2023 will see us returning to in-person gatherings on a larger scale. On our end, we shared an email that SIT is planning several in-person gatherings this spring. See upcoming events section below.

Please let us know if you are attending or presenting at the TESOL or NAFSA conferences so we can promote your session. Alumni gatherings will be held on the Wednesdays of those conferences so save the date! I’ve also heard from four different groups who are self-organizing reunions in Brattleboro. If you are planning your own reunion, either in person or virtually, please let me know. Also, please send in photos and a summary of what everyone is up to!

If you missed the news last fall, please read World Learning welcomes three new board members and learn about these dynamic additions to the board.

Finally, a hearty congratulations to the TESOL program: SIT named Top TESOL Fellow Producing Institution.

Alumni News

(Listed by year of program start)

The MAT 3 1972 group celebrated their 50th anniversary with a weekend visit to Brattleboro which included some time at SIT speaking with SIT President Howlett and Degree Chair Leslie Turpin, MAT 14 1983. Pictured here in the front row are: Marilyn (Bean) Barrett, Carlos Maetzu, Manju (Bhushan) Hertzig, Marilynn Spaventa, Nancy “Nan” (Dodd) Uhl, Betty Jo “BJ” Stone, and Arthur “Andy” Burrows. In the back row: Lou Spaventa, Don Bouchard, Elise (Carlson) Burrows and Bruce Kahn.

Jody Williams, MAT 7 1976, has returned to her native Vermont and is working with high school students. She also has continued her international work, most recently in Ukraine. Read Jody Williams comes full circle 25 years after her Nobel Peace Prize win to learn more about Jody and her work.

Mary Shlomit Lucich-Pavlovic, ICT 23 1978, felt called to action after seeing the images of women and children on the news about Ukraine. Last fall she traveled to the Ukrainian-Polish border to help feed, comfort, and protect Ukrainian refugees. She had previously worked with people in need in Morocco for more than two years and volunteered for nine months on a border kibbutz during the War of Attrition. “SIT has given me a greater understanding of cultural sensitivity, which was not only exceedingly useful in Morocco, but especially during my almost 30 years living in the Middle East,” she said. ”I am constantly reminded that we are all different, but all one and the same.”

Liza Boffen-Yordanov, MAT 28 1996, recently started as the new director of advancement at the University of Aberdeen. Formerly the head of advancement for Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Liza has close to 25 years of experience in international fundraising and alumni relations. Liza has held senior positions at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Franklin University Switzerland, George Washington University, National University of Singapore, and Purdue University.

Liza Boffen-Yordanov, MAT 28 1996

Carolyn Morales, PIM 56 1996, serves as the associate dean for Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, Community, and Equity in the school of medicine at University of Texas at Tyler.

Jane Hoelker, MAT 17 1998, has been teaching English since 1970. She has taught students in South Korea, Japan, Qatar, the Emirates, Rwanda, Mali, and India. She has lectured at Qatar University and served as a visiting lecturer at Seoul National University and Pusan National University. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer and as an English Language Fellow with the U.S. Department of State in India and has been responsible for facilitating training with the U.S. Department of State’s English Language Specialist Program in Egypt, Oman, and Bahrain. She has also served on the TESOL International Board of Directors in Washington, DC, and is a past president of TESOL Arabia. She is presently an English writing instructor at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan and is preparing for retirement when she hopes to publish a book.

Heather Satrom, MAT 33 2001, has taught non-native speakers of English in the English Language for Academic Purposes program at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland, since 2005. She has participated in many fellowships including the Belfer National Conference for English Educators at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Heather has also completed training in digital storytelling, and she incorporates both digital storytelling and museum education into her courses. Heather’s Smithsonian fellowship project, “Inspiring Social Change through the Study of History and Art”, is related to the exhibition “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience” at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In the Spring of 2023, Heather will take a sabbatical to work on an oral storytelling project to document stories of immigrant and refugee students. Prior to teaching at Montgomery College, she worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and at Brevard Community College in Florida. Heather won an Outstanding Faculty Service Award in 2018. She wrote her master’s thesis on the role of museums in language learning.

Heather Satrom, MAT 33 2001

Rebecca Young, PIM 67 ISLM 2007, joined Farmworker Justice in Washington, DC, in 2010 and currently serves as senior project director for the Health Promotion team. She works with farmworker communities across the United States and finds continued inspiration for her work through the stories the farmworkers and their families so willingly share. Prior to joining Farmworker Justice, Rebecca spent seven years living in the rural Western Highlands of Guatemala. There she worked at a language school and a bookstore and cafe which provided space for after-school projects for kids and literacy projects for women.

Laura Kline-Taylor, PIM 69 IE 2009, is a life and business coach helping women to be the best mothers and professionals possible. She helps women design their own version of “having it all” and calls women who are leaders in their place of work and in their homes chief executive mothers. She is married with two children and hosts an au pair from Brazil to add inter-generational and international diversity to her home.

Ashley Townes, PIM 71 IE 2011 and Experiment Group Leader Japan 2010, is the 2022-2023 Washington Sea Grant Keystone Fellow. She is spending the year working with the maritime habitat team at the Port of Seattle, advancing the development and implementation of innovative habitat restoration projects including kelp research, floating wetland islands, and blue carbon monitoring. Additionally, she will investigate ways to strengthen the linkage between habitat restoration, stewardship, community engagement, and equity. She is completing her doctorate in fisheries ecology at University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. She continues to design and implement high-impact community-based environmental projects and best cross-cultural practices in natural resource management, especially as related to Black and Indigenous populations, people of color, and ethnic minority groups.

Ashley Townes, PIM 71 IE 2011 and Experiment Group Leader Japan 2010

Asma Ali Abunaib, CONTACT 2009 and PIM 71 ISLM 2012, is the director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Champlain Valley schools in Vermont. She says she still draws on two things she learned at SIT: the experiential learning cycle and the cycle of revenge and reconciliation. Read SIT alumna brings conflict transformation skills to new role.

Justin Bibee, PIM 72 CT 2012, recently started a new initiative, the Rhode Island Human Rights Project, a year-long campaign that strives to establish statewide solidarity for human rights by encouraging every municipality in Rhode Island to sign a Human Rights Day Proclamation from December 10, 2022, to December 10, 2023. If successful, Rhode Island will be the first state in the country to establish statewide solidarity for human rights. Justin works as a refugee resettlement case manager and is a PhD candidate in peacebuilding. Read more about Justin in the Brattleboro Reformer.

More great stories can be found in SIT Changemakers of 2022 which highlights some of the alumni we featured last year.

Share your story! Write to [email protected].

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In Memoriam (listed by program year)

SIT mourns the loss of members of our alumni community. We are now offering a space to remember and honor alumni who have recently passed away. Please note, this information comes from many sources, including family members, other alumni, and newspaper obituaries. If you wish to submit information on someone who has passed, please email [email protected].

Kathleen Idoine, MAT 5 1974
Pamela Brady, ICT 20 1977
Sigurd Hanson, Experiment Group Leader Norway 1975 and ICT 21 1977
Stephen Cass, MAT 10 1979
Cheryl Barton, PIM 32 1983
Dorothy Kelsey, PIM 33 1983
Frank Janzen, PIM 44 1989
Stephanie Bibb, TESOL Cert 2002, PIM 63 SJ 2003
Angela Berkfield, PIM 67 SJ 2007
Rysheema Dixon, DC 2 SD 2012
Thomas Christopher Woods, PIM 72 Intercultural Leadership 2012

Upcoming Events

We don’t want you to miss out! Share your preferred email and correct mailing address to receive invitations relevant to you! We will be hosting alumni gatherings at the TESOL Convention in Portland, Oregon, in March and the NAFSA Conference in Washington, DC, in May. These will be in addition to other in-person events, and we want to make sure you are included!


The Language Teaching Research Quarterly is publishing a special issue in honor of SIT Professor Emerita Diane Larsen-Freeman’s contributions to language teaching and second language development. Potential contributors are invited to submit 5500-7500 words including references, in APA 7th Edition format, to [email protected] by June 1, 2023. This is an external publication not affiliated with SIT and all questions should be directed to that same email address.

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.

SIT and World Learning are hiring! There is a range of positions based around the world, requiring various levels of experience. Please be sure to check out current openings on the employment page.

Join over 20K 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 today to 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 of interest to you, and so much more.

Program Opportunities

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 now more important than ever. The world is ready to rise to new challenges, and The Experiment is committed to working together across cultures. Limited space still available for summer 2023.

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.

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, graduate, and adult students.

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 hybrid and global formats. World Learning is working to create a more peaceful and just world through education, sustainable development, and exchange. Founded in 1932 by Dr. Donald Watt as The Experiment in International Living, the organization that has become World Learning Inc. was inspired by the innovative idea to improve understanding across cultures and nations by sending students abroad to live with homestay families.