Herbert Nunes flew nearly 9,000 miles from his home in Angola to learn about waste management practices in Logan. He is one of 39 students from developing nations around the world studying at Utah State University this summer to learn about sustainable agriculture, hone their English skills and engage in a series of service learning projects throughout the Cache Valley.
The students are attending USU as part of an education grant awarded to the university by the U.S. State Department. Only two other universities were provided funding for similar programs in 2011. The grant supports students from 12 countries, including Iraq, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Peru, to participate in natural resource management and environmental sustainability seminars. They are taught in conjunction with classes in the Intensive English Language Institute (IELI) in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences focusing on English language acquisition and cultural sensitivity. Courses are led by the program’s graduate students of second language teaching.
“This is a relationship building experience that goes both ways,” said Mary Hubbard, vice provost for international education and lead author of the grant. “The beauty of the program is this amazing mix of students from countries all around the world.”
During the eight-week program, students will engage in service learning activities throughout Cache County, attend a panel introducing the various religious groups in the United States and travel to various sites in the Intermountain West such as Moab and Yellowstone to visit some of the areas protected regions. They are joined by a group of students from the Dominican Republic, Korea, Mongolia, Jordan and Taiwan who are also part of the USU summer Global Academy but are involved in separate English immersion courses coordinated by the master’s of second language teaching program. They, too, will participate in cultural immersion activities.
Hubbard aims to expand the program in the future, working with faculty to create a teaching hub for second language teaching majors to gain experience in the classroom as well as a global academy for international students. The majority of students in the 2011 Global Academy are from countries with emerging economies and emerging education systems, Hubbard said.
Students learn about climate change and sustainable agriculture from USU faculty and are engaged in service learning projects with organizations around Cache Valley, including the Stokes Nature Center, Logan City Environmental Department, Caffé Ibis and the USU Student Organic Farm.
While the grant supports their efforts to learn English, it also provides international students the opportunity to educate others about their home countries and experience a side of America they do not see in Hollywood films. For instance, Herbert Nunes recently toured local restaurants in Logan, helping inspect their water quality and recycling practices.
“What impressed me was the mountain of waste they make,” he said.
He toured the city power plant and has been noting the processes needed to make recycling a reality in his home country of Angola.
“I have been learning a lot,” he said. “I would like to go back to my country and share my ideas and what I have learned in my project.”
At the USU Student Organic Farm, eight students churn the soil, making room for new life. They are growing radishes. Last week they planted broccoli — a vegetable equally foreign to them as Utah. They are learning the philosophy of organic farming in the United States from farm manager Crista Sorenson.
Just three years ago its site on 800 east lay fallow. The farm provides a “living laboratory” for teaching students about best practices in organic farming and gardening, Sorenson said. The farm is overseen by USU faculty and run by students serving on a volunteer basis. Since 2009, the farm has successfully run a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
However, this is the first time the farm has participated in an exchange of ideas like this, Sorenson said.
“Sharing ideas is super important,” she said. “People from other countries have ideas that we completely overlook and vice versa. I think it needs to be more of an exchange than going into a country and telling people how to farm.”
- USU Intensive English Language Institute
- USU Office of Global Engagement
- USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences
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