Meeting in St. Louis and Celebrating Forty Years of Making the World Your Community: A.C.E. Staff Reunite at NAFSA Conference
After seventeen years, a former A.C.E. employee reconnected with
President David Woodward at the annual NAFSA conference held in St. Louis
last month. Christi Castonguay started her work with A.C.E. in the early
1990s recruiting host families for summer group programs. Eventually she
became the homestay coordinator with the International Training and
Development Institute. Later, she moved to the company’s Intensive English Language Institute at SPU. She finally left A.C.E. when she started a family and
moved out of state.
Christi was excited to learn that President Woodward would be at the
conference held in the town where she now resides. After a long hiatus she
has returned to the field of international education and is currently
employed by Webster University. She fondly remembers her time at A.C.E. and
credits her experience there with fueling her passion for intercultural
“What a great opportunity it was to see President Woodward again and learn
about how A.C.E. has grown over the years,” said Christi. “It is certainly a testament to the dedication of its employees and the importance of its work that the company is prospering today. Congratulations on your 40 year anniversary!”
Over 75 leaders in international education attended the A.C.E. Networking Luncheon at the NAFSA Annual Conference in St. Louis on May 29. The event inaugurates a yearlong celebration of A.C.E.’s 40th anniversary, with other events planned for the 2013-14 year. Opening remarks by President David Woodward highlighted the mission of A.C.E. in making the world your community – building relationships between people of different cultures to facilitate greater understanding and create goodwill.
Director of Marketing Lori Maxfield introduced each representative from university partners along with stories from featured students. Click HERE for the interactive “prezi” presentation. Deb Schleusener, Associate Graduate Director of the School of Business and Economics, focused on Seattle Pacific University’s graduate programs in business and economics and their strong commitment to ethical practice. Next Dr. Norm Peterson, Executive Director of the Office of International programs, praised the partnership of almost 20 years between Montana State University and A.C.E. and valued A.C.E.’s commitment to its mission. Dr. Peterson eloquently likened MSU’s welcoming of students of all cultures to its location in the Gallatin Valley, “the valley of flowers,” a beautiful, neutral Native American ground that that was long spared warfare by a peace treaty between the tribes.
Dr. Donald DeHayes, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Rhode Island, joined the event via a special video. “I’m happy to report tremendous success in both the recruitment of students and the globalizing of our curriculum. We look forward to working with A.C.E. and our other partners around the world as we advance the University of Rhode Island and the university’s global agenda.” Paul Kwilinski, Senior Director for Program Development and Program Advisor to the Intensive English Program at Saint Francis University, shared warm greetings from SFU on behalf of Brother Shamus McGrenra, Director of International Admissions, who was unable to attend. The international program at Saint Francis continues to grow with a strong commitment to caring for each individual student.
Friends, colleagues, and clients continued mingling after the presentation, reflecting on A.C.E. and the landscape of international education. We look forward to seeing you next year at NAFSA 2014 in San Diego as we culminate our milestone anniversary and look forward to the next 40 years of A.C.E.
A.C.E. Senior Director Sally Thomas traveled to Almaty, Kazakhstan April 19-24, 2013. Her expertise in teacher training led to an invitation to conduct a two-day intensive workshop at Kazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages (AKU). April 23 she presented ”Education and Culture: An American Perspective” and “Modern Trends in Education.” On April 24 she stood up in front of the class for ”Practical Activities to Improve English Fluency and Confidence” and followed her lecture with a small group discussion. Below successful graduates hold their certificates aloft, all smiles after learning two days of trends in the field and pedagogy.
The first part of her trip was spent with Dr. Ali Abishev, who received his ESL training at the A.C.E. Language Institute at Montana State University. Dr. Abishev is Rector of Kazakh Economic University and subsequently brought groups of university administrators and graduate students in the field to A.C.E. Language Institutes in Seattle and Montana for specialty training and ESL. Dr. Abishev is also president of the Association of Universities of Kazakhstan and invited Thomas to the 11-member panel presenting on language education at AKU’s 70th Anniversary celebration. The next day she celebrated Kazakh New Year, commemorating independence from the former Soviet Union, sipping on horse milk and skewers of meat, seated on the floor of a traditional yurt specially erected for the occasion.
A.C.E. hosts a group of interns from Kazakh Economic University in partnership with E2 Educational Services each summer. Through these strong ties, AKU Rector Dr. Salima Kunanbayeva expressed an interest in formal cooperation with A.C.E. in a meeting with Thomas. We look forward to more years of working with all our strong partners in Central Asia in making the world your community.
“When I stepped into the A.C.E. office in lower Queen Anne last summer, I felt all my fond memories return. There were friendly and welcoming staff members and a clean and comfortable space decorated in a multi-cultural flavor. When President Woodward explained A.C.E.’s recent business activities with his characteristic enthusiasm, I was just as impressed as I was with the people of A.C.E. as I was 22 years ago.”
Kazuyo Ogawara thus remembered 1990 Seattle in August 2012. Her trip to the A.C.E. office was to establish daughter Hikaru’s new footing for success in a city Kazuyo had called home as a twenty-something making her way in the world. Pictures were snapped and memories unearthed with Woodward, then the duo went up and over Queen Anne Hill, a mound that is snug on two sides to the A.C.E. central office and the Language Institute at Seattle Pacific University. Hikaru met her new campus, as Kazuyo was overcome with memories.
In a few days Hikaru would start at the A.C.E. Language Institute, but Kazuyo was able to show her the cafeteria, the ivy-covered buildings, and the canal. Her time at SPU in 1990 was spent in evening MBA classes with up-and-comers from Boeing, Weyerhaeuser, and Adobe, eager to secure the next rung on the corporate ladder. She attended then with an eye to her own future, and zooming ahead twenty years they strolled the leafy campus and planned Hikaru’s.
Kazuyo shared office space with A.C.E. first in Seattle’s University district then further south on one of its many bodies of water. The sole representative of a Japanese educational exchange company in Seattle, she wore every hat and relied on A.C.E. friends for a lot. “I came to Seattle borrowing a corner of the office at A.C.E. on Lake Union. The staff helped me start my life in Seattle, from finding an apartment, to getting a driver’s license, buying a car, and purchasing my first PC. Everything was overwhelming, and the A.C.E. staff helped me cope and supported me continuously.” Surprised by a birthday party, she is center in red dress, with A.C.E. founder Bud Bard lower right, and current Senior Vice President Sam Shepherd above him.
The office that looked out on Lake Union still would see the shimmer while the sun passed overhead, and though moved to Queen Anne A.C.E. did use the lake for The Run About the World 5K just weeks after Hikaru started studying. Below she joined all the other Language Institute students to volunteer, passing out water and bananas, setting up the activity booths, and enjoying the beauty of the area her mother had gazed out on twenty years earlier.
Hikaru now studies at the A.C.E. Language at The University of Rhode Island and is fully conditionally admitted to the school for her bachelor’s degree. Looking out onto the ocean on the other coast, she hears words echoing in her ear that could be her own, ones her mother, now the editorial director for an Italian publishing company, uttered looking back on her time in the U.S.
“The people I become friends and acquaintances with widened my scope of thinking and enriched my life in many different areas ranging from my professional to daily life. Their lifestyles, their pragmatic career plans, and their worries and dreams were vital in stimulated me for my own future. Indeed, the unique blend of cosmopolitan and natural environments, bolstered by the great people I was fortunate to meet, provided the optimal place for me to prepare for my future life.”
A.C.E. Director of Marketing Lori Maxfield and Senior Director for Program Development Paul Kwilinski traveled to China last month to shore up existing relationships with global partners and shake hands with new ones. During the week visit, they held up a breakneck pace of 15 visits in five days. Zigging in taxis while scooters and bicycles in the hundreds zagged outside the window, they traveled to meetings in Beijing’s high rise office parks, visiting partners like Hector Liu at Beijing Prepare Co., below.
On the A.C.E. side, Maxfield said, “Paul and I had a terrific week in Beijing. Each of our partners is entirely unique and we’re proud to collaborate in supporting the needs of our students.”
On the partner side, Education USA Bejing said, “A few days ago, A.C.E. management visited our center. I feel their school is different from other ESL providers. In addition to language classes, they also introduce the local culture and food. Students can use university facilities and be a part of activities, so they can adapt to university learning and life. There are many ESL providers in the United States, but not too many have other courses and extra-curricular activities.”
According to the Institute of International Education Open Doors Report, students from China to the U.S. increased from 157,558 to 194,029 between 2011 and 2012. For 2013, one will these will be Tim, pictured below, right. He worked with his counselor Maggie, left, at A.C.E. partner Insights Education International to pick his perfect school. “I will be a leader at Saint Francis University,” he said, “and return home to help my family’s business.”
All A.C.E. instructors hold Master’s degrees in TESOL, the Teaching of English to Speaker of Other Languages. The umbrella professional organization, TESOL International Association, holds regular conventions to keep membership up-to-date on the latest in pedgogy, theory, research and practice. The A.C.E. lineup below has decades of teaching and management under its collective belt, but traveled to 2013 National Convention on March 20-23 in Dallas to sharpen skills and for some, meet each other for the first time.
For A.C.E. staff like Director of the A.C.E. Language Institute at the University of Rhode Island Kimberly Sizelove, sessions on Leadership in Language Program Administration are sources for her management. For the many instructors, specific courses like Practicalities of Teaching Academic Reading and Writing and Voice and Identity in Pre-University Second Language Writers will create a new classroom when they come home.
In a snapshot in the lobby before taking on the day, Sizelove, far right, shows her A.C.E. colors with a green bag. To left are Tiffany Ranalli, Cheri Ladd LeCain, and Matt Rabinsky, instructors at the A.C.E. Language Institute at Montana State University. LeCain is again in a white jacket in the next photo and far left stands Michelle Soule, instructor and Group Program Coordinator at the A.C.E. Language Institute at Seattle Pacific University. Packed bags and a flight home later, three days of new ideas are now being carefully unpacked in today’s A.C.E. classes.
In February, when the second new moon after the winter solstice inked out the sky, A.C.E. intern Weston Cooper flew home to see Chinese New Year fireworks light it up. On March 20 when the spring equinox cracked open Nowruz, the Persian New Year, A.C.E. President Woodward joined his fellow board members of the University of Washington Persian and Iranian Studies to bring the hammered tones of the Santur dulcimer to the Seattle Rotary Club.
Woodward is a longtime member of Seattle’s most prestigious Club. With his colleagues from the Persian and Iranian Studies Program, he programmed a small performance from musician Sarang Amirtabar on this centuries-old Persian instrument. The 72 strings rang out in the dining room where city leaders meet weekly for philanthropy and steerage of the business community. Bringing ties between this region and ours is unique contribution of A.C.E.’s presence in the largest Rotary Club in the world.
Other Persian and Iranian Studies program members were director Joel Walker, the Jon Bridgman Endowed Professor of History, Persian lecturer and A.C.E. International Advisory Council member Ms. Shahrzad Shams, and four members of the Program’s Advisory Board: Mr. Hamid Attar, Mr. Iraj Khademi, Dr. Katayoun Naficy. Also in attendance, Mr. Iraj Khademi, former Rotary member and president at clubs in Iran, the U.S., and Chile, directed the performance under the auspices of his Persian Music and Poetry Workshop. This local treasure has recently celebrated its 100th performance.
On Nowruz, tables are set with seven food starting with the letter “s”, to bring them into the home for the new year. These include Suma, crushed spice of berries for the sunrise and the spice of life, Serkeh, vinegar for patience and age, and Samanu, wheat pudding for fertility and the sweetness of life. Woodward saw many a Nowruz table set being born and spending his early youth in southern Iran. A.C.E. reaches every level of the city in making the world your community, and as the table of spicy and sweet foods is taken down on April 2, Rotary members in the region will recall the celebrations of all people as the earth moves on to the next quarter of its orbit.