A.C.E. - Associates in Cultural Exchange

“Stop 4 a Chat”: Fostering Connections with A.C.E. at URI

stop4chatInspired by Thomas Knox’s “Date-while-you-wait”, A.C.E. students at the University of Rhode Island braved URI’s student union to see if they could attract American students to chat. The original Date-while-you-wait features a table set up once a week in New York City subway stations and is designed to foster connections between people.

Students mimicked Knox’s idea with a small table, an empty chair, a flower, the game Connect Four, and a welcoming smile. Students took turns sitting across from the empty chair as passers-by glanced at the table with intrigue and many took the time to sit down for a game. Students practiced striking up a conversation and using language discussed in class including how to introduce themselves as well as the art of small talk. Several students successfully exchanged contact information with local URI students and one was invited to a Halloween party!

A.C.E. at URI’s “Stop 4 a chat” is featured on Knox’s Facebook page, where he thanks A.C.E. students for taking a chance by trying out his project. Knox also took time out of his busy schedule to Skype with A.C.E. students telling them about how #datewhileyouwait started as just an idea. Knox encouraged students to believe in their ideas and to follow through with them, as his #datewhileyouwait has expanded his perspectives. Knox was recently invited to speak to college students in France and is partnering with other universities and individuals who would like to set up #datewhileyouwait tables in their cities.

One A.C.E. student was impressed that Knox genuinely enjoys connecting with people: “He is a really kind person and gentle. He was so patient with us and tried hard to understand us.”

Memorial Union event coordinator, Sherri Davis has invited the A.C.E. students back to Memorial Union to set up the “Stop-4-a-chat”table on November 20th during International Education Week. Davis fully supports this project and thinks it is a simple and effective way for URI students to have the opportunity to meet international students.

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A.C.E. and MSU Celebrate 20 Years of Partnership

A.C.E. President David Woodward and MSU President Waded Cruzado

A.C.E. President David Woodward and MSU President Waded Cruzado

A.C.E. Language Institute at MSU and the Office of International Programs at Montana State University celebrated the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Associates in Cultural Exchange and Montana State University on September 29, 2015.  Around 100 guests, colleagues, and students—both former and current—gathered at the MSU Alumni Foundation Great Room at 3:00pm.

Dr. David Di Maria, MSU Associate Provost, welcomed the guests and gave a short speech discussing the highlights of the partnership.  Dr. Di Maria explained that, “A.C.E. serves as both a strategic partner and an entry point to MSU for undergraduate and graduate students from all around the world. A.C.E. also supports internationalization at MSU through collaboration on short-term training programs created for international organizations, foreign governments and other such entities. ” He went to say that, “Twenty years is a very long time. In fact, the partnership between A.C.E. and MSU has outlasted many Fortune 500 companies. Such an enduring relationship speaks to the quality of a program that has a life-changing impact on students, faculty and communities. It speaks to a program that makes Montana’s land-grant university accessible to international and domestic students from non-English speaking backgrounds. It speaks to a program that brings the world to a research university committed to addressing the world’s greatest challenges.”

“Such an enduring relationship speaks to the quality of a program that has a life-changing impact on students, faculty and communities.” – Dr. Di Maria

Mr. David B. Woodward, A.C.E.’s President and CEO, followed Dr. Di Maria expressing his admiration for Montana State University’s leadership in the field of international education and commenting on the strength of the partnership, thanking President Cruzado and the MSU leadership for their vision and long-standing friendship. Mr. Woodward commented on the 3,000 international students from all over the world who have come to Bozeman over the past 21 years as a result of this collaboration and tens of thousands of others in Montana and around the world whose lives have been positively impacted as a result.

MSU’s President Waded Cruzado spoke about the lifelong benefits of learning a second language and the contribution of international students to the student body of MSU.

After an exchange of appreciation plaques, former student, Mohammed Refai, doctoral student in Chemistry and president of the MSU Saudi Student Club, spoke about his experiences coming to Montana State, and the help that A.C.E. staff and teachers gave him.  Next, current student Jesus Garcia Alvarez spoke about his language learning journey at A.C.E. and of his appreciation for the teaching and learning at A.C.E. Language Institute.

Then, David Woodard and Mary Ulrich, Director of the LI, recognized several long-term employees for years of service:  Cherí Ladd LeCain, 21 years of service; Ana Valdivia, 15 years of service; Matt Rabinsky, Shannon Mahoney, and Ann Sorenson, each with 10 years of service.

Finally the guests, colleagues and students enjoyed conversation and hors d’oeuvres.  Two student research posters of Mabarak Aldawsari and Yazeed Alghanmi were also highlighted, with Mabarak on hand to discuss his research project along with Shannon Mahoney, the instructor of the class.

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Learn more about studying at A.C.E. Language Institute at Montana State University

TESOL Luminary Dr. Keith Folse Dazzles A.C.E. MSU With Workshop

Dr. Keith Folse teaches workshop at A.C.E. MSU

A.C.E. professional development history was made when the A.C.E. Language Institute at Montana State University hosted Dr. Keith Folse to give a full-day workshop on best practices in vocabulary instruction on July 31, 2015. A world renowned TESOL leader, author, researcher, and speaker, Keith has taught ESL/EFL and teacher training for 35 years in the U.S., Saudi Arabia,  Kuwait, and Japan, has written 57 books (on vocabulary, reading, speaking, writing, grammar, listening, and assessment), has won many teaching and research awards, and is a full professor at the University of Central Florida.

A.C.E. curriculum is “cutting edge” and “light years ahead of other programs!”

Taking advantage of the opportunity to network with other ESL teachers locally and around the state, A.C.E.-MSU invited colleagues from the Intensive English Programs at the University of Montana and MSU-Billings. In addition, the EIKEN secondary Japanese teachers also joined, and Keith Folse traveled to Yellowstone National Park with the EIKEN group the following day. Taking place in MSU’s elegant new Jake Jabs College of Business building, the workshop included 55 participants.

A group of A.C.E. teachers and administrators also met privately with Dr. Folse, who commented that our inclusion of vocabulary instruction in the curriculum is “cutting edge” and “light years ahead of other programs!”

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A.C.E. Partner URI Explores Exchange with Cuba

Exciting educational partnership highlights potential of normalized relations with Cuba

URI Oceanography Dean Bruce Corliss poses in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on the day it opened, July 20. (Photo by Nancy Stricklin)

On July 20, 2015, the day the U.S. embassy in Havana opened, members of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography were in Cuba, meeting with officials at the University of Havana, the National Aquarium of Cuba, and the Cuban Institute of Oceanology to explore research and educational partnerships with the Caribbean country. (Continued in full story)

Right: URI Oceanography Dean Bruce Corliss poses in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on July 20. (Photo by Nancy Stricklin)

A.C.E. Language Institute at The University of Rhode Island is located on URI Campus in Kingston, Rhode Island. The mission at the LI is to provide students with the English language skills, cultural knowledge, and experience needed to effectively communicate in academia and the workplace, as well as to provide opportunities for personal growth. The University of Rhode Island is a major research institution in a small, beautiful place with really big thinking – as evidenced by the recent historic developments with Cuba.  The university is also offering a study abroad option to Cuba in Spring 2016.

Proyecta 100K Summer Tour – Mexican Students Bring Curiosity and Passion to Seattle

Proyecta 100,000 is “an initiative to increase international study in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The purpose is to foster region-wide pros­perity through greater international exchange of students, who are our future leaders and innovators.” – US Department of State.

This year, seven Mexican students from four universities in Mexico were selected by the Mexico Department of Higher Studies to study intensive English in the United States for four weeks as part of the “100,000 Strong Program”, known as Proyecta 100,000. In June and July they studied at A.C.E.’s Language Institute at Seattle Pacific University in levels 3, 4 and 5, as well as integrating into Listening, Communication and Grammar (LCG) and Reading, Writing and Grammar (RWG) classes.  Five of them also volunteered to take conversation classes.  Over the four weeks they attended over 110 hours of intensive English classes!

Check out some of the Prezi online presentations done by the students

Not content with only having American food during their stay, they were craving authentic Mexican fare.  When they heard that A.C.E. was hosting an Iftar Bonfire to break the fast during the holy week of Ramadan, they insisted on preparing the whole dinner for the 30+ guests.  What started as a casual get-together transformed into a moonlit festival of international nations.  Through conversation, food, dance and laughter, all attending were able to share and enjoy the richness of their cultures.



“It was a great opportunity to be part of this learning process…At A.C.E. we also met many people from different countries and cultures and we had the opportunity to spend time together in some activities… All the people at A.C.E are very kind. Thank you so much….”      – Olivia Jimenez, Proyecta participant

The students met with the Consul of Mexico in Seattle; watched the Fremont Solstice Fair, Gay Pride Parade in Capitol Hill, and the 4th of July Parade on Bainbridge Island; danced salsa, banda, rock and club; rowed, paddled and nearly capsized canoes; went bowling; volunteered their time to a non-profit; and traveled to Bellingham and later left for trips to the east coast and California. Their infectious love of life and inquisitive behavior was felt and admired by their fellow students, teachers and coordinators at A.C.E. and SPU.

Visiting the Consul of Mexico in Seattle, Eduardo Baca Cuenca (back row, 2nd from right)


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