A.C.E. - Associates in Cultural Exchange

A.C.E. Students Work with URI Nursing Students to Build Cross Cultural Understanding

A.C.E. students had the chance to share their backgrounds and to practice their conversational English with URI nursing students!

 By: Angela Potts, A.C.E. at URI Instructor, Special Correspondent to the A.C.E. Blog

On April 1st, A.C.E. at URI collaborated with the URI first-year nursing students for their second annual Cultural Assessment Activity. The Cultural Assessment Activity is meant to help URI nursing students gain a better understanding of different cultures so that they can better help and understand international patients in the field. Sherry Krupka, A.C.E. instructor, and Nancy Doyle-Moss, Assistant Clinical Professor in the College of Nursing, took the lead in organizing the event after experiencing positive results the year before. In all, there were 82 student participants. Nursing students split up into pods of 2-3 interviewing 1 A.C.E. student asking them a wide-range of questions including, “What do people in your country typically eat?” to “What type of health care is available?”

During the event, A.C.E. instructors were pleased by our students’ ability to share information about their culture, which helped to break stereotypes about their respective cultures. In one instance, in responding to the question about their food, an A.C.E. student said there are different foods eaten in different regions of her home country. In another instance about gender roles, a female student from Saudi Arabia indicated that in her particular family, the gender roles were not strictly delineated as her husband frequently cared for their children. This clearly surprised the URI nursing student and provided an opportunity for a broader perspective on the Saudi culture.

Following the event, participants completed surveys that inquired about positive takeaways. Numerous A.C.E. students reported that they enjoyed meeting students from outside of their English learning classroom environment and sharing their backgrounds. Students also stated it was helpful to practice their conversational English with URI students. Nursing students mentioned the benefit of practicing therapeutic communication techniques with nonnative English speakers in unscripted, face-to-face interviews. During the event, it was noted by Nancy Doyle-Moss that this was the first non-scripted interview with non-native speakers for these students. The URI students were surprised to discover the importance of non-verbal communication, rephrasing and circumlocution, and utilizing technology for visuals/translation helpful in breaking through moments of misunderstanding. One A.C.E. student commented that this should be a weekly event.

For more information on how A.C.E. students are becoming a part of URI campus life, please visit our webpage: www.cultural.org/esl/uri.php

A.C.E. Travels to Brazil to Meet with Past and Future Students

By Special Correspondent to the Blog: Ben Kantner, A.C.E. Program Development Brazil

Earlier in March 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to represent A.C.E. Language Institutes. Although I have spent considerable time in Brazil both as a student and for A.C.E., this trip gave me the opportunity to meet with students and partners in 2 new cities, Belo Horizonte and Curitiba, as well as return to São Paulo.


Ben meets with former A.C.E. students in Brazil for lunch

My trip began in Belo Horizonte, a city surrounded by beautiful green mountains in the famous mining state of Minas Gerais. The end of summer brings rains across the southeast of Brazil and I was greeted with an energetic mix of thunderstorms and sunshine. In Belo Horizonte, I was able to meet with one of our Brazilian partners as well as two former A.C.E. students: Ana Clara and Leandro. Both studied with A.C.E. as part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP); Ana Clara with A.C.E. at Montana State University location and Leandro with A.C.E. at the University of Rhode Island. These A.C.E. alumni really made me appreciate the impact our English programs have on students: these alumni spoke of both incredible cultural experiences in addition to excellent English classes.


Ben gives a presentation at USP

Next I headed south to Curitiba. Curitiba has been compared to Seattle: environmentally-conscious, a comfortable quality of life, and even a cold climate, by Brazilian standards of course. Following a trip to the Atlantic Rainforest town of Morretes with Paula, a former student from A.C.E. at Seattle Pacific University, I met with over a hundred prospective students at a student fair in Curitiba. Paula joined me in talking with these students, as there is no better representative for A.C.E. than one of our former students! In talking with Paula about her time in Seattle studying with A.C.E., it reminded me much of my own experience studying abroad and of the perspective-changing benefits of engaging a different culture. Time spent in a new and distant culture seems to accelerate our own personal development. Both Paula and I felt that our time abroad expanded our awareness and cultural understanding. Lifelong connections with friends we would otherwise have never encountered was another result of our decision to study in a foreign country.

São Paulo student fair

Ben at the São Paulo student fair with former A.C.E. students in the A.C.E. booth

My final stop of the three weeks was São Paulo. The São Paulo metropolitan area is massive with a population of almost 20 million! It is a very intimidating place to visit for the first time, so thankfully I was familiar, having studied in the region previously. For me, returning to São Paulo is an opportunity to connect with my former host family, my study abroad university, and talk about A.C.E. with prospective students. In addition to meeting with old and new agency partners, I attended another student fair. This time, the fair lasted two days with close to 300 students visiting our booth—thankfully, I received a lot of help from some of our São Paulo alumni! I was accompanied by former A.C.E. students from Seattle Pacific University, Montana State University, and the University of Rhode Island. Once again, it was clear that studying English in the USA had impacted these alumni beyond improving language skills. Sabrina, Guilhereme, and Isabella each had excellent English, but it was even more exciting to hear about their overall cultural experience. In addition to gaining technical English skills, they had learned much about the culture of the United States, traveled to various cities and states, and developed friendships with both Americans and other A.C.E. students from around the world. Now, back in Seattle at A.C.E.’s Central Office, I continue to remind myself of our alumni whom I met in Brazil: we truly have a special impact on our students and are indeed fulfilling our mission of making the world your community.


A.C.E. Staff Share Knowledge at Education Conferences

A.C.E. has an amazing staff with diverse backgrounds and valuable experience in international education. While A.C.E. instructors spend much of their time preparing students linguistically and culturally for their educational and professional pursuits, they also enjoy sharing their expertise with others at professional development seminars. A.C.E. instructors from each institute location were recently selected to share specialized field knowledge with their peers at important international education conferences in Spokane, Toronto and Boston.


Spokane Regional ESL Conference

On February 28th, four staff members from A.C.E. at Montana State University traveled to Washington state to present at the Spokane Regional ESL Conference. Paul Swift, Assistant Director of Students, leveraged his student services background in his session titled, “Deep Support Structure for ESL Learners“. Kristina Allison, Instructor, and Valley Peters, Instructor, both shared unique TESOL methodologies in their presentations, “Teaching Leadership Skills to ESL Students” and “A Model for Using Non-Fiction Text“. Lastly, Cheri Ladd LeCain, Director of Studies, and Tiffany Ranalli, Instructor, encouraged their audience to revisit the ubiquity of standardized ESL tests in their presentation, “Testing the Test: How Well Do Your Assessments Measure Up?

150326 Toronto ACE 4

From Left to Right: Mary Ulrich – A.C.E. at MSU Director, Valerie Giesbrecht – A.C.E. at SPU Instructor/Assessment Specialist, Piotr Skuza – A.C.E. at URI Instructor/Curriculum Specialist, Michelle Soule – A.C.E. at SPU Asst Director, Maxine Pond – A.C.E. at MSU Adjunct Instructor and Emeshea Petty – A.C.E. at SPU Instructor

TESOL 2015 International Convention & English Language Expo in Toronto

Additionally, A.C.E. staff presented at the 2015 TESOL conference held March 24-28 in Toronto, Canada. Michelle Soule, A.C.E. at Seattle Pacific University Assistant Director, presented a session titled, “Creating and Using POGIL Activities for English Grammar and Writing“. Emeshea Petty, A.C.E. at Seattle Pacific University Instructor, presented a session titled, “Harnessing the Power of Viral Videos for Online Class Discussion.”

NAFSA 2015 in Boston

In May, Mary Ulrich, A.C.E. at MSU Director, and Paul Swift will be presenting poster sessions at NAFSA 2015 in Boston.

We hope to see you there!

Reconnecting with A.C.E. Alumni in Seattle

This past Monday, teachers and staff at A.C.E. Language Institute at SPU were treated to an unexpected visit from A.C.E. alumni Ayano from Japan and Ramona from Romania! In the months that have passed since Ayano and Ramona graduated from A.C.E. Level 6, both of these star students have moved onto exciting new ventures.


Welcome back to A.C.E. Ayano and Ramona!

Ayano has returned to Japan last summer to continue her undergraduate studies. While visiting with her former teachers at the A.C.E. office, she confessed, “Before I studied at A.C.E., I was afraid to argue. But after I learned to debate at A.C.E., now I feel confident to debate in my classes.” Ayano hopes to come back and visit us again in the future.

Ramona still lives in Seattle with her husband. She shared that, “[they] love Seattle, so we extended our stay here.” She spends her time volunteering, and has plans to pursue a Master’s in communications at the University of Washington in the future.

Alumni visitors

A.C.E. alum with their former teachers outside the Language Institute office

We are very excited to have our alumni return to A.C.E. and visit with us. Keep in touch and see you next time!

A.C.E. Students Give Back to Bozeman Community

By: Maxine Pond, A.C.E. at MSU Instructor, Special Correspondent to the A.C.E. Blog


A.C.E. student preparing for their Food Donation Party


Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing. That is just what the Community Involvement Class from A. C. E. at MSU in Bozeman did in Fall 2014. Not only did these international students learn about food security issues and the local food bank, they actively participated in the Montana State University food drive by collecting over 150 pounds of canned goods from other A.C.E. students and staff. What pleasure they brought to the director of Gallatin Valley Food Bank when the class traveled to the food bank to deliver the last box of food personally! Intently, the international students listened to a food bank employee give them the grand tour and observed the power of a small, volunteer organization to serve its community.


By hosting and funding their own party, the students in the community involvement class encouraged other A.C.E. students and staff to learn more about the food bank and to donate canned goods. Yousei, a student from Japan, encouraged other international students when he said, “The people in Bozeman often hold a party for international students and help us. This is a great opportunity to give it back to the community. We hope to see you all at our Food Donation Party.”

Furthermore, they used and expanded their English skills to research the local volunteer service organizations on the web, present orally and in writing what they learned, make announcements in other A.C.E. classes, write emails and thank you notes to the food bank, and to create informational posters for the A.C.E. classrooms. Students reported that the opportunity to participate and tour the food bank was a meaningful life learning experience as well. One student shared that she had volunteered in her home country and had wanted to become involved at MSU. The Community Involvement class gave her just the “push” she needed to get out there and find a way to give back to her new “community” in Bozeman. Another student indicated he hoped to take back to his country what he had learned about helping those in need.



Wonder what it was like to attend A.C.E.’s food donation party?  Take a look at our student’s perspective video, here!

For more information on community engagement at A.C.E. Language Institute at MSU, please visit our website at www.cultural.org/esl/msu.php


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