A.C.E. - Associates in Cultural Exchange

A.C.E. at MSU Bids Goodbye to 20 Years of the Little White House; Hello, Culbertson Hall!


By: Cheri Ladd LeCain, Director of Studies, A.C.E. Language Institute at MSU,  Special Correspondent to the A.C.E. Blog

Back in the fall of 1994, A.C.E. opened a new Language Institute in a quaint little old white house on the edge of the Montana State University campus. In our “one-room schoolhouse,” the living room of the house served as a classroom for our 11 students and teacher “offices” for our staff of four.  The kitchen served as our library and copy room. Isabel Childs, from A.C.E. at Pacific Lutheran University, took the reins as director, joining Hobie Hare, Betsy McGee, and me.  Other long-termers at A.C.E. include Ana Valdivia (2000), Matt Rabinsky (2005), and Shannon Mahoney (2005).

MSU was very eager to bring in this new intensive English program to better serve and grow its international student population by being able to provide international students the opportunity to be conditionally admitted to the university. The institute immediately thrived and continued to grow.

Over the years students from at least 55 nations have walked through the doors of the little white house. In the 1990s, we had larger percentages of students from East Asian countries, with Japan in the forefront.  We have served a number of students on U.S. grant-sponsored programs: CAMPUS X/Fulbright (Central American Program for Undergraduate Scholars), UGRAD, IREX, and USAID, and USIA, as well as other government- and business-sponsored students: Qatar University, ARAMCO, BSMP, SACM, NIMS, Zenchiku Ranch, AMIDEAST Plus, CBIE (Canadian Bureau for International Education), Kuwait Cultural Office and Bolashak, as well as students on numerous short-term programs, such as LEAP, TEA, PIE, PUK, KGU, Eiken, and GILI.

As hardy as its rustic, cowboy setting, the institute weathered some difficult and lean times that closed many other intensive English programs across the nation, namely the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and time period after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Now, as we celebrate our 20th year of being on the MSU campus, we have just closed the doors of the little white house to move to the third floor of the more spacious Culbertson Hall, where we now have seven dedicated classrooms and seven offices to serve our 129 students and 24 staff and faculty members. The MSU Office of International Programs is conveniently located one floor above us, and the Post Office is on the first floor.


We look forward to the next 20 years!

A.C.E. Transfer Partner Highlight: Willamette University MBA Program

New for 2015, graduates of A.C.E. Level 6 can apply to Willamette University’s MBA Program in Salem, Oregon with no TOEFL required.  Choose the full-time Early Career and Career Change MBA (Master of Business Administration) program!  A.C.E. is excited to offer this conditional admission pathway as one of the featured graduate transfer options available to A.C.E. alumni. Please visit our website for a complete list of A.C.E. transfer partners.


Willamette is a nationally renowned, highly selective private liberal arts university. As a national leader in experiential education, Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management offers a variety of full time MBA programs that focus on student’s professional career development and advancement in business, government and not-for-profit organizations. In just 21 months, Willamette MBA students will learn the principles of management, develop career interests, and build the portfolio of experience needed to stay competitive in the global economy.

Fields of Study and Full Time Program Formats: 

At Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management, A.C.E. graduates can receive conditional admission to the full-time MBA program formats that are designed to focus students’ career goals. MBA candidates may pursue career interest in general management, or one or more of the following areas of specialization:  Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Global Management, Human Resources, Marketing, Operations, Analysis and Systems, Organizational Analysis, Public and Not-for-Profit Management, and Sustainability Management. All disciplines in Willamette’s MBA program are accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.


Early Career Students: The Willamette Early Career and Career Change MBA is an excellent choice not only for early career students who are recent college graduates, but also students with limited work experience who are seeking their first professional position or career change. Previous work experience is not required. This program emphasizes “learning by doing” and exposes students to a variety of innovated courses that include management decision-making, resume building professional experience through internships, and class consulting projects with real clients. 21 months of full time study to complete. See the video below to hear a current MBA students speak about their experience with Willamette’s unique approach to hands on education!

Career Change Students: Willamette’s Early Career and Career Change MBA program is an excellent choice for students seeking career change or advancement who have at least two years of post-bachelor degree professional work experience in a management role. Internships, PACE, class consulting projects, innovative experiential courses, career services, networking, and participation in student organizations build the professional resume of knowledge and experience needed for successful transitions in a competitive global economy. 21 months of full time study required to complete.


Apply Now! For Atkinson School of Management program or admission inquiries, please email Aimee Akimoff, Director of Recruitment, Early Career and Career Change MBA, at aakimoff@willamette.edu.

For information on how to apply for conditional admission to the Early Career and Career Change MBA Program, please visit their online application page. For inquiries about how to apply to A.C.E., please email enroll@cultural.org.


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!


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