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International Moments

It Takes a Village

Jason Baumgartner and the future of immigration management software


It was not quite a decade ago that Jason Baumgartner proposed a renegade solution to managing the immigration and visa issues of international students and scholars.  No major software developer was attempting to capture information made available through the federal government’s data systems to institutions with international students and then weave that data together with institutional data to produce something that would spare advisors both the constant need for cross-checking and the worry that an inadvertent slip could result in a student’s being sent home.  The thought was too radical.  It couldn’t be done.  No institution the size of Indiana University should build its safety nets from homespun threads.  Too much was at stake.

Christopher Viers, the director of international services at that time and now the associate vice president for international services, went to bat to make Baumgartner’s system the foundation of the immigration services that IU provides to international students and scholars.  Formerly an advisor himself, Viers saw the potential and efficiency of this new approach. “I knew at the time it was either going to be the best or the worst decision I ever made.”  If only Baumgartner could make it work.

Make it work, he did, and the Office of International Services has relied on it for several years now.  Viers relates that “no one thought when the decision was made that other institutions might benefit from such a solution,” but Ron Cushing of the University of Cincinnati saw its potential when it was demonstrated at a regional conference.  He kept after his colleagues at IU to share the product, and his office became the first outside client of the product, now dubbed Sunapsis.  “I was sure at the time that it was the best solution around, and I have never regretted adopting it,” Cushing said.

Now, 23 institutions use Sunapsis, which has become a complete advising management tool and has extended its reach to study abroad and international admissions.  As more and more institutions signed on, it became apparent that their collective experience was exactly what was needed to grow and expand.  Representatives gathered in Bloomington this week for the first annual Sunapsis User’s Conference. They shared their separate experiences, learned new techniques, and listened to Baumgartner explain some of what the future holds for the software system.  It is a future which that group was helping to define, Baumgartner said  at the beginning of his keynote address, for the conference  was “building a community so that we can all resource together.”

For more information see the press release and the Sunapsis website.

Honoring the World’s Best Ideas

Michael Sohlman, executive director emeritus of the Nobel Foundation

Alfred Nobel once said that if he had 300 ideas in a year, and one of them turned out to be a good one, he would be satisfied.  A chemist and engineer, holder of more than 300 patents, Nobel’s best known invention was a way to tame unpredictable nitroglycerin by combining it with chalk and other inert ingredients; the result he named dynamite after the Greek word for power.  He had less successful inventions, such as the bicycle that the rider moved with pedals that pumped rather than spun. 

Michael Sohlman retired as executive director of the Nobel Foundation in May 2011 after nineteen years in that position. He spoke last week in Bloomington about Nobel and the intellectual origin of the prizes.  Nobel was known to be a shrewd businessman, but he also had lifelong engagement with philosophy and political theory.  He kept up a correspondence of 20 to 30 letters a day to friends, philosophers, and intellectuals all over Europe.  He wrote a prose tragedy with such a dismal view of the world that made his friends attempt to destroy all copies when it was published at the end of his life.  Sohlman believes it was the philosopher in Nobel, not the inventor or businessman, that prompted him to create an award that would come to define the way to honor creative endeavor around the world. 

Although in rare cases institutions were honored, the award went overwhelmingly to individuals, individuals with the creative energy to define a new idea and to convince others of its “benefit to mankind” (to quote Nobel’s will).  Ideas do not honor national borders.  Nobel spoke six languages, and the Nobel Prize was possibly the first such honor to have an international reach, much to the chagrin of some of his countrymen, who wished it had been set up to promote Swedish achievements only. 

Although Nobel’s will stipulated the bodies that would choose each year’s awards, he left no instructions on how the effort was to be coordinated.  The Nobel Foundation, established in 1900 for this purpose, has been singularly successful in assuring the secrecy of deliberation and the respect for Nobel’s defining principles in making the awards.  Asked if the Foundation regretted any of the prizes it had given, Sohlman was quick to point out that historical context must be understood before such judgments are made.  He offered a single example.  In 1949, Antonio Egas Moniz received half of the physiology/medicine prize in recognition of his promotion of lobotomy for certain psychoses.  “At the time,” Sohlman commented, “there were few treatments that seemed as humane. We of course understand such things a great deal better now.” As a man who saw that one good idea in 300 made the intellectual effort worthwhile, Nobel would have been pleased with the Foundation’s track record. 

Questions and answers at the Herman B Wells House


Surabaya to CNN: Alumnus Eli Flournoy Remembers IU

Seated in the Indiana Memorial Union Gallery, Eli Flournoy talked about IU and his international career.

Eli Flournoy was on the ground for CNN during major crises in Angola, in the Middle East, and in India, Pakistan, and Hong Kong.  As part of CNN’s international news “desk” in Atlanta, he has directed coverage of the Bosnian war, the Kosovo War, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Princess Diana’s death, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He was part of teams that received major awards for coverage of the Southeast Asia tsunami, the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanon, Hurricane Katrina, and the 1999 Indonesian elections. 

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and African studies from IU in 1991.

 Asked if his experience at IU had turned him into an internationalist, he replied instantly, “That happened long before I came to IU.  My parents took my sister and me for a year-long stay in Surabaya when I was nine.”  After that experience in Indonesia’s second-largest city, the family entertained international visitors frequently at their home in Athens, Ohio. The international perspective was inescapable.  “I came to IU with a specific goal.  I would major in political science with an emphasis on international issues, go on to graduate work, and then take the Foreign Service exam with the goal of working in an embassy overseas.” 

 While IU may not have created the internationalist, it did have an impact on the direction of Flournoy’s career.  “IU is outstanding in the opportunities it makes available to its undergraduates.  I was president of the Residence Halls Association, and in that job I was allowed to take on mature and real responsibilities for such things as the management of a million dollar budget and responding to significant personnel issues.”  Flournoy had developed a strong interest in Africa.  ” With its undergraduate certificate in African Studies, IU was one of the few places that gave undergraduates major opportunities to study Africa.”

Flournoy found that not only could he study Africa, but even as an undergraduate, he could get involved in teaching about Africa.  Patrick O’Meara was director of African studies at the time.  “Dr. O’Meara gave me, an undergraduate, a chance to do a teaching assistantship.”  He became teaching assistant to Charles Bird in a course in African Studies with a special emphasis on South Africa.  “I learned a lot from Professor Bird.  He was always determined to experience not just to study.  He made his own wine and beer. He would have African drumming sessions at his house.” 

The shift in his career came in a summer internship after his junior year.  With a grant from IU, he worked at the CNN Atlanta headquarters that summer while investigating why news organizations didn’t get more information out of Africa.  During the fall semester of his senior year, CNN contacted him with an offer of another internship for the spring.  With the help of Dr. O’Meara, who agreed to oversee a major independent study project, Flournoy spent the spring at CNN.  He joined the team that produced CNN World Report, a  CNN venture to encourage international coverage by broadcasting and sharing news briefs, uncut and unedited, prepared by other news organizations around the world.  He was there during the Gulf War, and for the equivalent of a senior thesis, he investigated the media propaganda of the war, comparing the media strategies of Saddam Hussein and George Bush. 

The CNN internships jump-started a career that celebrated its 20th anniversary last August.  Flournoy comes back to IU periodically.  His visit this time was part of the “Making War, Making Peace” Themester of the College of Arts and Sciences.  He was much in demand as an expert visitor to telecomm courses.  In a presentation sponsored by the Union Board, he fielded passionate questions from students about the role of the media in today’s world.

Saskia Sassen’s Compulsion: Territory, Authority, and Rights


Saskia Sassen (right), professor of sociology and co-chair of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University in conversation with Hilary Kahn, Director of the IU Center for the Study of Global Change, and David Zaret, vice president for international affairs.

By 2010, rich governments, firms, and individuals bought or rented 70 million hectares of land in mostly poor countries.  That is 1.7 billion acres or more than a billion and a half football fields.  When Saskia Sassen ponders that figure, and many other current trends, she thinks of territory.  She claims to be a geek about that word; it, along with authority and rights, has become her obsession.  When faced with trends of this scale, we need to rethink what that word means and what territory is becoming. Territory has for centuries been closely aligned with the idea of sovereign states.  Indeed, land ownership is one thing we have come to expect to be documented rigorously and protected to the full extent of the law.  When a company buys a million acres in a poor country, there is no immediate thought that the land is no longer part of the national sovereignty—the nation’s laws still apply to it, don’t they?  Yet, with such a powerful economic presence, the company can win exceptions to regulations and laws.  Localities will bend their rights and authority to keep the economic well-being that seems  promised by such a massive presence. 

Sassen’s goal is not to deny the truths of world economics and politics as we have come to understand them, but to assert that those truths are not sufficient; she wants to provoke us to be less comfortable with our large well-established definitions as globalization expands our ways of working in the world.  Sassen is known world-wide for her work on defining the impact of globalization.  IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret explained in his introduction, “She persuasively argues against convention and overly simple accounts that juxtapose global and national as mutually exclusive categories for social forces that are thought to be engaged in a zero-sum game. Instead, she shows that many important global changes operate within the institutional structure of nation-states, but also restructure those states.”  Judging by the many pockets of animated conversation after her presentation, Sassen has succeeded in her provocation.

Sassen is the first in a series of visiting scholars who are part of the IU Framing the Global Initiative, a five-year project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The Center for the Study of Global Change and the IU Press are working jointly to bring top scholars together, virtually and actually, to begin to define new global concepts and analytical frameworks. Their work will take formal shape in a series of books by participating scholars to be published by the IU Press. 

Saskia Sassen grapling with concepts of territory, authority, and rights.

Seeing America through Foreign Eyes after 9/11

          The tenth anniversary of the worst foreign attacks on U. S. soil have prompted a period of intense reflection.  Workshops, performances, memorial services, reminiscences—all have tried to articulate what the events of 9/11 meant and how the country and its peoples have changed as a result.  Indeed, the IUB College of Arts and Sciences has set issues of war and peace as a theme for events during the entire fall semester.  As part of that extended program, international experts from Indiana University gathered in the Georgian Room at the IMU on Monday, September 12. The first half of the three-hour session, moderated by Maria Bucur (history) , was dedicated to political ramifications of the 9/11 events, the second, moderated by Bob Ivie (Communication and Culture), to their cultural implications. There were few confident answers and no sense that we are ready to put these issues behind us.

           The political experts provided few answers.  Rather they struggled with finding the right questions.

Patrick O'Meara (Political Science; African Studies)

Patrick O’Meara spoke of the “terrorists” and “freedom fighters” (the same individuals depending on one’s point of view) that brought significant and largely successful change to South Africa, and noted the differences between those efforts and 9/11.    His question:  Are we in a new dimension, a different form, of terrorism, one with no possible meeting point? 

Nick Cullather (History)

Nick Cullather asked, Why do we care what others think of the U.S.?  He traced the history of America’s interest in the world’s opinion, which began optimistically with Woodrow Wilson embracing it as moral conscience to guide foreign policy, and quickly declined as experts came to see it as a fickle master, and then sank even further as government officials saw it as a force to be surreptitiously manipulated. 

Micol Seigel (African American and African Diaspora Studies; American Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Micol Seigel brought her expertise of Latin America to the table and counted up the dead in Mexican drug wars–numbers more than ten times those who died in the 9/11 attacks, and many killed in unspeakably horrible ways.  Her question:  Why are some deaths more visible than others?

Padraid Kenney (History; Russian and East European Institute)

Padraic Kenney’s question came from an encounter in Budapest in 2003.  He was there when the U.S. declared war on Iraq, and he expected his Hungarian university colleagues to protest America’s aggression, but they didn’t.  His question:  Why was there sympathy in Central Europe for the U.S. attacking Iraq? Kenney’s answer:  At the time (and possibly no longer), there was still a sense that there is such a thing as moral foreign policy, and Central Europe understood well the corrosive power of dictatorship.

The cultural experts spoke more personally, remembering their immediate reactions in September 2001, but they too provided no resolution, and their presentations became a litany of unrealized hopes and dreams.

Gardner Bovingdon (Central Eurasian Studies)

Gardiner Bovington’s area of expertise is the nation of Uyghurs in Western China.  His colleagues there hoped they would find sympathy and support in the multi-ethnic U.S. for a China whose constitution guarantees equal rights to all its ethnic groups. Since 9/11, U.S. foreign policy, sensitive to the importance of trade, has not responded to that hope.  Bovington saw the possibility of two positive U.S. responses to the events of 9/11:  (1) that Americans would show a greater desire to understand others, and (2) that the U.S. might gain a better perspective on its behavior in the world.  Neither has been achieved.

Jeff Isaac (Political Science)

Jeff Isaac did not cancel his class on Civility in American Democracy on 9/11/2001, but rather prepared a lecture that he was asked to deliver again later on.  But, he said, “The things I was hoping for did not come to pass.”  Instead, he sees a war on terrorism that accomplished none of the things that we needed to address.  “Is there the possibility that things can be better now?”  Now he offers no answer and does not speak in public about the issues of war and peace in the Middle East.

Kevin Jaques (Religious Studies; Islamic Studies)

Kevin Jaques also taught his class that day.  He had expected in teaching the history of Islam that only in the last two weeks would he speak about living persons, but the class was full on the first meeting of the second week of term, and students were asking for answers, “Why would Islam support doing something like this?”  That the question was posed wrong—that Islam is so broad and varied that no one can speak for Islam as a whole—became the theme of the rest of the semester.  And Jaques worries that what America has done and not done since 9/11 has achieved only its’ own inability to have an impact in the Muslim world. 

Hilary Kahn (Center for the Study of Global Change; Latin American and Caribbean Studies)

Hilary Kahn is an expert in aspects of Guatemalan culture, and has spent much time in Jamaica.  She spoke of the intractable ambivalence Latin America feels towards the U.S.  The U.S. is blamed for all the evils visited upon Latin America—everything from short skirts, to drugs, to AIDS.  But at the same time, Latin America held out hope that the U.S. would be a force for local good.  However, since 9/11, their perception is that the U.S. has abandoned the needs of its own hemisphere.

Nazif Shahrani (Near Eastern Languages and Cultures; Anthropology)

As an Afghan and a Muslim, Nazif Sharani, declares he himself sees the U.S. through “foreign” eyes.  What he sees since 9/11 is that the U.S. has written the wrong stories.  At one time, the U.S. had built enormous trust in the Middle East; that trust has gradually winnowed away.  The “dastardly acts” of 9/11 were meant to signal the loss, to bring into the foreground the political grievances that the Middle East had towards the U.S.  But the U.S. wrote a different story, a clash of civilizations.  “They hate us because of our freedom.”  The U.S. story didn’t resolve into a search for peace, but in a declaration of the need for better security.  Military victory was the end of that story, not cultural engagement.

DanceJerusalem, by Leah Boresow

 Leah Boresow spent last spring studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in a new program that combines intensive training in dance with study of the Hebrew language and Jewish Culture.  Here is the report she prepared for the first issue of DanceJerusalem Journal.  We thank that journal for giving us permission to reproduce the article here.

Leah Boresow is the first dancer on the left. Photo credit: Melissa Strain


I started studying dance when I was about 3 years old. I knew that I wanted to be
a dance major towards the end of my high school career. I am receiving a B.S in
Dance through Indiana University’s Department of Kinesiology, a Hebrew Minor, a
certificate in Arts Administration, and a minor in Non-Profit Management. I
chose DanceJerusalem for a few reasons; first, I had already traveled to Israel
in the summer of 2009, and really loved my experience there. I couldn’t wait to
go back. Second, there are very few study abroad opportunities for university
level dancing today. So, when I heard that I could have the opportunity to go
to Israel and dance while still receiving college credit, it was like a match
made in heaven.

Adapting to life in Jerusalem was definitely an interesting experience. I learned very
quickly that I was going to have to be very self-sufficient, knowing that the
“system” of the city was a very busy and crowded one. Eventually, I got the
hang of things, with the support from my fellow DanceJerusalem participants. My
pursuit of studying the Hebrew language has helped me immensely to adapt to my
life in Israel. Even though I have early mornings with Hebrew that start at
8:30a.m., I really enjoy learning the language of the land that I am living in.
Not only do I learn the Hebrew language, but in doing so I have also learned so
much about the history and culture of Israel. Not to mention that it has been
great to speak to Israelis and interact better with my surroundings. In the
beginning of the semester, we took a group trip to the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi
area of Israel, and it was so much fun. It helped me to further realize what
natural treasures Israel has. We have also taken trips to historical areas in the
North of Israel, such as Tzfat. It has been so wonderful to travel to different
parts of the country.

One of my favorite courses at the Academy is my Ballet Repertoire class that meets
once a week. I come from a very strong ballet background, and it has been such
a joy to be able to learn many famous ballet variations and perform them in
class. I can say that because of my dancing experience in the Academy, I have
even further expanded my perspective on global dance. I believe now more than
ever that dancers should be aware that the world of dance is so much bigger
than one dance company, or one region of known dance studios. It is a gift to
be able to be exposed to dance traditions and techniques of all kinds.
Participating in DanceJerusalem is a great opportunity to experience a
different life and culture, and to learn more about yourself. I have grown in
many ways. First, I have grown to be even more self-sufficient and independent
than I was before, because I had to figure out so much on my own, and I have
grown as a person because of it. I have also become more confident and sure of
myself. I know now more than ever who I am and what I want, both as a dancer
and as a regular person.

1,712 New International Students So Far

 Another new record.  This year 1,712 new international students have checked in at the Office of International Services orientation, a 5% increase over last year.  Monsoons in China are causing inevitable delays for many students, so these numbers may swell.  Already, academic advising sessions have been scheduled practically up to the first day of classes. 

 The tents at the alumni center overflowed at the traditional ice cream social.  New international students were eager to network, to visit the food tent, and to meet officials from the university and the City of Bloomington. 

“It’s a polite group this year,” says Rendy Schrader, director of advising.  “They listen and pay attention; they will do well.” 


J. T. Forbes, executive director of the IU Alumni Association, spoke of connecting students with their alumni peers.


Beverly Calender-Anderson, Safe and Civil Director for the City of Bloomington encouraged students to get beyond the campus and noted opportunities they would have in the community.


Advising never stops. Outside the tent, Rendy Schrader, OIS director of advising, talks with a new student.

Chris Viers, associate vice president for internaitonal affairs, told students to make five new friends each. He warned them that he would be checking how well they did.

David Zaret, vice president for international affairs, welcomed students and spoke of all the ways IU was international. Afterwards, he took the opportunity to speak with many of the students in small groups.

Zaret Becomes Vice President for International Affairs

David Zaret and Patrick O'Meara
David Zaret (left) and Patrick O’Meara (right), current and past vice presidents for interational affairs
           On July 1, 2011, David Zaret became Indiana University vice president for international affairs. Zaret comes to OVPIA from the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, where he served for over a decade as Executive Associate Dean and Interim Dean, and also from the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, where he worked as Senior Advisor to the Provost. He completed his doctorate from Oxford University in 1977 and joined the IU Bloomington Department of Sociology the same year.  He currently holds academic appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Department of History. His published work includes Origins of Democratic Culture (Princeton University Press, 2000), which explores the role of public opinion in British politics. Topics in Zaret’s other publications include religion and social change, human rights, and methodological issues in cross-cultural research.
             Patrick O’Meara, who led international affairs for eighteen years, will now chair the IU Center for International Education and Development Assistance and will advise the president on matters of international protocol.  O’Meara’s tenure as vice president saw the Bloomington campus rise to the top twenty institutions nationally for study abroad and for the number of international students enrolled.  Continuing the work begun by Herman Wells in the 1940s, he has helped secure affiliations with top universities and has been part of IU’s international development activities in countries around the world.  He has assured IU’s place at the vanguard of international academic endeavor.
            “I am honored that President McRobbie has asked me to undertake this work,” said vice President Zaret.  “I am humbled by the thought of succeeding Vice President O’Meara in a program respected around the world. I want to assure that this reputation continues and that IU students and faculty are prepared to meet the challenges of a world where interdependence is key.  To do this will require efforts on many fronts:  We must develop more opportunities for undergraduates to study abroad, and along with those opportunities, more resources to defray the additional expenses of international study.  We will continue our efforts to attract top international students, and we will continue to seek and enhance agreements with the best universities around the world. Our overseas alumni are a valuable resource in these efforts, and I look forward to cultivating deeper ties with them.  Our long history of institutional development has already made a difference to universities in Africa, Latin America, Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia; this work too must continue.”


Bridges: Children, Languages, World

Bridges Mini-Camp: Crafts

A participant in the Ya Ya Mini-Camp shows off his Beijing mask.

Children and their parents worked together on Chinese crafts at a mini-camp offered by the Bridges Chinese Language program, Ya Ya.  The mini-camps, designed by Ya Ya instructors, Jen Pearl and Xini Wang, provide a way to connect with students during IU’s summer break.  They also make it possible for members of the Bloomington Chinese community, including visiting scholars at IU, to meet the Ya Ya students and their families.   

Two more camps are planned for the summer, one on martial arts and another on cooking.  Jen and Xini hope that the camps will keep students interested in Chinese so that they will continue language class in the fall.  Jen and Xini will volunteer their time to teach the Ya Ya students throughout the academic year on Saturdays at the Center for the Study of Global Change.

The Bridges project facilitates the development of world language instruction programs for children, emphasizing Less-Commonly Taught Languages and provides instruction in Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Mongolian and Swahili during the academic year.   For more information see the Bridges webpage.

Hearing Africa’s Children

Twesigye Jackson Kaguri at the school for AIDS orphans.

Twesigye Jackson Kaguri at the school for AIDS orphans.

          “Can you hear me now?”  The answer for the 250 AIDS orphans who attend the Nyaka School in the village of Nyakagyezi, Uganda, would be a certain “No.”  Nestled in the mountains near the borders with Congo and Rwanda, the Nyaka School is a nine-hour drive from the capital, Kampala.  Interns and visitors quickly give up their electronic connectivity to the world when they make that trip to become a part of one successful effort to change the future for a generation crippled by AIDS.  Public school is not free to anyone in Uganda; to children who have lost their parents to AIDS—Uganda has two million of them—finding the goat or chicken to sell might help with the tuition if the income didn’t need to be used for basic survival. 

           Twesigye Jackson Kaguri (IU alumnus)  told the story of building a school in his hometown where these children could get an education at no cost.  Construction began in 2001, and the school opened in 2003.  The founders immediately saw that a school alone was not enough.  The children needed to be fed.  They needed places to sleep, and Kaguri did not want to fall back on the traditional orphanage model.  The project trained “grandmothers” to  provide safe and healthy homes for children, whether relatives or not.  It set up farming on its 17 acres of land and taught the children the basics of growing food while growing the food that provides two meals a day for them (with some left over to sell to provide funds to help support the project).  It developed dance and music programs that the children take out to other schools to raise AIDS awareness.  Addressing one piece of the complex problem at a time, Nyaka School graduated its first class in 2008.  All graduates passed the state exams, and many continue in secondary school on $500/year scholarships made available by the project.   Read more about the Nyaka AIDS foundation  and the history of the project.

          Kaguri’s presentation was part of a public “mini-conference” on global issues, offered in conjunction with the Institute for Curriculum and Campus Internationalization at IUB this week.  Attendees come to the conference with a commitment to international education and a recognition of the enormity of global issues; they don’t need to be told of the problems in this world.  What they really come to learn is what they can do about them, specifically what they can do in the classroom to increase awareness of global issues and to begin to find ways to help.

IU students design a summer camp in Bluefields, Jamaica.

IU students design a summer camp in Bluefields, Jamaica.

  Hilary Kahn continued the solution-oriented conversation with a description of a summer service-learning project in Jamaica, the “Real JA,” far from the tourist centers of the island.  IU students in the summer course stay in the homes of residents of Bluefields in Southwestern Jamaica.  They attend community meetings and work with residents and each other to design a summer camp for the community’s children.  “The course prods students off the veranda,” Kahn explains.  “It is not armchair study abroad, but rather a chance for students to really engage in the community to share and shift authority and identity.  They listen to all the different voices in the community and gain the sympathy and empathy necessary for more effective connections.”

Portable Pashto

Pashto Text and Apps

            Learn to read the Pashto alphabet of Afghanistan as you play hangman on your  cell phone?  That will soon be possible with a new smart phone app developed by the Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR).   This app joins another for the iPad that trains users in recognizing and forming Pashto script.  Among those who just might be using their down time to practice their Pashto with their cell phone are U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.  CeLCAR has trained military personnel headed there.  “Our military trainees can’t become fluent in the limited amount of time available for training the U.S.,” explains Christopher Atwood, interim director of CeLCAR.  “They get a good beginning here.  These portable devices let them continue to learn after they are posted, and it can help in real situations they face; they can read signs and avoid miscommunications wherever they are.”

            The new software got nationwide attention recently when the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Wired Campus” section took notice.  The apps are free and do not require an internet link.  The functions are challenging and seductive. Writing the script correctly is valued by the Pashtun as correct pronunciation is by the French.  One part of the app shows a video of the correct way to form a letter of the Pashto alphabet, challenges the user to imitate the process, and then grades the result.  Passing grades don’t come easily, but incremental improvement is noticed by the app, and increasing one’s grade can become obsessive. 

            “Some of those we have trained have become fluent during their time in Afghanistan,” Atwood said.  “But we think it is important that those who are still struggling have the incentive to try to communicate even when they can’t get everything right—and to realize how much that is appreciated.  Any effort you put into learning a language will have a cultural benefit.”

            The Pashto apps were not designed exclusively for military use.  They supplement the CeLCAR textbooks for Pashto, and can help any language learner.  Similar apps are under construction in Dari, another important language of Afghanistan.

For downloadable alphabet charts, language pamphlets and other materials from CeLCAR, go to the CeLCAR website.

Martha Wailes: Lifetime NAFSAN


Martha Wailes, lifetime member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Martha Wailes, lifetime member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators

  Martha Wailes, a former international student and scholar advisor in the Office of International Services, has been awarded a life membership in NAFSA: Association of International Educators.  NAFSA is the world’s largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education. The award recognizes Martha’s “profound” contributions to the field of international education, both in her capacity as advisor to IU students and scholars for more than three decades and as a member of the NAFSA Trainer Corps, responsible for assuring sound and thorough training in federal immigration regulations for new generations of international student and scholar advisors and directors.

            Wailes began her career in immigration advising when she became part of the IU Office of International Services in 1978.  Christopher Viers, associate vice president for international services said, “Over the years, Martha has taken on the thorniest and most arcane immigration issues, always with a belief that solutions can and will be found.  Success in that search made her a national figure among international educators, who frequently consulted her on their difficult visa issues.  Her tenacity has helped hundreds of IU’s international students and scholars.”

Simulating European Diplomacy

EU-Midwest 2011

Negotiation and advocacy at the Midwest Model European Union

Grace under fire, thinking on your feet, seeking common ground.  These old-fashioned skills have never been needed more in the world, but they are often lost as technological and strategic demands claim center stage.  These are not skills that can be mastered in a single course  nor honed by coursework alone.  These are skills that make a difference at the Midwest Model European Union (EU-Midwest).  

Well into its second decade under IUPUI sponsorship, EU-Midwest simulates a high-level international forum, where teams from about two dozen colleges and universities come to Indianapolis to take on roles of prime ministers, ambassadors, and other public officials.   Each college team represents a single EU country in two days of simulations of the European Council, the European Commission, and other ministerial councils.  The goal is “decisive action” on foreign policy and on internal issues, like membership, the euro, and security. 

At the 2011 session in April, IU Bloomington fielded two teams, one representing Finland and one Germany.  Together they earned the most points from the judges and won the competition.  The IU students prepared for the event through a course on “Political Simulations: Model European Union.” Taught by Marti Grau, the course included extended conversations on current events and intense study of European politics.  Students mastered the complexity of the language of European diplomacy, “pretty obscure even to European citizens themselves,” says Grau. But just as important, they learned how diplomatic discussions can be made to work.  Grau explains, “I think all of them were aware of the fact that whoever speaks most at the meetings is not necessarily who ultimately wins the simulation, but the winners are usually the ones who manage to build consensus among delegates.”

More about  Midwest Model European Union.

Awards to the IUB teams:

Best Delegation.  IUB Germany team. (Connor Caudill, team lead, center)

Best Delegate, economics and finance.  Alex Grohovsky, Germany team. (left)

Best Delegate, environment Julianna Rice, Finland team. (left center)

Best Delegate, agriculture.  Megan Binder, Germany team (right center)

Best Delegate, foreign affairs.  Philippe Caraghiaur, Germany team. (right)


Just the Facts, Please

IU International Fact Book 2010-11

IU International Fact Book 2010-11

IU’s International Strategic Plan has attracted interest from around the world, but plans are not strategic if they are not based on institutional information and reviewed against institutional data as they are implemented.   To provide that foundation, IU collects institutional data of all sorts in the annual Indiana University International Fact Book.  The 2010-11 edition, just released, provides detailed information about study abroad; international students; international faculty, instructors, and scholars; the degree programs and international centers at IU; university partnerships around the world, and faculty and student activity all over the globe.  You can consult the fact book here

IU International Faculty

IU International Faculty

We are always looking for suggestions and additional sources of data and are eager for your comments.

Dhar India Studies

Sisir Dhar lost his parents when he was quite young.  Raised by uncles, he earned his medical degree in India and made his way to the U.S. Eventually, he settled in Terre Haute and established a successful practice in nephrology.  He became friends with Prodip Dutta, a professor of geology at Indiana State.  Dutta had become interested in a young program under development at IU Bloomington in India Studies, and through Dutta, Dhar too began to follow the activities of this fledgling program dedicated to the study of his homeland.  That interest increased when Dr. Dhar’s daughter came to IUB to study. 


Gathering at the program’s house on 8th St. for the renaming of Bloomington’s India Studies Program.

Gathering at the program’s house on 8th St. for the renaming of Bloomington’s India Studies Program.


 What attracted Dhar most to the program was its emphasis on the study of modern India.  Director of India Studies in Bloomington, Sumit Ganguly, explains that institutions like the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania had spent half a century developing South Asia programs that focus on the history of the subcontinent.  The Bloomington program found its niche in the more contemporary affairs of India specifically. 

 To encourage that specialty and to assure the long term viability of contemporary India studies, Dr. Dhar has established a substantial endowment for the India Studies program, and to honor the parents that he lost when he was young, the Bloomington program was recently rededicated as the Mahusudan and Kiran C. Dhar India Studies Program. 


The Dhar India Studies Program honors the parents of retired Terre Haute physician, Sisir Dhar.  Dhar poses here with his wife and granddaughter.

The Dhar India Studies Program honors the parents of retired Terre Haute physician, Sisir Dhar. Dhar poses here with his wife and granddaughter.


Crisis in Japan: The First Teach-In

Mother Nature has picked the wrong country to test her powers.  With that statement, Matthew Auer introduced the first of a number of events dedicated to the recent disasters in Japan. 

Matthew Auer is dean of the Hutton Honors College and professor of SPEA.
Although hardly a half-century old, the term teach-in has a quaintness about it that suggests the world of students long past.  The term teachable moment is older and yet much more current.  This week, a dozen units on the Bloomington campus decided both terms were relevant in the campus’s early  response to the current crises in Japan. Several hundred members of the Bloomington community came together at Whittenberger Auditorium to hear faculty and student experts set the context for what is being reported to the world, to hear some music, and to find out about the fundraising initiatives planned by units across campus. Read more.
Gary L Pavlis, geology professor at IUB, explained the earthquake science that affects Japan so profoundly and has made the country one of the most disaster ready in the world.

Gary L Pavlis, geology professor at IUB, explained the earthquake science that affects Japan so profoundly and has made the country one of the most disaster ready in the world.

Physics professor, Chuck Horowitz, explained some of the technical problems that have hampered resolution of the power plant crisis.

Joe Coleman is Journalism professional in residence at IUB. He spoke of the problems journalists faced in covering a disaster of such magnitude

Gregory J. Kasza teaches political science and East Asian Studies at IU. He explained the background that has tested the Japanese government's credibility over the past two decades.

Shingo Hamada is working toward the PhD in Anthropology at IUB. He explained how the unusual geographic features of Eastern Japan funnelled the tsumani into exaggerated heights.

Mikela Asano grew up in Sendai, one of the worst hit cities. Her friends and family there are safe. She is a music major at IUB. "How long will it take to repair the damage to people's hearts."

Beth Gazley, faculty member in SPEA, compared the pattern of giving after the current disaster to what followed Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. "There are disasters that countries cannot handle alone."

Sometimes words are not enough. The Kuttner Qurtet, residing at the Jacobs School of Music at IUB, played two movements of Mendelssohn's 4th String Quartet.

Holi: Color to the Season

Radha celebrating Holi (c1788)

Holi is a Hindu festival that the Indian diaspora has carried around the world.  The first textual notation of the holiday dates from the seventh century and tells the mythic story of Pralhad, a devotee of the supreme god, Vishnu,  but son of a demon.  His father ordered him to sit on a bed of fire, and he survived unscathed. Thus, Holi marks the triumph of good over evil and the passing of winter and the coming of spring.  Many traditions are associated with the holiday.  The most common is the throwing of colored sand and water.  The Asian Culture Center brought that tradition to Dunn Meadow this month and transformed the dull brown field of winter into a rainbow of colored sand.

Holi 2011 in Dunn Meadow

Holi 2011 in Dunn Meadow

Holi 2011 in Dunn Meadow

Holi 2011 in Dunn Meadow

Eastern Europe: Losing What You Never Had

            What do you have in your head when you say “Europe” today?  Slavenka Drakulić, journalist and novelist, has written about some of the worst atrocities that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1989.  Read more.  She posed that question this week, in a room crowded with students and experts on what used to be called “Eastern Europe.”  She was most interested in answers that went beyond the political.  “Politics doesn’t change everything immediately, especially people.  It’s more difficult to deal with psychological structures.  What does one do in an empty democracy, where the democratic structures are in place, but they are not functioning?” 

Slavenka Drakulić

Slavenka Drakulić is not an optimist. “I decided to visit the U.S. because I needed a dose of your optimism.”

             To illustrate the new mind set to her Indiana audience Drakulić spoke about candy papers.  In the socialist world, Drakulić explains, “there was no hope.  You expected little and you could blame everything and everyone else.  In Yugoslavia, we had good candy, but you bought it from a bulk display.  Nothing was wrapped.  I remember getting candies from Italy.  Sweet and wonderful they were, but more importantly, each was wrapped in fine paper.  After we enjoyed the candy, we would press the paper in a book, looking as it once in a while and imagining a better, shiny, and glittery world.”

             With the fall of socialism, the “shiny, glittery world” was no longer inaccessible.  “And once that world was in reach, it became something different.  We began to think we deserved what we saw on TV.  Where is the new car?  The beautiful wife?  For most, these things didn’t materialize, and worse, for some they did.  My neighbor gets rich from privatization, but I lose my job.  There is no justice.   Once the inaccessible came within reach, we could no longer blame someone else.”  When the economic crash came in 2008, “it meant the loss of a paradise we never had.” 

             Drakulić is not an optimist.  She sees in the world of the former Yugoslavia, a growing negativity, “protests against rather than protests for,” and from that negativity, a fear and a nostalgia ostensibly for a national identity bur really from a loss of a feeling of security.  She worries about how this vacuum of negativity will be filled especially when the major political parties and media, who see no improvement in constituency or market share by talking about such things.

Indiana Goes to China

George Vlahakis at the news desk of Hangzhou Television

George Vlahakis at the news desk of Hangzhou Television

A group of 18 professors and staff from Indiana University, state business executives and journalists is visiting China this week.  The centerpiece of the visit is a two-day conference at Zhejiang University.  The itinerary also includes extensive visits with business and government officials in an effort to continue the cementing of ties between Indiana and this important academic and entrepreneurial region of Southeast China.  George Vlahakis, IU media expert on international issues, is reporting daily on their activities.  You can his daily reports on the conference and the mutual engagement of educators and business people from two hemispheres here.

The current visit follows up on a visit of Zhejiang educators and business people to Indianapolis and Bloomington in 2009.

IUPUI Wins National Recognition for Its Development of Strategic Partnerships

 IUPUI International Fair

The push to increase international perspectives has touched all institutions of higher education, and institutions have responded with energy and enthusiasm.  With thousands of institutions asking how they should accomplish this goal, there is a need to establish best practices and model programs. NAFSA: Association of International Educators has addressed this need with its Simon Award.   Named for the late Senator Paul Simon, the award provides a platform to honor exemplary international efforts by individual institutions and thereby to let them stand as a model for other colleges and universities. 

             NAFSA has just announced that IUPUI will be recognized with one of five Simon Awards it will give at its annual conference this year.  IUPUI’s largely non-traditional student population creates special challenges for developing international perspectives, and the campus has received this honor for finding a solution through campus-wide strategic partnerships, such as its well-known program with Moi University in Kenya.  Begun as an effort of the School of Medicine to prevent the spread of AIDS in Kenya, the two universities now have linkages in social work, philanthropy, nursing, and liberal arts as well.  Read more.