Virginia’s Community Colleges Report – August 2014

Virginia’s Community Colleges Report – August 2014

Leadership Positions

Dr. Laura Franklin (NOVA) continues to serve as NECTFL representative to the ACTFL Board.

Isi Kessel (TNCC) serves as chair of the 2014 FLAVA Conference and chair of the VCCS Tidewater Regional Center for Excellence.

Two VCCS faculty members are currently serving in leadership positions in the ACTFL Community Colleges Special Interest Group. Takako Shigehisa (NOVA) is vice chair and Cristina Sparks-Early (NOVA) is secretary.

Study Abroad Programs

Kris Swanson (Piedmont Virginia) led a student group to France on a program entitled “Thomas Jefferson’s Paris” in May 2014.

Jorge Grajales-Diaz (PVCC) traveled to Spain in Summer 2014 to seek out opportunities, make connections with schools, discover cultural routes to visit and more, in an effort to give students short-term summer study abroad opportunities.

Jorge Grajales-Diaz (PVCC) also has participated in three short-term study abroad programs in conjunction with Semester at Sea: Enrichment Voyages (onboard the MV Explorer Ship). He developed and twice taught a survey course called “Introduction to Latin American Culture and Civilization,” adapting the lectures and readings based on the destination of the voyage. These course-voyages took place during winter breaks. On the voyage of 2011-2012, his course emphasized the topic of the Amazon basin, including the history of the region and its people, current events and more. On the voyage of 2013-2014, he taught the course with emphasis on the Central American region, including the Panama Canal. Although the courses were taught in English, students who knew some Spanish and/or were taking Spanish courses had the opportunity to practice and improve their speaking skills with native Spanish speakers.

Blue Ridge Community College has organized study abroad programs in China, England, Italy, and Costa Rica, and Peru. For the program in Peru, which took place over four weeks in January 2013, students gave speeches to their classmates in Weyers Cave by Skype. A BRCC student also studied for a year in Germany through Congress-Bundestagg in 2013-2014.


Dr. Carmen Figueroa (NOVA) presented a session on “Writing Is Fun with Digital Projects” at the 2014 AATSP Conference in Panama City, Panama.


The biennial VCCS World Languages Peer Group Meeting will be held in conjunction with the 2014 FLAVA Conference. Miguel Lechuga (Germanna) is chair of the meeting.

In September 2014 Dr. Dali Tan (NOVA) will participate in the first International Conference on Chinese Pedagogy at Havard University, organized with support by the Fairbank Center and CCK Foundation.


Nell Teller (BRCC) also reports that a grant was written by UVA for funds from the N.E.H. for a two-year study of the Middle East. Six community colleges are involved. Additionally, seven faculty and staff from BRCC spent a week at UVA in August 2013 to learn about the Middle East.

College Committees

Nell Teller reports that Blue Ridge Community College has developed an international education studies committee under the supervision of the vice president of instruction. This group meets once a month to promote programs, activities and college wide support of emphasis on infusing international points in classes and for the community. The committee has a web page that contains its mission statement and documents for travel abroad: One of the members of that group, Don Taylor, often gives workshops on cross cultural understanding for businesses.

College Clubs

Miriam Basinger of BRCC is a leader of the club called Spectrum,one of the most active groups on campus. The club’s mission is to work with all students and tie international culture into their activities.

NOVA Honors Program

Northern Virginia Community College continues to expand its course offerings as part of its Honors Program. Spanish 102, taught by Dr. Alicia Falzón at the Annandale Campus, is an honors course. Dr. Martha Davis offers Spanish 102 and 202 at the Alexandria Campus with an honors option. Honors option courses are also available for Chinese courses, taught by Dr. Dali Tan at the Alexandria Campus. Dr. Martha Davis will also offer an honors option for her Fall 2014 bilingual course, “Poetry and Prose of Latin America and Spain.”

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