Alternate Spring-Breakers Travel to Guatemala

Dr. Verlinden with CofC students during Alternate Spring Break in Guetemala.

Dr. Verlinden with CofC students during Alternate Spring Break in Guatemala.

Nine pre-med College of Charleston students (Caroline Bauknecht, Anna Burgin, Aly Cohan, Rachel Harper, Ian Mathies, Julia Moss, Francis Naranjo, Holly Beth Olsen, and Erin Stewart) spent their 2013 spring break in and around Antigua, Guatemala, performing general medical check-ups, distributing vitamins and anti-parasitic medicines, and educating impoverished children about health, hygiene and nutrition.  They also spent several afternoons volunteering in a hospital and home for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. The trip planned and led by sophomores Rachel Harper and Erin Stewart, with the invaluable support from Maggie Szeman, Assistant Director of the Center for Civic Engagement,  gave students the opportunity to practice Spanish and deepen their cross-cultural understanding,  learning first-hand about social and medical issues in this Central American nation.  Dr. Marianne Verlinden was the Alternative Spring Break advisor on this trip.

Two Students Earn Scholarships to Study Critical Languages

March 19, 2013


Two College of Charleston students will continue their study of Hindi and Arabic through the Critical Languages Scholarship Program from the U.S. Department of State. Elizabeth Marjorie Burdette and Madeline Edwards will study abroad in 2013 improving their language skills in Hindi and Arabic, respectively.

The College’s Associate Provost for International Education Professor Andrew Sobiesuo asserts: “The College of Charleston is committed to infusing global perspectives in the curriculum and study abroad is one of the best avenues to accomplish that. The Center for International Education and other campus entities such as the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships work together to inform students of scholarship opportunities and guide them through the application process.”

Sobiesuo continues, “The study of any language and particularly a critical language is not only an academic achievement but a national security necessity. Language study is the vehicle to discovering and comprehending the soul of the other. And the more we as a nation can understand our allies (and enemies alike) and communicate directly with them, the more we can boast of our stature as a world power.”

Burdette will be studying Hindi at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur and residing with a host family. She remarked that the award is, “a long-awaited open door for me. I’ve been studying Hindi and Indian culture for two years now. I surprised myself by falling completely in love with both the language and the culture, and I have wanted the opportunity to see practical use of my knowledge in a way that will have a meaningful impact on who I am and what I want to become.”

When asked about how she wishes to use her College studies, Burdette said she hopes to work in the field of “social justice issues and asset-based community development in India, particularly in advocating for women’s equality in India and working with women who are at high risk of being trafficked into the sex industry.” She states “Hindi language skills will be essential if I’m going to live and work there.”

College faculty member  Leena Karambelkar who teaches Hindi, said of Burdette, “She is an extremely bright student. I am honored to have her in class and feel happy that I could help her in realizing her dreams. I am sure, this bright young leader is going to enlighten many lives, and show path to many less fortunate and continue the great American humanitarian traditions.”

After only two semesters enrolled in Arabic at the College, Edwards, will be studying at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan. She is looking forward to her summer studies because they will allow her to “learn the Jordanian dialect.” She says this is useful because the Modern Standard Arabic learned in the classroom is not the same as colloquial Arabic spoken in real life. Edwards will be living with a Jordanian host family which provides a full, immersion  language experience.

Fam, an adjunct instructor of Arabic says , “I strive to create a welcoming atmosphere in my classroom. When students begin studying Arabic they have no knowledge of the language or alphabet. Everyone starts from the same place.’”

In the future Edwards has thoughts of “working for human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International to expose the plights of marginalized groups and people in the Middle East.”

A program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes in thirteen critical foreign languages. The selection process is administered by American Council for International Education with awards approved by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

For more information about the College’s Center for International Education, visit the website.


Recap of the Tenth International CAAR Conference

Reflections on Dreams Deferred, Promises and Struggles: Perceptions and Interrogations of Empire, Nation, and Society by Peoples of African Descent
The 10th International CAAR Conference

Like all CAAR conferences, the 10th biennial conference in Atlanta provoked deep analysis of the cultural, emotional, mental, and socio-economic state of Black people throughout the African diaspora. Spanning a wide array of topics, the papers made us laugh, cry, strategize, and ponder deeply the importance of our work as scholars, teachers, and what Toni Cade Bambara called “cultural workers.” Indeed, the inaugural CAAR conference in the US accomplished its mission, and thus was a watershed moment in this important year that commemorates such important milestones in the African American historical narrative—the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th years anniversaries of the March on Washington, the death of W.E.B DuBois, and the desegregation of South Carolina public schools.

Filed under: Civil Rights Movement, Desegregation, Emancipation, Jubilee Project

The Collegium for African American Research Celebrates Its 10th International Conference

The Collegium for African American Research’s 10th International Conference:
Dreams Deferred, Promises and Struggles: Perceptions and Interrogations of Empire, Nation, and Society by Peoples of African Descent
Musings from Hotlanta

With well over two hundred conference participants, the 2013 CAAR conference in Atlanta has proven to be a successful collaboration between international scholars and local and regional institutions of higher education. The College of Charleston is one such collaborating partner, sponsoring today’s keynote address by esteemed theater professor and radical thinker, Dr. Frank Wilderson of University of California-Irvine. His talk, “Afro-pessimism and the Paradox of Political Engagement” will be given this evening at the Atlanta Fulton Library.

The wide breadth of paper topics has touched on just about every area of Black history, life, and culture. One of my favorites so far has been “Blackness, Sexuality, and Gender in Transcultural Spaces featuring Dr. Charles Nero of Bates College, whose paper, “ A Democracy of Sin: the Failure to Transform in E. Lynn Harris’ Queer Black Nationalism,”:
Professor Gayle Baldwin ( University of North Dakota), whose paper, “ The Black Gay Quilt as Theological Resistance” chronicles the Black Church response to the murder of Sakia Gunn, a black lesbian teenage in Newark, New Jersey; and finally, the work of Dr. Pekka Kilpelainen, University of Eastern Finland, whose paper, “ Like the Sound of Crumbling Wall: Transcultural Spatiality in James Baldwin’s Just Above My Head was engaging, creative, and a tribute to the genius of Baldwin and his contribution to Black liberation epistemologies.

Other highlights include the screening of Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years, and the SCLC exhibit sponsored by MARBL ( Manuscripts and Rare Books Library) of Woodruff Library at Emory University.

Filed under: Jubilee Project

Sigma Delta Pi’s Spring 2013 Lecture Series Hosts Dr. Sarah Owens


Dr. Carmen Grace, Co-Adviser of Sigma Delta Pi; Dr. Sarah Owens, Presenter; Julie King, Chapter President of Sigma Delta Pi.

The College of Charleston’s Nu Zeta Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, hosted its spring 2013 “Lecture Series” with Professor Sarah Owens and her presentation “17th Century Spanish Nuns in the Philippines: A Manuscript Unveiled” at 4:00pm in room 227 of Addlestone library.

Two LCWA Students Win Critical Language Scholarships

The School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs is proud to announce that two of our students were awarded Critical Language Scholarships.  Elizabeth Burdette will be studying advanced Hindi in India and Madeline Edwards will be studying Arabic.

The two-year Hindi Program at the College of Charleston is in its 3rd year and is directed by Leena Karambelkar. Ghazi Abuhakema has been directing the Arabic Program since 2008. The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers fully-funded summer language institutes for U.S. university students and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.