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Teaching English in Brazil program offers career, academic direction

August 13, 2018

ASU students share the long-term impact of study abroad on their life plans

This summer, four Arizona State University students participated in a five-week teaching assignment in São Paulo, Brazil.

The first of its kind for ASU in Brazil, this program fulfilled a number of study-abroad program offering needs: to provide an opportunity for students to gain classroom teaching experience and to expand study-abroad program offerings in South America. 

"Until this program, we didn't have many options for students to study abroad in Brazil. This program provides a great opportunity for campus-based and ASU Online students alike to gain real-world experience in a cosmopolitan city like São Paulo," said Barbara Young, international coordinator, senior in the ASU Study Abroad Office. "South America is a lot closer and is far more affordable of a price tag for the cost of living to better suit the needs of our students."

This program was facilitated in partnership with the ASU Study Abroad Office and local organizations, social benefit nonprofit 4YOU2 and Campus Brasil. 4YOU2's unique internship curriculum divided their experience up into six themes: Your Development Journey, Cultural Engagement, English Language Instruction, Leadership, Administrative Activities and Social Partnership, accounting for 150 total internship contact hours.

"The internship placements tend to be in low-income areas for Brazilian citizens who don't have an opportunity otherwise to build proficiency in English, particularly those who work in the hospitality and tourism industries," Young said.

4YOU2 placed students in English language schools across São Paulo, and Campus Brasil provided in-country support, including housing assistance, visa coordination, cultural excursion, in-country orientation and local transportation.

ASU Now talked with two students who finished up their program on Aug. 5, to learn more about their experiences: Jordan Husk, an ASU Online senior and English major through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' English department and Tim Ashe Jr., Spanish PhD candidate through the School of International Letters and Cultures in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Question: What drew you to the Teach English in Brazil program?

Husk: This internship allowed me to do something I loved and help me figure out what direction I wanted my career to go in. I was looking into getting a master’s degree and education for teaching, but I was unsure if I would like it enough to make it my profession. I like to travel, and this internship gave me the opportunity to travel and find out if I like to teach enough to make it a career. This opportunity has opened my eyes to several different teaching possibilities, including teaching English as a second language, and this program gave me the experience I wanted without the risk.

Ashe: I was drawn to the Teach English in Brazil program through the Spanish and Portuguese department at ASU. As a Spanish instructor and Portuguese student at ASU, I was interested in learning more about the language and culture for research purposes and because I am a linguist. Similarly, I also teach English for my professional career — besides Spanish — and think that being able to have international experiences as an ESLEnglish as a Second Language teacher and researcher is extremely important. The advisers in both the English and SILC departments have been promoting the new program through our internal email and through university webinars.

Q: Did you face any challenges in preparing to study abroad? If so, what were they? How did you overcome them?

Husk: I did not face any challenges so to speak while getting ready to prepare. I had enough time to get my things together and make sure I had the tools and resources I needed, so I felt prepared. 

AsheYes, I faced some monetary issues in preparing to study abroad. Studying abroad as a graduate student is not cheap. I overcame them by working multiple jobs during the school year and summer and trying to save as much money as possible before arriving to Brazil.

Q: What preparation or support did you receive to teach courses through this program?

Husk: We can ask questions to the Campus Brasil or 4YOU2 team at any time, and 4YOU2 has a hub manager on site when we teach classes if we have any issues. 

AsheI have my master’s degree in both English education and in bicultural learning, so I was trained to teach in courses and programs like this one. My current PhD program also offers and requires pedagogical training, too, as part of the coursework and teacher development. Additionally, as a teaching associate at ASU, they assist the instructors with training. The internship through the language academy — 4YOU2 — has provided us with assistance to learn their curriculum and teach Brazilian students as well.

Q: Describe a day in the life on your internship. What is your teaching assignment like? Whom are you teaching? What kind of experiences are you cultivating for your students? What do you enjoy the most/least?

Husk: We had some time at the beginning of the internship to explore the city and get a sense of the culture. Day to day, we usually get breakfast or lunch together if we sleep in, and travel to the school, teach two classes and head back home. We occasionally go out together and night, and we do go out and spend time with each other on the weekends. The teaching assignment is two classes every day, generally with adults — on average they are around 25–35. 

For my students, many of them have told me this is the first time they have spent time and talked to a foreigner, so the language and cultural aspects I am showing them, even through simple conversation, is something new and exciting for them. I love how kind and excited my students are, and perhaps the least enjoyable thing is the long commute time to the school. 

AsheMy typical day is teaching from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. I teach mostly adults from the ages of 18–35.  Most of my students are professionals who worked during the day and then took English classes during the late afternoon/evening. Some of my students are high school students and college undergrads on break, too. 

I enjoyed using technology and current events to teach my students using different types of interactive tools. I taught all levels of English to them — beginner, intermediate and advanced — in three different classes. I enjoyed learning about a new culture and gaining their perspectives on life. Teaching can be exhausting, but they always brought a positive attitude and an open mind to our activities.

Q: Why are your students enrolling in this program? What do they hope to gain from this experience?

HuskMy students all want to learn English for better opportunities. While those range from getting more money at work because they can speak English, or traveling the world, they all want to personally improve.

AsheMy students enrolled in English classes to improve their salaries in Brazil and to learn about a different culture. Only 5 percent of Brazilians know English, yet many of their employers reward them for being able to speak it and add it to their CVs. They understand that they will have more opportunities in life if they learn English since it is an important global language.

Q: What are your academic, professional and personal goals? How is this intern abroad program helping you achieve those goals?

HuskMy biggest focus is on my short-term goal of graduating in the fall and opening myself to new experiences. This internship has let me teach in a new country and opened me up to so many amazing people and a great culture. 

AsheThis intern abroad program allowed me to learn more about the Portuguese language and Brazilian Portuguese variety. I also developed a cultural understanding and learned about the education system in Brazil. I was able to teach English classes in a new country and gain valuable experience with different types of students. Lastly, I was able to assist in curriculum development and testing while also doing my own study on technology use in the classroom and its effects on intercultural competence in a language immersion setting for second language acquisition.  

The experience will help me with my dissertation (as I piloted the methods portion) and will show that I can teach languages in a variety of settings. Working and learning from South Americans and from teachers with a wide breadth of experience has been an incredible experience.

Q: What has been a highlight and a challenge of interning abroad in São Paulo?

Husk: The best part about São Paulo is the people. Everyone is so warm and welcoming, and they genuinely want to learn about our culture and they want us to experience theirs. I would say the only challenge for me personally was a language barrier, but if you know the basics you can make your way around OK. People are very understanding, and many people love to practice what English they know with you! 

Ashe: The highlight is getting to explore a world-class city. Additionally, getting to travel to South America for the first time to interact with amazing, ambitious students has been a pleasure. Of course, when you learn a new language (Portuguese), there are always difficulties and cultural nuances to learn about and adapt to. Also, it can be difficult at times to speak a lot in the target language (English) while in the classroom to fully immerse the students (where sometimes they may have different levels of English) and get them participating at a high level to achieve the goals of the class. 

Q: What would you say to ASU students considering a study-abroad program?

Husk: I would encourage anyone to travel abroad if they can. I urge them to try to immerse themselves as much as they could in the culture; food, nightlife, TV shows, local events, sporting events, anything experience that would be different than what they are used to. I would urge them to stay open-minded and flexible but to have fun and not allow the occasional homesickness to get in their way. 

Ashe: Take the plunge. Living in another country is incredibly exciting and rewarding. Studying abroad and traveling is good for the soul, and you learn so much about your own country and “culture” by doing it. Brazilians are incredible people who have opened their houses and hearts to me, and I will be forever grateful to them.

To learn more about the 250-plus study-abroad programs in more than 65 different countries offered at ASU, see the Study Abroad Office website. Visit the Study Abroad Expo from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 22, in the Ventana Ballroom of the Memorial Union to learn more about programs and scholarships.

Top photo: City skyline in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo courtesy of ckturistando/Unsplash

Carrie Herrera Niesen

Manager, Marketing & Publicity , Study Abroad Office


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Arizona, Italy connection via study abroad cultivates possibility for ASU students

August 13, 2018

Work at organic farms in Phoenix, Italy helps students discover new branches of sustainability

A gourmet meal led to a food-for-thought opportunity for a handful of Arizona State University students this summer.

As a result of discussions sparked at Dinner 2040 — a meal-tasting-turned-panel-talk in Phoenix — between a local organic farmer, an ASU professor and a former project coordinator in the School of Sustainability, five students added a comparative farming practicum to their coursework for the Italian Language and Culture in San Severino Marche study-abroad program coordinated by the ASU Study Abroad Office. A longstanding program led by Associate Professor of Italian Juliann Vitullo, students take immersive Italian language courses in a 13,000-inhabitant Italian town, San Severino Marche. 

“Students got an inside look at co-op produce. They saw 10 farms and got to witness infrastructure developing with CSA (community-supported agriculture), the business and the lack of infrastructure for farming in Phoenix,” Vitullo said.

Comparative programs like this one allow students to experience the challenges of our local system, such as food waste and lack of infrastructure for small-scale organic farmers, and address a need to bring successful practices from elsewhere back to the metro Phoenix area.

In the program, new this year, the five students worked at Maya’s Farm near South Mountain in Phoenix throughout the spring semester as part of the SOS 494 class credit of "Comparative Cultures of Sustainable Small-Scale Farming: From Maricopa County to Le Marche, Italy." Once in Italy, students worked with organic farmer Vittorio Giacomini at Biocontadino, an organic farm near San Severino Marche. Students Gerardo Moceri and Dana Martin shared their experiences.

Connecting their Arizona roots to farming and Italy

Both sustainability majors, these Arizona natives have deep ties to the region — Moceri’s family has restaurants in Sedona and Payson, and he was drawn to this program to learn more about sustainable practices he can help apply to his family’s businesses. His dad is a chef from Sicily with more than 25 years of experience, so his program was partially heritage-seeking to learn his father’s roots from working in Perugia.

“I wanted to go to Italy, and the farming piece was a bonus. Plus, I wanted it to be a month so I wouldn’t be away from helping my family’s restaurants for too long to help during the summer season,” said Moceri, a junior.

Martin’s ties are connected to her desire to bring food education and edible farms to local schools she attended here in Phoenix. Now a senior at ASU, she grew up with a long history to agriculture being in 4-H and raising pigs. She tried veterinary science at Maricopa Community College, but it didn’t quite click like sustainability did, resulting in her transfer to ASU. Her long-term goal is to be a school garden educator to help kids see the value in food at a young age.

Research projects

As part of the practicum, students investigated a particular research topic related to comparative farming. With his minor in psychology, Moceri studied the connections between the mind, body, food and sustainability. Through his research, he analyzes the negative long-term consequences of certain kinds of stress in our everyday lives and ways that local farming cultures might reduce it.

Martin investigated the relationship between school lunches in public schools and impacting health and wellness. She looked into the impacts of fast food here in the United States and Italy, and through her research, she demonstrated the need for local edible education and the role community farmers play in helping kids foster a positive, healthy relationship with food at a young age.

Making it possible financially

Finances were a challenge for both Martin and Moceri to make this study-abroad program happen. They, however, along with 17 others from ASU received the Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study this past summer and the current fall semester.

Part of the scholarship is to give back to the community upon returning from the study-abroad program. Both will continue to help Maya’s Farm and will work to help improve the infrastructure of the internship program, including coordinating logistics for future interns, farming duties and local market support. In addition, Moceri will be volunteering with America Reads in the Phoenix area to teach children in low-income areas across four different sites about the importance of a global education. Martin will be working with Vitullo and Maya's Farm owner Maya Dailey to recruit students to participate.

Advice for future students

“A big motivating factor for me was going to the study-abroad events to visually see what’s out there. Connect with a person who knows more about the program and discover what’s best for you,” Martin advised.

“Do it now and apply for all scholarships you think you qualify for. You have to find them and apply for them, but it’s worth it,” Moceri said.

Lasting impact

“It gave me hope that more sustainable food practices are possible,” Martin said. “It opened my eyes to possibility and tangibility for my future. It was helpful to see sustainability as the norm in their lifestyles. Seeing the culture and relationship Italians have with food is inspiring.”

While Martin was there, she was able to observe governmental incentives working to provide healthier food options in schools.

“Embedding it through that level and seeing it successful makes me hopeful for it to happen here," she said.

Moceri was most impacted by the food network, seeing produce go from farm to table and not into to-go containers at restaurants.

“Portion sizes are more realistic, and creates less waste for the restaurant industry," he said.

To learn more about the 250-plus study-abroad programs in more than 65 different countries offered at ASU, see the Study Abroad Office website. And visit the Study Abroad Expo on Aug. 22 in the Ventana Ballroom of the Memorial Union from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. to learn more about programs and scholarships.

Top photo: Sustainability senior Dana Martin pulls weeds at Maya's Farm, a local organic farm near South Mountain in Phoenix.

Carrie Herrera Niesen

Manager, Marketing & Publicity , Study Abroad Office


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ASU students study wildlife in Okavango Delta in new PLuS Alliance project

ASU students share quarters with elephants in new study-abroad trip to Africa.
August 13, 2018

Study-abroad trip to Botswana focused on the complexities of river management

Most study-abroad trips don’t involve wild elephants tramping a few yards away from the sleeping quarters, but a group of Arizona State University students got to experience just that this summer.

Six ASU students spent 10 days in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, one of the most remote places on Earth, studying a critically important ecosystem with some of the top experts in the world.

The study-abroad trip is a new project of the PLuS Alliance, the two-year-old partnership among ASU, King’s College London and UNSW Sydney in Australia.

The ASU team joined seven students from the other two universities in an immersive three-credit research course titled, “Intersection of Water, Ecosystems and Governance.”

The point was to look at one of the world’s last unspoiled aquatic environments from an interdisciplinary perspective, according to Dave White, a professor in the School of Community Resources and DevelopmentPart of the College of Public Programs and Community Solutions., who was the ASU professor on the trip. The other experts were professors from KCL and UNSW, who were experts in aquatic ecosystems, and Claire McWilliams, an instructor in tourism the School of Community Resources and Development.

“The students were learning about not only the environment, the ecology and the tourism but also the management and the complexity of trying to balance all of these competing values,” said White, an expert on water policy, who is director of the Decision Center for a Desert City at ASU.

The Okavango Delta is one of the last undammed river systems in the world and tourism is an important industry, he said. But management is complicated because the Okavango river flows from Angola into Namibia and then into Botswana, where it dissipates into the wetlands and grasslands of the delta, creating one of the richest wildlife environments in the world.

The students learned about the very complex questions on who controls the water.

“Most of the water originates in Angola. Do they have the moral and legal right to develop those resources by creating hydroelectric plants and reservoirs to support agriculture in the country?” White said.

Michael Chadwick, a professor at King’s College London, said that the collaboration was especially useful.

“Working within the PLuS Alliance is amazing as everyone gets to learn from a wide range of people who are working and learning at institutions which are quite different in their approaches,” said Chadwick, whose expertise is in water quality and aquatic invertebrates.

“I think my favorite aspect of the course is observing how students from PhD candidates to second-year undergraduates interact with each other to learn about interdisciplinary river basin management.”

The students spent two days in the small town of Maun, at the edge of the delta region, where they learned about the ecosystem and did some preliminary field work. Then the group took two small bush planes into the delta, where they stayed at a research camp run by the nonprofit group Elephants Without Borders. The students stayed in tents and had no internet access.

“They were disconnected the whole time,” White said. “They loved it. They repeatedly said they felt liberated by that.”

The students took water samples, which they analyzed for microorganisms and oxygen levels, and did a census of animals and migration routes in the area. They encountered a leopard lounging in a tree while setting up a remote camera.

“It’s a sensory overload,” White said. “You’re on heightened alert, conscious of all the animals. You’re in the wild environment.”

The students’ work was important to determine what the delta is like now so changes can be tracked if the water flow in the area is disrupted, he said.

The Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU provided financial support to some of the students on the trip, which cost $4,800, not including airfare to and from Africa. Other students received travel stipends from the PLuS Alliance.

White said that next year, the study-abroad experience will be even better because it will include students and professors from the University of Botswana.

“This is important because the PLuS Alliance is between the three universities but we won’t make significant impact on understanding and advancing solutions for sustainability issues unless we work with people on the ground,” he said.

Sabrina Lomprey, a senior majoring in business sustainability in the W. P. Carey School of Business, was one of the students on the trip, which changed her thinking about how to solve environmental issues.

“The biggest thing I learned on the trip was that I thought it took individuals to make a difference in the world, one really dedicated person, but you realize that no one can do something like this on their own,” she said.

“It takes an entire team of researchers to create this difference that we were a part of.”

Lomprey said the experience of being in the wild was life changing.

“Our camp didn’t have fences so you had to be aware of your surroundings,” she said.

“We saw elephants walk through our camp at night and you could hear them come through and break the branches. We saw leopards, lions and millions of antelopes. We woke up at dawn to go on safaris and do bird surveys.”

An intense trip to a remote location requires students to be open minded, she said.

“When you’re in the wild, there are so many moving parts, you have to be adaptable and you have to be open to it all.”

To learn more about the 250-plus study-abroad programs in more than 65 different countries offered at ASU, see the Study Abroad Office websiteVisit the Study Abroad Expo from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 22 in the Ventana Ballroom of the Memorial Union to learn more about programs and scholarships.

Top photo: The ASU students came across a leopard lounging in a tree while they were setting up a remote camera during their study-abroad trip to the Okavango Delta in Botswana in July. The trip was a new project of the PLuS Alliance. Photo courtesy of Dave White/School of Community Resources and Development

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


5 female entrepreneurs win first WE Empower UN SDG Challenge

Winners are developing sustainability-focused businesses around the world

August 10, 2018

The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, along with Vital Voices, the United Nations Foundation and many other partners, has announced the winners of the inaugural WE Empower U.N. Sustainable Development Goals Challenge. Five female entrepreneurs, representing each of the five U.N. regions, were selected to attend the U.N. Global Goals Week in September and to receive training and support for their efforts to empower women and improve sustainability in their fields.

The winning submissions are diverse and innovative: A woman weaves at a traditional loom In its inaugural year, the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is supporting a diverse array of sustainability-focused businesses developed by women around the world.

• Habiba Ali, Africa — Ali founded Nigerian company Sosai, which brings renewable-energy technologies to the most rural of users, improving access to clean, affordable energy and providing clean water and better health outcomes.

• Hadeel Anabtawi, Asia-Pacific — Anabtawi founded the Alchemist Lab, whose educational programs, including Go Girls!, have reached more than 25,000 children in Jordan’s largest city, Amman, as well as remote villages and refugee camps.

• Marijana Savić, Eastern Europe — Savić founded Serbian NGO Atina to combat human trafficking and all forms of violence against women. Atina’s eatery, Bagel Bejgl, provides financing, skills training and professional education to help victims in transition.

• Marta Del Rio, Latin America & Caribbean — Del Rio co-founded organic snack company MAIA to fight poverty and transform Peruvian agriculture, providing training and technical assistance to smallholder farmers and sourcing ingredients from them at a fair price.

• Shimrit Finkel, Western Europe & Other — Finkel co-founded ECOncrete in 2012. The Israeli company’s durable and environmentally sensitive concretes harness natural processes to enhance growth of carbon-absorbing marine life on coastal infrastructure.

Applications were reviewed with the help of student judges from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the School of Sustainability. One ASU student judge will also be selected to attend the U.N. Global Goals week.

"We received 150 strong applications from women leaders across the globe doing wonderful work to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Amanda Ellis, who is senior special adviser for international diplomacy, sustainable development and inclusion at the ASU Wrigley Institute.

“The applications were truly impressive, and we look forward to supporting and encouraging these women leaders in their commitment to advancing sustainability and engaging their respective communities to create a positive multiplier effect,” Ellis said.

The WE Empower U.N. SDG Challenge was conceived as a global business competition for female entrepreneurs who are advancing the U.N. sustainable development goals and inspiring entire communities to create the world we want by 2030. The competition will honor and invest in entrepreneurs while igniting awareness of their work. Winners receive access to unique trainings, capacity building and a network of their peers.

Learn more about the winners, the challenge, the prizes and the opportunities.

Kayla Frost

Associate Editor, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability


ASU, local Phoenix business inspire entrepreneurship students from Saudi Arabia, Mexico

August 9, 2018

This summer, Global Launch — a global training unit at Arizona State University — welcomed students from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, via the Institute of International Education, and students from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico, to learn about entrepreneurship and communications.

Global Launch, in partnership with ASU Lecturer Steve Cho from the Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Program in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, developed curriculum to teach students about creating their own businesses, learning skills in marketing, finance, advertising and networking with venture mentors from the ASU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Venture Devils program Cohoots Left to right: CO+HOOTS co-founder Odeen Domingo, Global Launch educator Emilia Gracia, Zuba Academy owner Lisa Zuba and JMCT Strategies owner Henry Dotson. Photo by Kerstin Linder/Global Launch Download Full Image

“This program falls perfectly in line with ASU’s spirit of innovation and President Crow’s mission to solidify relationships with international companies and universities to encourage anyone to make a real change in their community, and to influence and inspire innovation around the world, not just in the U.S.,” said Emilia Gracia, Global Launch program lead.

At the end of the program, students utilized their learned knowledge of entrepreneurship by pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges from CO+HOOTS, a coworking space in the Phoenix metro area.

“Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems, and we don’t just solve problems in America," said CO+HOOTS member Henry Dotson, of JMCT Strategies. "It’s really important to support people that are spending their time and mental energy that are creating something that will better the world. It doesn’t matter where you come from — that should be celebrated.

Global Launch also held a similar Transdisciplinary Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program for students and faculty from a variety of disciplines from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico

The winning pitch from the KAUST group was a communication device for children with autism called “Go Divine”. The team developed a concept for a bracelet with sensors designed to detect how the child is feeling for their caregivers to review.

“We want to give kids with autism and their families a better quality of life while raising autism awareness in our country,” said Taher Othman, from Saudi Arabia.

The winning team from the University of Guadalajara developed disposable and biodegradable tableware made from lily plants called “Lily-ware.”

“There is an excess of water lilies in Guadalajara and they are clogging the lakes," participant Omar Vargas González said. "They need to be removed and the people of Guadalajara need a sustainable solution to use of disposable plastics, especially since plastic bags will soon be banned."

For more information about Global Launch’s innovative programming, contact Dianna Lippincott at dianna.lippincott@asu.edu. For inquiries about CO+HOOTs, contact Odeen Domingo at odeen@cohoots.com. For Zuba Academy contact Lisa Zuba at lisa@zubaacademy.com

Samantha Talavera

Marketing and Communications Manager, Global Launch


ASU alum and staff member advocates for refugees and his home country in DC and NY

August 7, 2018

Bandak Lul knows what it’s like to live between worlds: to leave everything behind, to step into uncertainty, to be separated from home and family. Lul knows because he was a refugee — forced to flee his home with nothing but hope that the other end of the journey would offer safety and a new beginning. Now, he uses his voice to speak on behalf of others facing the same.

Lul recently returned from a trip to the nation’s capital with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, where he and a cohort of other refugees and supporters spoke before Congress to advocate for refugee issues on June 20, World Refugee Day. For Lul, it was personal. He spent 14 years growing up in refugee camps in Ethiopia after escaping civil war in his native Sudan. His family was forced to leave due to their ethnic background, as well as their religious and political views. Bandak Lul seated next to youth delegate from Pakistan Lul takes his seat at the International Human Rights Youth Summit next to the youth delegate from Pakistan.

While in Washington, D.C., Lul and others talked about ensuring the administration keeps its promises regarding refugee admissions for this fiscal year as well as urging the government to keep families together.

“I haven’t seen my family in nearly 13 years now,” shared Lul. “I cannot imagine what those children are going through and not knowing exactly what is happening. I took it dearly to advocate on their behalf.”

After coming to the United States in 2006 as an unaccompanied minor, Lul went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Arizona State University. Now, Lul is a project manager and researcher for the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research housed in the ASU’s School of Social Work. His research focuses on sex trafficking within refugee populations.

Upon returning from the nation’s capital, Lul had the special honor of attending the 15th annual International Human Rights Youth Summit as the representative for South Sudan — a country he hasn’t been able to return to for 22 years.

He was one of 60 delegates from 60 different countries all converging in New York City for the event. The summit brings people from around the world together to share, encourage and inspire global peace and tolerance. Hosted by Youth for Human Rights International, there is special emphasis on teaching youth about human rights in general and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in particular.

The experience afforded him the opportunity to network with other young men and women committed to human rights and forge international friendships. He was also able to meet the U.N. Secretary in addition to presidents, ambassadors and other government leaders from across the globe.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity,” Lul said. “I appreciate the work I’m doing at ASU and the people who believed in me and made it possible for me to represent South Sudan."

One of his biggest champions is Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research and the person who encouraged him to apply. 

“I am thrilled to have nominated Bandak for the United Nations event,” Roe-Sepowitz said. “He is an outstanding representative of ASU and the human trafficking and social justice work we do.”

There is still much advocacy work ahead for Lul. He wants to bring his expertise to his birth country in hopes of improving conditions there. 

“We don’t have any regulations on forced marriage and child marriage,” Lul said. “Also we don’t have any regulations on child labor, so these are the kinds of things I want to get into as I progress with the work I’m doing at ASU.”


Correction: An earlier version of this story referenced Lul's advocacy work with Lutheran Migration and Refugee Services, which has since been corrected to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Lisa Rolland-Keith

Communications Specialist, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


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ASU, National WWII Museum launch new master's degree: World War II Studies

August 7, 2018

Unique collaboration will offer the only graduate-level degree in WWII history available in the United States

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2018 here.

The war that changed the world has made the case for specialized graduate study.

Arizona State University and the National WWII MuseumBased in New Orleans, the National WWII Museum was dedicated in 2000 as the National D-Day Museum and has since been designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum. have announced the launch of a new online master’s degree program, World War II Studies, beginning in January 2019. The fully accredited online Master of Arts degree will provide 30 hours of coursework taught by the world’s top WWII scholars from both ASU and the National World War II Museum. It will also draw upon the museum’s one-of-a-kind collection that includes tens of thousands of artifacts and personal accounts from the WWII generation to create an exclusive learning experience unlike any other.

“The partnership between Arizona State University and the National WWII Museum brings together historians from both institutions as part of a first-of-its-kind graduate degree in World War II studies from a U.S.-based university,” said Phil Regier, university dean for educational initiatives and CEO of EdPlus at ASUEdPlus is the unit that houses ASU Online.. “Following ASU’s commitment to innovation and accessibility, this program reaches global learners, providing a comprehensive and worldwide view of one of the 20th century’s largest global conflicts.”


Video by Suzanne Wilson and Ken Fagan/ASU Now

Designed to meet the educational and professional needs of various types of students, the program's educational focus will also include the importance of preserving oral histories from the war, representations of World War II in film and literature, and the war’s lasting impact on democracies around the world. Classes will feature in-depth discussions on the war’s military campaigns, impact on civilians and the Holocaust.

“The museum’s mission has always been to educate future generations on the American experience in the war that changed the world,” said Gemma Birnbaum, director of the WWII Media and Education Center at the National WWII Museum. “By partnering with Arizona State University, we are offering students the unique opportunity to learn from leading experts who can provide the most comprehensive view of a global conflict that still shapes our society and political structures today.”   

Whether they be history and social studies teachers seeking a master’s degree; those interested in career advancement or degree credentials; or others wishing to strengthen their research, reasoning and writing skills for new employment opportunities, the World War II master’s degree program aims to create intellectually stimulating learning experiences for all students.

Enrollment is now open for the online Master of Arts in World War II Studies program. Deadline for applications is Dec. 1, 2018. Additional information is available on the National WWII Museum's website.

In addition to the master's degree program, ASU and the National WWII Museum also are offering a series of online noncredit courses through Arizona State University’s Continuing and Professional Education program. This curriculum is designed to give history enthusiasts the rare opportunity to engage and interact with academics on a subject matter that has held media and public interest for decades. 

“World War II represents a pivotal period in history. As decades pass, it is critical that we keep the story alive for new generations,” said Darcy Richardson, director of continuing education at EdPlus at ASU. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with the National WWII Museum and the ASU School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies to create an affordable, open-enrollment, noncredit program to share this history through a scalable and accessible online platform.” 

Enrollments for the WWII Professional Studies Certificate program open in October 2018 with classes for the first five-week course — exploring “The Stories of the Pacific” and the United States' entry into World War II — beginning in January 2019.

Top photo courtesy of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


What’s next for Arctic sea ice?

American Meteorological Society report calls magnitude of sea ice decline unprecedented

August 6, 2018

The American Meteorological Society released its annual State of the Climate report Aug. 1. The report, compiled by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Weather and Climate, shares detailed updates on annual changes to global climate indicators and weather events. This year’s report details 2017 climate records, which include Earth experiencing record-high sea level rises and significant losses of Arctic sea ice.

According to the report, Arctic air temperatures increased at twice the rate of the rest of the world. The report called the magnitude and sustained rate of declining sea ice unprecedented. Thick patches of Antarctic ice Download Full Image

Stephanie Pfirman, a professor in Arizona State University's School of Sustainability, studies climate change, with emphasis on changes in Earth’s polar regions — along with diversity in interdisciplinary research. She spoke to ASU Now about what’s next for Earth’s Arctic sea ice.

Question: What is the role of Arctic sea ice?

Answer: Arctic sea ice acts like a refrigerator for Earth. Because it’s white, it reflects sunlight, which cools the northern part of the planet and stabilizes our weather patterns. When sea ice melts, we see it go from one of the whitest surfaces on the planet to one of the darkest, the ocean. It plays a really critical role in the climate system.

Q: How is Earth’s sea ice doing right now?

A: We’re losing it. Its summer extent is retreating at a rate of almost 15 percent per decade. There’s a combination of effects here — warmer atmosphere and warmer oceans. You have this sandwich — warmer air on top of the ice and warm water underneath the ice, which subjects the ice to warming from both sides. Also, the ice is dynamic — it flows with the wind. We’ve had wind patterns that moved ice to warmer areas, causing us to lose older, thick ice, and we’re left with thinner, young ice, which is more vulnerable to warming. The trajectory for the coming decades is not good.

Q: What’s next for your research?

A: Our team has been exploring the idea of transnational sea ice transport. This is a really interesting study. People have heard of watersheds and airsheds. Now we’re exploring icesheds. We know where the last ice will be in the Arctic — it will be in areas where ice is thickest and oldest right now: north of Canada and Greenland. One of things we want to understand for this important location is the regional extent and projected changes in the iceshed so that we can manage it to maintain the quality of the ice for as long as possible. Another question we’re working on is: What happens next, over the longer term? What would it take to bring ice back?  

Q: Are you optimistic about the future for sea ice?

A: It doesn’t look good for the short term, but if we reverse the warming it will come back. There seems to be a convergence of several ideas. We’ve seen that the price for alternative energy is coming down much more quickly than we thought, and that is good for the planet. Many countries around the world are recognizing that it makes sense to plan with the planet’s future in mind. From a corporate perspective, it’s becoming more obvious that planning for a different future makes business sense. There are opportunities for commercial development and new products in sustainability. Seeing these changes, and that people are embracing stewardship, is exciting. I think people want to do things differently and address the problems we’re facing.  

Q: What do you think needs to be done in the immediate future? Or what are the first steps we can take to save the planet’s sea ice?

A: We need to implement the Paris Agreement, which emphasizes keeping “global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Reversing the loss of Arctic sea ice will require negative emissions, which is the focus of projects from ASU’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions.

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Roughing it, done right

ASU grad students share travel tips, stories from global research trips.
August 2, 2018

Globe-trotting ASU grad students share their pro tips for a successful outdoor adventure

The last few weeks of summer are a prime time to hit the road and enjoy the wilderness, whether it’s hiking, biking, rafting or camping. The trick is knowing what to do when faced with nature’s unexpected perils, from troublesome wildlife to extreme weather.

The graduate students of ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change are a special group whose summer R&R involves more research and rigor than rest and relaxation. When it comes to adventuring in unusual places around the globe, they have plenty of experience.

Shelter eaten by camels? Ancient well run dry? Jaguar circling the camp? They’ve seen it all, and they’re here to share their wisdom to help your next nature expedition, wherever it may take you, go right.

Question: What are you studying?

Adrian Chase, archaeologist: I am studying the archaeology of urbanism and the ancient Maya located primarily in modern-day Belize, Guatemala and Yucatán Mexico.

photo of Chase at Caracol archaeological site
Chase works at the Maya archaeological site of Caracol.

Andrew Bishop, human behavioral ecologist and Institute of Human Origins affiliate: I work with indigenous tribes in Paraguay (the Ache) and Bolivia (the Tsimane) who get a portion of their diet from traditional hunting. I’m trying to understand how the traits of a hunted animal impact the hunter’s prestige in catching it, and also whether hunters gain more prestige by bringing home more meat or by killing rare and impressive animals.

Irene Smail, evolutionary anthropologist and Institute of Human Origins affiliate: I study dead monkeys! Specifically, I study the teeth of modern (from museum collections) and extinct Old World monkeys to understand past and present primate community structures. Ultimately, I want to use this research to better understand how fossil hominin species were able to coexist in the past, and why those fossil hominin communities no longer exist today.

Q: Where is your research site, and what are conditions there like?

Smail: I work in Ledi-Geraru, located in the Afar region of Ethiopia. In many ways it's very similar to Phoenix — a hot, dry desert environment. There is little vegetation, although we do have some acacia trees near our camp site. We have to watch out for snakes, scorpions and camel spiders, but we also get to see larger wildlife, including gazelles, ostriches, baboons, hyenas and jackals.

Chase: My primary research site is the large Maya city of Caracol in Belize. The archaeological reserve is located within the Chiquibul National Park, and there is no modern town or settlement nearby. This ancient city rests beneath a large jungle canopy full of tropical wildlife, and in fact, visitors come for that as often as they do for the archaeology.

Bishop: I've worked in two sites, one in the Bolivian Amazon and one in the Atlantic forests of Paraguay. If you imagine a rainforest or jungle, you are probably imagining something that looks like my research sites. Both are very rainy, humid and green, with incredible plant and animal biodiversity. Common large species you might encounter include jaguars, tapir, peccaries, armadillo, coatis, monkeys, caiman, birds and snakes. But you can't discuss my field site without mentioning the insects — mosquitoes, bees, wasps and tons of ants!

Q: What is your favorite memory from camping at your site?

Bishop: My favorite part of being in the forest is the sense of camaraderie you feel while sitting around camp in the evening. The Ache have an especially good sense of humor, and love to sit around making jokes and teasing one another. Another thing I love is all the cool food you get to try. For example, we commonly ate bee larva, palm grubs, roasted peccary, rattlesnake, fish-head soup, and even some rare treats like whole-cooked armadillo embryos.

Smail: My favorite memory of camping in the field is probably waking up early to watch the sunrise. Usually, things are very hurried and crowded in the morning as everyone scrambles to get ready, eat and pack the vehicles. But the kitchen always made sure to have buna (coffee) ready early for those of us who liked taking our time before the main rush of the day.

photo of Smail watching the sunrise in Ledi-Geraru
Smail waits for the sunrise at Ledi-Geraru. Photo courtesy of Irene Smail

Chase: Picking just one favorite memory would be quite difficult, but from this past season, my favorite wildlife moment probably involved looking up from my excavation and seeing a wild tapir (the Belizeans sometimes call them "mountain cows") about 30 feet away. Thankfully it was downhill and departed when it noticed me watching.

Q: What was your most extraordinary encounter with nature?

Smail: I got a horrible stomach bug and had to stay home from the field one day. In the middle of the afternoon, I woke up from a nap to find two camels parked directly outside my tent door happily eating the tree I was camped under.

Chase: We work in the dry season at Caracol, and while it does occasionally rain, our crew of about 20 people can run out of rainwater. We use water from a still-functioning ancient Maya reservoir for bathing and washing, but it isn't potable. Once, both our water tanks and the reservoir ran dry, and we had to use large water trucks to haul water from the river several miles away.

photo of Bishop holding snake by river
Bishop captures a snake near a river at his site in Bolivia. Photo courtesy of Andrew Bishop

Bishop: One of the scariest moments was when a jaguar visited our camp in the middle of the night. The Ache men woke everyone up and we had to remain quiet in our ring of fire while the men with bows stood watch. It was a cool but scary 20 minutes as the jaguar slowly circled our camp and approached within 10 meters before leaving.

Q: Based on your experiences, what’s your advice to someone planning to rough it in the outdoors?

Chase: If you’re in a jungle or forest environment, remember to wear long sleeves, pants and boots. Don't forget to use sunscreen and insect repellent. Finally, stay hydrated — water can be scarce!

Bishop: You should pack light. Way lighter than you think. I usually carried about five pounds of gear plus the clothes I was wearing when we went on multi-day forest treks. Also, make yourself eat. You will be tired and hot, and the food may not seem appetizing, but you need to make yourself do it, or you will go downhill fast.

Smail: Number one tip for the desert: bring electrolytes or something to add to your water. There was no refrigeration at our site, and I got sick of drinking plain, warm water. Plus, electrolytes will help replace what you sweat out.

Mikala Kass

Editorial Communications Coordinator , School of Human Evolution and Social Change


ASU expert on violent conflict in Nicaragua

August 1, 2018

In late April, citizens of Nicaragua began protests against President Daniel Ortega when the government announced a social security reform. Now, more than three months later, protesters are asking for Ortega’s resignation. The series of protests have been met with extreme violence, making this the deadliest civil conflict in the country since the end of the Nicaraguan revolution.

Upon his return from visiting Nicaragua this summer, Arizona State University Instructor Charles Ripley agreed to answer questions regarding these protests. Ripley taught for five years at the Jesuit University of Central America in Managua, Nicaragua, and continues to do field work throughout Central and South America. ASU expert on violent conflict in Nicaragua Photo from ASU Instructor Charles Ripley's time in Nicaragua. Download Full Image

Question: Why and for how long were you in Nicaragua?

Answer: I lived in Nicaragua for eight years (beginning in 2000) doing a wide range of work for governmental and nongovernmental agencies. I went back to visit for the month of June and the protests against President Daniel Ortega and his powerful wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo Zambrana, exploded. Despite U.S. embassy travel warnings, it was an important time to be there.  

Q: The Nicaraguan government’s announcement of an increase in social security last April prompted days of protests that resulted in the plan being dropped. How are the current protests demanding the exit of Ortega different than those back in April?

A: I have witnessed lots of protests in Latin America, particularly in Nicaragua. When I was a professor at the Jesuit Universidad Centroamericana (2000-2005), classes were often canceled due to protests, and once the students even seized the university. Currently, things are different, escalating into a quasi-civil war. Protesters are being met with violence by both official police and riot squad forces, as well as paramilitary groups affiliated with the government. Anti-governmental forces have also committed acts of violence against the police and supporters of the government. The death toll stands at over 400, with hundreds injured, political prisoners, kidnappings (rare previously in Nicaragua) and a destroyed economy.

Q: The protesters have been met with the national police and pro-government groups resulting in extreme violence and many deaths. Do you think we will see a peaceful resolution in the near future?

A: No. The motto for the opposition is “Your mother should give up” (“Que se rinda tu madre!”). No one is giving up. The government and its supporters see themselves as democratically elected. They are in the right fighting against coup plotters (“golpistas”). The opposition sees itself as fighting against a family dictatorship, pejoratively dubbed the “Ortega-Murillo regime.”

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy in Nicaragua, the umbrella group of various opposition movements, carries out marches, builds barricades across the country and even has the power to carry out national strikes (“paros nacionales”). I witnessed the whole country shut down. It was quite a feat! The opposition is also strong with an incredibly large group of dissident Sandinistas who broke with Ortega due to his authoritarian proclivities. Both sides are committed and have the forces to fight well into the future.

Q: Protesters are asking for President Ortega’s resignation, but he stated they should “seek the vote of the people.” Do you expect President Ortega to serve out his current term, which runs through 2021?

A: He has a very good chance at serving his term. He still has a passionate base, though it may be shrinking. Additionally, the opposition fails to concede the benefits the government has afforded the lower classes. One notable example is removing student fees from public schools (“colegios”) and organizing free breakfast and lunch initiatives in which parents would participate by bringing staples such as rice and beans. I witnessed this interesting initiative years ago in different barrios and was actually impressed with its implementation. He is still popular in some sectors.

But possibly more important, this base is extremely well-trained. Ortega still commands respect from former military guerrillas as well as the police and military. When a police station of Masaya was barricaded by an opposition movement for two weeks, the police, riot squad and paramilitaries (evidence of retired soldiers) took it by force to liberate the police commissioner and vast areas of the town. If protesters continue with demonstrations, barricades and strikes, there is a large disposal of former guerrilla forces who can assist the government.

Q: The U.S. Department of State, the United Nations and various nations have condemned this violence. Do you foresee an outside country or agency stepping in to help resolve this conflict?

A: Countries have cut aid and applied other forms of sanctions. A broad range of people and agencies — from leftists like Noam Chomsky and former Uruguayan President José “Pepe” Mujica to the Organization of American States and the United Nations — have denounced Ortega. However, I do not think any country has the will to invade and, as we have seen in various instances, this is not always the optimal policy. It is also important to stress that if the United States did use force, it could backfire and create a rally-around-the-flag-effect for Ortega. In any case, it does not look like any mother is giving up soon!

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies