Freeze Frame

Program Opens Door to World of Languages

By Andrew Boryga
Special to UM News


From left are undegraduate Chidera Nwosu, who is studying Yoruba; graduate student Sanchit Mehta, who as a program ‘partner’ teaches Hindi; and graduate student Fatma Ahmed, another partner who teaches Levantine Arabic.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 27, 2017)—What happens when a student wants to study a foreign language like Vietnamese or Dutch, but the university doesn’t offer courses in it? Where do they turn if Rosetta Stone doesn’t cut it for them?

The answer at most universities across the country isn’t always clear, but at the University of Miami, Maria Kosinski will point them to the Directed Independent Language Study (DILS) program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

DILS provides students of all majors and in any year of study with the opportunity to learn a language not offered in the course catalog. Each group of students, usually less than five, meet twice a week for an hour and are directed by native speakers known as Language Partners. Kosinski, director of DILS, said these partners are usually hired within the university or from the larger Miami community.

When the program first began 2009, DILS offered only three language choices: Haitian Creole, Levantine Arabic, and Russian. Now, students can choose from more than 30 languages, including Cantonese, Punjabi, Yoruba, and Polish. Kosinski said she is always open to expanding the list.

“If there are at least two students interested in a language, I will do my best to make sure we can offer it,” she said.

To celebrate the diversity of the program’s languages and culture, DILS students gather for DILS’ Annual International Multicultural Night. Held last Friday at the Shalala Student Center, the event showcased the diversity of the languages through dance, food, pop-culture presentations, storytelling, poetry readings, travel narratives, and more.

Maria Kozinski

If two students are interested in a language, Maria Kosinski does her best to offer it.

Kosinski said students who benefit the most from DILS are disciplined and committed to investing time into a new language. After all, the program is self-directed and students do not receive academic credit for their work—although their participation is noted on their transcripts. But even so, Kosinski insists the potential rewards can have more impact on a student’s life than a GPA score. Many DILS students end up using their new language skills to travel abroad or even work in another country, she said.

Elena Chudnovskaya, a Russian language partner, is a graduate student who joined DILS in 2014. In her weekly sessions with students, she said she focuses on helping them learn phrases and building their capacity to have conversations with each other. As a supplement to language work, she also exposes students to Russian cartoons, traditions, and typical foods.

“The purpose is to immerse the students into the Russian language and culture as much as possible,” said Chudnovskaya. “It is a great pleasure to share my culture with them.”

Jeffrey Stewart, an undergraduate completing his fourth semester in DILS, initially studied Russian to communicate better with a friend from Kazakhstan. He is now studying Egyptian and Levantine Arabic because he hopes to pursue a career where these Arab dialects are spoken.

But until then, he says, he is content to have a “much deeper appreciation for other languages and cultures, as well as a desire to be a lifelong language learner.”

And that’s the goal, according to Kosinski. “We want to give students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a program where they can learn, study, and absorb languages from all over the world. The experience is rich and students always leave with skills and new ways of thinking that can have real, positive effects on their lives and future careers.”

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Spanish Legacies: Children of Spain’s Immigrants Provide a Window to Adaptation

Special to UM News

From left are  Felicia Marie Knaul, President Julio Frenk, Alejandro Portes, and Cándido Creis, honorary  consul of Spain in Miami.

From left are Felicia Marie Knaul, President Julio Frenk, Alejandro Portes, and Cándido Creis, honorary consul of Spain in Miami.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 22, 2017)— A unique effort by UM Research Professor Alejandro Portes to produce the first reliable and representative study of the condition and future prospects of second-generation immigrants in Spain—where almost 13 percent of the country’s population is foreign-born—was the subject of last week’s colloquium at the Cuban Heritage Collection of the Otto G. Richter Library.

Written by Portes and two co-authors, ‘’Spanish Legacies: The Coming of Age of the Second Generation’’ explores how the children of immigrants—the second generation—are coping with the challenges of adapting to Spanish society, comparing their experiences with those of their peers in the United States. For the book, Portes, Rosa Aparicio, and William Haller used a groundbreaking data set based on both survey and ethnographic material collected from a sample of almost 7,000 second-generation students who were interviewed in Madrid and Barcelona in 2008 and then followed and re-interviewed four years later.
“Very seldom does one have the opportunity to work with such a rich set of data,” said moderator Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul, director of the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas, which co-hosted the event with the Department of Sociology in the College or Arts and Sciences, and the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries.

Introduced by Dean of Libraries Charles D. Eckman, President Julio Frenk lauded lauded Portes, who holds appointments in sociology and law at UM and is professor emeritus of Princeton University, for his life’s work: “We are privileged to have Alejandro Portes as our leading scholar on immigration. Having this kind of scholarship helps elevate the social discussion on an issue of growing policy importance.”

Also participating in the panel discussion were Jennifer Lee, chancellor’s fellow and professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine; and UM’s George Wilson, professor of sociology and David Abraham, professor of law.

“Thank you for both reviving and elevating the scholarship on immigrant and second-generation assimilation with Spanish Legacies,” Lee told Portes.

During his commentary, Portes highlighted the size and complexity of the data set, adding a touch of humor: “It is impossible to lie without statistics,” he said.

The longitudinal study, which was complemented by qualitative interviews, enabled a better examination of existing theories and hypotheses of immigrant adaptation, providing not only a solid base for comparative studies elsewhere, but also inspiration for future policies.

As Abraham noted, “The book makes a compelling case for conducting cross-national research on immigration.”





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E-Week Celebrates the Power to Make a Difference

By Andi Fuentes
Special to UM News


High school students put their engineering skills to the test during one of the activities held last Thursday as part of Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 23, 2017)—Making your own lip balm and stacking cups so they don’t fall—that’s engineering? Indeed, it is—as more than 200 high school girls discovered on Thursday at the Society of Women Engineers’ National Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at the University of Miami.

Those fun learning activities helped illustrate the analytical thinking and critical reasoning skills every engineer needs to succeed. The students also toured laboratory facilities at UM’s College of Engineering and listened, enthralled, as Cynthia Gundersen, CEO of AMU Engineering, talked to them about her career path to leading a NASA-affiliated design and development firm.

This year’s celebration of National Engineers Week (E-Week) included the signature event of the UM Society of Women Engineers chapter and many other activities focused on the goal of E-Week, which is to highlight the contributions the engineering profession makes to society. It is celebrated annually during the third week of February to honor President George Washington, an engineer.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day was just one of the E-Week at the U programs that brought pre-college students to campus. Approximately 300 high school students from around South Florida kicked off the week on Friday, February 17, by participating in Build It, a design competition sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. At Build It, Sebastian the Ibis welcomed the students and Miami-Dade County Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, the morning keynote speaker.

“You are the future of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics—and you will be the ones to build and improve our world,” Carvalho told the audience.

Other daily programming included the Graduate Engineering Student Council’s poster display session, which gave every engineering student an opportunity to see how researchers share their results. Eager throngs of undergraduates avidly listened to graduate students explain their work—showing just how important such efforts are for engineers developing new technologies and products.

Later in the week, the Biomedical Engineering Society hosted a Biomedical Industry Night with a panel discussion led by several noted alumni, followed by networking for students and professionals in the biosciences. The UM chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers welcomed UM President Julio Frenk and CoE Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet to a forum on STEM diversity—an evening devoted to supporting the ongoing efforts by senior leaders to build a culture of belonging and excellence for every student.

The UM chapter of engineering honor society Eta Kappa Nu hosted a programmable engine Raspberry Pi design competition, and the week wrapped up with a shoreline cleanup day sponsored by Engineers Without Borders, proving that engineering makes life better around the world and in our own South Florida back yard.

Of course, no E-Week is complete without fun, and the Society of Hispanic Engineers welcomed all students to a picnic for the U “familia.” The Institute of Industrial Engineers Dunk Tank was, as always, a welcome and fun way for students to unwind on the Engineering Green.

Bardet has a simple, yet profound, message for everyone who participated in National Engineers Week: “You’ll have the power to make a difference! By becoming an engineer, you solve problems that are important to society. Engineering is a ‘helping profession’ and as an engineer you can clean up the environment, develop new medicines to make life better for those who suffer, and solve problems to make the world a better place. But what really matters is that you’ll get to do societal good on a local and global scale.”

At the U, global impact starts in the classroom and extends to service and student leadership. Once again, the 2017 University of Miami College of Engineering E-Week highlighted how our engineers excel in the lab, in the community, and wherever they reach out to help encourage future STEM leaders.


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Essentials of Leadership Program Graduates 7th Class

02-13-17-EOL-Graduation-390Launched 2 1/2 years ago to transform University managers into leaders, the Essentials of Leadership Program (EOL) just graduated its seventh class, bringing to 385 the number of managers who are now equipped to lead people to perform at their best and drive results that make a greater impact as the U moves toward its new century.

If you’d like to become a transformational leader and make an impact on a professional and personal level, the EOL program is for you. Visit the EOL homepage for more information and view a photo gallery from the seventh graduation on February 2.


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Children Explore Endless Opportunities on UM Campuses

Special to UM News

TakeChildrentoWork2University of Miami students may learn about sustainability of natural ecosystems, life-saving medical procedures, and advances in architecture from textbooks, but last Thursday more than 230 children, ages 8 to 14, experienced these fields firsthand as the U hosted its annual Take Our Children to Work Day on the Coral Gables, Miller School, and Rosentiel School campuses.

Children of UM employees participated in a full day that provided a glimpse into the many ways their parents and other employees transform lives at the U. The day on the Coral Gables campus kicked off with a warm welcome by special guest Jim Larranaga, UM men’s basketball head coach, at the Shalala Student Center. On the medical campus, parents and children started their day with an energetic pep rally led by Sebastian the Ibis and Hurricane Athletics cheerleaders at the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center.

Once parents returned to their offices and labs, the children were divided into groups to enjoy a variety activities, which included interacting with nursing patient simulators; learning about otolaryngology; practicing their physical wellness with yoga and Zumba; and getting up close and personal with Aplysia, large sea slugs.

Explore the full range of activities the children participated in by viewing a photo gallery of the Coral Gables/RSMAS event and Miller School event.


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