Introducing Brianna Huff: Welcome (Fall 2015 Intern)

Brianna HuffAfter making a detour at the office of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, and asking for more information about the organization my interest in the nonprofit was piqued. The following fall semester, I decided to volunteer at the annual World Quest event. After doing more research and learning about the influence this organization has had on educating young adults about international affairs and events, I knew this would be an organization I would like to become involved with.

As a child of a military service parent, I have always had a keen interest in international politics specifically the broadcasting aspect. After my father was deployed to Iraq twice, I dreamed of being a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. Traveling every two to four years also made it easy to engage in world affairs. Because of the Marine Corps I have been granted numerous opportunities to travel outside of the US including to Okinawa, Japan. This past spring semester I studied abroad in Chile. I also indulged in the foods and culture of the South American land.

I am entering my senior year as a double major in International Public Relations and History and double minor in Journalism and Spanish at UNC Charlotte. In my free time I enjoy volunteering with various nonprofits that aid and support immigrants. I also volunteered as an English tutor to non-English speakers at the local International House.

In my free time I enjoy reading books that cover children soldiers in warfare, my favorite memoir is “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah. I also enjoy watching telenovelas, travel blogging and talking to my family and friends.

I am looking forward to becoming more actively aware of pressing global issues with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte.

International Speaker Series: Spiraling Hopes for US-China Relations (Student Perspective: UNC Charlotte)

Last ThursdaDSC05972y, seventy UNC Charlotte students got the unique opportunity to hear from Dr. Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Road Island.

Proficient in both Russian and Chinese, Dr. Goldstein is also very well versed in all things having to do with US–China relations and has authored and co-authored a fair share of books regarding the matter including China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Force (2007), China’s Energy Strategy: The Impact on Beijing’s Maritime Policies (2008), China Goes to Sea: Maritime Transformation in a Comparative Historical Context (2009), China, the US and 21st Century Sea Power:  Defining a Maritime Partnership (2010) and Chinese Aerospace Power:  Evolving Maritime Roles (2011). His latest book, Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging US-China Rivalry, discusses Dr. Goldstein’s ideas on the budding tensions between the two countries as well as his ideas on how these tensions could be handled in a proactive and beneficial way – for both countries involved. While time was limited, Dr. Goldstein managed to fit a large amount of content and discussion into the conversation with the students. He urged students to understand the need for cultural understanding and education, as well as a sense of diplomacy and negotiation between the two countries.

Goldstein DSC05976makes his case by urging students to take Chinese voices seriously and proposing ten “cooperation spirals” that outline step-by-step approaches for resolving the seemingly intractable problems in US-China relations. Through these Cooperation spirals, Goldstein believes that trust between the two countries will slowly begin to be built and that these incremental and reciprocal steps will gradually lead to larger and more significant compromises over time.

In addressing economic relations, Goldstein argues that economic interdependence does not preclude conflict. He pointed out that before Pearl Harbor, America was Japan’s leading trade partner and that before World War I, Europe had a large amount of economic interdependence. With this in mind, Goldstein warns of mistaking high levels of trade as an indication of lessening economic tension between the US and China.

The topic of discussion sparked many questions from the students, ranging from how Dr. Goldstein got interested in the politics of China to legitimate concerns on the threat that China could pose to the security of the United States.

“I think it’s worth asking – Do we [Americans] understand China as well as they understand us?” – Dr. Goldstein

After the discussion, many students stayed to discuss the ideas presented by Dr. Goldstein, bringing up concerns with the probability of successful negotiations between the two countries, and the multi-faceted approach suggested by Dr. Goldstein to reaching those peaceful resolutions.

DSC05978Throughout the entire conversations, Dr. Goldstein could not stress enough the necessity for college students to be eager to understand the relationship between the two, as he said, “largest economies in the world”, and the need to have conversations regarding the steps that both countries must take to start to come to a mutual understanding. After seeing how involved the students were in the topic, even after the conversation had ended, I would say that he was successful in creating that dialogue that he saw to be so important.

Written by Justin Kramer, Senior, UNC Charlotte (Fall 2015 Intern) 

Welcome and Introduction: Justin Kramer, UNC Charlotte (Fall 2015 Intern)

justinkramerAfter volunteering with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte for the past two years, I realized that the work they do and the initiative to foster global citizenship through education was exactly the type of work I was passionate about.

As a graduating senior from the University of North Carolina Charlotte triple majoring in Political Science, my International and Global Area Studies, and German, in addition to my involvement with the university’s Model United Nations program as president this past year, it became obvious that global awareness is something that I am very passionate about. Through the Model United Nations program I have been able to travel all over the world – Visiting places like Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo, Japan; Brussels, Belgium; and Paris, France.

My specific interest in my International and Global Area Studies has been focused around peace and conflict resolution; studying primarily the effects nationalism has on peace processes. Through these studies, I grew to become very interested in the many factors of German culture and decided to study in Germany. In the summer of 2015 I lived in Hamburg and studied at the Goethe Institute, but traveling throughout Germany to immerse myself in as much of the different cultures as possible. While there I also had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, Spain; Venice, Italy; and Vienna, Austria.

In my free time you can find me practicing piano, playing with my two and a half year old Siberian Husky, Akamaru, or practicing martial arts.

I am looking forward to the new knowledge I will gain from interning with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, and learning about the many international relationships that are present in Charlotte. It is my hope that after I finish this internship, new doors will be open that will allow me to continue furthering myself as a global citizen.

2014-2015 Council Scholar: Trish Boulanger, Cannon School

trishI spent a total of two weeks in Haiti with the organization Volunteers For Peace. I primarily led a summer camp with three other volunteers for about 45 children aged 10-17, which took place in a very simple concrete/metal roof structure. Having the opportunity to teach in the rural village of Duchity was truly unique and I am extremely grateful to the World Affairs Council of Charlotte for awarding me this opportunity. I would also like to thank UNC Charlotte, Carolinas HealthCare System and Wells Fargo for supporting the 2014-2015 Council Scholar Award Program.

My days began at roughly 8 am with breakfast. Camp ran from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. Monday through Friday. I participated in the second session which ran from July 20th-31st. I taught an English lesson from 9-10 followed by arts and crafts activities as well as games from 10-11. The last hour was held on the soccer field, where we exchanged through play and also had the opportunity to be with the younger group of children aged 5-10.

Afternoons were spent doing cultural activities with the other volunteers and our Haitian leaders, such as going to the outdoor market stalls or hiking to the village water source, or simply playing cards with some of our students. We were completely immersed in the village and the Haitian lifestyle.

While I did my best to learn as much Haitian Creole as possible before and during my stay, it was sometimes difficult to communicate. I do believe, however, that my fluency in French gave me a clear advantage over the other volunteers and allowed me to have a much more rewarding experience. I met several Haitians with excellent French and the others that I worked with spoke English well enough.

This experience has made a huge impact on me, both professionally and personally. Living and working in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere definitely gave me a new perspective on my own life. I can no longer take something as simple as disinfecting and bandaging cuts and scrapes for granted. And I am confident that the time and energy I gave had a positive influence on the children. Seeing girls wearing the donated dresses was wonderful and hearing them use the vocabulary they learned at camp was incredible. The smiles on their faces at a party on our final day were unforgettable. Overall, it was a wonderful cultural exchange. I look forward to sharing my experience with the Cannon School community.

WELCOME: Introducing Kristina Drye, WACC Programs & Membership Manager & Tolkien Enthusiast

kristinapicture1Kristina Drye grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a C.C. Cameron and Provost Scholar and a Fowler Scholar. She graduated from the Honors College and with Political Science Honors as a double-major in International Studies and Political Science and a minor in Russian in May of 2015.

Since her freshman year of college, she has participated significantly in Model UN, including travel to Seoul, South Korea; Brussels, Belgium; Melbourne, Australia; Vancouver, Canada; and Paris, France for international conferences. She served once as President and twice as Vice President Internal for her university’s internationally ranked Model UN program, and was responsible for training new delegates throughout her time there, as well as serving as a delegate herself at over twenty conferences.

Kristina has worked as a Communications Assistant for the University’s Research Communications department as well as serving as the Social Media Coordinator for the Urban Education Collaborative, where she also helped to coordinate the first biennial International Conference on Urban Education held in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She also previously interned for the World Affairs Council of Charlotte and International House of Charlotte.

In addition to these activities, Kristina has traveled extensively abroad. She lived in Ibague, Colombia during the summer of 2014, where she worked with the University de Tolima to facilitate English and cultural literacy classes with local foundations. She recently completed the American University of Bosnia and Hercegovina’s Summer Peace and Conflict Program, during which she lived in Sarajevo for two months and earned fifteen hours of Master-level credits; her senior thesis on the topic, “Mapping Peace Processes in the Former Yugoslavia” was awarded the Atkins Library Undergraduate Research Award.

In addition to international affairs, Kristina is passionate about education policy. During the summer of 2013, Kristina served as a UNC Charlotte Summer Research Scholar. Her research, “Education Access and Equality in Urban Schools: a Focus on Course Enrollment Trends in K-12 Settings” was awarded first place in the UNC Charlotte Research Conference Departmental Awards in April 2014. She has presented twice at the annual WorldView Symposium in Chapel Hill.

In addition to her work with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, Kristina also serves as a staff member of the Southern Regional Model UN conference hosted in Atlanta, Georgia.

Kristina loves to read, write, bake, and, most importantly, enjoys all things Tolkien and R.R. Martin.

Welcome: Introduction – Rakia Mahan (Fall 2015 Intern)

With20150206_150847 the World Affairs Council of Charlotte training me for my future career, I expect to soar to new heights. Through global and international exposure I have become more aware of the world around me.

I grew up in a predominantly African American community in Birmingham, Alabama. Most of my peers dressed and behaved in the same manner, and had similar outlooks on life. After I graduated from middle school, my mom and I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in search of a new opportunities and a different environment. To my surprise there was a world of ideologies, ethnicities, cultures, and personalities I never knew existed. As a result of the move, I rediscovered my passion – writing. I graduated with honors from Mallard Creek High School and hoped to pursue a degree in Communication Studies.

During  my freshmen and sophomore years, I attended Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. I entered the African American Excellence program and worked for the Multicultural Affairs Office, where I fell in love with public speaking and the Japanese language. I was so determined to learn Japanese that I took personal lessons once a week while taking required Spanish courses at the same time.

After my two years at Mary Baldwin, I transferred to UNC Charlotte. This was the most amazing decision I could have ever made because it allowed me to pursue my interests in other cultures and love for foreign languages. Here, I immersed myself in participating in Japanese club activities, language learning and cultural exchange.  My experiences were great, but I wanted more. While declaring an official major, I discovered that I could combine my passion for speaking, writing, and the Japanese language. I became an International Public Relations major with a double minor in International Studies and Japanese language.

I aspire to practice Public Relations in the international department of a company whose ideas I wholeheartedly support. Because I love diversity, this internship with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte is exactly where I need to be.

Council Scholar 2014-2015: Allison Tarwater, Butler High School (Spain and Portugal)

From peaceful, whitewashed villages where time stands still to ornate mosques and palaces that reawaken the majesty of the Moorish past, my discoveries in Spain and Portugal were framed by a coast and country side of exquisite beauty. On the journey that led me through modern cities and medieval towns filled with architectural wonders, I encountered a welcoming people who are devoted to their proud heritage and eager to share the joys of a vibrant culture.

Since I learned of the Council Scholar Program, I researched many travel programs and destinations in my excitement to continue growing in the Spanish language and learning of new places and cultures. I finally pinpointed my desire to explore more of the Iberian Peninsula. Through this trip with Grand Circle Travel, I spent multiple days exploring regions of Spain, listening to various accents and seeing not only the Spanish influence on art and architecture, but that of the Romans and Moors as well. I was eager to encounter both the new and vibrant areas as well as the older more hidden treasures Spain has to offer. I also briefly visited Lisbon, Portugal a country I have only studied but never seen.

As in all my travels, I am constantly reminded of my desire to learn and enhance my cultural knowledge. I am drawn to opportunities to study and travel abroad not only so that I can become more knowledgeable, but so that I can take my experiences back into my classroom. Thank you to Wells Fargo, Carolinas HealthCare System and UNC Charlotte for your support of this amazing program for educators. By participating in this particular program, I am able to teach my students about diversity and inclusion; therefore encouraging them to become open-minded thinkers able to explore, accept, and foster racial and cultural differences. As open-minded individuals, my students can make important contributions to our multicultural society that positively impact our society’s changing cultural demographics.

Marcel Proust the French novelist observed that “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” He realized that by working with other people we learn about their cultures and become able to explore new ideas and prospects. Options that would not have occurred to us before stand out as obvious if we understand how other people experience the world. This is why I believe it is so important for me as a classroom teacher to have a deeper global awareness and understanding of other cultures.

Having had this experience, I have gained authentic materials that I can use to introduce and present ideas and topics that provide my students with a better cultural understanding of the target language. Furthermore, a healthy balance of language activities that improve communicative skills and that focus on the development of cultural understanding is especially important when integrating language and culture. By socializing and visiting with Spaniards, I encountered new accents and new vocabulary that I can use to enhance the curriculum at any level of instruction. The variety of accents and vocabulary are concepts that make Spanish (or any language) a living language and help stimulate curiosity in my students and a desire to explore and interact with the world.

At the school and district level I want to encourage my colleagues to take advantage of the Council Scholar Program. With limited resources and a desire to be life-long learners, it is programs like this that allow teachers to experience the world outside of their classrooms and bring the world back to their students. Not only will I share pictures and realia (objects or activities used to relate classroom teaching to the real life especially of peoples studied) that teachers can use in their classes, but I will spark a desire in the staff to travel and collect their own stories and authentic materials. In addition, with the use of the new curriculum, and the process of leaving behind the textbook, we are in desperate need of authentic materials for instruction. Since the last time that I traveled abroad, our curriculum has changed. On this trip, keeping in mind the Unit topics for Spanish, I paid special attention to those concepts in my travels and sought out materials that can be used and manipulated for classroom instruction as well as hands-on activities.


Pictures taken on my trip: Starting in the top left – Hilltop view of Ronda, Plaza de los leones in Granda, La Mezquita in Cordoba, and Churros and Chocolate in Madrid.