Happenings in 2017-2018

See what CISLA is up to on campus and how our students are impacting the global community outside the classroom.

Annual United Nations trip

In April 2018, the CISLA Class of 2020 made the annual CISLA sophomore trip to New York City to visit the United Nations and meet with delegates from Mexico and the Republic of Korea. In the past, the students have met with delegates from the missions of Germany, Argentina, Italy, Mexico, France, Iran, the United States, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Students had the opportunity to engage with foreign diplomats in meaningful dialogue on a variety of global issues.

The Annual CISLA Banquets

During Fall Weekend 2017, CISLA welcomed the families and friends of the Class of 2018 to celebrate the students' completion of their internships at our annual Senior Banquet. CISLA seniors shared their unique experiences abroad and reflected on the common themes of their Senior Integrative Projects. 

On February 24, 2018, CISLA hosted its annual Spring Banquet to honor the newly admitted CISLA Class of 2020 and introduced their families and friends to the program.


Student Highlights

In this section we highlight some of the extraordinary experiences, awards and accomplishments of our CISLA students.  More and more of our students are receiving impressive awards and being asked to present at conferences, all this as undergraduates.

Aidan Gorrell ’18 received the Fulbright Scholarship for the English Teaching Assistant Award. Through this award, he has returned to Germany to teach English. For his CISLA internship, Aidan used music as a tool to teach foreign language at TonTalente in Lübeck, Germany.

Emma Race ’18 demonstrated global/local engagement in action through her innovative storytelling workshops New London community. For her CISLA internship, Emma studied the role of poetry in indigenous Mapuche activism. Her SIP was titled “Writing Social Justice: Building Power through Narrative.” When she returned to campus, she designed a series of storytelling workshops in the New London Community aimed at the Hispanic Community. With the funding she received, Emma was able to offer workshops, pay honoraria, offer child care, meals, materials and a produce a publication.

Gabrielle Schlein ’18 received the Lee Strasberg Award of tuition for one year to attend the Lee Strasberg theater and film institute in NYC. She majored in theater and her CISLA internship was at Kaddu Yaraax Théâtre Forum in Dakar, Senegal. Gabrielle’s SIP was titled, “The Politics Behind Senegalese Street Theater.”

Shaniqua Shaw ’18 and Lizzie Lewis ’18 volunteered tirelessly as translators for Attorney Mike Doyle at the Immigration Advocacy Support Center in New London (IASC).  IASC was created to provide low-cost, high-quality immigration related legal services and to educate communities in Eastern CT on immigration law and policy. IASC assists immigrants of all nations, with an emphasis on unaccompanied children, refugees seeking asylum, and survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and other crimes. Because of their fluency in Spanish, Shaniqua and Lizzie were able to be of great service to Mike and his clients, most of whom do not speak English.

Meher Khan ’19 received a Diversity Scholarship to attend the Seville Spanish Studies Fall Program

Margie Giacalone ’19 was asked to present at the Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies Fourth Biennial Undergraduate Conference. She presented her research which eventually will become part of her CISLA SIP, “The Migration of Bolivian Women from the House to the Workforce.”

Amiansu Khanal ’20, an international student from Nepal, received funds from the Projects for Peace award and spent June and July 2018 traveling to villages in Western Nepal to address a problem that is a common practice known as chhaupadi. Women and girls are exiled from their homes every month during their menstrual cycle. They are banished to huts and cattle sheds for 3-5 days because of the belief that women at the time of their period carry evil powers that can bring bad luck or even death to their families.  Upon her return to Nepal, Ami started the ShEmpowered program that created a curriculum which introduced women and girls to menstrual hygiene and provided them with a “get-started kit. ” Initially Ami wanted to work with the parents and the elders of the community to reject chhaupadi but within a few weeks, she realized that the elders were not willing to cooperate. Thereafter, Ami took a different path and worked to make the local police officers a catalyst for change. This worked because chhaupadi is actually no longer legal, but the young women often do not know their rights to self-advocate.  She then focused her efforts on increasing legal awareness amongst school girls and taught them to stand up for themselves in front of their parents. She decoded what the constitution had to say regarding forced chhaupadi, and taught the girls that they could also file a lawsuit against their parents for forcing them to practice chhaupadi. She then introduced the affected girls to heads of local law enforcement who pledged to support them in their journey of self-advocacy. Soon enough the girls started to tell their parents, “if you force me to sleep in huts from now on, I will call the police, whom I know personally.” Many parents, thereafter, started to let their daughters sleep in their own rooms. Her goal is to train law enforcement and the affected girls to continue working with each other, and also to continue her work when she has left. Ami also hopes to submit this self-advocacy model as a chhaupadi policy proposal to the Nepali government.

Zelal Kilic ’20 was awarded a ConnSharp to work with Professor Zakriski and Professor Armey.  She will work in Professor Armey’s lab in Providence and will study ecological momentary assessment to eventually evaluate how social media use affects feelings of depression and subjective well-being.

Esteban Melendez ’20 was awarded the Myers Grant to continue his study of mushrooms and their applications as a source for food, medicine and ecological benefit.



Critical Languages Scholarship

Nam Hoang '17

Nam Hoang '17 was awarded a Critical Languages Scholarship to spend the summer studying Chinese in Taiwan.

World Summit for Nobel Peace Laureates

Alex McDevitt '17 and Ramzi Kaiss '17

Alexandra McDevitt '17 was chosen to go to Bogotá, Colombia, for the 16th World Summit for Nobel Peace Laureates from February 2-5.  She attended with fellow senior Ramzi Kaiss.  Because they had participated in the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights earlier in the year, they were offered a spot in the Youth Delegation at this prestigious conference. Alex says, “In addition to hearing from President Santos and other members of his cabinet, we met Nobel Peace laureates from all over the world. Almost all of the 25 laureates on stage had remarkable stories to tell.” Read the article.

Middle Eastern Studies Student Association Conference

Jiho Park '18

Jiho Park studied abroad in Amman, Jordan, for the 2016-2017 academic year. He was invited to present his research at Georgetown University in Qatar at the Middle Eastern Studies Student Association (MESSA) Conference. His presentation was titled “Power, Influence and Authority in the Middle East.”  

Projects for Peace

Annette Davis '18 and Emma Race '18

Annette Davis, a student in the Holleran Center and CISLA junior Emma Race were awarded $10,000 through the Projects for Peace initiative. The vision of philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, Projects for Peace challenges college students to create and test their own ideas for spreading peace across the world.  Their project, “Caring for the Future: Helping Families Help Themselves,” was one of 120 projects funded last year. Annette had spent a gap year in Ecuador and saw the need for child care for working families. The students partnered with Burbujitas de Luz, a preschool in Quito, Ecuador, to launch an evening care program that will serve children ages 3-5 from 4-8 p.m. daily. They offered enrichment activities, outside playtime and a light and healthy dinner. Annette and Emma hope to extend the reach of their community-driven program by collaborating with other childcare centers, as well as forging relationships with local organizations capable of funding such programs. They will also be conducting research on food inequality and linguistic inequality.

Haitian Resteveks Documentary

Connor Gowland '17, Yves Pierre '19, Shineika Fareus NLHS '17 and Sam Simonds '19

Yves Pierre, CISLA '19, Sam Simonds, CISLA ‘19, Shineika Fareus (New London High School Senior) and Connor Gowland ‘17 traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during spring break of 2017 to produce a documentary on Haitian Resteveks. The word 'restevek' in Haitian Creole translates to 'stay with' and is a societal system in which parents, who are either deceased or are too impoverished to take appropriate care of their children, send their children to relatives or caregivers that promise to give them an education. Unfortunately, these children often live under conditions alike to indentured servitude and slavery. They are often abused and dehumanized. Sam says, “There are many parallels between Resteveks in Haiti and the foster care system in the United States, and we are hoping to draw upon that through use of found footage accompanying our footage from Haiti in our ten-minute documentary short. In Haiti, we spent our time getting to know and interviewing pastors, academics, restevek children, and the feature of our film, a woman named Lona who had been a restevek and is now working with local rural communities to enhance and build school systems.”

Fulbright Fellowship, English Teaching Assistantship to Russia

Stephanie Reeves '16

Having already interned, worked and studied in Russia as a scholar in the College’s Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA), Stephanie Reeves enjoyed deepening her knowledge of Russian language, culture, food, history and literature as a 2016 Fulbright fellow.

Fulbright Fellowship, English Teaching Assistantship to Spain

Leela Riesz '16

An anthropology major and Hispanic studies minor from Northampton, Massachusetts, Leela Riesz studied abroad in Spain, completed an internship there with an NGO that addresses issues faced by both immigrant and Gitano communities, and conducted research on the experience of Muslim immigrants to the country. Riesz, an avid singer and member of the College’s all-female a cappella group MissConduct and the community action and arts initiative Souled Out, enjoyed offering singing and acting workshops for the high school students at her school in Spain. She also played a leading role in preparing students for the Global Classrooms: Model United Nations program.