Study Abroad Japan Experience

In June 2018, a group of ACC students set out on a study abroad adventure to Japan to study ceramics, drawing, painting, and photography and learn about Japanese culture. Here is what one of our students, Savannah Lewis-Sweed, experienced.

Lewis-Sweed and partnerMy favorite thing about the trip to Japan was immersing myself in nature that I was unfamiliar with. Growing up in Colorado, I had the privilege to explore trails and mountain scenes and going to Japan was an even greater privilege. Since the climate there is usually rainy, moss and small leafed plants grow everywhere. Japanese building surrounded by vegetationThe air seemed to linger with the scent of gentle rain. I would love to return and see Mount Fuji and explore the anime centers of Tokyo. One of my accomplishments was I made these little thank you notes to go with these miniature wheel-thrown pots my girlfriend, Vanessa, had made for the special people we encountered in Japan. It felt good to collaborate and create something small, but meaningful. In Japan, tips are not accepted, but small gifts are a great way to show appreciation.

water pouringPrior to the trip I was anticipating what I would learn about myself. In Japan, I was able to trust others and accept that my quiet nature greatly benefited me in several social situations. I learned a lot from listening and I believe that lesson will benefit me in the future. While learning about myself, I also learned about Japan’s culture. Despite the large crowds, it was hardly ever loud. Everyone spoke at a respectful volume. Savannah and VanessaThe subways, streets and even the alleys were spotless. Hardly ever will you find stepped on food, gum or even cigarette butts tossed in the streets. The city even has cleaning crews who wash the sidewalks and roads. The people who live in Japan take pride in leaving public places clean and litter free. Although there were many attractions and exciting foods to try, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the trip nearly as much without my girlfriend, Vanessa. She has always supported me in my decisions and helped me through several firsts on the trip to Japan. I also had the wonderful opportunity to bond with people I had never talked to before and discovered that we have more in common than just ceramics and a love to create. Together we were able to enjoy every moment in Japan and always had each other’s back.

purple flowerThe kindness and thought put into every moment in Japan made it difficult to return home. After being in a different culture for so long, it was challenging to face reality. There wasn’t a transition period from a country of lush and love. Arriving to DIA didn’t feel familiar or as comforting as I had anticipated. Upon returning home, I was faced with this persistent feeling of struggle and strife to truly see if I wanted to change, if I really wanted to be a person who was kinder, more patient, and considerate of myself and the energy I bring into the room.vegetation There were certainly moments once I was back home where I felt like the worst version of myself. It was an emotional and mental tug of war, one side wanting to give into my inner selfishness, where the other was begging the other side to see reason and trust that adopting a giving nature, doesn’t mean being left with nothing in the end. I was forced to face my actions and to see myself as my girlfriend, friends and peers saw me. I compare it to when reptiles shed their old skin in order to make room for their new skin. The process is uncomfortable, but the journey is worth the destination. Any opportunity for growth should be taken and understood that allowing events and experiences to change you is not an easy process, because if it was easy, everyone would do it. It has been nearly three months since my return from Japan and I can say with confidence I have gratefully accepted how a study abroad trip to Japan has changed me.  

by Savannah Lewis-Sweed

International Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist, Lucy Daberkow, attends 2018 NAFSA Conference

International Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist, Lucy DaberkowIn our ongoing efforts for internationalization, Lucy Daberkow represented Arapahoe Community College (ACC) at the annual NAFSA conference in Philadelphia, PA. NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. This conference is the premier event for international educators and presents an opportunity to learn about the latest information in a variety of topics such as immigration policies, marketing and recruiting on a global scale, and how to develop more interculturally-competent educators.

The 2018 annual conference theme, “Diverse Voices, Shared Commitment,” and according to NAFSA, “highlights the value and power of diverse voices that lead to more authentic collaborations and speak to alternative narratives that challenge our old ideas and make us think about new solutions and opportunities.” Some of the most noteworthy speakers presented workshops such as “Expanding your Toolkit for Intercultural Development”, “Building a Successful International Peer Mentor Program”, and “Using Cultural Analysis for Predicting and Handling Cross Cultural Misunderstanding.” In addition, one very well-received event included a presentation by renowned scientist and TV personality, Bill Nye. His presentation focused on the importance of science and technology in education, as well as the need for a more comprehensive space-exploration program and increased efforts to combat our changing climate.

The conference attracted thousands of participants from around the globe and presented an excellent learning and networking opportunity, which undoubtedly serves to increase ACC’s standing in the international educational arena.

We encourage international students who would like to study at an American college to apply to ACC. We offer nearly 100 degree and certificate programs with options to transfer to a variety of four-year universities throughout the state of Colorado and beyond. We have small class sizes, welcoming faculty, a safe college environment, and accessible public transportation. If you are an international transfer student in the US, our application deadline is July 15. For more information on our school and the international application process visit arapahoe.edu/international-students or call 303.797.5904 to schedule an appointment.

by Lucy Daberkow, ACC International Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist

Why I Attend ACC and Joined Phi Theta Kappa

Camila Monroe, ACC studentNowadays, we hear everywhere about the importance of diversity; community colleges are the most diverse academic population anyone will be able to find. A quick walk around our school will illustrate that: we find overachieving high schoolers, coming back students, young adults pursuing a new career, international students, Hispanics, people of color, LGBTQ activists, Republicans and Democrats, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers…and the list goes on. The differences in backgrounds, race, gender, political affiliation and age make community colleges the environment that we would like to see along the streets. It’s an environment where all of that diversity comes together to learn. Of course big universities might also offer that variety, but in community colleges that is a sure thing; one of the reasons is that nearly every person can afford that kind of education.

Which brings me to another point: we are at school because we want to – not because our parents do. We sign up for classes because we truly expect to learn, and to apply that obtained knowledge as soon as possible, whether it is towards a job or higher levels of education. We are goal-oriented students, and we will persevere in the journey towards that goal.

I joined PTK to become the VP of Honors in Action (HiA), a position that combined two things that I have a passion for: research and community service. I started my project that summer, and I have learned and grew so much ever since. I have had experiences with community service and journalism back in my home country of Brazil, doing something similar in a completely different language and culture was beyond challenging. But I succeeded, and as a consequence I started to engage more and more every day.

The success of that project made me thirsty for more; more friends than those amazing ones I had met at PTK, more outreach of my ideas on how we could improve our community, more ways to be part of my school beyond showing up and getting good grades. After my award-winning HiA, I joined many clubs, became a chemistry, biology and economics tutor at ACC, joined the Colorado Space Grant Program, and, finally, became president of student government and of our PTK chapter. I believe PTK is not only for those who were born ready, who had all resources available; it is also an honor society for those who overcame obstacles, who do not ignore, but recognize and even celebrate their imperfections. Those are the hard-working students, who understand that a leader is not born, but built, slowly, as a consequence of the never-ending process of bettering ourselves.

by Camila Monroe

Strengthening Student Success

As the semesters and years move forward, it appears that student needs increase. More and more often, instructors are addressing learning issues beyond direct course content. I would like to take one teaching strategy, and use that as an example of how to better work with today’s student.

A promising teaching strategy connects to the benefits of reading fiction. The following was taken from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, April 7, 2014: Recent neuro-scientific research posted in the New York Times reveals that reading stories with detailed descriptions and complicated plots written in an evocative and emotional language full of metaphors and other figures of speech does stimulate the brain and even change how we react in life. Researchers from Emory University discovered, through a series of brain scans done on a number of subjects that brains respond differently to metaphors. For instance, when subjects read a metaphor that involved texture, the sensory cortex (that part of the brain responsible for perceiving texture through touch) became active. In two other studies published in 2006 and 2009, Drs. Oatley and Mar found that “individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them, and see the world from their perspective.”

I am a Learning Disabilities Specialist. The research cited above was posted by Lindamood-Bell in December 2014; Lindamood-Bell is an agency that works with children and adults with learning disabilities (LD). Whether you have a student with a learning disability, any disability, or no disability, this teaching strategy of using metaphors and other figures of speech is beneficial for all.

Regardless of the content you teach, this instructional technique can be used in most courses. Stronger students become more successful students, which creates an improvement in classroom climate! And for those working within ACC but not in the classroom, metaphorical language can be added into a conversation with a student. Just watch their thinking enlarge.

Interested in knowing more about learning issues? Please view this brief LD Podcast that is housed on ACC’s website.

Maureen Rafferty
Student Access Services Specialist

“Plunking” with ACC President Diana Doyle

Several times each month, Arapahoe Community College President Dr. Diana Doyle embarks upon her “plunking” rounds; heading out amongst the students to talk with them about their paths to ACC, experiences at the College, and aspirations for the future.

What a great start we’ve had to the new academic year. One of the enjoyable aspects of beginning a new year is getting to meet some of the first-time students at ACC. They come to us from diverse backgrounds, with varied goals for attending our college. What they do have in common is a desire to attain their career goals, increase their personal development, and improve their future lives. I always admire their enthusiasm, dedication and tenacity to be successful. It’s my pleasure to share just a sampling of some of the inspiring new students at ACC.

Susan, in her mid-30s, is attending college for the first time. Having had her children early in life, she says they are now all in school so it’s time for her to attend school, too! She wants to serve as a positive role model for them by completing an associate degree and then going on for a bachelor’s degree, hopefully in one of the business areas.

Jim is an 18-year-old skateboarder from Parker who is the first in his family to attend college. He hopes to start his own business someday and knows that he has a lot to learn about how to get there successfully. A social guy, he likes that ACC already has had some student activities and events this term.

Sarina took a year off after graduating high school to work in a clothing store. She quickly realized that she wants more for herself in the future, and is excited to be enrolled at ACC. She exclaims, “It’s a new beginning for me!”

Byron describes himself as “just an average guy who is an average student”. He knows that in order to reach his goal of becoming a scientist, he needs to be a better student – and that’s why he came to ACC.

All students at ACC, whether new or returning, have a compelling story about where they’ve come from and where they hope to be someday. Each of them has individual reasons for selecting ACC as the college to help them with that journey.

by Diana M. Doyle, Ph.D., President, Arapahoe Community College

Welcome to the College Diversity & Inclusivity Project!

I’d like to share some exciting news about a site license that Arapahoe Community College purchased called Kurzweil 3000. This software is FREE to all students, staff, and faculty. Kurzweil 3000 can meet the needs of English Language Learners by offering multi-sensory support, opportunities to hear authentic text across all subject areas, pronunciation and vocabulary instruction, fluency training, multiple exposures to the same text, note-taking features that improve comprehension, writing and proofreading, and independent access to material. The translation features in text or audio have a plethora of language options. If you would like to be registered to use this software on your computer, please contact eLearning by calling 303.797.5080 or emailing elearning@arapahoe.edu.

How To videos: https://www.kurzweiledu.com/help/how-to-videos/how-to-videos.html.
Using Technology as a Solution for English Language Learners in Higher Education White Paper: https://www.kurzweiledu.com/files/kurzweil-3000-ell-higher-ed.pdf.

Enthusiastically,

Rachel Weir
Disability Services, Assistant Director
College Diversity & Inclusivity Project, Chair