They have a packed agenda. They plan to blog. They plan to vlog. They plan to podcast. They plan to tweet.
The only question now is when they plan to sleep.
With slightly less than two weeks before College of Education professors Yong Chae Rhee and Chris Lebens take a small group of sport management students to South Korea for a six-week study abroad, the duo has outlined some of their plans for communicating back to the states.
The two main highlights include:
Frequent updates here on the college’s blog, EduCoug. Rhee and Lebens will both write and embed video. They’ll be taking a GoPro Hero 3+ to visually document the trip, and they’ll embed videos in the blog. There’s an off chance Lebens may run a half or full marathon with the GoPro attached.
They’ll be tweeting like there’s no tomorrow. They’ll be using #CougsInKorea to join people together in common discussion.
Growing diversity at Washington State University spurred the creation of a new Mestizo and Indigenous Center at the College of Education.
“We’re located in an area where there are a number of local tribes and at the same time there’s an increasing Latino population in Washington state,” said Brian McNeill, co-director of the new center.
McNeill said he saw a regional need to address the common issues many indigenous populations face and started working to establish the center about two years ago.
“In places like Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Franklin County the Mexican American population in schools is getting close to 70 percent,” McNeill said. “In communities like Pasco at least 50 percent are Latino. We need to start paying attention to what those demographics are.”
WSU has a responsibility to serve these populations, McNeill said, because it is a land grant university.
The center focuses on not only Native American populations but any indigenous groups, which refers to populations whose ancestors were the original inhabitants of a designated land or nation, McNeill said. The center also focuses on Latino populations, which are often part of the Mestizo experience, meaning they are forged from several different ethnic backgrounds. The center is one-of-a-kind in the Northwest region and possibly unique to the entire nation.
One of a kind
“There’s no question this is a unique center. There’s no other center we can identify in the U.S. that’s focused on Mestizo and indigenous populations,” said Mike Trevisan, associate dean for research and external funding at WSU’s College of Education. “There’s a variety of Mestizo populations in Washington who go unnoticed and unsupported. Hopefully this center will shed light on that and find ways to encourage support for these people.”
McNeill said the center is different from any others because it brings several groups together and addresses their common needs. He said many native populations do not consider Mexican American populations to be indigenous even though they have many of the same social concerns.
“From an educational standpoint it’s important to know what those commonalities are and break down some barriers, even amongst our own people,” he said.
An example of those common concerns is academic success and access to higher education, which center researchers are looking into now.
A 2008 study by WSU’s Clearinghouse on Native Teaching and Learning looked at the educational achievement gap among Native Americans. The study was commissioned by the Washington state Legislature and researchers are now following up on the Legislature’s progress.
Another study at the center reaches out to leaders in local Native American tribes and Latino communities, something that was not receiving enough attention prior to the creation of this center, McNeill said.
Finding solutions, together
“We want to ask them what they think our research agenda should be and what they see as the priorities,” he said. “That way we have the communities we serve setting the agenda for what they think is important.”
From the interviews conducted so far, McNeill has noticed that many groups want to be partners in research and help come to solutions as opposed to being the subject of research just for the sake of finding out something new about them.
Trevisan said the new center is a good fit, since diversity is a priority area for the college’s research profile.
“We are about educating people and doing community work,” he said. “As a consequence we are in a position of responsibility to promote these ideas and make known the needs within the region in particular.”
Labor leader Cesar Chavez and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta played historic roles in the protection of farm workers’ rights. To folks at Washington State University who planned this month’s Freedom School, that made them the perfect heroes to highlight Chicano/Latino heritage.
WSU College of Education folks in Pullman played major roles in the Freedom School event. Clinical Assistant Professor Paul Mencke was among the planners.
Associate Professor Pauline Sameshima contributed her original art, as did WSU undergraduate David Padilla. Both designed murals featuring Chavez and Huerta, and a group of young Picassos associated with our college pitched in to help color them.
The kids pictured above are, from left: Sachiko Price, daughter of faculty members Paula Groves Price and Cedric Price; Skyla and Evanee, children of graduate student Manee Moua; Daniel Mendez-Liaina, son of advisor/instructor Veronica Mendez-Liaina; Rory McBeath, son of graduate student Francene Watson; and Paul Jr. and Carter, sons of Paul Mencke.
Did you know? According to the 2010 census, 50.5 million people or 16 percent of the population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. That’s a significant increase from the 2000 Census, which registered the Hispanic population at 35.3 million or 13 percent of the total U.S. population.
When Yukako Hayashi was a university senior in Japan, she took the test to become a teacher. It was a career she had imagined since childhood. She failed the test.
After spending a year as an office worker, she tried again. And passed.
After a decade as a primary school teacher, Yukako still has a strong zeal for education. And it has brought her to Washington State University.
She is in Pullman as part of the annual exchange between the WSU College of Education and the Nishinomiya School District. A Japanese teacher comes to Pullman to study for two months in the fall; an American teacher with ties to the college (currently Mari Stair) works in Japan.
When she’s not soaking up Cougar culture at WSU, Yukako will spend most of her time perfecting her English-language skills. She began her English studies when she was in middle school. These days, English lessons for Japanese students start in fifth grade.
“Students like the English activities,” says Yukako, who now supervises her district’s Study and Research Division, International Section.
In an get-acquainted meeting at Cleveland Hall, Yukako presented Dean A.G. Rud with flower art she created. In return, she got a crimson and gray scarf with a Cougar emblem. She’ll be in Eastern Washington through Oct. 22. She told the dean she had been to the United States before, including a visit to the San Francisco area for a two-week student exchange while she was in college.
The dean replied that he’d be making his first trip to Japan in November, as part of a delegation celebrating the 25th anniversary of the WSU-Nishinomiya relationship. He said: “It’s a big deal!”
Guest post by Nick Sewell, academic coordinator in the Washington State University College of Education Office of Graduate Studies.
This summer, I found myself in a South American mountainside village, washing the dusty feet of peasants. It’s a story that began nine years ago when, after listening to a woman at our Pullman church share about her overseas medical trip, my eight-year-old daughter Danielle said she wanted to go Ecuador and help people someday.
Danielle and I realized that dream together in June.
Pullman nurse practitioner Nancy Gregory has gone to Ecuador seven times in the last nine years for a short-term medical mission she calls Ecuador Medical. Each time she takes a team down, the scope of the mission grows. Now she works with local political leaders and ministries to determine which villages will receive care. Her trips have won the attention and support of the Ecuadorian military, which for the last several years has assisted in transporting supplies and setting up the clinic at each location. This year, we set up a medical clinic and pharmacy, washed feet and fitted patients with new shoes and socks, participated in ministry to children, and offered prayer for the needy.
There were about 30 of us on the trip: two doctors, two nurse practitioners, four nurses, a lab technician, three pharmacists, and a whole team of amazing people. We set up the clinic in four locations and saw more than 900 patients in the medical clinic and pharmacy.
Lessons in medicine and social strata
Given her interest in the medical profession and plans to pursue study to become a doctor, Danielle decided to do the trip this year for her senior project in high school. Not only was she able to shadow and assist medical care professionals on three different days, she also learned such things as how to take blood pressure, clean out ears, and use a stethoscope.
Several of the villages we went to were very poor. We brought bread with us to one village after realizing that many of the children come to school without breakfast and have nothing to eat until they arrive home in the afternoon. Though we were able to get the children to smile when we played with them, we seldom saw adult villagers smile. Perhaps that was because of the hard lives they lead, their hard labor in the fields, and their meager living conditions.
The Quechua are indigenous people, and the lowest class of society. They have struggled to receive services, and there are still many isolated areas in need of medical care, education, training and spiritual support. Two years ago a retired U.S.Army colonel came as part of the team. He led the socks and shoes ministry. The Ecuadorian soldiers watched as he knelt down and washed the feet of children, men and women. That act broke through cultural barriers. The soldiers, including the commanding officer, became part of the team, washing feet and fitting shoes. Since then, the soldiers have become an integral part of the mission team.
“Long-term changes come slowly,” Nancy told us. “Our work continues to open doors for the Ecuadorians to continue helping their own people.”
Planning Sept. 5 presentation
The highland region we went to in Ecuador was beautiful and the Quechua people seemed grateful that we came and served them. Just seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when we gave them a pair of shoes was worth it all! This was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. The experience was eye-opening. My definition of “needs” was redefined. Food is a need, a newer smart phone is not.
This was my first humanitarian trip, but it won’t be my last.
With airfare, food, housing, and the $1,000 worth of medical supplies that Danielle and I were responsible for providing, the trip cost us about $5,000. Fortunately, a number of the College of Education staff and faculty helped sponsor us, and that helped a ton.
I was humbled and honored to represent the friends who graciously gave. Our lives were enriched and we hope to have had a meaningful impact on the lives of those we visited. I plan to do a presentation at noon, Sept. 5, in Cleveland Hall Room 160A at WSU for anyone who wants to learn more about what we did and see photos of our visit to Ecuador.
Going to a creek. Putting on laboratory goggles and doing experiments. Making videos. Bowling. Going out to a movie. Visiting a museum. So, what did students at the 2012 Coeur d’Alene Leadership Development Camp like best?
“Everything!” proclaimed Cameron Baheza before bending over to spray-paint a T-shirt design.
Twenty-five teens and preteens from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe attended this month’s eighth annual camp on Washington State University’s Pullman campus. As always, WSU College of Education faculty planned and oversaw the beehive-busy week of activities. This year’s theme was water, a subject that melded cultural pride and environmental stewardship. They didn’t just talk about the water potatoes; they learned about the threat that mining pollution can pose to the wild native food.
Here’s a nutshell report form Associate Professor Paula Groves Price:
“This was one of our most successful camps to date. The participants were very engaged and learned a lot about the significance of water on a personal, community, and global level.
“Many of the students walked into our camp professing that they did not like science. What we later found out during the camp was that many of the students enjoyed science the way that we did it here in the camp. They liked science if it was hands on and applied, which was our focus. In the end, students demonstrated their knowledge of the water cycle as well critical water quality issues specifically with Lake Coeur d’Alene through their projects.
“Students are planning to teach their knowledge about water and share their projects with the reservation community in September.”
Two of our 2011 graduates returned to the WSU Pullman campus recently to talk with Assistant Professor Jo Olson’s students about their experiences at the NASA Pre-service Teacher Institute. Cheryl Fredericks of Missoula and Kristin White of Pullman both attended the week-long summer workshop at Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA’s goal is to expose the future teachers to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) enrichment activities for their classroom.
“We spent the week talking to scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NASA about how to better incorporate STEM fields into our future classrooms,” said Cheryl, who graduated in December and is now substitute teaching. “We also got our own private tour of the space center and had the opportunity to explore and work with elementary-age children at Space Center Houston, the visitor’s center there. We spent a few of our days participating in hands-on activities and networking with other pre-service teachers. It was one of the most amazing opportunities and I received a full suitcase of lesson plans and materials throughout the program to use in a future classroom.”
Future teachers with their eyes on a stellar math- and science-related career might want to check out the program’s website.
A second journey to South Sudan
Janet Finke (’75) could relate to those young alums’ zeal for adventure.
Now an associate professor at Central Washington University, Janet Finke has joined two other CWU faculty members, Judy and Phil Backlund, on a second trip to South Sudan. They visited the country last year to train teachers, and left this week to work with more teachers. They will visit an orphanage in Juba to distribute the books and clothing donated by Ellensburg Rotarians, and train teachers at a girls school in Akon.
South Sudan gained its independence in July 2011 after a long-running civil war. The adult literacy rate is 27 percent, and 63 percent of the population above the age of 6 has never attended school, according to a U.S. State Department fact sheet.
Finke said the people of South Sudan are hungry for education.
“The teachers we worked with last year cared so much about children in the villages, and they have a heart to make a difference,” Finke told the Ellensburg Daily Record. “They want so much for the children, and they’ve lacked it because they’ve been so focused on survival.” The trio was also interviewed by KAPP TV.
In a note to the college, Janet wrote that “It is an amazing privilege and incredible challenge to be making a difference in the lives of teachers and children here in Washington State and in South Sudan.” She also expressed thanks for all she earned from her WSU professors and the support she received during her student teaching experience in a Richland first grade classroom, where she was supervised by Deanne McCullough.
This news about Janet is also posted on the Washington State Magazine’s alumni blog, where recent education news includes Timothy Yeomans’ appointment as superintendent of Puyallup public schools and Jeanett Castellanos’ receipt of the Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues in Higher Education Award.
Congratulations to our faculty member Paul Mencke and doctoral candidate Joan.Osa Oviawe, who are among recipients of the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Awards. They’re being honored at the Washington State University MLK Community Celebration today in Pullman.
Paul and Joan embody the College of Education’s commitment to diversity — a commitment that, in Paul’s words, “is fulfilling and exhausting.” The following information about them is from WSU News.
Graduate student Bryan Wiggins recalls attending one of Mencke’s classes where students were asked to give a short presentation about someone who had an impact on their field of study. Much to Wiggins’ surprise, Mencke instructed the students to only consider people from underrepresented backgrounds.
“When I asked him why he limited the class to focusing on diverse populations, he responded by saying our students learn about people who look like them every day, and it is important for them to learn how other people have made positive contributions to society too,” said Wiggins.
Mencke is actively involved in WSU’s student recruitment efforts, often serving as a keynote speaker or workshop presenter for events such as Visionaries Inspiring Black Empowered Students (VIBES), Shaping High School Asian and Pacific Islanders for the next Generation (SHAPING), and the Multicultural Student Services banquet.
The former Cougar quarterback said receiving the MLK award helps motivate him to continue this challenging work. “Having a commitment to social justice is fulfilling but often exhausting,” he said. “This award demonstrates that the march is long, but worth every difficult step.”
A reminder of great people, great ideals
Oviawe is a doctoral candidate in the College of Education whose involvement in social justice extends far beyond Pullman and the Northwest. She established the Grace Foundation in Nigeria, which promotes education and human rights – especially for women and children.
She also organizes cultural conferences, such as one that took place last summer when participants visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta. While working in WSU’s Dean of Students Office, she organized a trip to hurricane-ravaged Galveston Island, Texas, where students helped renovate homes of low-income residents and volunteered at a homeless shelter.
As coordinator of V-Day WSU, Oviawe introduced a new program during the 2011 Week Without Violence called the “V-Day Until the Violence Stops Festival.” More than 500 students participated in the activities, along with faculty, staff and community members.
“This award makes me feel like my little contributions to the betterment of my local and global communities matter and are worthwhile,” Oviawe said. “It will be a constant reminder for me to continue to imbibe the ideals and principals of MLK and all the other great men and women who have impacted our world in extraordinary ways.”
Caitlin Montague-Winebarger lives in a cold place but has a warm spot in her heart for kids. So when the WSU alum went to teach elementary school in Manokotak, Alaska, she paid special attention to the large number of students who seemed uninterested or were just plain quiet. She’d been told to expect that, and some of her teaching colleagues were troubled by it.
She learned that non-verbal communication was a big part of the local Yup’ik culture, and she adapted.
“Many of my students were using facial cues rather than spoken responses to acknowledge their understanding, or to let me know that they didn’t understand a concept,” she recalls. “It took me awhile to key in on this style, and it required me to be in close proximity to the students, which I wasn’t used to. But soon it became habit. I find myself using still using those cues even though I live in a completely different part of the state.”
Caitlin is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her dissertation research focuses on how pre-service teachers describe culture and cross-culture, and then apply those understandings. The subject is vitally important in Alaska, where there are many distinct native cultures and at least 20 native languages.
Caitlin, originally from Cheney, Wash., headed to Alaska after earning her education degree at the WSU Tri-Cities in 2006. She met Eric Johnson, assistant professor in the Tri-Cities since 2008, at the recent American Anthropological Association conference in Montreal.
“As I told Eric, I really do appreciate the foundation that I received there,” Caitlin said in an email. “It has served me well (so far!).”
Eric and Caitlin have strong common — and interdisciplinary — interests. Her Ph.D. program is based in the School of Education at UAF, but includes coursework in anthropology, cross-cultural studies and English. He has taught in departments of anthropology, foreign language, and education and helps future teachers learn how to succeed in multilingual, multicultural classrooms.
Caitlin’s master’s degree research focused on teacher isolation and technology in a rural Alaskan school district. She also worked as a research assistant for the Alaska Native Teacher Preparation Project, which supported Alaska Native and American Indian students pursuing teaching degrees.
Speaking of another kind of degree … Caitlin says it was minus 25 Fahrenheit when she took a hike the other day and a friend snapped the picture posted here. “But it was sunny!”
When Kryssa Isobe was in elementary school, her mom would stay up late to teach her long division and would assign extra “homework” when she wasn’t performing as expected. And the family’s expectations were high.
“Without my family’s strong roots in Japanese culture, my foundation in education may not have been as rigorous,” she says.
An elementary education major, Kryssa is keenly aware of the impact of culture and the value of diverse perspectives in the classroom. A resident of Waipahu, Hawaii, she grew up in the only state that has never had a white majority. She sees that not only as an advantage in doing a good job, but landing one. “Utilizing what I know about other cultures would give me an edge in looking for a job, especially in diverse communities.”
Kryssa is a 2011-12 ambassador for the WSU College of Education’s Future Teachers & Leaders of Color (FTLOC) program in Pullman. The role comes with a scholarship and a chance to help other students. Her fellow ambassador is Alexandra Colvin, a secondary education major from Kennewick who plans to teach math.
Alexandra was drawn to education because she recognizes the power that a teacher wields to influence lives — for better or worse.
“The most detrimental and inspiring people in my life have been educators,” Alexandra says. She plans to fall in the “inspiring” category, which means knowing how to relate to students with different perspectives than her own. “Teachers alienate their students if they can’t understand them.”
Kryssa puts it this way: Educators need to understand the culture of students for the same reason that comedians need to understand the background of their audiences. Without cultural understanding, learning — like jokes — falls flat.
FTLOC was established in response to the under-representation of ethnic minorities in education. Its ambassadors, working with the College of Education’s student services office, coordinate some very pragmatic events, such as mock interviews for students who are applying for WSU’s teacher education program, which involves an admission interview. The FTLOC also provides networking and socializing opportunities. Alexandra and Kryssa are getting ready for what has become a signature program event, a Thanksgiving-style dinner at which students mingle with faculty. This year’s feast will be held November 15; guest speaker will be Miguel Villarreal (Ed.D. ’11), superintendent of schools in Othello.