Supporting Teachers in Madrid

Michael Young '10 is embarking on a Fulbright teaching assistantship in Madrid.

The opportunity to obtain an excellent tuition-free education first drew Michael Young to the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island. The chance to travel nailed his decision. As an undergraduate he studied in Florence and Tokyo, in the summer after graduation in 2010, Guatemala City.

Now he is on the move once more, heading to Madrid on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

At CSI, where he graduated magna cum laude, Michael majored in American Studies with minors in Studio Art and Spanish. His first step was working at CSI’s Career and Scholarship Center where he was able to secure his first two internships, one, a paid summer working for the Staten Island Mental Health Society, and the other, at Marvel Comics.

The Career and Scholarship Center also encouraged him to start getting involved on campus, where he worked as a Career Mentor for the Pathfinder Program, a SEEK Mentor, and a CSI Ambassador.

He then received a Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship that provided a paid internship with Global Kids, which seeks to develop youth leaders, and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation press office.

In 2010, during his third Watson summer, Young headed to Guatemala City’s Esperanza Juvenil (Boys Hope Girls Hope), a residential, college-preparatory school for about 100 troubled youngsters in grades K through 12. He arrived not long after a volcanic eruption dumped three inches of ash on the city, Hurricane Agatha struck, and a sinkhole that National Geographic reported was 60 feet in diameter and 30 stories deep opened not far from the school.

“Suddenly, Guatemala was receiving worldwide attention just days before my arrival,” he says. “I was nervous about safety, but motivated to start teaching.”

Young, found that he was “enamored by the students, teaching in a non-native language, and immersing myself in a new culture. I treat each of these experiences as opportunities for personal growth and discovery.”

Two days after he returned home from Guatemala, he started work with the New York City Civic Corps, an Americorps program for service to the city. He worked for the nonprofit organizations Central Park Conservatory and GrowNYC, “improving their volunteer capacity and working in project management.”

Now, the Fulbright Assistantship sends him to Madrid, where he is going to work in a secondary school. “I’ll be in classrooms supporting teachers, either in English, history, or social studies. Perhaps I’ll be training teachers in the English language,” he notes.

He credits his Spanish teacher, Dr. Carlos Abad, who performed his Foreign Language evaluation for the Fulbright, and also Dr. Jane Marcus-Delgado, CSI’s on-campus Fulbright adviser, for helping him with the Fulbright application process.

“I want to be a teacher or a professor…and my childhood dream is to become a cartoonist and illustrator. I started a humor magazine called Operation Three-Legged Dolphin, and that was my pride and joy.”

Young adds, “I’ve been very privileged to have had all these opportunities. They gave me a strong framework in which to think about professional development and to build a transferrable skill set–and build a life.”

CSI Recognized as International Leader in Higher Ed

Provost William Fritz, CUNY Trustee Kay Pesile, President Tomas Morales

The College of Staten Island (CSI) recently held its inaugural induction ceremony of students, faculty, and staff into the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars.

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The Eta Lambda Chapter at CSI inducted several scholars from all walks of life, but the tie that binds them together is their dedication to spreading their knowledge and experience across the globe, eliminating cultural and geographic borders.

“The Honor Society is about recognizing, encouraging, and celebrating internationalization in the broadest definition,” commented William J. Fritz, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic affairs at CSI and a Phi Beta Delta member, at the evening’s event. “In my experience nothing transforms student’s lives better than an international experience. We are increasingly becoming a global community, and globalization provides learning experiences that extend far beyond the classroom.”

Provost Fritz reaffirmed his commitment to increasing international education by highlighting his four priorities: (1) have more CSI students study abroad; (2) bring more foreign students to CSI; (3) internationalize the College’s curriculum; (4) enhance services to foreign students; and (5) encourage more faculty scholarship and connections with scholars abroad.

Last year Dr. Fritz instituted the “Provost’s Initiative on Faculty-Led Trips Abroad,” designed to provide seed money to faculty seeking to develop courses to teach aboard, and also provide support to faculty who are leading a study abroad trip. This has doubled the number of submissions of faculty proposals to teach and study abroad.

The success of these priorities and initiatives was also evident at the induction ceremony, where the activity of CSI scholars and students throughout the world was brought into focus.

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Twenty-one CSI students were inducted, having studied abroad at ten partner institutions.

Fifteen international students studying at CSI were inducted, representing 14 countries.

Jenna Calderon, a Macaulay Honors College student at CSI, played guitar as part of the musical interlude for the ceremony and has taken advantage of the College’s extraordinary study-abroad opportunities.

Crystal Deosaran was inducted for her dedication to the College in establishing the Adelante Scholarship and helping obtain a $20,000 grant from the Mexican government for students at CSI. While studying at CSI, her business advisor, Alan Zimmerman, encouraged her to study abroad in Shanghai, China. Upon graduation, she attended Baruch where she earned her MBA in 2008.

“Crystal has exhibited great enthusiasm and dedication to supporting the Adelante Scholarship Fund at CSI,” commented Susan Holak, Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness. “Her fundraising contributions are innovative and truly demonstrate a ‘labor of love.’”  Deosaran has also created a Cinco de Mayo fundraiser to help raise funds for the scholarship, with donors receiving her homemade, signature flan in exchange for their generosity.

Inductees from the College faculty have been involved with traveling overseas in order to teach students in other countries. Some were pioneers who introduced CUNY and CSI students to life beyond New York City.

Recent faculty-led initiatives include a trip led by Lisa Manne to St. John’s in the Virgin Islands where students studied tropical ecology, and a visit to Italy led by Anderson Ohan to study geology in Pompeii and the surrounding area.

CSI students also had the opportunity to study in Dublin and Shanghai .

Alan Zimmerman led an exchange program to the Dublin Institute of Technology to give international business students the experience of living in Europe while studying at one of Europe’s premier business schools. “We were exposed to the inner workings of a company we otherwise never would have been exposed to,” said Mary Beth Reilly, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and 2011 inductee. In Shanghai, Professor Nan Sussman led a trip to China, and taught a course on psychology and Chinese culture.

Susan Sullivan was noted for introducing the first group of CUNY student teachers to the Galapagos Islands, where they taught math and science to K-12 students. This was a groundbreaking event in CUNY history since, according to Dr. Sullivan, “CSI is the only school that offers student teaching in the Galapagos.”

In December, delegates from Vietnam’s Ministry of Education visited CSI as part of their ongoing attempts to reform Vietnam’s education policies. Michael Kress discussed the collaboration between CSI and the Post and Telecommunications Institute of Technology (PTIT) in Hanoi, Vietnam, where students complete two years of undergraduate work at PTIT and then complete their junior and senior years at CSI, receiving degrees from both institutions.

“The symbol of Phi Beta Delta membership is a gold medallion on a red and yellow cord,” concluded Provost Fritz.  He encouraged inductees to “wear the medallion on any occasion that calls for academic regalia.  My goal throughout the coming years is to see many such medallions at Commencement symbolizing CSI’s worldview.”

PHI BETA DELTA is an organization dedicated in recognizing scholarly achievement in international education and comprises of 168 chartered chapters worldwide. It is the first honor society dedicated to recognizing scholarly achievement in international education.

PHI BETA DELTA’s goal is to not only recognize international scholarly achievement but to provide a network of faculty, staff, and students involved in international endeavors.

[video] CSI Students in Dublin Learn You Cannot “Find Culture in a Classroom”

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The Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and the College of Staten Island have been involved in cooperative efforts for over four years and the results have been better than expected. CSI business students looking for a study-abroad opportunity are beginning to choose Ireland as the “gateway” country to studying in Europe. DIT and CSI offer a full-semester program as well as a short-term summer program in Dublin.

CSI business students studying at DIT were able to receive the full range of educational opportunities available as well as witness the unique history that Dublin, one of Europe’s oldest cities, has to offer. Because of its unique location, Dublin is considered a gateway to mainland Europe. In addition, although the culture is different the common language makes it easier for English-speaking students to acclimate themselves to a new country.

CSI students attended lectures at DIT and also visited important literary sites such as the home of James Joyce, traveled to Belfast in Northern Ireland to see how the peace is working, and made company visits to firms like Intel and O-2. The Intel visit was especially significant since the company carefully guards its proprietary information and  does not often entertain guests. “We were exposed to the inner workings of a company we otherwise never would have been exposed to,” said Mary Beth Reilly, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management at CSI, who accompanied the students last summer program.

Recently returning CSI students all commented that they had a “once in a lifetime” experience and they stressed the importance of learning cultural diversity as business students.

“As a manager, you may have a wide employee base,” said Naushad Mohammed, who has a BS and MS from the College. “You find people from all walks of life and as a manager you have to understand every single one of these employees. Studying abroad gives future business managers the opportunity to not only experience another country’s culture and practices but to meet new people and broaden personal horizons.”

Aside from being a practical learning experience and a good way to strengthen a résumé, the experience elicited the same response from all of the students who have returned from studying at DIT. They echoed the sentiment shared by Jared Desposito, a 2009 graduate from CSI’s MS in Management program, “I learned so much about what I don’t know about the world.”

CSI offers full-semester programs to DIT as well a summer ten-day program worth three credits. There are scholarship and grant opportunities for all students planning on studying abroad.

Registration for this summer’s program will open on April 6. Students who are interested in applying need to visit Camille Lazar or Alan Zimmerman in the Business Department office.

[gallery] Classroom with a View: CSI Students Ascend Mt. Vesuvius

The class stops at a scenic overlook to orient themselves within the Italian landscape on the walk up to the caldera of Mt. Vesuvius.

The geologic and cultural history of the first-century Roman Empire came alive for 12 College of Staten Island students last summer thanks to Professor Anderson Ohan’s 13-day geology field course at the Mt. Vesuvius region of Italy.

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The four-credit course, Geology 547, provided a supervised study of the eruptive history of the only active volcano on the European continent. The response was so positive; he plans to take another group there this summer.

During their summer in Italy, the students visited the town of Pozzuolo, the Temple Serapis, the Solfataras, and the Isle of Capri, accumulating data and gaining knowledge about the geologic and volcanic history of the Mt. Vesuvius area. They stayed at the Vesuvian International Institute in Castellammare di Stabia; overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius. The institute, a former monastery, is equipped with a dining room, classrooms, and numerous computers.

Jen Burtner, a graduate of New Dorp High School and a teacher at IS 61, received a BA in English in 2004 and a Master’s in Secondary Education in 2007 from CSI.  She joined the Italy trip because she was inspired by  Ohan when she studied Mount Kilauea with him in Hawaii.

Not only did she enjoy what she learned while traveling the world with a great professor, “the thought of four college credits in two weeks was very appealing,” Burtner admits. “Though science is not my focus or passion, I stayed in contact with [him after the Hawaii trip] because I wanted to emulate his teaching style. I often observed him while he was giving lectures, trying to put my finger on what it was that keeps his students engaged. I discovered it was his passion and vision, a skill I wanted as a teacher. When I heard about his course in Italy I jumped at the chance to see him in action once again.”

Mt. Vesuvius has erupted, explosively, eight times in the last 17,000 years. Ohan’s course focused on the famous catastrophic eruption of 79 CE that buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and was the first volcanic event that was described in detail, preserving Europe’s finest collection of first century Roman life. In addition, the art and architecture of previous cultures that occupied the Bay of Naples are preserved in Pompeii; the Oscans, the Greeks, the Etruscans, the Samnites, and the Romans.

The students studied the volcanic deposits, the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the casts of a number of Roman inhabitants who were buried by this eruption, in an attempt to understand the style of the 79 CE eruption.

Since the style of a past eruption is the key to a future eruption, the students visited the summit of Mt. Vesuvius, Oplontis, Boscareale, and Sorrento, gathering data from past eruptions of Mt. Vesuvius, attempting to understand, and possibly reach a conclusion, about the character future eruptions. Today, three million people live in the vicinity of Mt. Vesuvius and an eruptive event similar to the 79 CE eruption would be catastrophic.

Now that last summer’s journey to Italy is history, Professor Ohan has announced that he will be giving another lucky group of students the chance to visit the region next summer. This time he hopes to expand the trip to include a visit to Sicily.

For more information on this summer’s course in Italy, contact Professor Ohan at 718.982.2829 or

Two Student Teachers Return from Galapagos

Alvin Hillary and Deja Latrese Mullings, two students enrolled in CSI’s Teacher Education Honors Academy (TEHA), spent one month this summer student teaching at La Escuela Tomas de Berlanga, a K-12 school situated in the highlands of Santa Cruz, one of the many islands that make up the Galapagos archipelago.

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Alvin, a senior in the Teacher Academy, and Deja, a junior, traveled to Santa Cruz in July with Dr. Susan Sullivan, Professor of Education, to begin month-long stints as student teachers.

“CSI is the only school that offers student teaching in the Galapagos,” Dr. Sullivan commented proudly, adding that the several bilingual teachers at the school helped make for a “perfect transition.”

Alvin, who taught Biology, Chemistry, and Natural Science to the approximately 120 students, called the experience “a biologist’s dream.” Although he wasn’t fluent at the outset, Alvin taught in Spanish explaining that the terms described in the students’ texts were similar to those in English. He also said that the students were just as eager to learn English from him as they were to teach him Spanish. To the New York native, “it was odd how nice everyone was.”

Deja, who taught Math and observed Physics, spoke a little less Spanish than Alvin but was able to teach the universal formulas of the two disciplines in English, translating the texts from English to Spanish during off-hours. There was some difficulty assimilating to the living conditions in the Galapagos, due to factors like the undrinkable water. “There wasn’t even a movie theater,” Deja said.

The students were later joined by Dr. Irina Lyublinskaya, Professor of Math and Science Education, who served as a classroom observer and provided guidance to the two student teachers.

Dr. Lyublinskaya viewed the trip’s purpose as two-fold. The first priority was to take advantage of the school’s location. “The school is in a national park,” she said during an interview. She also claimed that the program was a “great experience from a scientific perspective. After all, what better place for science teachers to teach natural sciences than the Galapagos?”

Dr. Lyublinskaya’s other priority was to help La Escuela Tomas de Berlanga “take advantage of the ecological sciences of the Galapagos.” For her, the trip was all part of a bigger mission to incorporate technology into this natural science learning setting. Dr. Lyublinskaya called the program “a collaborative effort” and proposes that both sides will benefit from this collaboration.

For the CSI students, the experience was a beneficial one.

Alvin, who has completed his studies at CSI and is graduating in December, received a job offer just days after returning from the Galapagos.

Deja is using the experience to count toward her student teaching credits for the Teacher Academy and admits that “life is more stressful back home.”

Both consider the opportunity to travel to the Galapagos “an experience of a lifetime,” and they are planning to return next year when their former students, with whom they keep in touch via Facebook, graduate.

Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Lyublinskaya are hoping to receive enough funding to make the student teacher trip to the Galapagos a yearly endeavor.

The program was the brainchild of Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Lyublinskaya, collaborating professors in the Teacher Education Honors Academy at CSI. The seeds of the idea were planted several years ago, but how Alvin and Deja were able to take advantage of the opportunity is as much of a story as the trip itself.

Dr. Sullivan had plans to send students to Ecuador as long as six years ago, while helping to create the International Studies program for the then new CSI High School for International Studies. Sheila Roberts was the principal of a high school, Colegio Menor, in Quito, Ecuador with which the CSI High School was developing exchanges. When Roberts was named the newly appointed and first-ever bilingual director of La Escuela Tomas de Berlanga in the Galapagos, Dr. Sullivan realized it would be a wonderful opportunity for TEHA to collaborate with the school. The program was able to obtain funding through scholarships procured by Dr. Alfred Levine, the Acting Dean of Science and Technology, for two eager students.

The rest they say, is just part of natural evolution.