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High school students talk language, future at annual ASU fair

High schoolers say "Hola," "Ni hao" and "Merhaba" to studying language at ASU.
February 22, 2017

School of Letters and Cultures' festival presents the 21 languages offered at the university to prospective Sun Devils

It’s 9 a.m. on the second floor of Arizona State University’s Memorial Union building in Tempe, and the sound of mariachi music fills the air, providing background noise for the constant chatter coming from all directions.

More than 2,000 teenagers, ranging in age form 14 to 18 years old, line the hallways and fill various conference rooms for Tuesday’s Language Fair, which spotlights the 21 languagesThose languages are: American Sign Language, Arabic, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Chinese, French, German, (ancient) Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese. offered at the university.

“I love how there’s a lot of different languages represented here,” said Patrick Carr, a sophomore from Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School, one of 30-plus Phoenix metro area high schools represented Tuesday. “You usually don’t see that in high school, so that is nice to see.”

The fair, in its 19th year of existence, is sponsored by ASU as a way to cultivate and promote language learning, while also exposing students to more languages than the ones offered in their high schools. Events like this create a connection with prospective students while they think about the next step of their education on a more personal level.

Murphy McGary, a communications specialist for the School of International Letters and Cultures, noted that getting the students to ASU’s campus was a really special part of the event.

“It brings a lot of high schoolers together and allows them to experience a college campus,” McGary said. “I think it’s a great way to engage with the community and let them have fun.”

That fun included global activities and games at the event. A fair-wide scavenger hunt also took place, which gave the students an incentive to pick up stamps from each of the 21 locations.

A faculty member talks about Portuguese with prospective students at the Language Fair

Faculty such as senior lecturer Clarice Deal discuss the different languages offered at ASU with high school students at the annual Language Fair on Tuesday in Tempe. Deal, a native of Brazil, incorporates bossa nova music into her Portuguese classes to help improve students' memory and mastery of vocabulary. Photo by Florina Pantea

A few competitions added to the fun in the form of both impromptu and memorized acts and plays, where the students were tested on their conversational abilities in different languages.

Jacob Gabow, a Spanish teacher at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, liked the competitions the most because he got to see how his students compared with others from around the area.

He also noted how important the event might prove to be in the future for some of his students, which is the ultimate goal for the School of International Letters and Cultures.

“It’s good for them because they start to think about minoring in a language,” said Gabow. “That’s important, whether it’s at ASU or somewhere else.”  

Top photo by Florina Pantea

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer , ASU Now

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ASU a top producer of Fulbright winners

Among public universities, ASU is fifth in student Fulbright awards for '16-'17.
February 22, 2017

6 faculty members, 15 students sent abroad in prestigious national program

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.

Arizona State University is one of the top producers of prestigious Fulbright scholars among research institutions for 2016-17, coming in at No. 6 for awards to faculty members, according to newly released rankings.

In addition, ASU is in the top 20 for research institutions producing student Fulbright scholars. Among public universities, ASU was ranked No. 5 in student Fulbright awards.

ASU has six faculty and 15 students in the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

“Part of the university’s mission is to engage with people and issues globally, and Fulbright scholars are the embodiment of that,” said Mark Searle, ASU’s executive vice president and university provost. “The exchange of knowledge and interest benefits the scholar as well as the community abroad, and it brings ASU’s academic rigor and innovation to the world stage.”

ASU’s 15 Fulbright students are abroad now, and the university has 29 students who recently were named semifinalists for next year’s awards.

“Year in and year out, ASU has been a consistent presence on the Fulbright ‘Top Producers’ list, which is a testament to our commitment to global engagement, service and leadership,” said Kyle Mox, who is director of the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement at ASU and the coordinator of the Fulbright program for ASU students.

“But given the recent growth and development of the university, there is considerable untapped potential at ASU. With the high quality of our international programs and our students’ commitment to leadership and service, I look forward to seeing up to double the number of applicants in the coming years.”

The Fulbright program, created in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between Americans and the people of other countries, provides the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research abroad. The program awards about 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 160 countries. The sponsor is the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Faculty generally stay abroad anywhere from two months to a full academic year. This award is often taken in conjunction with research, development or sabbatical leave options. 

The student awards are for academic research or a position as an English teaching assistant. In addition, some 4,000 new foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the U.S. annually to study for graduate degrees, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

The 21 faculty and students from ASU are currently studying and teaching in countries around the world including Vietnam, Germany, Kazakhstan and South Africa. They include Stephen Doig, a professor in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, who is a lecturer on social science tools for journalism at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, and Elise Alonzi, a doctoral student in the School of Evolution and Social Change, who is studying archeology in Ireland.

The other five faculty Fulbright Scholars from ASU are Amanda Clarke, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and Chouki El Hamel, a professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Erik Luna, a professor of law in the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; Mohan Gopalakrishnan, associate professor in the School of Supply Chain Management, W. P. Carey School of Business; and Rene Villalobos, associate professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

On March 21, ASU will hold a “Fulbright Day” at the Memorial Union in Tempe at 3 p.m., in which representatives from Fulbright will describe the program and answer questions.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News