Category: Wisconsin Idea

2016 Day in Africa brings 185 high school students to campus

The University of Wisconsin–Madison welcomed 185 juniors and seniors from eight Wisconsin high schools on April 13 for the 2016 Day in Africa program at Union South, sponsored by the African Studies Program.

The high school students explored the languages and cultures of Africa through a variety of sessions led by UW-Madison faculty, students, and staff. Many sessions incorporate the theme of health and healing in Africa and beyond.

The participating high schools were: Madison West, Madison East, Beloit Memorial, Pardeeville, Westosha Central, SAPAR, Oregon, and Kettle Moraine Global.

UW Day in Africa 2016 012Neil Kodesh, associate professor of history and director of the African Studies Program, gives the keynote remarks on Global Health in Africa to open the day’s program. Continue reading

International Division, IRIS award seed grants for interdisciplinary research

Six interdisciplinary research projects that blend place-based scientific inquiry with international expertise have been awarded incubator grants by the International Division and the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

These projects focus on Africa, South Asia, Eurasia, and Latin America, in fields as diverse as public health, child development, civil engineering, climate science, archaeology, genetics, virology, and environmental studies.

Offered this year for the first time, the grants are aimed at bringing together faculty in STEM fields who are conducting place-based research abroad with experts from regional and area studies centers within IRIS.

“These grants are based on the idea that scientific inquiry will improve through collaboration with regional experts, while area specialists will benefit from working with colleagues in the physical, biological, and quantitative social sciences,” says Richard Keller, associate dean of the International Division.

Funding for these awards, of up to $50,000 each, comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and other International Division funds. Continue reading

Wisconsin Idea: UW–Madison language learners assist high school students

Morgan Haefner, of Appleton, and Marcus Amato, of Oshkosh, both studied Spanish in middle and high school. Both arrived at the University of Wisconsin–Madison looking for a new language to learn, and both chose Arabic.

Haefner says she “simply went down the list of languages and landed on Arabic. Little did I know what studying the language would mean to me.”

“When I first started, I was interested in Arabic because it seemed vastly different from anything I had studied before,” Amato say, “but after learning the alphabet and the writing system, all of that opacity fell away, revealing a language that is very approachable and fun to learn.”

Gaochsia Xiong and Aiyzah Javaid started studying Japanese as high school students in Eau Claire, and continued their language studies at UW–Madison.

“I had always been interested in the Japanese culture due to watching anime (Japanese cartoons) during my childhood, so I decided to learn it,” says Javaid, who is originally from Pakistan. “Then once I started learning it, I realized I loved it, and I was hooked.”

Xiong took up Japanese to follow in the footsteps of her older sisters. “I thought I would be able to take it and ease through it with the help and knowledge of my sisters.”

Cheyenne Vaughn, of Jackson, Missouri, also had developed an interest in Japanese culture. So, for her freshman year at UW–Madison, she enrolled in a First-year Interest Group (FIG) “about Japanese pop culture and one of the classes was first-semester Japanese. I fell in love with the language.”

This year, these five language learners are sharing their knowledge and passion by tutoring students in three Wisconsin high schools, through videoconferencing and in person. They are among eight UW–Madison undergraduates involved connected through UW–Madison’s Language Institute with language programs at Madison East, Manitowoc Lincoln, and Plymouth high schools. Continue reading

Médicins sans Frontières veteran, UW Zika panel headline Global Health Symposium

The 12th annual Global Health Symposium at the University of Wisconsin–Madison will feature a keynote address by a Médicins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) veteran and a Zika Virus Panel that will highlight how researchers at UW–Madison are contributing to understanding and stopping the virus.

The 2106 symposium, hosted by the Global Health Institute with support from the UW–Madison International Division and Lectures Committee, will be held Wednesday, March 30, starting at 4:30 p.m., in the Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Ave. The symposium is free and open to the public. Registration is requested.

“The Global Health Symposium is an opportunity for campus and the community to experience UW’s response to the complex and interlinked determinants of health and disease,” says GHI Director Jonathan Patz. “I am especially excited about our Zika panelists, who are on the front lines of innovative and immediate responses that will benefit human and animal health.” Continue reading

Muller to talk about her Perilous Journeys

Karin Muller knows about adventure.

The acclaimed Swiss-born author, filmmaker and photographer has spent 20 years traveling alone to remote locales and conflict zones, learning new languages and customs, and sampling local foods, as well as dodging bullets and surviving diseases.

Karin Muller

Karin Muller

Her solo journeys have taken her to the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam, down the 4,000-mile Inca Road from Quito, Ecuador to Santiago, Chile, and into the cultures of Japan.

Muller will talk about her adventures in “Perilous Journeys,” on Tuesday, March 15, at noon, in Room 206, Ingraham Hall, part of the Lunchtime Lecture series presented by the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies (LACIS) Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Union and the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS). LACIS will serve fair trade coffee from Just Coffee, as well as a variety of light snacks. Continue reading

UW–Madison ranks among top producers of both Fulbright Students, Scholars

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of just 14 institutions nationwide with the highest numbers of both students and faculty to receive U.S. Fulbright grants for 2015-16.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recently announced the U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Students and Scholars. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Continue reading

Peace Corps Week: Get an inside perspective

Curious about the Peace Corps?

Perhaps you’ve read that the University of Wisconsin–Madison has produced nearly 3,200 Peace Corps Volunteers since 1961. And with 68 Badger alumni currently serving overseas, UW–Madison ranks second on the annual list of top-producing universities and colleges.

Peace Corps Week – Monday, Feb. 29 through Friday, March 4 – offers opportunities to learn about the Peace Corps and to talk with people who have served overseas. Continue reading

Russian language program for under-served youth receives grant

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has received $90,000 to support a pre-college program designed to introduce high school students from low-income and minority communities to Russian language and culture.

The 2016 STARTALK award to UW–Madison’s Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA) and Department of Slavic Languages and Literature provides support for the Pushkin Summer Institute, which is now entering its fifth year.

The Pushkin Summer Institute (PSI) is an intensive, six-week residential pre-college program that introduces outstanding students from under-represented communities to Russian language and culture through the life and works of poet Alexander Pushkin. Continue reading

Tradition of serving others keeps drawing UW-Madison alumni into Peace Corps

Rita Argus recalls hearing her professors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison talk about the Wisconsin Idea, “the thought that what we are learning in the classroom should be applicable to real-world situations.”

“I think this has conditioned me to better apply what I learned to help with problems and challenges I am encountering here,” says Argus, who graduated from UW–Madison in May 2014 with a degree in biological systems engineering.

Rita Argus

Rita Argus

When she speaks of “here,” Argus is referring to Senegal in West Africa, where she has been working with a Senegalese master farmer to train local farmers in sustainable agriculture and agroforestry practices. She also is helping a local agricultural research group distribute seeds and gather information to help improve seed variety throughout the country.

Argus, 24, of Helenville, Wis., is one of 68 UW–Madison alumni currently in the field as Peace Corps Volunteers.

For the second year in a row, UW–Madison is the second-largest producer of Peace Corps Volunteers, according to the agency’s 2016 list of Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities, released February 18.

UW–Madison has been a leading source for Peace Corps Volunteers throughout the agency’s history:

  • Since the Peace Corps began its annual rankings in 2001, UW–Madison has been among the top producers every year and has held the No. 1 spot for six years, from 2001 to 2006, and in 2014.
  • Since 1961, when the Peace Corps was created, 3,184 UW–Madison alumni have served overseas, making the campus the No. 2 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers.

Continue reading

UW-Madison to host 6-week institute for emerging African leaders

Twenty-five of Africa’s emerging leaders in public management are coming to the University of Wisconsin–Madison in June for a six-week academic and leadership institute, through a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

MandelaFellowsUW–Madison is among 36 universities selected as hosts for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The program aims to empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities.

The Mandela Washington Fellows at UW–Madison are among 1,000 fellows coming to institutions across the United States. At the end of their program, all of the fellows will gather in Washington, D.C., for a Presidential Summit. Continue reading