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Fall 2005 - Spring 2006
New CIE Center Members
updated April 8, 2006

Spring 2006

Waris Karim Barcha

I am from Pakistan, a Fulbright scholar entering the Masters program at Center for International Education UMass Amherst. I was born in Hunza Valley in the Northern Pakistan, a valley famous for its natural beauty and for the highest mountains in the world. I grew up in rural Hunza and got my early education there. I traveled to southern Pakistan for higher education, where I got my B.A degree in Political Science and English Literature and a masters’ degree in Public Administration, specialized in Human Resource Management and Development. I worked for a local manufacturing organization in quality management and in Training and Development departments.

For the last 8 years I have been teaching and working in education.. I worked at different positions with some community-based organizations in field of Education, Culture, Health, and Social Welfare. I taught English and other subjects and in vocational schools in Karachi. I worked with Ismaili Council for Pakistan as Master Trainer, training English language teachers both in urban and ruler areas. I worked as Chairman of the Community Base Educational Society and Schools in Metroville Karachi. This gave me a good opportunity to work with Aga Khan Education Service Pakistan, and Institute for Educational Development (IED) of the Aga Khan University (AKU) Karachi.

I also worked as Vice Chairman and Chairman of The Pak Hunza Gilgit Social Welfare Organization (Reg.) Karachi. This was a wonderful opportunity to work with Aga Khan Development Network Institutions, to learn and experience working with communities at grassroots level and understand the role education for sustainable development in all spheres of life. I also worked a Chairman for Burushaski Research Academy Karachi, a Cultural organization working on the preservation of cultures and languages of northern areas of Pakistan in general and Burushaski language and culture in particular.

My involvement with community-based organizations, working in different areas at the grassroots level, particularly in the field of education, enriched my learning and experience. It gave me deep understanding into the system of education in underdeveloped areas. My experience and learning about the role of leadership for sustainable communal motivated me to pursue a professional career in field of International education and development for rest of my life. I am eager to pursue higher education and then to work in the under privileged areas of south east and central Asian countries.

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Fall 2005

New Students Join CIE

In September 2005 CIE welcomed ten new students from Sierra Leone, Kenya, Jamaica, Korea, Peru and the US. The group includes five doctoral and five masters candidates. The American students have lived and worked in Guinea,Czech Republic, Burma, Japan, Peru, and China. They bring a rich set of experiences and cultures to carry on the tradition at CIE of a multi-cultural community.

Karen Binger 

Nazdar! I’m Karen Binger and I’m originally from Bakersfield, CA. If you want to find it on a map it’s about two hours north of Los Angeles in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where I double majored in Political Science and Spanish. After graduating four years ago I felt an urge to travel somewhere new and also thought I’d try my hand at teaching English. In this way I fell into the ESL world and discovered a passion for teaching and learning languages. Although any future languages I may study will certainly have fewer than seven horribly confusing cases, as in the Czech language - a constant source of frustration for the better part of three years. I spent that time studying the lovely Czech language because I was living, teaching English and soaking in Czech culture in Prague, a city I quickly came to love. It’s hard not to - living in Prague is like living in a fairy tale. I found the mix of the old and historical, the new and modern, and the communist and concrete, you can see in the architecture and in the culture, fascinating.

As much as I loved it, however, I sometimes used it as a base from which to travel and teach in a couple of very different places. I spent a few months living in a Roma community in Djakovice, Kosovo, located about nine miles from the Albanian border. I was there as part of a work-placement program for Roma in this town and mostly worked teaching intensive English classes. This experience probably led to my being at CIE more than anything.

I also spent a few months in Lima, Peru on a couple different occasions teaching English, eating amazing seafood, learning to dance and spending time with all my family down there. Life in Peru is different than in the Czech Republic, but it is another culture which has gotten under my skin.

And now I find myself back in the States and very excited to be at CIE!

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Nigel Brissett

I am a first year doctoral student in the Center for International Education (CIE), UMass at Amherst. I am from Jamaica, which is situated in the northern Caribbean region. I was born in rural Jamaica (the parish of Trelawny), where I also grew up, but my current home is the vibrant city of Kingston. I come to CIE with primary interests in education policy and reform, particularly at the tertiary level. I will explore how education policy in developing countries is impacted by national imperatives and external influences of an increasingly globalized world, and the challenges and opportunities they engender as it relates to issues of access and equity.

For the past 7 years I have been associated with the University of the West Indies, which is a public regional university that serves up to fifteen Caribbean countries. Since there are only three campuses, the Tertiary Level Institutions Unit (TLIU) for which I work, was created with the primary responsibility of linking the University’s programs and services to the wider Caribbean region. I guess in some way my career has always involved facilitating access to tertiary education, as before my association with UWI, I was the officer in charge of students’ loans at the financial institution that I worked.

My assignments with the UWI-TLIU have taken me across the very diverse Caribbean region, which, it is not unreasonable to say, is a microcosm of the world in significant areas such as topography, cultural habits, languages, and ethnicity. I have worked on numerous development projects related to institutional assessment and capacity strengthening, inter-institutional arrangements such as articulation and joint-program delivery, and a human resource needs assessment of Caribbean countries. These experiences have influenced my understanding of the need for flexibility and sensitivity when operating in different cultures; that the success of educational policies and projects is ultimately based on local participation, cultural sensitivity and pragmatism. I believe that this philosophy also lies at the heart of CIE’s educational activities.

I am deeply honored to be at CIE and look forward to what should be a mutually enriching experience.

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Bokeong Cheong

Hello. I am from Republic of Korea. It is such a great pleasure for me to introduce myself as a new student at CIE. I am a middle school teacher in Seoul, Korea and have taught English for 6 years. But here I am taking a masters course in International Education. As for my international experience in the field of education, using school vacations, I have taught English at elementary level to Mongolian youngsters and women who live in Gobi desert. This was a three-week long International Education Aid Program sponsored by Korean Ministry of Education. Even though my time there was short, it was a very good experience - enough to spark my strong interest in fostering education in developing countries. I can say clearly that this experience led me to be here in Amherst.

After my time in Mongolia, I traveled to Tibet for three weeks and stayed at Lama Buddhist temple in Lasha and was privileged to practice Tibetan Yoga with Tibetan monks. Other international experiences include my stay in London and Paris to learn English (six months) and French (one year), respectively, while I was an undergraduate.

It is such a nice feeling to come back to the position of a student and see myself as a learner, eager to absorb new knowledge. I recognize well, however, that in being submerged into a world of new experiences and studies, there will be challenges. But I also know that those will shed light on opportunities to broaden my horizon and experiences. I am excited, even blissful, about that.

At last, to open the gate leading me to the wide world in which beautiful diversities coexist. I will devote myself in the present - studying and striving to create harmony with the people around me here.

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Cassandra Dragon-Archambault

Education and China have long been my two greatest passions. Through experiences both inside and outside of the classroom, I have made a moral commitment to educational reform in China.

My academic interest in China began in my first year of high school when I wrote an interdisciplinary term paper on China's One Child Policy and family planning in the developing world.  Upon matriculation at Bowdoin College, I pursued education studies and expanded my knowledge of China and Mandarin through a multitude of meaningful courses including Educational Policy, Teaching and Learning, Problems in Chinese History, and Chinese Society: State, Family, and Individual.  Through a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation, as an undergraduate I was able to spend a summer in Harbin, China immersed in an intensive language program and studying Chinese Buddhist Thought.  When I returned to Bowdoin, I completed my student teaching practicum and gained a secondary school teaching certification in social studies.

Since graduation, I have spent three years working in Shanghai, China as a teacher, teacher trainer, curriculum developer and administrator, and one year as a full-time language student in Taipei, R.O.C.  This invaluable experience abroad has cemented my desire to play a role in reducing the inequalities that
exist in the Chinese education system.  In order for China to realize and sustained its economic and social development, it is useful to look at how we, as international educators, can help to re-orient teaching and learning there from a didactic learning process to one based on the cultivation of students' creativity and practical abilities.  At CIE, I will explore school development-planning, educational policy studies,
curriculum development and teacher training. I hope to apply these skills and knowledge to the practical field of development education.

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Hello! Salut! On jaramaa! N’Wali! N’ike! My name is Paul Frisoli. I love Guinea, West Africa. Some may say that I am obsessed with everything that is Guinean. Though Guinea may be just one of my many homes on this planet, I grew up in Smalltown, USA: Sudbury, Massachusetts to be more exact. As a child, my mom dressed me in kilts, my Father talked to me in bad French, and my sister practiced her oral Spanish lessons on me. This of course curved my curiosity towards everything across the Atlantic Ocean.

When I left the cultural nest at 18, I moved to Bates College where I received my BA in French with a concentration in Economics. My fabulous international friends at Bates introduced me to new foods, clothes, perspectives and lifestyles. This led me to study in Nantes, France for my junior year where I soaked in the language while also serving as a high school TEFL teacher. Right after college, my path led me to Guinea, where I served for just over 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer Math teacher in the picturesque village of Timbo. As a PCV, I did other secondary projects such as teacher training for incoming volunteers, HIV/AIDS peer educator trainings, HIV/AIDS and Math curriculum development at the secondary level, as well as advising local development groups.

After Peace Corps, I stayed in Guinea and worked with Education Development Center (EDC). I worked on adult continuing education programs while also managing EDC’s National Girl’s Scholarship Program. I also collaborated in the filming, editing and producing of EDC Guinea’s video project. My path has taken me to CIE as a Masters candidate, where I will be focusing on secondary education, teacher training, training design and technology in education. I am very excited to be here at the Center, where I can learn, work, and collaborate with all of the remarkable students studying here.

A fiercely wise Guinea man often told me that “Home is wherever you go.” I’m looking forward to adding the members of CIE to my family. En joni ka suudu, nani!

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Jenise Holloway

Greetings everyone! I come from Pennsylvania and am eager to explore the many possibilities as a first year student in the Master’s program at CIE.

My passion for the underlying links between economics and education has and will always be a part of my career path. These interests were actively nurtured as an undergraduate in Economics concentrating on gender and development issues at Williams College. After graduating, I headed to Tokyo to focus primarily on English as a Second Language, curriculum development and teaching in two settings: a Japanese secondary school and in large corporations. That time also permitted an opportunity to work as a translator and researcher for IMADR, an international nonprofit human rights NGO. My projects focused on issues affecting indigenous women, the trafficking of women in Asia and development projects in Guatemala. Two years later, I returned to the US and to my alma mater where, over the next three years, I continued to facilitate access to education in a role as a higher education administrator in projects related to educational outreach and the recruitment and retention of multicultural and international students.

After the exploration of secondary and higher education settings, I eagerly ventured to Peru for experience in primary education. I spent the year, prior to entering CIE, working for a start-up UK nonprofit organization in the largest poor district outside of Trujillo, El Porvenir. The organization, Supporting Kids in Peru, works to reintroduce primary school age children of limited resources to formal primary education by offering economic assistance as well as social and academic support. The grassroots nature of this new organization and the holistic approach to education created opportunities to recruit new families and tutors. These opportunities also facilitated access to social and legal services for the families. The program enabled me to bridge my interests once again by assisting in the management of group business enterprises.

In CIE, I will continue to focus my research on gender issues affecting access to formal education in Latin America, in addition to Universities’ teacher development programs. I plan to sustain my involvement with many domestic projects dealing with access to higher education for students from challenging backgrounds, as well as explore opportunities to develop my own programs and projects domestically and abroad.

Coming to CIE seems to affirm my experience that life (my life anyway) seems to move in cycles and really never in a straight line. At the time I was born, 35 years ago, my father was in the first cohort of CIE doctoral candidates who were envisioning what the center would become. At the time, I doubt he had any idea I would be walking the path he was helping to lay.

Actually, five years ago I myself had no idea that I would become a CIE student (nor any intention to go back to school). In 1999 I was finishing a Master’s in Teaching at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont after having taught English as a Second Language for a number of years in Japan, Mexico, and the United States. I planned to pursue a career as an ESL teacher in the public school system here in the U.S., motivated to help students from immigrant families make the transition to a new culture and language.

Instead, however, I somehow found myself in Rangoon, Burma in the fall of 2000 on a U.S. State Department Teaching Fellowship. After a year on the Fellowship teaching, designing the curriculum at the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy Section, and conducting training workshops for teachers and (separately) Burmese NGO staff, I was offered a position as an organizational development consultant for Population Services International, one of the largest NGOs working in country. I spent the following year and a half devising and implementing ways to build the human and institutional capacity of PSI’s large Burma program which consisted of seven regional offices and approximately 200 local employees. I had taken a sharp left down the international development road that would ultimately lead me to CIE.

After my time in Burma, I returned to the U.S. and spent two years in Washington, D.C. first as a proposal coordinator for Development Alternatives, Inc. (one of the so-called “beltway bandits”) and later as lead project trainer for TATC, a domestic consulting firm specializing in U.S. Department of Labor projects. Now, at CIE I relish the opportunity to reflect on my experiences over the past five years and explore more deeply the intersection of training, organizational capacity building, and international development that I seem to have stumbled into.

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I was born in Lima, Peru. I studied Social Communications at the University of Lima and spent the next four years working as a commercial television producer. I produced a wide variety of programs, from soap operas to children’s and sports programs. Even though working on TV was a lot of fun, I wanted to explore the world of documentaries - an interest that led me to graduate school. I pursued a Masters degree in Social Anthropology in the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology in Mexico - CIESAS. There, I had the opportunity to work with, and write my thesis on, the Mixtec people of Oaxaca.

At the end of the Masters program I left Mexico and came to the United States where I got married and started a family (I have two wonderful children). I also started working for the Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies - ISIS, a non-profit organization located at Hampshire College. As the Program Coordinator for the Secoya Survival Project, I assisted the aquaculture and drinking water projects for the Secoya, an Amazonian indigenous group of Ecuador. I also supported the Secoya as their advisor in their negotiations with Occidental Petroleum.

After my experience with the Secoya, I started an independent project: the research for a documentary about social and environmental impacts of oil extraction in the Amazon of Peru and Ecuador.

By joining CIE, I am starting a new life. I am excited by the idea of learning from an international community and re-evaluating my past experiences, while being a mom to two young kids!

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Judith Akinyi Obiero

I was born in Kenya and have lived there for most part of my life. I received my undergraduate degree in Sociology and Linguistics at Egerton University in Kenya. I recently completed my graduate studies at the School for International Training (SIT), Vermont. While at SIT, I had opportunity to do a practicum with the Congressional Youth Leadership Council (CYLC) in Washington DC and New York City, as a faculty advisor for the Global Young Leader’s Conference. Thereafter, I returned to Kenya and worked for an environmental NGO called Resource Conflict Institute (RECONCILE). While at RECONCLIE, I developed research interests on indigenous minorities and their livelihoods. Consequently, I conducted a study focusing on the socio-political and economic dimensions of Third World environmental crisis through a study of: The Responses of Indigenous Minority Groups to Environmental Injustices and Degradation in Kenya. This study highlights the interplay between unequal power relations, environmental degradation, and the marginalization and vulnerability of communities that depend entirely on natural resources for survival.

I am pursuing a doctoral degree in International Education as a fulfillment of my cherished personal philosophy and commitment to addressing global issues of justice, equity and sustainability. I believe education is vital for every aspect of a nation’s and a people’s well being, and is the main process through which development needs are identified and pursued. The foregoing philosophy is the main spur of my need for further education, and the stages I have covered have seen me complete a Master of Arts in Sustainable Development with a concentration in development management.

I need further training in International Education as a logical continuation of the learning I got at SIT. My goal is to acquire the practical and conceptual capacity to effect social transformation in the educational sector, specifically in my country Kenya. In particular, I want to be able to design, and implement alternative educational programs for marginalized groups who have missed out on the mainstream education system. I also wish to continue addressing issues of indigenous people’s rights and livelihoods with special attention to the implications of vulnerability on educational choices.

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