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updated September 10, 2012


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Fall 2012 - Spring 2013

Fall 2012

A New Cohort of Students Joins CIE

This September, CIE welcomed eleven new students who come from Bangladesh, South Korea, Georgia, Sweden and the U.S. All are mid-career professionals who have been working in education. There are four Master's candidates and seven Doctoral candidates. They add to the very international mix of experienced educators already at CIE.


Stephen Richardson

My interest in cross-cultural understanding first sparked during my music studies at Middle Tennessee State University, where I dove into the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Cuba through various ensembles.  I was enriched by the hypnotic qualities of the repeated musical patterns and awakened by the Afro-Caribbean region’s complex roots in Western Africa through the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  

During my undergraduate studies, I worked as a teacher predominantly with high school students in music education.  My interests soon evolved after realizing the arts could be very powerful when used as a platform for youth development in nonformal venues.  It was Stephen Richardsonwith this understanding I co-founded the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization ConsciousFlowz, Inc.  The organization’s mission was to motivate youth to actively shape their futures through new, interactive programs that used the arts to develop leadership skills, foster independent thinking, and increase awareness and understanding of social issues.

I received international education experience working for two years in the townships of Cape Town, South Africa with ConsciousFlowz.  The organization implemented collaborative nonformal education projects with local community organizations focusing on social issues including HIV/AIDS prevention, xenophobic violence prevention, leadership empowerment, and civic engagement.  The use of education to empower individuals and communities to address post-Apartheid inequities is an inspiration to me personally and professionally.

After returning to the United States for further professional development, I worked with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  In my role as Teen Programs Manager, I oversaw a variety of teen programs with the overarching goals of increasing the Museum’s accessibility for teenagers of Greater Boston.  This was achieved by a multifaceted approach including youth employment, volunteerism, and art engagement.  Additionally, I applied my international development experience through social justice as an arts educator with Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, an organization dedicated to increasing the social and economic power of individuals and families through education, economic development, technology, and arts programming.

I come to CIE to build upon my experiences with, interests in, and passion for education. It is my desire to learn theoretical frameworks of education and their applications within a variety of cultural contexts.  This knowledge, synergetic exchanges with faculty and fellow students are essential to my development as an education planner, administrator, and practitioner.

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Lasha Kokilashvili

Gamarjoba! I am a new Doctoral student in CIE.  I come from Republic of Georgia, where, I have served as the Math Improvement Director at Georgia Primary Education Project (GPriED), a USAID-funded project designed to provide comprehensive assistance to the primary education system of Georgia to improve reading and math competencies of Georgian and ethnic minority students. I have worked in educational administration since 2004, first as part of math team at National Curriculum and Assessment Center (NCAC), Ministry of Education and Sciences of Georgia (Lasha KokilashviliMoESG).  More recently, I have consulted with the MoESG in ICT Integration across the curriculum.

Aside from Administrative work, I have taught at both tertiary and secondary levels of education for over ten years and I see teaching and educating younger generations to be my life time career. My longest job was as the math teacher at American Academy in Tbilisi, a private coeducational high school in Tbilisi for over nine years.

Now that I have joined CIE, the truly international community with worldwide distinguished faculty, I have embarked on another five-year plan, during which I hope to fulfill several specific research and career goals. I am primarily interested in education policies and practices that are directly related to general education system and how these policies can enhance student achievement and teacher professional development.

I believe that it is precisely the doctoral program at CIE that will "forearm" me with the requisite skills in the most crucial sector of the public service of the country. Its flexible design, on one hand, will enable me to become a truly consummate specialist in this field. On the other hand, when I return to Georgia, I will be able to promote those projects and programs that genuinely benefit the educational reforms as well as contribute to the drafting, implementation and monitoring of such programs.

To me, one of the main attractions of the program is its applied and flexible nature. During two years of staying in the US, I will be looking for ways and contacts to move beyond traditional teaching methods and to bridge the technology gap between teachers and students. More specifically, I am interested in being exposed to the practices that are directly related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) used in on-line, distance an immersive education, teacher training; and how emerging technologies are used to positively influence education issues such as teacher development and student achievement.

Yaëlle Stempfelet

As I look around my first classes at the CIE, it reminds me of looking around the multi-cultural classes of my childhood and youth. Growing up in New York City’s melting pot, in a French-American household, I attended the United Nations International School. There were always people of different countries and backgrounds, and Yaelle Stempfeletdifferent languages being spoken. This was the environment of my youth. This international exposure was fundamental to my interest in International Education.

After high-school I moved to Montreal, Canada where I obtained a BA in Political Science from McGill University. My minors in International Development Studies and Hispanic Languages engaged my interests in education as a tool for development and my love of learning new languages. A few months after finishing my undergraduate degree, I went to Guatemala intending to stay for three months, perfect my Spanish and do volunteer work with young children. My three month trip turned into an almost six year adventure which has been almost my entire adult life until now. While my international education shaped my views and respect for other cultures, it was my time in Guatemala that deepened my understanding of poverty and the impact of education specifically in the early childhood years.

In Guatemala, for almost three years I worked for a not-for-profit called Safe Passage which provides educational, social and medical services to children and families who work in and around the Guatemala City garbage dump. I managed the Volunteer Program working with volunteers from around the world and training them to work in the various programs of the organization, from the kitchen to the Adult Literacy program. The Early Childhood Center at Safe Passage utilized a methodology which blends several philosophers’ research, was my exposure to non-traditional forms of Early Childhood Education (ECE). The program’s work with these at-risk children was important to my own personal understanding of ECE and its importance in community development.

I was then offered an opportunity to teach at and run a small Montessori pre-school, the Oxford Bilingual Education Institute in Antigua, Guatemala. I obtained an International Montessori Teaching Certificate online through NAMC (North American Montessori Center) to teach children aged three to six. While the population of children in this school was vastly different from those of Safe Passage, I learned that children of this age are all alike in the most important developmental stages of their lives regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.

A high percentage of Guatemalan children fail first grade, thus learning at an early age that they are not meant for school. I want my career to help prevent children from becoming mere statistics. I am interested in furthering my understanding of how children learn during the early childhood years as well as the importance of early childhood education and the positive effects it can have on children, their communities and international development.  I would like to gain insight into international development initiatives focusing on early childhood education specifically programs that bridge socio-economic gaps. I know that my studies through the Center for International Education will allow me to meet these goals and more. It is a pleasure and privilege to be a part of the CIE’s community.

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Sumera Ahsan 

Welcome to my world! I am from Bangladesh, the country full of rivers.  Throughout my life I lived in the capital city Dhaka and have earned my under graduate and master’s degree from Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka. The lush green youth of the university life still drives me to see the life in a simple way.

I started my career in 2008 with Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University. BRAC is the largest NGO in Bangladesh which works for Education, women’s empowerment, poverty reduction and so on. Here I gained some field experience for development Sumera Ahsanwork and got into touch with rural and ethnic people who are still deep into my mind. Later on I started working as a Lecturer at the same organization from when I embraced my role as an academician too. Here I got chance to be in touch with a former CIE graduate Dr. Monica Gomes as my supervisor who has really showed me a different lens to see the world. I learned to enjoy diversity, analyze critically, to ask the question ‘why so’? or ‘who decides?’ and to critique respectfully. In May 2010 I took up my current position at the Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka as a lecturer in the department of Educational Evaluation and Research. There I am responsible for teaching courses both at undergraduate and graduate levels.

I was involved in diverse range of consultancies in addition to teaching.  I worked for Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh writing a text book on injury prevention for children.  I was also a national consultant for evaluation of Netherland’s contribution in primary education of Bangladesh. I worked with World Bank evaluating a component of SEQAEP, which is a major secondary education project in Bangladesh. Later on I worked as a consultant with the Education Sector Review on Quality Assessment Background Study. I also contributed to different training programs for conducting training programs and writing training manuals. I am also working with National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) of Bangladesh for developing textbooks on Work and Career Education at secondary level.

My professional motto is to develop myself as a deep practitioner who can help promote quality education worldwide, learn and share from different communities, and to belong to a learning community where learning comes from heart. I want to be both an academician and a practitioner in education with an understanding rooted deep in the relevant issues on education. I hope that CIE can pave my path towards this. I believe, together we can make a change.

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Natia Mzhavanadze

When I first embarked on my academic journey, I could have hardly imagined, that one day I would end up in international education. But here I am and I can definitely state that this is the area, which is not only important or beneficial, but the one enabling me to contribute to making the world a better place to live.  I strongly believe in the power of education as not the pure transmission of knowledge but as a mechanism to build the world we all deserve and aspire to live in as human beings.

I am from the republic of Georgia, a small country in the Caucasus. As an educator, I first started my career at Non Formal Education Youth Center “Sunny House”, founded by several of my friends and me in a hope to give educational opportunities to youngsters who had potential but limited opportunities to prosper and achieve success. After several years of acting as a board member,Natia Mzhavanadze project manager and trainer, I decided to continue my academic journey and was very fortunate to be awarded with a scholarship by Open Society Institute to pursue my graduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2006-2008.  I studied at the Department of International and Transcultural Studies, in the Program of International Educational Development.  Those sixteen months were one of the most amazing experiences in my life – I acquired knowledge, systematized my experience, developed new aspirations and visions, got the first glimpses of modern academic setting and, finally, met so many amazing people from all parts of the world.

After graduation, I returned to Georgia full of enthusiasm to apply the knowledge I and to contribute to the improvement of the system which was experiencing one of the most wide-scale and fast-developing reforms in educational sector so far. Subsequently I joined the National Examination Center, which was in charge of administering unified entrance examinations for higher education institutions. This was reputed to be one of the most ground-braking initiatives in the region, having eliminated corruption from the university admissions. I was a consultant in the research department, which apart from being an unofficial “brain” of the organization was in charge of administering international educational assessments PISA, PIRLS, TIMSS and TEDS-M. There I started another important stage of my professional and academic development as the first National Project Manager of PISA 2009 (Program of International Student Assessment).  Starting from the scratch, we translated, verified and adapted test instruments into Georgian, administered the study and created international and national reports in addition to working on other international studies at the center.

However, I came to learn that negative results are not always embraced wisely by the authorities and that positive yet critical feedback does not always prompt the actions needed to fix the problem.

Then I started another academic adventure here at CIE at UMass. I am lucky to be in the vibrant academic setting of CIE, supported again by the Open Society Institute to pursue my doctoral studies in the field of international education together with two other Georgian colleagues. I strongly hope that the time I spend here will give me the knowledge and qualifications essential to pursue my research interests in post-soviet countries, trying to analyze and understand the educational policies and contribute to improving the body of knowledge about this less-studied but immensely interesting and unique part of the world. I look forward to rewarding, challenging and academically productive years, which seems to be accompanied by caring, friendly and highly professional community of educators, the unique feature of CIE I’m starting to enjoy immensely.

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Tamar Lomiashvili

I have been striving to contribute to Georgian education system in many different ways over the past 8 years, whether by helping a 9th grader to succeed in her chemistry class, assisting Muskie applicants to apply to universities in State, or by developing and implementing a program for school principals. Although my first master’s degree is in biochemistry, I decided I wanted to be an educator soon after my first student received high scores on the international tests and I realized how rewarding it is to assist people in pursuing their dreams and aspirations. Besides, I am a strong believer that education is the most powerful tool for the country to develop.

From 2003 to 2008 I worked for two very prestigious language and test preparation schools in Georgia starting as a teacher, then as head teacher and finally as education center manager. I was very proud of my achievements as a manager of educational institution. I managed to recruit qualified and skilled staff, created and tailored effective academic programs and put immense effort in building a true learning community and a trusting environment within the building. I admired and loved what I did, seeing so many happy and satisfied Tamar Lomiashvilistudents and parents achieving their goals meant the world to me, but… something was missing… I realized that if our country offered high quality education, not so many students would want foreign education (since our center mostly prepared students for international language and professional tests). Besides, I often thought about the students who could not afford these expensive test preparation courses, studying abroad, or simply hiring tutors to develop their language skills.

I came to the conclusion that strengthening country’s public education system should be the priority. Since I believe that the foundation for an effective education system is strong K-12 schools, I became very passionate about strengthening public school sector in our country. That is when I decided get my second master’s degree in educational leadership from Adelphi University.

When I returned to Georgia in 2010, I worked for the USAID Education Management Project as an education specialist where I contributed to strengthening the country’s educational leadership capacity. I worked on creating and implementing the Georgian Principal Professional Development Scheme as well as tailoring and conducting school ‘financial management’ and ‘effective school leadership’ training programs for principals countrywide.

I strongly believe that having good principals is equivalent to having good schools. Also, I believe that creating a pool of exemplary principals is only possible by having great professional development programs (both degree and non-degree, pre-service and in-service, school-based and non-school based), and appropriate performance evaluation systems that eventually shapes public and professional accountability system.

My ultimate goal is to strengthen field of educational leadership in Georgia. As for my research interest, even while earning my master’s degree, I knew that I wanted to conduct research on Georgian principals’ leadership styles and the relationship to the students’ success. This subject is particularly interesting since educational leadership is relatively new term for Georgia as a post-socialistic country and nobody has ever studied principals’ leadership capabilities and their impact on students’ academic and social performance.  I strongly believe CIE is the best place that can equip me with all necessary aspects of theoretical and practical knowledge to successfully conduct such research.

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Mohammad Mahboob Morshed

Greetings! I am Mohammad Mahboob Morshed, born and brought up in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. I represent an urban middle-income large family having very strong bonds and collective feelings among its members.
I did my Bachelor’s degree in Social Science Education and my Masters in Educational Psychology at the University of Dhaka which, besides its academic endeavors, has been the heart of country’s cultural and political awareness since its establishment. This is the place where I started to know my nation as I came to interact with the people coming from different parts of the country with different ethnic backgrounds. Later on I did another Master’s in Educational Psychology at the Institute of Education, University of London, where I met people from different nations and widened my views. I am sure CIE, UMASS will provide me with similar experiences.

At present, I am on study leave from Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University where I taught educational leadership courses to mid-career government and NGO officials for last four years. My experience in BRAC University has been excellent since it closely works with BRAC, one of the largest NGOs in the world, familiar for its poverty reduction and education programs. This university-NGO partnership allowed me to bring together theory, practice and context and provided me with exposure to the lives of people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and helped me critically understand what works and what does not in a particular context and why. ItMahboob Morshed enhanced my respectful understanding of different views, life choices and philosophies. Besides my work in BRAC University I also taught Educational Psychology both at undergraduate and master’s level at University of Dhaka as a part-time lecturer for last two years. As part of my professional development as an academician I have published several books and articles.

In last four years I undertook consulting in program evaluation for a variety of educational activities.  Recent project evaluation works include: AusAid’s consultant for reviewing Australia’s contribution in primary education of Bangladesh through UNICEF; DFID consultant for evaluating Underprivileged Children Education Program’s basic and vocational education program; and UNICEF’s consultant for reviewing Basic Education for Hard to Reach Urban Working Children. My creative academic works include: membership on the National Curriculum and Textbook Board for developing junior-secondary curriculum of the country; as a consultant for developing a supplementary textbook on injury prevention for primary level children; a consultant for Save the Children, USA’s to develop a teacher’s manual on teaching-learning method and assessment; and consulting for Save the Children International’s to develop a literacy boost manual for children.

I dream of a just and more human education system where children can learn in a respectful, more interactive, psychologically sound environment and have the opportunity to become what they want to become. Therefore, I look forward to bring together my knowledge on educational psychology and educational policy and leadership to promote policies that encourage child-friendly learning and socio-emotional wellbeing. I believe that at CIE together we can engage in open and flexible value-laden, reflective and informed dialogues which will help me fulfill my dreams and where I will be a part of helping others in fulfilling their dreams as well. Thank you very much!

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Hyeseung Cho

My interests in international education are closely related to a personal experience I had while I was a volunteer worker in Mexico in 2009. Before graduating from college, I spent two months in Mexico as a volunteer teacher in a community center in Maneadero, Mexico. Maneadero is very small rural village with insufficient electricity and water supply. I spent most of time with children who did not attend school. I taught Basic English, art and dance. As I became more familiar with them over time, I started to wonder why they did not attend school and study. According to them, there were no schools and they did not have any reasonHyeseung Cho to go to school and study. However, it seemed somewhat contradictory that even though the children said they did not want to attend school, they liked to attend the community center programs. From this experience, I realized what I really wanted to do with my life was to establish schools (or educational communities) so all children can fulfill their dreams and have a future. At the same time, the trip provoked my academic curiosity as well; ‘what is the ‘appropriate education’ for those living in poverty? What form of education would be appropriate for them?’ The questions are what initially triggered my interest in international education.

Considering that the education is significant in getting out of poverty, I chose to attend to graduate school in order to learn about how Korean society and economy developed with education and how Korea can assist other developing countries in the education field. During my Master's program in Seoul National University I obtained rigorous training in sociology of education and Korean educational development.

While I studied at graduate school, I also worked as an educational development specialist with the NGO, Educators Without Borders (EWB) for two and a half years. As a project facilitator, I was in charge of projects. One of the main research projects was ‘Feasibility Study on the Construction of School in the Northern Industrial Park of Haiti’. In order to establish an elementary school in Haiti, my team conducted the field survey. Based on this, my team designed the curriculum and school model considering the social situation in Haiti. From this experience, I realized the importance of network within a community and increased my understanding of international development. In order to start a school, we needed to not only understand cultural, economic and social situation of the community, but also to consider the relationship with other neighboring schools. Also, we needed to understand the community members’ needs, expectations, and possible complaints. In the process of the study, I learned the importance of understanding community and creating a good relationship with community members. This experience made me realize that I need to study more about community development and education.

Hence, I applied to and finally joined CIE! I would like to combine theories and practices of international education studies in CIE. Since the CIE provides the combination of academic courses and active involvement in applied projects and research activities, I believe that working in CIE will give me useful perspectives and abundant experience regarding my interests. I am really excited to be here and meet kind and enthusiastic CIE colleagues.

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Hunter Gray

My passion for international education is rooted in my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in both Mali (2008-2010) and China (2010-2012). When I joined Peace Corps I had aspirations of working in public health, especially because of its reliance on community peer educators. In a twist of fate that has since defined the course of my life, Peace Corps opted not to assign me to work in public health, but rather, to serve as a teacher in an experimental school in Mali.

While I was in Mali I observed teachers that were overwhelmed and frustrated by their profession due to their lack of training and the formidable class sizes they dealt with. I decided to train teachers from 6 different villages in student-centered pedagogy and I Hunter Graycreated an environmental and health education curriculum which not only modeled these better teaching practices but also made use of service-learning projects in the local community. Although I could not change the large class sizes, simply providing the teachers with better teaching practices had positive, tangible effects both on the teachers’ outlook of their profession and on the part of the students’ learning. My experience in Mali forged my belief that the challenges facing developing countries can best be combated with improvements in teacher education.

When my time in Mali was drawing to a close I knew that I hadn’t satiated my desire to work abroad. I also knew that even though I was serving as a teacher trainer in Mali, my lack of experience as a teacher in the classroom gave me little credibility on the subject. I signed on with Peace Corps for two more years in Sichuan, China to teach a university oral English course in order to afford me a better perspective on international education.

It soon became clear to me that years of conventional English teaching strategies had strangled the creative and critical thinking skills of my Chinese students. I created a class curriculum that focused on social issues in order to spark interests in my students. Students performed plays which addressed various forms of discrimination in their society and gave poster presentations on environmental issues at campus-wide events to gain confidence in public speaking and serve as peer educators on social issues. After planning these events I became intrigued by the notion of curricula which seeks to make the students agents of change in their communities. 

I am thrilled to be a member of the CIE community; a community which stands as a beacon for all those passionate about improving educational practices while also being cognizant of how education is a tool for empowering people and bringing about social justice. I look to my experience in the Master’s program to challenge my thinking, to expose me to new viewpoints and opinions, and to equip me with the skills to be a leading authority on teacher education.

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Sebastian Per David Lindstrom

I, Sebastian Per David Lindstrom, hail from Sweden where I served in the Swedish Military Special Forces, learning, among other things, how to survive in -30 Celsius weather. After the chilly winters of Sweden, I thawed, graduating from the University of Hong Kong's International Business and Global Management program. I have also consumed knowledge at educational institutions in Singapore, China and Korea. I'm the co-founder of nonprofit organizations and have become an integral part of several more globally-focused groups, including the Sandbox-Network. One such organization, Light for Children I co-founded with two Sebastian LindstromGhanaian partners in 2005.  The organization works with HIV-infected children and mobilizes volunteers from around the world every year to volunteer in Ghana on a variety of child-centered projects. I maintain links with The University of Hong Kong as part of this growing network that supports the region's affected children.

Prompted by the question 'What took you so long?'I bought the domain  (WTYSL) and subsequently launched a film expedition across Africa in search of the unsung heroes in the international aid community. In 2008, using only public transportation, we traveled from Morocco to South Africa. A new and highly formative string was added to my bow when the filmmaker Alicia Sully joined the crew of volunteers, later becoming an integral part of WTYSL. Upon completion of the documentary expedition, WTYSL co-created a screening tour which brought the film to 20 cities and universities across the US and eight European countries . WTYSL works in collaborations with NGOs and is contracted for freelance work by many well-known organizations.

I am a passionate and energetic speaker who talks about what I know best, namely Guerrilla film-making and camel milk. The guerrilla ethos developed over the four years of WTYSL's existence filming non-profits and social businesses in more than 50 countries. In guerilla filmmaking you embrace the unknown, never getting permits, working with semi-professionals and volunteers, and moving around with local people on public transport.

The most ambitious project thus far has involved a year-long journey, covering 20 countries, filming camel milk entrepreneurship and cultures. Due to this expedition I have become a huge Camel Milk promoter and consumer. To test out the Bedouin tradition of camel milk detoxification I stopped eating food and water in Nairobi and instead started consuming only unpasteurized Kenyan camel milk. Each day I drank five liters of the milk and after nine days my mind and body were clear. At the conclusion of my camel milk detox I was invited to Swedish TV's biggest morning show to share camel milk and camel cheese with the host.

In April 2012 WTYSL was the official documentary team for the first ever TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, where 700 TEDx organizers from around the world joined forces to coordinate the 'ideas worth spreading' movement. A month later, taking the 'ideas worth spreading' further, WTYSL helped organize TEDxMogadishu "Re-birth" in a city that some still call "the most dangerous city on earth." The Somali Diaspora joined the event from abroad via live stream and twitter to take part of the first sign of normalcy after 21 years of war in a stateless environment. In May the WTYSL team was in Rwanda filming the Rwanda Open Summit; a collaborative innovative space with education professionals from around the world who came together to discuss the future of education in the developing world. In June I was invited to collaborate on the education committee for Create32; an Austrian governmental initiative organized by the Austrian entrepreneurship organization to develop a vision how the country should look 20 years from now. In July I was a speaker and facilitator at the International Baccalaureate World Student Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in Segovia, Spain. 

Joining the Center for International Education's Master's Program, I am currently focusing on non-formal education solutions in conflict zones. I will very likely remain an enthusiastic generalist due to my healthy obsession connecting people to co-create progress. Traditional education is not dead, it is just realigning itself in the world of crowd-everything and I would like to be part of this process. 

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Spring 2013

CIE Welcomes New Students


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