Category: Uncategorized

Learn a new language this summer with WISLI!

by Felecia Lucht, Director, WISLI

Each summer, around 200 undergraduates, graduate students, professionals, and other non-traditional students from across the country come to Madison to study a language at the Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI).   WISLI offers high-quality language courses in 29 less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) through five institutes:

Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Language Immersion Institute (APTLII) – Arabic, Persian, and Turkish

Central Eurasian Studies Summer Institute (CESSI) – Kazakh, Tajik, Uyghur, and Uzbek

South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI) – Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Pashto, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan, and Urdu

Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI) – Burmese, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese

Summer Intensive Portuguese Institute – Brazilian Portuguese

And new to WISLI this summer: Online Norwegian

Contact the individual Institutes or WISLI if you have any questions.  We hope to see you in Summer 2018!

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Representative from the Asian Development Bank Visits Campus

(From left to right): Sarah Ripp, IRIS Assistant Director for Programming & Communication; James Delehanty, IRIS Executive Director; Omar Dumdum, IRIS Project Assistant, Bart Edes, Asian Development Bank

by Omar Dumdum, IRIS Project Assistant

A top official from one of the world’s largest multilateral development banks visited UW-Madison on January 25 and gave a lecture on the changing landscape for development in the Asia-Pacific region.

Bart Édes, who sits as representative of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) North American Office, said that while Asia-Pacific countries are leading the world in terms of poverty reduction and improving other social development indicators, the region is still home to a large share of the world’s poor.

Apart from widespread poverty, other challenges in the region include urbanization, climate change, and an aging population.  He said that Asia’s rapidly developing cities continue to face inadequate basic services and environmental degradation.  And with increasing life expectancy, an aging population would lead to higher levels of old-age-related spending, especially on health insurance and pension benefits—social systems that continue to be weak in most developing countries in Asia. Mr Édes said that ADB works with developing countries to address these issues by providing loans, technical assistance, grants, and equity investments.

According to Édes, ADB, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, has contributed significantly to the region’s historic global rise, and would continue to do so by supporting three major agendas: inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

He highlighted that ADB does not only focus on traditional infrastructure projects.  In his presentation, Édes mentioned that last year the institution approved financing for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects amounting to $4.5 billion out of the bank’s total approvals worth $28.9. He also explained that ADB relies on contributions from 67 member governments, 48 of which are from the Asia Pacific region.  The bank also receives funding from retained earnings from lending operations, repayment of loans and bonds issued on capital markets.

Édes’s talk was attended by IRIS faculty and staff, as well as students from International Studies 320 (Contemporary Issues: Interdisciplinary Approaches to South Asian Studies) taught by Lalita du Perron, Associate Director for the Center for South Asia.

Édes’s visit was part of ADB’s outreach mission to the US Great Lakes region.  Prior to the lecture, he met with officials of UW-Madison’s International Divison, led by Vice Provost and Dean Guido Podestá, to discuss potential partnerships between the two institutions.


“PEOPLE in the World” Event Draws Over 400 Students!

On Saturday, October, 28th 2017, over 400 students from UW-Madison’s PEOPLE (Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) program spent five hours at Monona Terrace enjoying an IRIS event that was specially designed for them.  “PEOPLE in the World” offered a unique, interactive, internationally-focused half-day that was both educational and a lot of fun.
Nancy Heingartner, IRIS Assistant Director for Outreach, coordinated PEOPLE in the World, which consisted of an opening performance by UW-Madison’s Capoeira group, three 30-minute breakout sessions, during which participants experienced topics ranging from “The Art of Henna,” to “Learn Thai in 30 Minutes!,” from “First Steps: Balkan Village Line Dances,” to “An Introduction to Kenyan Culture and Swahili Language,” and from “Yuts: A Korean Board Game” to “Discovering the Heart of Myanmar, and, finally, a wrap-up demonstration and dance party with Madison’s Limanya African Dance and Drum Ensemble.  In addition, after lunch,
the students circulated through an International Opportunities Fair, at which they collected fliers and spoke with representatives from various UW-Madison entities devoted to internationalism.  These included: the UW-Madison Peace Corps office, International Academic Programs, the International Internships Program, the  WI Summer Intensive Language Institutes (WISLI), and the WI International Scholars Program.
The presenters were a combination of UW-Madison students and staff and members of local ethnic communities.

photos from the event.

UW-Madison Doctoral Alum Favorite to Win Colombia’s Next Presidential Election

Sergio Fajardo, former math professor and mayor of the Colombian city of Antioquia is running for president of Colombia. He holds a doctorate degree in mathematics from UW-Madison. Read a former On Wisconsin article about Mr. Fajardo HERE. Learn more about his current run for presidency including criticism over his fiscal spending as a former mayor HERE.

Philip Gourevitch of The New Yorker Visits Madison

On November 9, 2017, Philip Gourevitch, staff writer for The New Yorker, and author, was interviewed for WORT Radio’s “A Public Affair” as a follow up to his recent visit to campus for a public lecture entitled, “Trump’s America in the World”. Gourevitch’s lecture took place at the Pyle Center and was attended by close to 175 individuals riveted by his ability to synthesize the last 150 years of US foreign policy, and how those pivotal historical moments relate to today’s political climate. LISTEN to his interview.

In addition to his campus visit, Mr. Gourevitch visited Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Studies, Thierry Cruvellier’s “Topics in Global Security: International Criminal Justice: Models and Practice” course. You can read more about his visit to Cruvellier’s class HERE.

And finally, he engaged in a visit to Middleton High School for a presentation and Q&A with students on October 24th.

Janel Anderson and Tim Davis, social studies teachers at MHS, brought around ninety of their students to the library for a lively and educational event.  A wide variety of topics was covered, including the Rwandan genocide, about which Gourevitch published a book in 1998, nuclear war, and current events.

“The kids and teachers were SPELLBOUND and INSPIRED!!! He was great and my expectations were blown. I think he convinced many kids in the crowd to go out and save the world by telling the truth, ” stated Janel Anderson.

Sarah Ripp, IRIS’ Assistant Director for Programming and Communications, and Nancy Heingartner, IRIS Assistant Director for Outreach, facilitated this event.

Nevine El Nossery, Director of Middle East Studies, Speaks to International Learning Community

Nevine El Nossery, Director of Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, recently presented at the International Learning Community’s Fall 2017 Roundtable Series. She presented: “Poetics of Resistance: Egyptian Women’s 2011 Revolution” which covered contemporary topics in Egypt since the beginning of the Arab Springs such as “politically engaged women writers and artists” who “have increasingly come to characterize a key new direction in art production.”

Middle East Studies’ Director, Nevine El Nossery Earns “Honored Instructor Award” from University Housing

Middle East Studies’ Director, Nevine El Nossery Earns “Honored Instructor Award” from University Housing. “El Nossery regularly teaches courses that focus on Francophone and Middle Eastern culture and literature. She is the Director of the Middle East Studies Program.” Congratulations to Professor El Nossery!

Read more HERE.

Database & Website for Distance Learning of “Less Commonly Taught Languages” Under Development

Distance learning options offer greater opportunity for foreign and heritage language learners to study a broader range of languages.  UW-Madison is nationally known for its pioneering role in innovative language instruction. The Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI), working together with the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) and funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, is current surveying what distance learning opportunities exist for the Less Commonly Taught Languages of Asia in Wisconsin and across the country.

Started in September 2017, the first phase of the project is the creation of a database which contains information on where Asian Less Commonly Taught Languages are offered, focusing on where distance learning options available, and gathering information on the course offerings, including frequency of courses, technology used, and fee structures.  The goal is to help promote national access to pedagogically informed LCTL instruction, already a hallmark of UW-Madison.

Working on this project is graduate student assistant, Emily Jorgenson.  Emily studied a semester of Thai at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an undergraduate student, and for two years, worked as a volunteer for English education in the Peace Corps in Indonesia.  Living in a village on the east side of Java, Emily learned Indonesian through immersion and daily use.  She is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Southeast Asian Studies and in addition to continuing studying Indonesian, she is also interested in learning Javanese.  Emily is excited to be working on the project, saying:

While I was in the process of finding schools that offered Southeast Asian Studies degrees, it was really important for me to find schools that offered Indonesian and potentially Javanese language classes. It was difficult to find a database of information online and something like this would have been very beneficial, so I understand how important this project is. I look forward to making a resource for students of all ages and backgrounds who want to pursue less commonly taught Asian languages in and outside of the classroom.

The database and website project will be debuted at the Association for Asian Studies Conference in Washington, DC in March 2018, during Katherine Bowie’s term as AAS President.  Dr. Bowie, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Anthropology Department, was director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies when the crisis in Title VI funding occurred.  This crisis catalyzed her commitment to the importance of preserving LCTL instruction.  Dr. Bowie stated

I am so pleased to see this national LCTL survey is finally happening.  At a time of budget cuts and the rise of butts-in-seats metrics, LCTLs are even more endangered than before.  I am hoping that with the development of fee structures, distance LCTL instruction can become a win-win for all involved.  Through distance technology, we can help generate revenue for those institutions with pedagogically informed language instructors while at the same time expand access to the full array of languages that individual colleges and universities are not able to provide their students otherwise.

The Director of the Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes, Dr. Felecia Lucht, is working with Dr. Bowie and Emily on the project and can be contacted with any questions at

Author and staff writer for the New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch, to speak on campus

On Monday, October 23rd, 2017, author and long-time staff writer for the New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch will present “Trump’s America in the World” in the Pyle Center’s alumni lounge (702 Langdon Street, Madison).

About the presentation: Last year’s U.S. presidential election delivered the most radical shock to the international order of any event since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The rise of Donald Trump marks the end of a post-Cold-war balance of power and ideology. Much of what America stood for, albeit inconsistently and often ineffectively – democracy, diplomacy, climate security, human rights, non-proliferation, institutional expertise – Trump stands aggressively against. The shift is not merely rhetorical. Long-time foreign correspondent, author and New Yorker writer, Philip Gourevitch asks: How did we get here? And how do we make sense of and respond to the crisis the Trump presidency represents in our world? 

Please indicate your interest in attending HERE.

Schedule of Events:

6:30-7:00 p.m.: Public Reception with light appetizers and beverages

7:00-8:00 p.m.: Lecture followed by Q&A

There will be an opportunity to purchase Gourevitch’s books and have them signed after the event.

Co-sponsored by the Madison Committee on Foreign Relations, International Division, the UW Law School, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison, A Room of One’s Own Bookstore.