Global Studies Roundtable is Friday, Oct. 9

The next Global Studies roundtable is Friday, Oct, 9 at 1:00 pm ET,  and welcomes Ben Levelius, Vice Consul from the U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad, India. Levels is a native of Wisconsin and will also be discussing his path to foreign service in the U.S. State Department. The U.S.-India relationship plays a key role in 21st-century international affairs. From high tech development to pharmaceuticals, naval power to Foreign Aid, and everything in-between, how India and the U.S. get-along will affect U.S. foreign policy, business, and individuals for the years to come. Not even a global pandemic stands in the way! This free public event is on Oct. 9, 2020, at Noon Via Microsoft Teams. Join Meeting

‘Pakistan: Going Beyond Borders’ event on Wednesday (May 1)

The event “Pakistan: Going Beyond Borders” will take place at the Mauthe Center on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Come and join four exchange-semester students from Pakistan as they share their experience of living in the United States over the past few months. They will present the diversity they enjoy in Pakistan, not only in culture but in landscape as well. There will be a musical performance on the Rabab (a traditional musical instrument, originally from Afghanistan) and on an eastern flute, and lots of good Pakistani food prepared by them. For questions, please email Kristy Aoki at


Beijing Normal University Students

Welcome to our Beijing Normal University friends and colleagues

UW-Green Bay and Beijing Normal University in Beijing, China, share 34 years of history.

This week (August 21-24, 2018), nine undergraduate and graduate students from Normal University’s School of the Environment (SOE) led by faculty member Ouyang Wei are exploring UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee on a cultural and environmental sciences exchange tour.

It started with a graduate student from China, Yue Rong, who arrived on campus in 1984 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science. Rong, a graduate of Beijing Normal University (BNU), was interested in UW-Green Bay’s environmental science program led him to (now retired) Prof. Emeritus Robert Wenger’s office. After several meetings and conversations, Wenger agreed to be Rong’s major professor. Rong graduated with a M.S. degree in May of 1986. He continued his path to University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to earn a Ph.D. degree in Public Health, and after that landed a job at the California Water Authority.

In 1985, while still a student at UW-Green Bay, Rong’s former professors from China paid him a visit. Wenger hosted the three professors who were starting a master’s program in environmental science at BNU. Wenger was invited back to serve as a visiting professor at BNU and spent a year teaching a graduate class at the Institute of Environmental Sciences (IES) at BNU from 1987 to 1988. During his time at BNU, he also helped to organize the International Symposium on Environmental Impact Assessment sponsored by IES, held in October 1987 in Beijing.

The exchange of knowledge, research and personnel has continued through all these years between the two universities. The first UW-Green Bay student was accepted to SOE’s Master’s Program was Anthony Sirianni. He graduated with a M.S. in July of 2017 and stayed at BNU to learn the Chinese language. This sparked an interest in a formal relationship between the two schools to promote student exchanges and other activities. In October 2017, UW-Green Bay’s Brent Blahnik (Office of International Education) and professors Kevin Fermanich, Le Zhu, Mathew Dornbush and Wenger traveled to Beijing to discuss with faculty at SOE about a proposed formal exchange agreement.

Which brings us to this week’s visit… and a warm welcome to UW-Green Bay!

Story by student Roosa Turenen. Photo by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication.

Brooke Soto (middle) has little trouble convincing her class in Berlin, Germany to pose for a photo.

Student Teaching with a Side of Culture

When the grade point average is met and the coursework is complete, there is one last step an Education major needs to take before earning a teaching license: practical teaching experience. Some might choose to stay around Northeast Wisconsin. Some return to their hometowns. But UW-Green Bay’s Professional Program in Education encourages its students to reach further and student teach internationally. Program leaders believe students who immerse themselves into other cultures are much more culturally competent and comfortable, an important attribute for new teachers stepping into classrooms that are constantly diversifying.

It’s not always the most direct path for Education majors.

“Our program is tied to the Wisconsin DPI (Department of Public Instruction) requirements,” says Jamie Froh-Tyrrell, advisor and student teaching coordinator for Education at UW-Green Bay. “Because our students are busy fulfilling the state requirements through coursework, they don’t get the opportunity to study abroad like other students. Student teaching abroad offers them the opportunity to gain international experience for the very first time, as well as fulfill their state student teaching requirement.”

Getting there from here

UW-Green Bay students interested in student teaching internationally can follow one of two tracks. The first is to Cuernavaca, Mexico, via a January-term travel class, where they spend three weeks immersing themselves in the culture and then can return to complete nine or 18 weeks of student teaching there. The second option is through a partnership with the Office of International Education and the Educators Abroad program, which offers students the opportunity to student teach in more than 70 countries. Students can choose 10- or 18-week placements. They simply need to express where they want to teach and the partners work together to make it happen.

In either track, there is no need to know a second language. According to Froh-Tyrrell, “In most areas, English is the second language…so students can get by just fine.” “However,” she continues, “host families usually don’t speak English, so students are immersed in the native language from the moment they get there. Often times they come back fluent — an unexpected perk that can make a difference when applying for teaching roles back in the states.”

Bringing the experience of diversity home

Education students who teach internationally bring back much more than a fluency in a second language. They return with cultural stories and experiences to share, and that makes an impact personally and professionally – in their own lives and others’ lives.

Brooke Soto (middle) has little  trouble convincing her class in  Berlin, Germany to pose for a photo.
Brooke Soto (middle) with her class in Berlin, Germany.

Froh-Tyrrell explains, “Green Bay has historically been, and still mostly is, a monocultural, homogenous community. When students bring back stories and experiences they’ve had with global diversity, it helps close the culture gap. They bring back a message of understanding.” Froh-Tyrrell continues, “Plus, they’ve been immersed in a culture where they are the different ones, so they can now have true empathy for, and a connection with, someone who may be from a different culture in their classroom.”

Brooke Soto ’18, who student taught in Berlin, Germany, agrees. “I have gained such a humbling respect for different cultures, and I look forward to modeling that respect for my students.” And with 14 different languages spoken at her school in Berlin, she also had to learn to communicate without words. “Different cultures not only speak differently, but express emotion differently,” she says. “That is something I’ve become keenly aware of, too.”

In fall 2017, six UW-Green Bay student teachers went abroad: Four to Cuernavaca, Mexico; one to Jamaica; and another to Germany. Riley Garbe ’17, who went to Cuernavaca, has a job waiting for him upon his return from abroad: as a Spanish teacher. “Spanish is my second language. I studied it in high school and got real-world experience in college when I worked with Latino immigrant families in Green Bay.” The English major (with an Education minor) wanted to student teach in Mexico, not just to practice his Spanish, but experience Mexican life. “I wanted to immerse myself in a totally different environment and be part of authentic Mexican culture,” Garbe says. The Mexican holiday, “Day of the Dead” provided such an experience. He joined his host family members as they walked to various houses and churches to pay respect to dead loved ones. “There were thousands and thousands of other people from the village, all visiting the homes of people they don’t even know to express their love, respect and solidarity with their fellow Mexican people,” Garbe said.

For Soto, connecting with German culture meant connecting with its storied history. “To place your fingers into the bullet holes that still remain in some of the buildings, to walk the streets soldiers marched and fought on…nothing can replace being there and experiencing that. It’s extremely impactful, profoundly moving,” she says.

International student teaching definitely makes an impact on a resume. Andrew Mullroy, Principal at St. John the Baptist School, GRACE, in Howard, Wis (and Riley Garbe’s new employer) says that international experience speaks volumes. “It shows they are willing to adapt and adjust; that they are learners and willing to seek out opportunities; that they strive for understanding.” Mullroy adds, “There is a huge difference between learning the culture and living the culture.” Students who student teach in a foreign country, with a foreign language, with a foreign culture, come back as different people… prepared to step into a classroom, teach diverse students and connect with them in meaningful, personal ways. They also come back excited to share their newfound understanding and respect for others. They are, in a sense, beacons for unity.

“It’s been life changing,” says Soto.

–Story by Kim Viduski ’92

Tanner Vodvarka meeting the President of Colombia, Spring 2014

UW-Green Bay alumnus meets Nobel Peace Prize winner, Columbia President Juan Manuel Santos

UW-Green Bay alumnus and Spanish graduate Tanner Vodvarka studied in Bucamaranga, Colombia (Spring 2014). During the semester abroad, he had the opportunity to meet the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who has been announced ads the recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. Santos, has dedicated his prize to the victims of the devastating violent conflict that has affected Colombia for so many years. Vodvarka is currently living and working in Panama. (He is posed to the right of President Santos).

Photo submitted.

International Ed seeks ‘friendship families’ for spring

The Office of International Education is seeking friendship families from our faculty and staff for a few incoming exchange students for the spring semester.  Friendship families are asked to invite the students over for dinner or go on an outing together and serve as a resource/liaison for and to the Green Bay community.  If you are interested in serving as a friendship family or have questions, please contact Kristy Aoki at or (920) 465-5164.

Hutchison invited to help organize 2016 European Sociological conference

Prof. Ray Hutchison of Sociology has been tagged to serve on the Scientific Committee for the next mid-term conference of the RN-37 research network of the European Sociological Association. “Moving cities: Contested views on urban life” will be held June 29-July 1, 2016 at the Jagiellonian University, in Krakow. (That’s the old city of Krakow, Poland, not the more recently settled Krakow, Wis., which is north of Pulaski on Highway 32.) Jagiellonian University is the oldest institution of higher education in Eastern Europe, founded by Casimir the Great in 1364. Hutchison notes that sociology conferences in Europe are much different from those in the United States, drawing scholars from many different countries with vastly different research traditions, much more informed by social theory, and much more interdisciplinary than what one would find here.

UW-Green Bay welcomes ‘amazing singers’ for International Vocal Competition, Oct. 9-11

vocal-competition-imageLovers of opera and classically trained vocal performance will have the opportunity to hear top young talent from across the nation and beyond when the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay hosts a prestigious international music competition Friday through Sunday, Oct. 9-11.

The International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition takes place in Fort Howard Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay. Admission is free, and the public is welcome to attend at any point during the competition’s three rounds — opening, semifinal and final.

The 2015 edition of the every-other-year competition is the 13th since its inception in Montreal, Canada, in 1991. This is the first year Green Bay will host the finals, a change based in part on a history of success as a preliminary venue. UW-Green Bay has hosted opening rounds six straight times since 2003.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the finals to Green Bay. This competition has a great history, and our audiences have really enjoyed being able to hear amazing singers from around the world,” says UW-Green Bay Music Prof. Sarah Meredith Livingston, director, who with community patron Sharon Resch, producer, is organizing the weekend’s events.

The competition schedule (subject to change) is as follows:

• Friday, Oct. 9 — Preliminary Round 10 a.m. – noon
• Saturday, Oct. 10 — Semifinal sessions beginning at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Oct. 11 — Finals, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (closing reception, 3 p.m.)

“This is a competition that showcases the beauty of the Czech-Slovak repertoire,” Meredith Livingston says. “It also provides a chance for promising young singers to further their careers, and it demonstrates to our local voice students what can be possible when talent, training and dedication come together.”

A total of 19 male and female vocalists have entered to take part in the Green Bay preliminary rounds. (Preliminaries will also take place in Montreal, earlier the same week, with contenders vying to advance to Green Bay for the semifinals.)

The list of entrants here includes vocalists from New Jersey, California, Ohio and Massachusetts as well as several each from Michigan and Illinois, and one from Kronberg, Germany. Competitors from Wisconsin are Sarah Butler, soprano, Milwaukee; Talia Nepper, lyric soprano, Franksville; Elena Stabile, soprano, Appleton; and Ian Toohill, tenor, Shorewood.

The winner of the International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition will receive $5,000 Canadian and be featured in recital at a later date at the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic. The event offers a total of seven cash awards including $2,500C for second place and $2,000C for third.

The first-place finisher in the 2013 competition, Ukrainian-born soprano and University of Michigan graduate Antonina Chekhosvkya, now tours professionally as an opera, symphony and solo recitalist. Within months of her 2007 title, Simone Osborne, now with the Vancouver and Canadian Opera companies, became one of the youngest winners (at age 21) of the famous New York Metropolitan Opera auditions. The 2003 top prize winner, Jan Martiník, is today a featured performer with the Berlin State Opera.

The distinguished panel of international jurors for the 2015 competition includes Alois Jezek, artistic director of the Dvorak International Voice Competition, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic; Ales Kanka, Prague Conservatory; Prof. Victor Yampolsky of Northwestern University; Maestro Gildo Dinunzio, assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, New York; and Alain Nonat, artistic director of Théâtre Lyrichorégra 20,, Montreal, and the competition’s founder. Also serving as jurors will be UW-Green Bay’s Meredith, herself an accomplished vocalist and Fulbright honoree for her performance and academic work primarily in the Czech-Slovak repertoire, and Seong-Kyung Graham, music director and conductor for the Civic Symphony of Green Bay.

Singers will be accompanied, for the seventh consecutive time at the Green Bay site, by pianist Tim Cheek, a professor, Czech diction specialist and vocal coach at the University of Michigan.

Nonat and others created the Montreal competition in 1991 to commemorate the 150th celebration of renowned composer Antonin Dvorak’s birth. Today, the event continues to promote the Czech and Slovak vocal repertoire for young singers, while fostering exchanges of young musicians and specialists between North America and the Czech Republic, as well as Slovakia.

It is expected that Bořek Lizec, counsel general of the Czech Republic in Chicago, will be on hand for the presentation of awards at the reception following the Oct. 11 finals.

The final round begins at 10 a.m. in the Weidner’s Fort Howard Hall, only a few hours ahead of that day’s noon kickoff across town at Lambeau Field, where the Green Bay Packers will host NFL rival the St. Louis Rams.

“People everywhere know about Green Bay and world championship performances in football,” Meredith says. “It’s nice to be able to add to that, in our own way, by bringing an international competition in music to this community, and showcasing these talented vocal performers.”


Reminder: Smithsonian official leads seminar on Panama partnership

On Friday (Sept. 18) at 11:40 a.m., Matthew Larsen, director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution, will lead a seminar informing the UW-Green Bay community and the general public on the history and scope of STRI research. Titled “A Century of Smithsonian Science in Panamá,” the program will take place in Room 103 of the University Union. Since 2006, UW-Green Bay has developed close ties with STRI, including an annual student trip to Panama and establishment of a long-term forest research plot in northern Wisconsin. All are welcome to attend Larsen’s presentation.

Tickets selling well for Arendt/Kimball’s Mexican Luncheon

Next Wednesday will be the last chance to reserve your ticket for the Friday, Sept. 25, Mexican Luncheon at the University Union, but you might want to do so earlier. Tickets are in high demand to hear the presentation by Profs. Lucy Arendt and Steven Kimball and to taste some fun Mexican food that they recommended we try. The Union will reserve a table for your group, and door prizes will be handed out. Check out the menu.