Archive for Practica

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Spotlight on Philip J. Murphy

phil-murphy-profileAssistant Professor, Development Practice and Policy

Here at MIIS, students can participate in a wide range of international and domestic immersive learning opportunities. Whether students travel during January-term, spring break, summer or do an independent practicum, students have a number of options at their fingertips. The faculty who lead these trips recognize the value of these immersive professional experiences. We at GSIPM wanted to sit down with another faculty leader and let them share their story.

Why did you decide to enter your field?…Tell me about your journey.

I got a BS and MA in History. I decided there was no future in that after I finished a thesis on the Holocaust. I felt powerless. So I decided to pursue something more proactive: policy. When I started that degree, I found that I was lacking in quantitative skills. So I spent a great deal of time acquiring them. When this position opened up, I thought it was a great fit. I was interested in having an international focus. And, my mentor was the same person whose book was used for the course I would be teaching–William Dunn.

How would you explain your practicum course a/o fieldwork?

The topics and locations are subject to change from year to year. In our first iteration, we had two students: Aaron Ebner and Adam Stieglitz, the founding members of Team Peru. They were established in Peru; had their own NGO, the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development; and they were very successful at grassroots organization.

Robert McCleery came up with the idea of conducting research involving Team Peru. Then, I suggested involving students. We were soon joined by three other colleagues: Fernando DePaolis; Kent Glenzer; and Jeff Dayton-Johnson. The plan soon evolved from sending students down during J-term to a three course progression. First, students would be prepared to conduct research. Next, they would actually work in the field to gather the information we need. Last, we would work with the students to evaluate and analyze the information and create a deliverable for a client. That started the “wraparound” progression that we have today. We now have a 2 credit course during the fall semester (Field Methods) where students train in building surveys, and conducting focus groups and semi-structured interviews. The second class is the J-term Fieldwork. The last class, Advanced Policy Analysis, focuses on analyzing the collected data and preparing reports based on our findings. Not everyone has to take part in all three courses. But, all three courses together constitute a project, and students have an actual client, for whom they prepare a policy deliverable. Students must not only learn, but also apply skills for research and policy analysis from these and other classes. This is one of the most practical field research opportunities that we offer at the institute.

Peru was our original program location, and this year we are doing the same process in Nepal and Salinas. Each location will likely interest different groups of students. In Nepal, the research question will focus on communicating and building support for NGOs. There might also be work with the local population. In Salinas, the Mixed-Methods Evaluation, Training and Analysis (META) Lab has been hired to do a program evaluation. This is centered on Why’D You Stop Me (WYSM), a program that teaches locals about what the police are up against while also teaching police how not to escalate or how to deescalate a situation. We will be really looking for the source of tension in the community. This is a primarily Hispanic community and it will be interesting and lively especially in light of what is happening across the country. There has been a lot of buy-in with the Salinas Police Department and we try to work a lot with them.

Why Peru vs. Ecuador vs. Honduras?

We used to do Peru and El Salvador. They already had students going and we just helped analyze their data. With Nepal, we had two students familiar with the country.  And one had been a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who served in Nepal who was able to get extra training. One student has agreed to come back and lead it this time. It always depends on whether you have an NGO and a client to help do logistics and gain access to populations. And, it makes it valid research. It’s a service learning approach, so we need to be in service to somebody if we are giving the final deliverable to someone who counts on what you are giving them.

What connections do you have there?

In Peru we have past leaders from Team Peru. Adam and Aaron, were my students years ago and when they graduated they maintained their relationship with Middlebury and MIIS, so that was easy. The other NGOs have people we are very familiar with. We continue building rapport with some of them. And now we are in discussions with a new NGO. They supplied all the interpretation last year.

In Salinas we had been working with the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace (CASP). We still attend all of their network meetings. MIIS and the META Lab are well known there. We want to be present so we can work with them and pick up projects and give back to the community. I mostly go on my spare time and sometimes are able to cover the cost of travel for META Lab staff attendees who represent MIIS. Because of that several NGOs know us well. We were asked specifically to participate in the grant that supports our evaluation work. Fernando DePaolis will be the faculty lead for the project.

What draws you back?

I like being in the field. If you can’t get your feet dirty, why do you even do this stuff? If you talk with native Quechua speakers and talk with the people who have been there for thousands of years, it is amazing. It’s the kind of experience you don’t get any other way. I’ve always loved being in a research environment. I’m very dedicated and interested in methods of doing research. If I’m going to teach it I’d better be able to do it.

What would a student get out of this experience?

Every place they could go and get a degree they would have an opportunity to do projects. Very few would allow them to do actual fieldwork with actual deliverables with someone who really needs it. Being able to collect data in person is unmatched. What you will see is that some of the well known institutions will take students to do some professor’s project. This isn’t that. This is something students develop, vet, manage, execute and analyze. There is no other school doing this.

How would you advise a faculty interested in leading a class abroad for the first time?

Play to your strengths. Team up with someone who is interested so you can distribute the load. This started as the effort of 5 faculty members, so don’t take it all on yourself. Use those who are knowledgeable in the area, and come up with a compelling question so you can motivate students. In your recruitment the main thing you are looking for is motivation. Brilliance is something they can work on, but motivation you can’t get any other way.

Can you tell a story or share some of the challenges you’ve faced leading these programs?

One is just trying to help with another site while on-site myself. We happened to have some truly talented people available last year and that was our great luck. But when you are out there actually leading one of these, you have to be HR, IRB, an instructor and a manager. So there is a lot to balance at this time. And people have to realize that you are in charge not the NGO. You have to keep logistics straight, keep research valid – do the work to get a random sample and keep people motivated, though that could be a challenge.  It’s a stressful environment. People get rest, but not enough. Nerves get frayed. People realize that this isn’t what they want to do with their lives while others fall in love with it. You have to be ready to help someone see how they fit in and get people into the right tracks that will keep them and keep the project functioning.

Is there a story that captures one of your most rewarding or significant moments or could you share what drives you to do these types of programs?

For me the most rewarding part comes in the third course when people look back at what they’ve done. Normally it’s not me telling them but the students themselves realizing what they’ve accomplished. This is a year of effort and people realize the scope of what they’ve been through and what they’ve produced. The flip-side is that they realize that actual research is messy business. And they get a better idea of what they can and cannot do with field research. You might realize later that the questions initially asked were totally useless or the people on the ground weren’t interested.

What research or practices guide your approach to offering these programs?

[Looks over at bookshelf and laughs] There are a lot of resources. About seven to ten of these are great books that I go to all the time. I also troll the web. One thing is that you can’t expect to find what you are looking for in one book. Check two to three sources to get an idea of what is meaningful to you.

Is there anything you’d like to add/share?

I find this rewarding, but don’t take my word for it. I’d rather you go and talk to someone who went. It really is real work and it will feel like it, but that has a lot of rewards. It’s a whole lot better than Disneyland.

For more information on Phil Murphy, read his MIIS Faculty Profile.

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

J-term Practicum in Cuba is ON!

Dr. Jan Black and a second faculty member will be leading a JTerm Practica in Cuba January 10-20. This course can be taken for 0, 2, or 4 credits. Learn more and apply by October 31st at

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

International Winter Academy Call for Participants

IPD is very glad to announce its next International Winter Programs in Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation, Mediation, Security and Intercultural Dialogue, which is going to be held in Switzerland. Applicants could choose either 10 days Winter academy or 3 Month CAS-Research program in their filled application.

View the application form or visit the School of Peacebuidling, Mediation, Conflict Resolution, Intercultural Dialogue, Security & Human Rights webpage for more information.


Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Spotlight on Paige Butler


Assistant Professor, International Education Management

Here at MIIS, students can participate in a wide range of international and domestic immersive learning opportunities. Whether students travel during January-term, spring break, summer or do an independent practicum, students have a number of options at their fingertips. The faculty who lead these trips recognize the value of these immersive professional experiences. We at GSIPM wanted to sit down with some and let them share for themselves.

What’s Your Spirit Animal? Can’t think of one? Name an animal, now another, and finally another.

Jaguar ← What you think your spirit animal is.

Monkey ← What others think you are.

Llama ← What your spirit animal really is.  (Paige’s note: I just returned from Peru where I saw many llamas!)

Why did you decide to enter your field?…Tell me about your journey.

I had my first international experience when I was in high school at age 16. I went to Eastern Europe and traveled through Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic. I grew up in a small farming community in Iowa, so visiting these cities and seeing so many new things was one of those experiences that changed my life, and propelled me into my international career – even if I didn’t even know how transformational it really was until many years later.

As a college student, I studied abroad in Mexico and Guatemala and worked in the Spanish department helping organize study abroad programs. I also worked for a program that provided after-school and summer care for children of US military families abroad which allowed me opportunities to live and work in Japan, Italy and Germany.  While my world experiences were adding up, I still hadn’t considered an international career.

I decided to pursue my Masters in Higher Education at Arizona State University (ASU) so I flew from Guatemala back to Iowa and without much hesitation, I packed up my car and drove to Arizona. While in graduate school, I started working in Student Affairs and Higher Education Administration. I enjoyed it, but I missed the international component.  After my first year at ASU, I had an opportunity to lead engineering undergraduate students abroad on a summer program that ASU was offering in partnership with two other universities.  This was a program that visited universities in England, France and Spain and I coordinated and led the trip, which was my first official study abroad experience as an administrator. I soon realized working in international education administration combined what I enjoyed about working with students in higher education and my passion for international experiences and cultural learning.

I completed my Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in Higher Education at Arizona State University. I worked in the study abroad office and later in academic affairs while completing my degree, and for my dissertation I researched outcomes of short-term study abroad participation. That research solidified how valuable education abroad is in shaping personal and academic development for college students. I had personally experienced many changes as a result of studying abroad, and I knew I wanted to be able to create those types of learning experiences for other students in my future career.

After completing my doctorate, I took a position in the private sector and managed academic affairs and faculty-led programs for a large study abroad provider, CEA.  There I worked with nine academic centers and international staff around the world as well as 100+ colleges and universities across the US, developing study abroad programs for hundreds of US college students.  It was a tremendous experience and rounded out my professional experiences.  Eventually, my desire to be in the classroom full-time grew and the IEM program at MIIS was a perfect fit where I could combine my expertise in international education and higher education administration to train rising professionals who will work in international education.

How would you explain your practicum course and fieldwork?

Onsite Perspectives of Education Abroad Management in Spain is an elective course focused on Education Abroad Management. We partner with Middlebury Schools Abroad in Madrid, Sede Prim.

While developing the program, I met Middlebury Schools Abroad Director in Madrid, Dr. Patricia Rodriguez,  who provided valuable input as I created the course and immersive learning experience.  It was important to connect the work we do in IEM with the work Patricia and her team do in Madrid managing study abroad programs. IEM students who participate in the program learn about education abroad management from the host community perspective.  This program gives students the opportunity to better understand education abroad from an international context. This course is a complement to the IEM courses taught on campus in Monterey.

Students complete small projects or fieldwork dedicated to managing education abroad in Spain. In 2016, students worked on projects about various components of the education abroad experience that Middlebury staff manage, including: homestays, marketing & social media, experiential learning and co-curricular activities, and orientation. Students explored how to create experiences that foster intercultural development and student growth, with an emphasis on language development in alignment with Middlebury’s mission.   Students are also meeting with local experts who work in education abroad, visiting Spanish universities and other education abroad programs across Madrid and practicing their own intercultural and linguistic skills during our time in Spain.


Why Spain and not Peru or Ecuador?

I was primarily looking for a place that had a large variety of education abroad programs, because I wanted to do a comparative analysis of education abroad programs and be able to offer opportunities for project work onsite. Spain is among the top 5 countries hosting U.S. students studying abroad.  It was also a goal to partner with Middlebury Schools Abroad and deepen the connectivity with the IEM program. After considering the infrastructure and resources available across Middlebury’s Schools Abroad network, Madrid was among our top choices. Since I have previously spent time in Spain, I felt comfortable coordinating the program and had a strong network to draw upon for organizing the onsite experiences.  It is my hope that this program could be replicated in other locations in the future, perhaps in France or China.  IEM is also looking at other options to meet our diverse student interests so I look forward to seeing what emerges!

What would a student get out of this experience?/How could students market the skills they will acquire?

In addition to specific knowledge and skills gained through the coursework and projects completed on site, students were able to expand their network in international education through a variety of site visits and expert meetings.  Students were able to see a variety of education abroad programs first-hand, and gained a deeper understanding the differences between programs. Students were able to analyze the mission of Middlebury Schools Abroad and comparatively evaluate education abroad programs offered by Spanish universities like Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, U.S. based program providers/international education organizations like CIEE and CEA and U.S. universities with programs like the University of San Diego Madrid Center.  Students can practice Spanish language skills relevant to international education throughout the program as well since most site visits and guest speaker meetings are held in Spanish.  We honor the Middlebury Language Pledge while interacting with study abroad students at Sede Prim.

Throughout the program Team Spain participants also reflect on their own understanding and experiences with education abroad and this program helps them break down their own stereotypes and biases of education abroad.  They also reflect on their intercultural development throughout the program, learning more about cultural differences between the US and Spain and how those might impact students who are studying abroad or how it might impact staff working with peers across the ocean.  Students take the Intercultural Development Inventory prior to participating in the program, which is an an assessment that measures intercultural competence—the capability to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities. Intercultural competence has been identified as a critical capability for international educators and is a central goal of the majority of education abroad programs.  This program offers students the chance to reflect on their own intercultural development and think about its application to future careers in education abroad.

Shortly after the immersive learning program abroad, we received opportunities for seven practicum placements from the organizations that we partnered with and others who heard about the type of work our students were doing in Madrid.   I’m happy to report that we have five IEM students in Spain this fall in positions that were created following our J-Term program – a third of the students returned to Spain for their practicum!  There is real value for students to gain experience in the field through on site practicum work and it has been a goal of the IEM program to increase international practica opportunities for our students.


Is there a story that captures one of your most rewarding or significant moments or could you share what drives you to do these types of programs?

[Pulls down signed Team Spain group photo hanging in office] Students framed and signed this awesome memento as a thank you and to remember our inaugural IEM immersive learning program.  This is our group pictured in Toledo during a daytrip we took as part of the program. A team of students planned this as part of their project work in which they were creating co-curricular and experiential learning activities for Middlebury students. The students had to apply Experiential Learning Theory into practice to develop the excursion for our group.  It was their job to prepare their peers for the experience (abstract conceptualization), lead the excursion (concrete experience) and debrief the experience (reflective observation).  This experience gave the team leaders practice in understanding onsite administration of study abroad programs from a learning perspective as well as administrative skill development.  The team had to create a budget, coordinate train tickets for the group, create the itinerary and plan of where we were going and what we would be learning, while applying theory to practice and considering the host city context of a city they had not previously visited.  The team coordinated and led the excursion for our group as a pilot program. While leading the trip, I watched them change roles from being a student to taking on the role of a program leader.  They did a tremendous job, but some things didn’t go as planned and I watched them encounter these difficulties – from schedules being off-track, site visits being different than expected, getting lost, and managing a small group of students not arriving on time at the meeting point before departing for the train station.  They had to determine how to navigate these obstacles and make decisions in the moment using information they have learned through their courses and practice in IEM.  After the program, the students also developed and conducted an evaluation of the excursion and made adjustments to the excursion based on the pilot program, and now Middlebury’s Sede Prim team offers this as an optional excursion for their study abroad students.


For more details, read the full interview.

For more information on Paige Butler, visit her MIIS faculty profile.  

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

East Asia Practicum Info Session

Information Session:

East Asia Seminar and Spring Break Immersive Trip to Tokyo and Beijing

The immersive trip (March 18-26) is an integral part of the semester-long seminar “Foreign Policy, Trade, and Security in East Asia,” taught by Professors Akaha and Liang (GSIPM) in the spring of 2017. Everyone who wants to join the trip is required to register either for 4 credits (preferable) or for audit.

When: Thursday, October 13th at 12:00pm

Where: Casa Fuente 434


Thursday, September 15th, 2016





Experiential learning is a cornerstone of the MIIS experience. While you are here, you are able to participate in a wide range of international and domestic immersive learning opportunities during the January term and spring break. Practica provide students with opportunities to explore real world contexts as freelance consultants, field researchers, and junior-level professionals.

Immersive Learning recently announced 2017 Practica and now invite you to an informational session to discuss the variety of opportunities available. Where can you picture yourself —Colombia, Czech Republic, East Asia, Egypt, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, Spain or here in California?

For complete details on 2017 opportunities visit

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

IEM Practicum-DPMI Plus fellow collaborates with progressive language school in Mexico

Luz Vasquez

Prior to studying at the Institute, Luz served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador in the Community Organization and Economic Development Program.

Luz Vazquez-Ramos, candidate for a dual graduate degree in Public Administration and International Education Management, is currently working as a Special Projects Manager for the CETLALIC Institute in Cuernavaca, Mexico for her IEM Practicum and DPMI Plus fellowship.  CETLALIC, self-described as the most politically and socially progressive Spanish language school in Mexico, was founded in 1987 by Salvadorian and Nicaraguan refugees.  Every language course is taught following Paulo Friere methodology, an approach designed to teach Spanish, Mexican culture, and generate a sense of solidarity with Latin America.  The program also offers students an opportunity to participate in a variety of social justice programs.   In a recent exchange with the GSIPM office, Luz wrote, “As a former student of CETLALIC, I have learned about current and past social justice movements through CETLALIC, however I never understood the intentional and direct connection to El Salvador and to Nicaragua.  I am beyond touched and humbled by the work CETLALIC has done.”  This summer and into the fall semester, Luz will be developing a new study abroad program specifically created for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students.

Through her background and work at CETLALIC, Luz has become inspired to develop greater solidarity among undocumented immigrant youth in the United States and the academic community in Mexico.

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Mark Your Calendars: East Asia Presentations this Thursday!

Presentations at Irvine Auditorium this Thursday, May 7th, 6:30-8:30pm, Reception 8:30-9:30pm!

east asia

The students that went on the first ever two-country program through MIIS Immersive Learning Programs, the East Asia: China and Japan trip, will be presenting this Thursday at Irvine, with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception to follow. The presentations will be very interesting as this program included a semester long seminar which concluded in robust papers, and the feedback from the journey has been very interesting!

The East Asia Practicum was an investigative tour of Tokyo, Japan and Beijing, China, where participants met with and interviewed policymakers, former politicians, and renowned scholars. With unique research topics looking into the the international relations of the region, students were able to seek first-hand information on the dynamics of the two major players: Japan and China. The rise in status of either nation will set the political and economic tone for the region. By experiencing and researching within each nation, students will be able to provide original ideas on the current state of Sino-Japanese relations and the future of region.

Facebook event:

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Immersive Learners Champion Seven Countries through Nine Programs

I sat down with Maritza Munzón (MPA/IEM ’15), and Rafael Hernandez (MPA ’15) at a local coffee shop last week to interview them about MIIS’s Immersive Learning Programs. Maritza has traveled on five trips to six countries through MIIS (Peru, Cuba, Kenya, Mindanao, and East Asia), and Rafael has gone to four (Peru, Cuba, Rwanda, and East Asia). Both had a lot to say, much more than I can fit into this interview; I can’t encourage you enough to talk with your peers about their experiences abroad.

Q: What made you choose the immersive learning programs you chose?

Maritza: For me it’s always about “why not?” It is always a question of “if I don’t go, will I regret it?” And the answer is almost always “Yes”. So I do everything I can to take advantage of the opportunity to travel. MarRafFurthermore, because I am in the IEM degree program and want to conduct these trips myself one day, the best way to learn how to do this is to go on as many as I can!

Rafael: I was eager to begin traveling right away when I got here. That was the reason I picked this school over many other options – the traveling component. Right off the bat I could go on this Peru trip, that had a practical application of policy analysis, – and so I went.

M: I don’t think many people have traveled the way we travel here at MIIS.

There is only so much reading you can do about culture, practice, and so on, but you need to embed it in your muscle memory to learn and understand.

Q: Have you gone on any trips together?

Both went to Peru (but in different communities), as well as Cuba, and East Asia.

M: Peru started my obsession with these trips; the experience got my feet wet and then I wasn’t scared, anymore, to do the others.

Q: Are there any programs you especially wish you could have gone on?

R: I would have liked to go to the Philippines.

M: I would have done the El Salvador trip if I had the time. But I am always torn between what is familiar and what is less accessible. El Salvador is within my reach because of language, so I decided to take the leap and go on trips that I was less likely to do on my own:  Kenya, East Asia, and the Philippines.

Q: How did the programs and learning styles compare?

Both: Cuba was more like learning tourism, while Peru and East Asia where more research based: we did academic research in Asia, and field research in Peru.

M: I was a guinea pig for many of the trips – for example:  Kenya, Peru, and East Asia. Cuba was established. Being on a program in its first incarnation is a valuable experience for someone learning about how these programs are conducted.

R: I learned a lot about different types of intelligence and understanding. You know there is the computer competency type, where you either know it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you can ask help from someone who does – and there are no ego problems associated with that. Cultural competency, on the other hand, and especially at this school, is more complicated in that way. Then there is emotional intelligence (EQ) versus the IQ. When you go to speak to someone in a village, everyone on these trips is so concerned about being politically correct, which makes them all self-conscious. I found that the best way to take to people is honestly and openly.

Q: Since you have gone on so many of these programs, do you have any constructive feedback?

R: Like I said, these trips are one of the reasons why I chose this school. And we are so grateful for these experiences.

M: Growing up the way I did, I would have never been able to do this on my own. And I am grateful, and the best way I can give back is by applying my IEM knowledge and skills and giving constructive feedback. I was able to design a pre-departure training for the Peru trip, which was very well received, but not yet implemented. Based on our experience in Peru, Cortney Copeland and I designed a pre-departure workshop and assessment for that trip through our IEM Design and Assessment Class. In the workshop we wanted students to bond with the people in their groups, learn each other’s working styles and strength, while also getting to practice giving the surveys and entering the data. There are always hiccups with international travel and our goal was to develop cohesive groups before departure to help student better work through some of those unpredictable moments. The assessment consisted of a simple survey that students took before and after the trip to better inform staff and faculty of what is working and what needs improvement.

One of my frustrations with the organization of these trips is that the system that puts these trips together does not value the experience that the students going already have. Because the information isn’t coming from a respected magazine or periodical, but from the mouth of a student, who has had the personal experience or cultural experience growing up – but they didn’t write a paper on it, so…. We don’t get a diploma for growing up bilingual or for living similar lives to that of the people we are studying.

R: So if professors and institutions have a way, for better or worse, of validating those experiences, for example, “here is Maritza, she grew up in a culture that…..” and by doing that, it validates the person, and symbolically validates the peers that have experienced this. People come back like “I was shocked to see this and that”, and that is the only thing that gets the spotlight. But there are people who have lived this their whole lives.

M: Out of the bad comes the good. MIIS is proud of its international diversity on campus, but now there are also conversation on national diversity and socioeconomic diversity as well, which is something that came out of a critique on one of these trips. We go on these trips, and learn, and some things are difficult, but the important thing is to take the bad with the good and make something out of it. For some of us, that meant creating the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which highlights domestic diversity on campus and is working on assessing the needs of all students, whether international students, first generation college students, student of color, LGBTQ, or second career seekers. We not only wanted to address diversity by identifying the needs of all students on campus but to make sure it is something that continues to be addressed in the institution after we are gone.

Professors should also make a point to make focus groups mandatory. A format of how to measure the trips as a whole, but also each trip individually, so it can be improved upon, but that responsibility also shouldn’t sit solely on the professor’s shoulders.

Q: Any advice for students who will travel on these programs in the future?

M: Some things you can’t prepare for. Keep an open mind, don’t sweat the small stuff. Like dirt, bugs-

R: – and cold showers –

M: – and so on because it distracts from the experience. Don’t fight the discomfort.

R: You don’t need language to communicate with people. You shouldn’t necessarily know a language perfectly – keep the willingness to go at the forefront. Don’t be catered to: we chose to go, to help. Be the one helping, not the helped. Own your decision to go.

Language should not be a barrier to communicating with people. In fact, I learned from my inability to speak the local language, which became a resource of information, connection, and interaction. When I ask you, “how do you say this?”, I become your student and switch the power dynamic. People love to teach you, to speak from authority. There is laughter, and it breaks the ice and opens new things. They think, “Here is a person who wants to know my language.” It helps equalizing the playing field.

Q: Is there something you never travel without?

M: I carry medicine for altitude sickness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, congestion, and allergies; but I also carry hydration salts and EmergenC to try and prevent getting sick as well. You never know how sick you are going to get and might not be able to get to a pharmacy right away or be able to communicate what you need so its good to carry some meds you trust. Oh! and Baby wipes.

R: Baby wipes! Pen and notepad.

*shows us his pen and notepad, which, sure enough, are in his back pocket*

M: That’s what I picked up, now I’ll do that.

R: I like to record sounds from the trips, it brings you back. *plays recording*

M: Learn how to say a greeting, and please and thank you in the local language.

R: So important!


smaller headshotKatya Gamolsky (joint BA/MA ‘17) is a first year student who works for the Immersive Learning Programs Office. She recently went on the Los Angeles trip that focused on Homelessness, with Dr Iyer, and will be attending DPMI DC this summer. If you have any questions, comments, or would like to know more about our Immersive Learning Programs, please email her at

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

News about the East Asia Spring Break Journey!



News from the participants and professors was posted on the front page.east asia

Friday, January 9th, 2015


east asia snip

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Application deadline extended: Cuba J-Term trip

The application deadline to the J-Term trip to Cuba (January 6 – 17, 2015) has been extended until November 30. So it is not too late to register for this unique opportunity to get immersed in a country that has essentially been off-limits to most Americans for more than half a century.

To learn more about this opportunity – including testimonies from previous students – and to apply click here

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Lets get Sprintensive.



IPS and MPA students

Join us tomorrow evening to learn more about the upcoming change to DPP and the alternative learning semester, Sprintensive!

Wine and Pizza reception will follow! 


Monday, September 29th, 2014

Apple Pie and Pineapple Sorbet: U.S. and Cuban Nationalism

Why is Cuba such a contradiction? Because Cuba is characterized by everything I was told the world should not be!  Socialist not democratic, communist not capitalist, systemic human rights violations, a dictatorship, inefficient, unproductive; should I continue?  I was able to get a sense of this notorious island during a seven day immersive learning excursion with twenty-seven other MIIS students and the renowned Professor Jan Black.

There was a time when I imagined Cuba as a socialist utopia. I had thought Cuba was going to be the national anthropomorphization of Eugene V. Debs famous quote that is “opposing a social order where it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives to secure barely enough for a wretched existence.  But, there is no substitute for actually visiting the country – after seven days in Cuba, I’ve realized that the little island nation, and the United States, are a lot more complex than I was led to believe in the comfort of my Midwest upbringing.

As an American, I grew up on the smell of apple pie; lightly toasted crust, crisscrossed across the top, somehow evoking feelings of liberty, justice…righteous stuff. You see, Cuba, at least for United States citizens, is one gigantic contradiction and trying to digest and make sense of the country through the nationalistic viewpoint from which my mind has been programmed to think, whether I like it or not, is no easy task. Close your eyes and think about apple pie. Now, envision biting into pineapple sorbet.  So, I apologize now if, and that is a big if, you get to the end of this blog and you walk away more confused than you started. That’s fine though. Cuba could be the poster child for the phrase; the more you know the less you think you know.

Our professor and guide Dr. Jan Black told us to experience Cuba using our five senses. I would like to take the liberty of taking you, my reader, along for the ride with the idea of trying to engage your five senses. Unfortunately, I am less likely to engage your sense of smell.  But, here we go:

We met with all different types of people, from Cuban foreign ministers to a diplomat from the U.S. Interest Section. We also met with individual Cubans, both pro-government and oppositionist. We met with U.S. expats working with the Cuban health system and Cuban students studying international relations. What was so trying after listening to all of them was that you could easily pick each one up and place them into two buckets, Cuban Nationals (CN) or U.S. Nationals (USN). Whether we were speaking to Cuban oppositionists or expat sympathizers of the Cuban government their rhetoric fit, nicely, within these two buckets. Their world-views and indeed those of us students had been systematically crafted by the nations from which they grew up and regardless of their support for either side or not they continued to use rhetoric that perpetuated the conflict between the United States and Cuba. What was most contradictory of all was that these two worldviews of the same conflict were like hearing two completely different stories for two completely different historical events told perpetually for generations upon generations without change.

How are these national worldviews constructed within a citizenry? It is often much more subtle than one would assume.  Irrespective of whether we understand nationalism as a positive or negative force, it is generally acknowledged that nationalism places the nation on the highest pedestal and viewed as the supreme agency of meaning, collective identity, and moral justification.  Critically noting that one of the powerful ways in which nationalism becomes historically instated is through its presumption that the nation is sacred, likening it to be equivalent to the church.  Interestingly, if nationalism is being valued as sacred within the population we can see its physical manifestation in the ritualized images of national leaders and national public ceremonies that are underscored by the nations presumed history of greatness. Harry Anastasiou, a professor of Conflict Resolution at Portland State University and world-renowned leader in the settlement process in Cyprus, goes as far to claim nationalism can be a justification for divine election.


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Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

TEAM PERU: Is it right for YOU?


The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How!
TeamPeru_201415 copy

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Team El Salvador Leadership Applications – Still time to apply! –

– Application deadline EXTENDED to April 29 – 

Team El Salvador Practicum 2014-2015 Call for Leadership Applications

Team El Salvador (TES) is seeking three student leaders to lead the Team El Salvador 9 Practicum during its 2014-2015 program year.

Do you want to gain skills in leadership? International Development? Environmental policy and natural resource management? Survey creation? Improving your Spanish proficiency and communication?

TES leadership is open to all MIIS students, from all departments and fields of study!

How to apply? Please send resume and cover letter to: by Tuesday, April 29th. Visit us at:

Team El Salvador provides a unique, professional opportunity for MIIS students to develop and apply practical skills and enhance language proficiency and multicultural competency in a dynamic international setting.

Team leaders will cultivate a variety of professional skills while gaining real world experience. The ideal candidate has a passion for international development, strong leadership skills, and a willingness to facilitate and manage a variety of program elements, including communication and outreach, program development, fundraising, updating and developing website content and social media sites, event scheduling and management, meeting planning and travel logistics and community engagement.

Ideal Candidates will:

• Speak, write and read Spanish at a 400 level
• Understand the mission and goals of Team El Salvador and
El Salvadoran history and culture
• Have strong communication and organizational skills
• Have experience living and working in rural communities of Latin America (or other developing
• Have a lucid understanding of the unpredictable nature of development work
• Be personable, dynamic, patient, flexible and adaptable to changing program and project
• Have experience with fundraising
• Develop and deliver compelling presentations to MIIS faculty, prospective team members, etc.
Executive management and staff

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Cuba: Changing Course for Changing Times

An introduction to the 2014 spring break opportunity in Cuba by Professor Jan Knippers Black

MIIS Spring Break in Cuba

2014 Spring Break Trip to Cuba

Cuba has always found itself, or placed itself, in the most unusual circumstances. It was among the last of the Western Hemisphere countries to win independence (or at least nominal independence) from the Spanish. It was in part because such independence was largely nominal, hegemony having been passed to the United States that Cuba in 1959 began to experience one of the most thorough-going revolutions the world had seen. And Cuba has held onto its revolutionary profile long after most other governments so assembled have abandoned revolutionary rhetoric as well as revolutionary inclusiveness.

As a consequence of that extraordinary history, Cuba has much to teach about the costs and benefits of revolution and also the costs and benefits of integrating belatedly a now globalized economy. Having been stripped time and again of capital and of markets, Cuba also has much to teach about self-help – about what communities can do for themselves when they have no other recourse. And the nature of therelationship between Cuba and the United States – the relentless continuity despite dramatic change in the world around them – gives away the predominance in both countries of domestic interests and domestic politics in the design and execution of foreign policy.

This narrative will be explored further with an on-site course this spring that will offered to students from all MIIS schools and programs and from Middlebury College.  The onsite portion of the course will take place over spring break: March 15 – 23 and will include visits to various Cuban ministries, including those of foreign affairs and tourism, offices of the United Nations Development Program and other IGOs and NGOs, and sites of historic events, including the Bay of Pigs and the Museum of the Revolution.

This opportunity is co-sponsored by Global Exchange. For inquiries, please contact: Maddie Stoeri at (please cc

Course dates: March 15-23, 2014

Application deadline: December 10, 2013

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Applications to January DPMI Trainings in Rwanda and Monterey Due October 31

Development Project Management Institute

What: Professional certificate training in international development project planning, facilitation, and partnership

Where: Monterey, California or Kigali, Rwanda!

When: Monterey (January 6-24, 2014) or Rwanda (January 14-23)

Who: Aspiring international development and social change practitioners interested in developing a practical skill-set and meeting others interested in this field. Interested graduate students, career-changers, and outstanding undergraduates encouraged to apply.

Program Fees: $1,500 for Monterey or $900 for Rwanda training for MIIS students; $2,500 for non-MIIS students for either program (some scholarships available)

Application Deadline: Apply at by October 31, 2013!

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Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Going Abroad? Register Your Plans and Emergency Contact Information

Given events around the world over the last year, the Monterey Institute, in collaboration with Middlebury College has reevaluated the ways in which we support Institute students during the periods of time they are abroad.   Because our students engage the world in a wide variety of ways, it is important that we manage the risks that students take when going abroad.  To this end, in those instances when students are participating in an activity that is sponsored or supported by the Institute in any way, we are introducing new protocols designed to better manage the inherent risks of traveling abroad.

Beginning with the fall 2011 semester, we will initiate a new Institute policy requiring all students traveling abroad on any Institute-sponsored activity to register their plans and all contact information with the Institute prior to departure. We need this information in the event of any natural or man-made emergencies. 

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Sunday, December 4th, 2011

GSIPM Honors Summer and Fall Frontier Market Scouts and DPMI Plus Fellows!

With 2012 upon us, the Graduate School of International Policy and Management would like to honor the  service of Frontier Market Scouts and Development Project Management Institute professional immersive learning participants.

DPMI Plus Participants (summer-fall 2011)

Miho Yoshimura – Foundation for Older Persons Development, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Monique Ouffoue – INT, World Bank Group, Washington, DC and The Phillipines

Paul Bonwich – Peace Corps, Macedonia

Grant Ennis – Youth Iniatives Kenya (YIKES), Nairobi, Kenya

Kathleen Gordon – All Hands Volunteers, Belval Plaza, Rue Belval, Haiti

Tanilee Eichelberger – Centro Ecologico Akumal, Mexico

Rebecca Marcus – Futures and Options, New York, New York

Emily Patrick – Root Change and Legal Action Services, Windhoek, Namibia


Frontier Market Scouts (summer-fall 2011)

Grace Andrews (MPA ’12)
San Paolo, Brazil
Artsemisia Foundation

Megan Christenson (MBA ’12)
Yachana Foundation

Sean Brownlee (MBA ’12)
Cairo, Egypt
Nahdet El Mahrousa

Huston Hedinger (MAIPS ’12)
Beirut, Lebanon