Archive for category Featured

MIIS Students Have “Eye-Opening” Experience on Spring Trip to Shanghai Free Trade Zone


Professors Li Juan Zhang (seated, 2nd from left) and Robert Rogowsky (seated, far right) with MIIS students and local hosts in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

Last fall, Professors Robert Rogowsky and Li Juan Zhang designed an immersive learning course to give Monterey Institute students the opportunity to experience first hand the real-world issues, impacts and policy implications of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ). Fifteen students then joined them for a week-long trip to China over the March Spring Break, where they visited the Shanghai FTZ, met local policy makers, and learned from guest lectures by industry professionals and scholars. Students also had the opportunity to meet with faculty and students from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and work with them.

Abdel K. Seck (MAIPS ‘13) calls the trip “a lifetime opportunity” because of the valueless amount of learning it offered him. Minnie Patnick (MBA/MAIPS ‘15) is especially grateful to her professors for organizing such an enriching experience filled with amazing site visits and “phenomenal” lectures. Like many graduate students, Haiben Ren (MAIPS ‘14) is focused on career opportunities and says that it was great to meet so many important people in the Shanghai FTZ, “where potential job positions are from in the future.” All of the students spoke of the importance of well-designed immersive learning opportunities, to put what they learn in the classroom into perspective, and to deepen their understanding of the issues they will face as professionals.



Alumna Tricia Bean: Nurturing Her “Latin Soul” Through Love of Teaching

Tricia Bean (MATFL ’96) and family

Tricia Bean (MATFL ’96) and family.

Growing up in Florida, Tricia Bean (MATFL ’96) had her curiosity about other countries and cultures sparked at a very early age. “I knew a lovely Cuban lady who told me stories about her native country,” says Tricia, adding that as a young girl she developed a desire to travel and master the beautiful Spanish language.

When she was fifteen she went to Maracay, Venezuela as an exchange student with American Field Service (AFS) and “fell in love with the people, the country, the music, the tradition, and the language.” She happily shares that her Venezuelan friends often said she was born in the wrong country with the “soul of a Latina.” She completed her junior year of college in Alcalá de Henares, Spain where Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, was born.

The international community at MIIS proved the “perfect fit” for Tricia. As a student she worked part-time for the Santa Rita School District in Salinas, and upon graduation she was hired as a bilingual teacher to teach English Language Development (ELD), Spanish, and Spanish for Spanish speakers at Gavilan View Middle School in the district. Her passion and enthusiasm for sharing her love of language and interest in other cultures is inspiring.

During her time at Gavilan View, Tricia took students abroad with the People to People Student Ambassador Program, was honored with the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Scholarship, and spent a year teaching English in Baranquilla, Colombia. Today Tricia is “proud to be among the talented faculty and staff of Carmel High School,” where she and a colleague designed and implemented a program to better meet the literacy needs of native Spanish speakers.

She collaborates regularly with the Institute, bringing students to the Institute’s International Education Day activities each year, participating in local language teacher discussions and hosting MATFL practicum students in her classroom. “I enjoy being able to give back to the institution that has given me so much.”


New Service-Learning Course Teaches Students to Design Programs by Participation

Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands

Lynn Bentaleb (MPA ’08), Kathryn Lattman (MAIEM ’14), Amitay Flores (MAIPS ’14), Molly McMills (MPA ’13), Maria Kovell (MPA ’14), Ali Philbrick (MAIEM ’14), and Natalie Cox (MPA ’14) at the Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands Summit.

Monterey Institute students from the International Education Management, Public Administration, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Teaching a Foreign Language, and Translation and Interpretation degree programs are participating in a new course this semester, learning about program design while working with seven local organizations on projects that further each of their missions.

The new course, “Service-Learning: International and Domestic Community Partnerships,” was developed and taught by Professor Netta Avineri, who is passionate about civic engagement and likes to connect her lessons with real world applications. The organizations are: Big Sur Charter School, Community Assessment of Monterey County, Girls' Health in Girls' Hands, International School of Monterey, Lyceum, National Steinbeck Center, and the YMCA.

Alexandra (Ali) Philbrick (MAIEM ’14) and Kathryn Lattman (MAIEM ’15) have been working with the Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands initiative this semester. Every year girls in Monterey County organize a summit with peer-taught sessions, which Ali and Kathryn attended. They are working on a video to help the next group of girl organizers and also helping out with curriculum design, activities, and lessons, and doing research for a report.

“It could not be more perfect for me,” shares Ali, who will build on her experience working with local girls when she heads off to Peru for the practicum portion of her degree in the fall. In Peru, she will be working with the nonprofit organization Girlsportworks whose mission is to teach life skills to young women through athletics. “This is exactly what I want to be doing in the future,” she says. “Netta put a lot of thought into this,” says Kathryn appreciatively of the course, and adds that “you can’t beat the opportunity to learn by doing and do good at the same time by helping others.”


MIIS Alumni Find Dream Jobs Come with Familiar Faces – Fellow MIIS Alumni


Thailand alumni – all part of the diplomatic corps -- and their families gathered for a group photo.

A story we posted last year about alumni from the same era working at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey seems to have started a trend, spurring a flurry of e-mails from groups of MIIS alumni working closely together around the world!

Christine Carlson-Ajlani (MPA ’13) wrote to tell us about what she calls “the MIIS enclave” at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT) in the International Labor Affairs Bureau. After serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco as part of her MIIS Peace Corps Master’s International degree, Christine landed her “dream job” last year.

Christine attributes her success directly to the skills she learned in the Peace Corps and the instruction of professors Edgard Coly and Beryl Levinger. She recently helped secure a $5 million grant to combat child labor in Morocco and will be travelling back there to help create their monitoring and evaluation plan. When she arrived at her new job, she discovered that two out of 45 new colleagues also graduated from MIIS: Rachel Rigby (MBA ’03) and Lorena Davalos (MAIPS ’05).

A competitive fellowship program specifically designed to hire MBA graduates brought Rachel to the Department of Labor in her last year at MIIS; Lorena brought experience from working on youth employment issues in Brazil to the job. All three are tireless advocates of reducing child labor and forced labor around the world. As Christine says, “It’s pretty great working across the street from the Capitol Building in the heart of international policy making in D.C., especially with two other talented colleagues from MIIS!” 

Four classmates working in three different embassies in neighboring countries recently got together in Bangkok, Thailand. The hosts, Jennifer Green Matlock (MAIPS ’02) and her husband Dean Matlack (MPA ’01), both work at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. Yekta Noyan (MAIPS ’02) works for the Turkish Embassy in the same city. Their friend Darby Parliament (MAIPS ’03), who works at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, also flew over from Malaysia with his wife Adanys.

Another MIIS get-together was held in Berlin recently, when Lara (Tozawa) Sullivan (MAIPS ’02) and John Kastning (MATI ’05), who both work at the U.S. Embassy, met up with fellow MIIS alumna Nicola Kim (MAIPS ’05), who works in the Canadian Embassy.

For more stories from the Communiqué, check out our latest edition online.

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April@MIIS: World Class Speakers, Cultural Events, Conferences


TEDxMonterey returns to the Monterey Institute on April 26 with a look at “Edges.”

April is an exciting month at the Monterey Institute with a plethora of activities, including many events that are open to both the campus community and the larger Monterey Bay area community. Upcoming include:

  • Friday, April 4: The annual International Trade Conference, focusing this year on “U.S.-China Agriculture Trade Barriers,” starting at 8:00 a.m. in the Irvine Auditorium. (Free and open to the public; please register online.)
  • Friday, April 11: The Monterey Institute welcomes Steve Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, delivering the keynote address "Bringing Human Rights Home" at the annual Human Rights Fair in the Irvine Auditorium at 6 p.m. (Free and open to the public; no registration required.)
  • Saturday, April 12: The annual International Bazaar is one of the most cherished events of the year at the Monterey Institute, where students and other community members come together and enjoy food and entertainment from the various cultures represented on campus. The Bazaar always coincides with Spring Visit Day, offering prospective students and their families the opportunity to visit campus. (International Bazaar is for the MIIS campus community only; prospective students may sign up for Visit Day online.)
  • Thursday-Friday, April 17-18: "Ukraine, Russia and Cyber Threats" is the very timely topic of a unique cyber security conference co-hosted by “Suits and Spooks” and the Monterey Cyber Security Initiative, featuring speakers from Ukraine, Russia, Great Britain, Estonia and the United States discussing the current Crimean crisis and global cyber security risks. (Open to the public; registration fee for public attendees; free registration for MIIS faculty, staff, and students.)
  • Friday, April 18: As part of the Spring 2014 Colloquium on Economic Diplomacy and Statecraft, the Institute will host renowned political economist and commentator Francis Fukuyama for a public lecture in the Irvine Auditorium at 6 p.m. The title of his talk is "Economic Diplomacy and Global Governance in a Multi-polared World." (Free and open to the public; no registration required.)
  • Saturday, April 26: In its fifth year at the Monterey Institute, the theme for TEDxMonterey 2014 is "Edges" - a celebration of what emerges when we embrace the edge: discovery, invention and transformation. A diverse group of speakers will share their stories, insights and scientific discoveries, and audience members will have ample opportunity to interact with each other as well as presenters during breaks, over lunch and at the reception to be held after the program concludes. (Open to the public; ticket purchase and registration online.)

In addition, the week of April 21 will also feature a host of activities organized by Monterey Institute staff, faculty, and students to celebrate Earth Day, with each day of the week be devoted to an issue or area such as energy, food, and water.

Whatever your area of interest might be, we hope to see you on campus this month! 


Monterey Institute Professor Interprets for First Lady Michelle Obama During Visit to China

Laura Burian in China

Prof. Laura Burian (center-left) of the Monterey Institute interpreting for First Lady Michelle Obama in China. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

“It was very inspiring to see our professor in action and working with such high-profile individuals,” says Joan Li-Chun Wang (MATI ’14) of the photos in national and international media showing Professor Laura Burian of the Monterey Institute next to First Lady Michelle Obama, serving as official interpreter during her visit to China.

It was no surprise to her students that Translation and Interpretation Prof. Burian is a highly accomplished and respected interpreter who works with the highest levels of government, but seeing her appear in media coverage of the First Lady’s visit to China hit home for many of them. “It serves as motivation for us, reminding us that we are not far away from interpreting at the top level,” says Weihao Zhang (MACI ’14), “and if we work hard, maybe one day we will be able to have such opportunities as well.”

Weihao Zhang was especially “thrilled” to hear that the First Lady had included his home high school in her itinerary. “In addition to its pioneering strides of connecting remote schools in rural areas with online classrooms, Chengdu #7 High School really stands out in its focus on international education and partnership.”

Joan Wang says that she could see from media reports and videos how crucial Prof. Burian’s role was in facilitating communications between the First Lady and the people she met. She adds that she thinks it was “nice to see how important to role of the interpreter is, especially to students of interpretation.”

Prof. Burian says that it was very exciting to participate in this trip: “I am truly honored to have been entrusted with this assignment.” For Weihao Zhang it was further evidence “that our education here at MIIS is provided by the most prestigious practitioners in the field, which is truly valuable.”


Immersive Learning Programs Send 36 Students Off to Assignments


Emily Patrick's (MPA '12) DPMI Plus assignment took her to Namibia.

This spring, 36 students are heading off to assignments with a diverse range of domestic and international organizations all over the world--including in the U.S.--as part of the International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) and Development Project Management Institute Plus (DPMI Plus) programs. The students will gain professional experience and the opportunity to test many of the theories and lessons from the classroom in the field as part of their master’s degree program.

Among the organizations students will be working at for the next three to six months are the United Nations, the Nature Conservancy, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank, and the National Renewable Energy Lab. Students' assignments take them all over the world to places like Jordan, Tanzania, Colorado, Costa Rica, Washington D.C. and Bangkok. IPSS and DPMI Plus are among the more established immersive learning opportunities offered to Monterey Institute students and both have impressive records of students leaving their internships with solid job offers.

The Development Project Management Institute also offers intensive summer professional training programs, in Monterey May 19-June 6 and in Washington D.C. May 26-June 13.


Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine to Lecture on Russian Power Diplomacy at MIIS on March 24


Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer will speak at the Monterey Institute on March 24.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer, currently director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institute, will give a public lecture on "Russian Power Diplomacy and Eurasian Intergration" in the Monterey Institute’s Irvine Auditorium at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 24.

Ambassador Pifer is a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. Pifer's career as a foreign service officer centered on Europe, the former Soviet Union and arms control. Pifer also had postings in London, Moscow, Geneva and Warsaw, as well as on the National Security Council. At Brookings, Pifer focuses on arms control, Ukraine and Russia issues.

This lecture is free and open to the public, and is part of the Monterey Institute's spring 2014 Colloquium on Economic Statecraft and Diplomacy.

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MIIS Student Wins Projects for Peace Fellowship for Cholera Prevention Project in Haiti

Wesley Laine

Wesley Laine (MAIPS ’14) holding one of the beneficiaries of his innovative water project.

“I am really grateful to MIIS and the Kathryn Davis Foundation for believing in the project, Cholera Prevention: Service, Solidarity, and Peace,” says Wesley Laine (MAIPS ’14). The foundation’s Projects for Peace initiative encourages students at the Davis United World College Scholars Program partner schools to design grassroots projects that promote peace and address the root causes of conflict among parties. The fellowship is funded by the Davis family in honor of Kathryn W. Davis, a lifetime internationalist and philanthropist, who died last year at the age of 106. She founded the program when she turned 100 years old, challenging young leaders to “bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war.”

Wesley is very passionate about his bottom-up approach to form a real partnership with people in rural Haiti to improve hygiene with the aim of preventing waterborne pathogens, especially cholera. His work has been featured at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting (see news story from October 2013). He is likens the project to a marathon and says: “I am in it until the end. That is my promise to my compatriots in Haiti.”

Applicants for Projects for Peace fellowships are encouraged to use their creativity to design projects and employ innovative techniques for engaging project participants in ways that focus on conflict resolution, reconciliation, building understanding and breaking down barriers which cause conflict, and finding solutions for resolving conflicts and maintaining peace. Wesley has designed his project to “empower the individual agency with a focus on establishing a preferential option for the poor.” He is very happy with the many professional growth opportunities he has been provided with through his studies at the Monterey Institute, including a semester in Paris with Middlebury Schools Abroad and Development Project Management Institute intensive training program in Rwanda this January.


MIIS Team Reaches Finals of Regional Hult Prize Competition, Makes Key Connections

MIIS Hult Prize Team

From left: Maria Kovell (MPA ‘14), Amitay Flores (IPS ‘14), Amanda Boyek (IPS ‘14), Natalie Cox (MPA ‘14), Amy Ross (MPA ‘14)

A team of Monterey Institute students—Maria Kovell (MPA ‘14), Amitay Flores (MAIPS ‘14), Amanda Boyek (MAIPS ‘14), Natalie Cox (MPA ‘14), and Amy Ross (MPA ‘14)—made their mark at the Hult Prize regional competition last weekend in San Francisco, and left the competition with something at least as good as a win: a path forward for their innovative project.

The team first beat hundreds of competitors to win a place in the 2014 Hult Prize Regional Finals in San Francisco, then proceeded to wow the judges there, who selected them as one of four teams (out of 47) to advance to the final round of the regional competition. The other three finalists came from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Hult International Business School in San Francisco, and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

The 2014 Hult Prize Challenge, a collaboration with the Clinton Global Initiative, was to design a sustainable business model addressing non-communicable disease in urban slums. Executives from Intel, IDEO,, EMC and Matternet were represented on the judging panel that supported the Monterey Institute team and voted them into the final round. The team was encouraged by the reception their idea received and plan to move their venture, Salud2, forward after graduation in May with a pilot in Mexico. They will be meeting with people from some of the organizations they connected with at the competition and are also exploring options with MIIS faculty and staff.

“It was an energizing experience for us. MIIS coursework and programs like the Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) and the Development Project Management Institute (DPMI) opened our minds and pushed our thinking to the level required to tackle today’s most complex problems,” says Amy Ross. The team sincerely thanks the MIIS faculty that supported them along the way and would like to congratulate the MIT team that moved forward from the San Francisco Regional Finals and will present their venture at the Clinton Global Initiative in September.