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Global Excellence Awards put spotlight on Office of Global Initiatives, English as a Second Language

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Two of the winners of the 2017 Global Excellence awards. Jenny Lee, left, is a professor at the Center for the Study of Higher Education, and Jenna Flores, right, is a Ph.D. Candidate in Second Language Acquisition & Teaching. Left: Courtesy Jenny Lee Right: Courtesy Jenna Flores

Three members of the community were presented with the annual Global Excellence Awards for their contributions in the fields of global education by the University of Arizona’s Office of Global Initiatives and the Center for English as a Second Language. 

The Global Excellence Awards Reception took place Thursday evening, Nov. 16. It was one in a series of events that formed International Student Week. 

Before the reception began, attendants mingled and ate snacks on the rooftop of the Environmental and Natural Resources 2 while listening to the Mediterranean music of Tucson band, Kyklo.

Proceedings commenced when Suzanne Panferov Reese, interim vice president of the Office of Global Initiatives, welcomed everyone and gave an honorable mention to the 2017–2018 Fulbright students and scholars, some of whom were in attendance. 

The presentation of this year’s Global Excellence Awards was given by Nicholas Ferdinandt, the director of CESL. 

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The recipients — Jenny Lee, Ricardo Pineda Albarran and Jenna Altherr Flores — walked to the front and gave speeches expressing their gratitude and what they’d accomplished. 

Lee, a professor in the UA Center for the Study of Higher Education, received the award for Excellence in Global Education. Pineda Albarran, Consul of Mexico in Tucson, was awarded with the Award for Excellence in Global Service. 

As well as being a professor at the UA, Lee also conducts research in South Africa about international students and education. She said she enjoys being able to work with different departments on campus, such as Global Initiatives, and being able to work with students while they apply her research in practice. 

“I am able to take these ideas and research and apply them to some of the issues of higher education in the country," Lee said. "More importantly, what I hope I’m doing is bringing some of [what] I’m learning and some of the best practices and the insights ... back home to the University of Arizona." 

Altherr Flores, a Ph.D. candidate in the program of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, received the Student Award for Global excellence. She also teaches adult refugees English as a second language and literacy through a Pima Community College refugee education program, along with her studies at the UA. 

“They’re great. I have students from upwards of 13 countries, and they speak a variety of different languages," Altherr Flores said. "At one point, I had 18 different languages represented in my class at the same time, and so it’s just really diverse and they’re really wonderful."

Altherr Flores’ interest in global education began when she was a classical archaeologist and Latin teacher. She decided then she wanted to help people. 

"I joined the Peace Corps and I was sent to a little nation called Belize. It’s very tiny," she said. "In Belize, I did English as Second Language, and literacy as well, so when I finished my Peace Corps service, I was looking for a way to come back to the United States, to work with with underserved populations in the United States now."

When she finishes her Ph.D., Altherr Flores wants to continue her research and continue contributing to refugee communities. 

Pineda Albarran, who is also an ambassador of Mexico’s Foreign Service, contributes to global service in Tucson by working for and supporting the local Mexican communities. 

He said that he wants to form relationships with different groups, one being the UA, to achieve that goal.

“What we are trying to accomplish here is to approach the community, let them know that we are here to help, that we want to work [with] many possible projects that [have] to do with Mexico and Arizona, and Tucson in particular," Pineda Albarran said. 

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Among the others honored at the event were international students. One, Amarsanaa Byambadorj, a graduate student studying public health, was honored as a Fulbright scholar.  

She said the UA has a good global impact and is recognized by many internationally.  

“I think people know the U of A really well because when it was finalized that I would study at the U of A, I told my Mongolian friends who live in U.S. and they were like ‘Oh, I know that school. That’s a really good school,'” Byambadorj said.

Byambadorj also said she is grateful to study here and hopes to take what she has learned back to her home country of Mongolia. 

According to Byambadorj, there is a lack of basic health classes from elementary to high school students and she wants to do something about it. 

“I’m thinking to go back and create a curriculum class for elementary, middle and high school children. That’s my number one goal,” Byambadorj said.


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