Tag Archives: travel

Prestigious Awards: Robyn J Emory-Murray on the Critical Language Scholarship in Xi’an

Robyn Emory-Murray IPED ’18

Robyn Emory-Murray (IPED ’18) is a recipient of the 2017 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for Mandarin in Xi’an, China. CLS is an eight-week intensive language and cultural immersion program targeted toward students of critical languages as defined by the U.S. Department of State. This fully-funded government program offers students the opportunity to live among the cultures whose languages they are studying while fully integrating themselves into the language itself.

Datong Furong Park lights at night

Robyn with the Terracotta Warriors 兵马俑

Robyn received the award with the help of the Office of Prestigious Fellowships, who assisted her with the lengthy application process. When asked about the application process, she said, “The Office of Prestigious Fellows was invaluable. They helped me frame my thoughts, answers, and attributes in a way that really spoke to the program and its goals.” The application was due in the Fall, and awards were announced in March of the next year.

Robyn at the Kongtong Shan (崆峒山) Bridge to Heaven

Robyn’s goals are to continue to pursue Mandarin in the hopes of using it as she pursues a career in economic and international security studies, specifically centered on the Sino-American relationship.

The reward for the night hike, sunrise from East Peak of Hua Shan

Robyn had the following advice for those interested in the program: “Go all in. There is a pretty intense language pledge and those that stick to it really see amazing results. At the same time, though, don’t stress yourself out. You will have a lot more success if you take care of yourself and remember that learning a new language should also be fun!”

The lights during the Hua Shan (华山) night hike

Robyn on the famous Hua Shan Plank Walk

Robyn is a full-time student in the IPED program and a recipient of the Public Service Assistantship.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Community & Culture, IPED Fellowships, Prestigious Awards, Trips

Philippines Study Tour 2017

Fifteen IPED students and one Economics undergraduate traveled to the Philippines over the winter break for IPED’s annual immersion program in project monitoring and evaluation. The program was led by faculty advisors Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg and Dr. Booi Themeli and managed by Ms. Donna Odra.

Katipunan Road outside of Ateneo de Manila University

While in Manila, the students took extensive coursework in project monitoring and evaluation. Additionally, guest lectures on the history, culture, economics and politics of the Philippines provided useful insights.

IPEDers in class at Ateneo de Manila University

In addition to classes, the group was taken to Corregidor Island and Intramuros, two of the historical sites found in the Manila area. The students were also taken to visit the Asian Development Bank to learn about the work that they are doing.

IPED at the Corregidor ruins

Angeli and Donna at Intramuros in front of Fort Santiago

View from the roof of the Asian Development Bank

As a practical application of the coursework, students traveled to Calapan, Pola, and Bulalacao, towns in the province of Oriental Mindoro. The groups evaluated a farmer’s co-op creating organic fertilizer in Calapan, a calamansi juice co-op in Pola, and a seaweed processing association in Bulalscao. The groups were split up into five different teams and set to evaluate different aspects of each projects. Team 1 evaluated the fertilizer production, Team 2 evaluated the calamansi juice co-op’s management and production, while Team 3 evaluated the farming practices of the calamansi itself. The final two teams evaluated the management and production, respectively, of the seaweed association in Bulalacao.

Pola Crew

Bulalacao Crew

Sunrise in Bulalacao

The program concluded with a dinner cruise around Manila Bay.

Manila Bay

Here are a few of the promotional videos that the groups made for their project.

Calapan farmer’s co-op creating Vermitea, an organic fertilizer.


Two videos for the MARCCO co-op in Pola creating Calamansi products

The video for the Seaweed processing association in Balatasan, Bulalacao.




Leave a Comment

Filed under Academic, Class, Community & Culture, Trips

Language Immersion Study Award: David Masagbor – Egypt

I studied Arabic for a period of 6 weeks at the Arab Academy in downtown Cairo. Arab Academy offers courses in both colloquial and classical Arabic. Having lived in Egypt before and having an acceptable grasp of colloquial Arabic, I chose to study the classical form of the language.

David at the Arab Academy

David at the Arab Academy

Arab Academy is an exceptional institution. I will 100 percent recommend it to anyone looking to learn the language. Classes aren’t group sessions. Every student has their own tutor which allows you to learn at your own pace and ask as many questions as you want. My classes typically started between 12pm and ended 3pm. The first hour was spent practicing basic responses to common questions while the other two were spent mastering the alphabets, forming words with them and eventually whole sentences. The teachers were very patient and understanding.

Can’t make it to class for some reason? No problem, Arab academy offers classes online as well. They organize online sessions for students unable to be physically present in class for whatever reason. Students are also given access to their online resources and can self-study at their own pace and complete assignments online as well.

Arab Academy is also very diverse. Students come from just about everywhere…the US, Chile, Europe, everywhere.

Jumping for joy about Arabic!

Jumping for joy about Arabic!

Unfortunately, I did not do much travelling while in Egypt partly because, well, I had been to most places prior to this trip (completed my undergrad degree in Egypt). I did get to reconnect with old friends though and visit places I didn’t get to visit while I was an undergrad such as the Cairo Tower from which you can observe all of downtown Cairo and many parts of the city west and east of the Nile River. I also visited the “Time Square” of Cairo aka “where every Cairo resident avoids” aka “Oldest tourist trap of the Middle East”- The pyramids. It was fun though don’t get me wrong.

David at Giza

David at Giza

Being that it was Ramadan, I was able to share in the breaking of fast (Iftar) with friends after 6pm everyday during the period which made the experience all the more interesting. I thank IPED for giving me this unforgettable opportunity in Cairo!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Academic, Community & Culture, Trips

Language Immersion Study Award: Armand Aquino, Katie McCann, Jackie Yap – France

Summer Shenanigans
Three  IPED students – Armand Aquino, Katie McCann, and Jackie Yap – spent their summer in France for an intensive French language study and cultural immersion with an Alliance Française Institution. Armand was in Toulouse; Katie was in Bordeaux; and Jackie began in Toulouse then continued on to Lyon.
Armand and Jackie were recipients of the 2016 Language Immersion Study Award (LISA) while Katie is an Arrupe Fellow who decided to use her summer grant from her fellowship to pursue French language study. French language study is part of their professional development to further their careers in international development.

Learning French at an Alliance Française Institution in France is a great opportunity because of the diversity of its students. Aside from the structured lectures, Alliance Française organizes a number of activities for its students so they can immerse themselves into the French culture. Such activities include guided tours of museums and the city, “art” hunting, and cheese (and wine) tasting (this is France, after all).

In addition, Alliance Francaise arranges homestays for the students which enables them to continue speaking in French even at home.
Armand and Katie shared that the summer experience has also been great opportunity for them to expand their network in the international development space. Both have met people working in international organizations such as the International Red Cross and World Food Programme who like them are studying French for their own professional development.
When asked for advice to students considering a language study for the summer, Jackie said that “If you are just starting out in the language, I encourage you to take advantage of the language class (audit) at Fordham. It helped me learn the basics and allowed me to be more confident in practicing the language. Also, do not be afraid to practice and make mistakes. Many, if not everyone, appreciate the fact that you are trying to learn French.”

Armand in Toulouse, France

Armand in Toulouse, France

Jackie gives a two-thumbs up to the French Cuisine even though she accidentally ordered frog legs despite the waiter’s attempt to translate what “grenouille” means.

Jackie gives a two-thumbs up to the French Cuisine even though she accidentally ordered frog legs despite the waiter’s attempt to translate what “grenouille” means.

Katie in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Katie in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Katie, Jackie, and Armand showing their IPED pride at Lourdes, France

Katie, Jackie, and Armand showing their IPED pride at Lourdes, France

Leave a Comment

Filed under IPED Fellowships, Prestigious Awards, Trips

IPED Summer Blog: Entrepreneurship in Latin America – Daina Ruback

I had two goals for the summer before my last semester with IPED: to practice my Spanish, and to gain on-the-ground work experience outside of the US and in my chosen field of small business and entrepreneurship development.  So last fall, as Dr. S tasked us to formulate proposals for summer endeavors in our Project Management course, I sent a quick email to some former colleagues with whom I managed a women’s entrepreneurship working group at the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). My task was simple: “Can you keep an eye out for any potential opportunities for projects/internships in women’s entrepreneurship in Latin America and pass them my way?”

The next May, I was on my way to Guatemala to attend a workshop on women’s entrepreneurship.I was invited to develop a policy paper on creating holistic women’s entrepreneurship training programs in developing countries. After the initial 3 days in Guatemala, I spent 6 weeks in Mexico City with Value for Women and ANDE (with support from Oxfam’s Women in Small Enterprise Program), meeting with stakeholders, conducting research, and writing a policy paper that focuses on autonomous decision-making of women business owners and appropriate ways to include men in women’s entrepreneurship initiatives.  


Hanging with some of my coworkers. Nah, I didn’t take any photos at work since I was mostly based out of a shared space in Mexico City, so here’s a shot from Diego Rivera’s studio museum.

Concurrently, I applied to be part of a research and evaluation consortium with Emory University. In February, I was selected to be part of a group of graduate students to help Emory carry out research with TechnoServe Inc., a non-profit organization with entrepreneurial accelerator programs in four Central American countries (Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). The ultimate goal of this research is to see what works with accelerator programs for developing country entrepreneurs: what types of services and trainings are most valuable, and what broader macro socioeconomic factors impact an entrepreneur’s success.

During the two weeks spent in Central America, our group from Emory interviewed dozens of TechnoServe entrepreneurs, advisors, and sector experts in Nicaragua and El Salvador. These interviews were truly the highlight of my summer. For example, in Nicaragua, we interviewed Karen Tijerino, founder of Cerveza Artesanal Pinolera, one of the country’s six craft breweries. Karen founded the company last year and has been leading Nicaragua’s burgeoning craft beer industry as the only woman brewer (with an all woman staff) and one of the only native Nicaraguan brewers.  In a small town in northern Nicaragua, we spoke with Leana Gámez- who transformed her grandmother’s small, home-based bakery into a sought-after brand available in almost all of western Nicaragua- and ate a lot of delicious, carb-y treats.

Enjoying the new craft beer scene in Managua

Enjoying the new craft beer scene in Managua

 Emory research team and Leana Gámez, Bakery owner and TechnoServe Entrepreneur

Emory research team and Leana Gámez, Bakery owner and TechnoServe Entrepreneur

 Owner of NicaTextil shows us around his clothing and uniform manufacturing shop

Owner of NicaTextil shows us around his clothing and uniform manufacturing shop

TechnoServe’s program in El Salvador has a specific focus on women entrepreneurs, and we were able to speak with nine of the over 60 amazing ladies who participated in the program this past year. Businesses ranged from a beauty product supplier, to a children’s furniture producer, to a veterinarian whose business sees over 1000 animals every month (and has a really adorable Facebook page)! We were also shuttled around the city by the fabulous Linea Rosa, a taxi company founded by a TechnoServe entrepreneur in San Salvador, driven by women, providing safe transportation for women passengers.

An exciting part about this project is the broad reach we hope these interview findings will have. I’ll be participating in a session to present this research at the SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) Conference in San Francisco in September and am thrilled to share what we have learned with other accelerators and entrepreneurs. I’ll also be happy to share the final reports from both projects with any interested IPEDers!

As an Arrupe Fellow, I was really lucky to have the flexibility in my summer funding to create a program that fit my personal and professional goals.  It was also a perfect opportunity to apply so much of what I had learned over the past year of IPED to real world international development projects. I’m now looking forward to using the learnings from this summer throughout my last semester.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Academic, Career, Internships, IPED Fellowships, Trips