Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Community of Voices

childrens choir
At the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, held Jan. 14 in the Conference Center Ballroom, children from the Spanish Immersion School Children’s Choir, led by Sue Gehrisch, perform enthusiastically. The keynote address was given by Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One, Inc. A gallery of Thursday’s events is online here.


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Delaware Dean candidates introduced in Open ForumsColumbus State staff, faculty and students are cordially invited to attend Open Forum sessions to meet the final candidates for the Delaware Campus Dean position.

2:00 p.m. - Wednesday, January 20 - Jan Rogers

2:00 p.m. - Thursday, January 21 - Tom Erney

2:00 p.m. - Friday, January 22 - Andy Rezin

All three sessions will be held in WD – Room # will be posted in the lobby. Light refreshments will be served. For additional information, please contact Sandra Kellam, Human Resources Representative, at ext. 5213.

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highway photo
Heavy traffic creeps past campus at the I-70/I-71 split.

I-70/71 split project to surround Columbus State

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is planning a project that will reconstruct the I-70/I-71 split in downtown Columbus. The project aims to reduce congestion and improve safety through this corridor. The state wants to simplify I-70/71, first by eliminating the ramps that force drivers into too many merges and lane changes.

By the time the $1.6 billion project is finished in 2017, the new 10-lane freeway will no longer have exit ramps at 3rd, 4th, 18th, Front and Broad streets or Livingston Avenue Downtown.

The result is that drivers will have to get used to exiting the freeway earlier than they do now. If not, they'll drive right through Downtown.

highway bridge
An artist’s rendering of the proposed “cap” on Spring Street over the highway.

The configuration comes seven years after officials started planning how to fix the 2-mile I-70/71 corridor Downtown, one of the most dangerous in the state.

"The I-70/71 overlap section has a crash rate 10 times the state average," ODOT officials wrote. "Traffic volumes now exceed the design volume by more than 50,000 vehicles per day."

The highway opened in the 1970s and by 1986, traffic had exceeded capacity.

ODOT has vowed to build “caps”—wider bridges and swaths of green spaces—over the highways to better connect communities on both sides of I-71 and I-70. Caps at Spring Street and Long Street are being planned as part of the initial phases of the project.

One of the recent project proposals voted on by property owners in December was a noise barrier along the east side of I-71 between Spring Street and Jack Gibbs Boulevard, which would be on the property of Shiloh Baptist Church.

The first task of the reconfiguration will start on I-670 and I-71 in 2011.

There will be a pause in work during 2012 while the city celebrates its bicentennial, and construction will resume in 2013.

To keep up with the project, visit ODOT’s I-70/I-71 Study site

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Schneider elected to ADE

Lisa Schneider

Lisa Schneider, chair of the English Department, was recently elected to serve on the executive board of the American Department of English (ADE) for a three-year term that started January 1.

ADE serves as a central source of information and support for chairs of college and university English departments throughout the United States and Canada. Membership is institutional, and chairs represent their departments in ADE activities. ADE has been in existence for forty years as a project of the Modern Language Association (MLA) and its membership encompasses nearly 750 English departments, writing programs, and humanities divisions.

“Recently MLA has become very interested in community colleges, but membership of both ADE and MLA is from 2-year colleges to graduate degree granting institutions,” said Schneider.

As a member of the executive board, Schneider will attend two meetings a year, as well as the national meetings and Summer Seminars.

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Orientation developed for students from Egypt

Kim Brazwell
Kim Brazwell, coordinator in Diversity, Study Abroad, and TRiO Programs.

In July, with the clock already ticking toward their arrival, Kimberly Brazwell was working feverishly to develop, plan and coordinate an ambitious and comprehensive orientation program for four exchange students from Egypt.

While Brazell’s position as coordinator for the Diversity Study Abroad and TRIO Programs already had her well-accustomed to working with international students, this challenge was a first.

At any given time, Columbus State has 300 or so students from other countries among the more than 29,000 on its campus. However, in the summer of 2009, the college was preparing for its first “exchange” students as part of a grant from Community Colleges for International Development’s (CCID) Community College Initiative (CCI). Now it was early August, and the four young men from Egypt would be arriving in a matter of weeks.

Ayman Siyam, 30, Ahmed Ahmed, 28, Ahmed Kaakora, 28, and Hussein Azab, 25, would be studying for a dental technician certificate. The educational experience and the knowledge they develop in the United States would help them succeed in that career path once they return to Egypt.

Unique circumstances made the orientation task challenging: The students would arrive in mid-August, six full weeks before fall classes would begin. Brazwell had to develop a six-week bridge/orientation program to fill that time.

studentsFrom left, Ahmed Kaakora, Hussein Azab, Ahmed Ahmed and Ayman Siyam relax during their summer orientation.

“I knew I had to keep them busy for a month and a half,” said Brazwell. “I decided to focus on one topic for each day of the week. Monday’s were service oriented, Tuesday’s were business or finance, Wednesday’s included academics and technology, Thursday’s focused on diversity, and Friday’s included field trips or leadership. I would find a topic or issue important for them and plug it into that day. For instance, their online training was technology so that was scheduled on a Wednesday. We wanted to take them on a tour of the Ohio Statehouse, so that was set up for a Friday. It worked extraordinarily well in the end by keeping it organized.”

Dubbed on campus as the CCID CCI Egypt Project, the six-week schedule was broken down into a daily grid outlining each hour of the day. While Brazwell, along with staff and faculty, comprised most of the facilitators, several community and business leaders were also included as featured speakers. Among them: representatives from the Arab community in central Ohio, The Middle East Studies Center, and the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board.

The experience has been invaluable for the students. “One of the first things I learned here is how to become a more positive person,” said Siyam. “Columbus State is absolutely the best college I have experienced.”

Azab echoed similar sentiments. “I could not believe how much we learned in just one month about life and culture here. From the clothes we could wear to establishing bank accounts, the orientation helped us assimilate into society. When classes actually began it was so easy. I felt like an American student, because I already knew so many people at Columbus State.”

Making arrangements before their arrival posed its own set of challenges. For instance, since Columbus State is a commuter campus without residential facilities, apartments had to be secured. But how would the various accounts for the lease, electricity, and telephone be set up? Would the college pay, or would the grant money be used? And would they be residential accounts or business accounts? (It was a combination of both.) “You learn as you go—and that’s exactly what we did,” said Brazwell.

Two apartments were rented in the off-campus housing of nearby Ohio State University. The apartments were close to the city bus line, grocery stores and a mosque.

Another challenge was accommodating religious needs of the students. All four are Muslim, and they pray five times each day. Some meetings had to be scheduled around specific prayer times, and private rooms or offices had to be available for the prayer sessions.

Now that the Egyptian students have completed their first quarter, the college is looking at ways to use all or part of their orientation for other international students who attend here. It could easily be transformed into a one- or two-hour weekly course, a winter or summer break program, or abridged into a partial-day seminar.

“This will be perfect for all international students, even perhaps local students, who come to Columbus State,” said Brazwell. “They will become fully acclimated to the campus and develop community links in the process.”

Brazwell added, “This entire process, as demanding as it was, has been a priceless learning opportunity. It made me understand how difficult it can be to navigate a country when a person doesn’t speak English as a first language.”


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Tax time is coming-ugh!Save on tax prep with the Columbus State Bookstore's great prices on Turbo Tax software. Each software purchase comes with a free Columbus State calculator, so you'll be all set to file!

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