Normandale World Languages Department Receives Competitive Federal Grant for Internationalization

By Jen Bouchard - Normandale World Languages Instructor

The Normandale Community College World Languages and Cultures Department recently received a $147,797 grant for two years from the U.S. Department of Education through the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) program for the Customizing Internationalization to Reflect Community and Learning Environments (CIRCLE) initiative. This is the second time the department has been awarded a competitive UISFL grant.

The CIRCLE project will allow Normandale World Languages and Cultures faculty to continue campus-wide internationalization work through the lens of diaspora. Diaspora is a term used to describe the mass dispersal of a population from a center (or homeland) to multiple areas across the globe, and the creation of communities and identities based on these histories and cultures. The grant project will include the development of an area studies program in Somali language and culture, as well as a diaspora studies course with an experiential learning component.  

The CIRCLE team will create an interdisciplinary multi-modal database dedicated to the concept of diaspora as it relates to our Normandale community. In addition, the International Experience Center will host an interdisciplinary speakers series featuring local experts on diaspora during the 2019-2020 academic year. The development of a study away course to learn from diasporic Cuban and Haitian communities in Miami will serve as a nationwide model for affordable domestic travel opportunities that expand students' worldviews.  

"We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to develop innovative, content-rich experiences for students to grow in their understanding of our local and global communities as they hone their intercultural and linguistic competencies," said CIRCLE project director and French faculty member Jen Bouchard.    

Professional development provided by the University of Minnesota's Global Programs and Strategies Alliance will support faculty as they continue to internationalize curricular and co-curricular activities across campus.   The knowledge, perspectives, and skills that students will gain through these experiences are vital for living, working and thriving in a modern global community.