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February 2005

The focus for the Year of Languages for February is International Engagement.

International Engagement and CAL’s Cultural Orientation Resource Center

Many of the 50,000 refugees that the United States accepts annually attend cultural orientation (CO) classes in overseas locations and in their host communities in the United States. These programs aim to help refugees understand important features of life in the United States related to language and culture. Alignment of program goals and content between the overseas and U.S. programs is important to providing coherent and relevant services to refugees as they undertake resettlement in the United States.

CAL’s Cultural Orientation Resource (COR) Center facilitates this specific form of international engagement in a number of ways.

  • International and domestic resettlement programs widely use materials published by CAL, such as Welcome to the United States: A Guidebook for Refugees, and CAL’s culture profiles, which describe the histories and cultures of various refugee groups. The COR Center’s Cultural Orientation Trainers Exchange project brings overseas CO trainers to the United States for workshops and resettlement site visits and organizes visits of U.S. cultural orientation trainers to pre-departure sites in East Africa, West Africa, Egypt, and Turkey. The visits allow the trainers to exchange experiences, obtain updated information on refugee processing and resettlement, and develop new training skills.

  • The COR Center’s In Focus Web page features descriptions of domestic resettlement programs to provide international workers with specific knowledge about their clients’ needs and experiences.

The COR Center maintains an online collection of cultural orientation activities for service providers for overseas and in the United States.

For more information on the COR Center, contact Sanja Bebic.

International Engagement and the Comprehensive Assessment of Student Learning Abroad Project

How exactly can international engagement enrich the education of those who participate in it? The Comprehensive Assessment of Student Learning Abroad project is seeking to answer that question by gathering and analyzing empirical data to determine the importance of international engagement in students’ learning. CAL is a consultant on this study, conducted principally by Georgetown University in partnership with the University of Minnesota, Dickinson College, and Rice University. The study is examining students’ second language acquisition, gains in their intercultural sensitivity, and their learning of specific subject area material across multiple study abroad programs. This study will help educators understand the features of study abroad programs that best promote student learning in each of the these areas.

For more information on this project, contact Meg Malone at CAL.


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Links and Resources Related to International Engagement
Cultural Orientation Resource Center

Welcome to the United States coverWelcome to the United States: A Guidebook for Refugees

Attaining high levels of proficiency: Challenges for foreign language education in the United States
E-Language Learning System



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