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International Training and Education | Student Profiles

Talib Abdur-Rahim is a second-year ITEP student on the international development track, also pursuing a certification in TESOL. A native New Yorker, Talib believes that each one of us has unlimited potential.  He is passionate about learning and about helping others, especially those who are less fortunate, to develop and manifest their innate talents and dreams. He is a graduate of Lincoln University in PA, where he earned his BA in History and minor in Arabic. While at Lincoln University, he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha and studied abroad in Morocco.A fluent Spanish speaker, Talib recently spent time inthe Dominican Republic. Talib comes to ITEP with a wide range of professional experiences in education and law enforcement.As a former DC cop, he brings a unique perspective to the classroom.  He has worked as an elementary school teacher and an undergraduate academic advisor.His plans include establishing a non-profit geared towards developing and broadening the cultural awareness of inner city youth.  Among the many things that he has going on is his work with refugee populations, helping them transition to life in America.  His interests include history, geography, languages, music, traveling and the African diaspora.

Originally from Detroit, Lauren Bruce graduated from Capital University in Columbus, OH, with a BA in Art Therapy and Spanish. As an undergrad, she spent a semester in Granada, Spain, where the international exchange seed was planted. After graduation, Lauren spent a few years teaching by day and slinging drinks by night. As a niece of a RPCV, she always dreamt of doing the Peace Corps, so in 2006 the time was finally right. With the intention of pursuing a master’s in TEFL, and her Spanish degree in hand, off to Ukraine she went. There she worked as a secondary education English teacher during the school year and in the summer worked on HIV/AIDS initiatives and youth development summer camps. Upon her return from Ukraine in 2008, she landed herself back in Detroit where she worked for a Detroit-based non-profit that uses recycled industrial materials to provide underserved children with creative learning experiences. However fulfilling, she found herself uninspired in Motown, and missing an international focus. Now in D.C, she is pursuing an education and a career in international education exchange. Her interest lies in developing more unique and less common university academic exchanges. Besides her work-related endeavors, she enjoys shoestring traveling, painting, plants, proletariat dining and kayaking.

Mariana Cernei is a second year graduate student in the International Training and Education Program, focusing on international education development. She is originally from Moldova, but she has lived and worked in Washington, DC for the last 10 years. Her interest in international education started when she worked on fellowship programs for graduate students from Eastern Europe and Central Asia at American Councils for International Education in Washington, DC. Mariana speaks five languages and she was able to use her language skills while working at the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova, and the International Center for Language Studies in Washington, DC. She hopes that after graduating from American University she will be equipped with knowledge and skills to work on projects involving education opportunities in post-conflict environments.

Hailing from New York, Marissa Citro is a first semester ITEP student, concentrating on International Exchange. Outside of school, Marissa works at the Carrigan School of Language and Business as an ESOL tutor. She did her undergraduate work as an International Studies and French dual major with a dual minor in Latin and Religious Studies at Le Moyne College, in New York. During her undergraduate career, she was a very active member of Amnesty International and volunteered a summer abroad in Dominica. Marissa has studied abroad in Strasbourg, France. Immediately following her graduation, Marissa volunteered for a year in Montana on an Indian reservation, through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps: Northwest. She then traveled to Busan, South Korea, where she taught English for three years at Geumyang Middle School. After ITEP, Marissa hopes to focus her work on international exchange in Eastern Asia.

Katherine Felter. Before I came to the ITEP program, I was working at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. CFNCR awards grants in the DMV region and internationally. I was involved in grant making with various funds including the Partnership for Equity, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and Laura Bush Foundation, as well as facilitating transactions of many individual, family and corporate funds. In Richmond, VA, I studied International Social Justice and Spanish at VCU. I travelled to Lima, Peru, for a semester abroad and had the opportunity to travel throughout the country. I surveyed the various regions and worked with an afterschool safe space. Additionally, I have made mission trips to Haiti. I know that I want to work and improve conditions for underserved populations. I realize that there is an underserved population here in the United States, and I intend to teach in DCPS after obtaining a license through AU.  I don’t separate professional work from my soul’s goals and I intend to help individuals become whole beings relying on the web of support that we create for one another.

 My name is Megan Francis and I am a first year ITEP student. I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, with a degree in English Literature and French Language in 2009. After I graduated I took a year off to get some "real world experience." What that really translated to was a year of working for a small company servicing business phone systems and living, for the first time in my life, away from a university campus (my dad is a university professor). I am now back in school doing research as a Graduate Assistant and studying studying studying! While at PLU I spent a semester in France learning language and culture in combination with a month in Martinique studying Caribbean culture and a Month in Ecuador studying Eco-Literature. These experiences abroad really inspired me to begin looking at a career in International Education. In France I was able to participate in a very traditional study abroad at a university with a home stay, working through cultural differences while becoming a more "well rounded" individual. I also worked on improving my language skills through many educational and extracurricular activities. Both Martinique and Ecuador, on the other hand, gave me a look into the less traditional aspects of education abroad. In Ecuador I learned about eco-tourism and the overall effects on people and the environment while I toured the Amazon. In Martinique I learned about the past influences of colonialism and slavery on the present day Martinique identity. I ultimately began to imagine what it would be like to work at combining these educational travels with service learning. Thus, I want to ultimately spend my time here learning how to best apply study abroad and exchange to a field of service learning.

 Laura Holmes joins the program from upstate NY and holds a BA in International Relations from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA.  During her high school and college years, Laura studied in Munich, Germany, on Rotary Exchange, as well as in Tours, France, and Berlin, Germany. She brings with her a range of teaching experiences, having taught high school French with Teach For America in Southern Louisiana and public school courses in Pittsburgh, PA, and Chenango County, NY.  Laura's other teaching opportunities include stints with the refugee resettlement agency Refugium in Berlin, Campus Conversation Courses at the University of Pittsburgh, Literacy Volunteers of Chenango County, and a primary school in Hermitage, Haiti.  Her academic and professional aspirations include working with ESL learners, refugees, and immigrants and developing ways to expand their educational opportunities.  She currently works as an Honors Counselor for the American University Honors Program.

Chrissy Kulenguski is a first year student in the ITEP program, focusing on international education development.  Even though she is somewhat familiar with DC having grown up in Northern Virginia, she still has a lot of exploring to do around her new home in Capitol Hill.  Chrissy studied piano and voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston and spent a semester abroad at Nakas Conservatory in Athens, Greece during her last year.  After realizing that her Greek history and language classes interested her more than her music studies, she returned to the US and completed her B.A. with new career interests in mind.  Chrissy then spent the next three years out of the US: backpacking in Africa and Europe, working as an English teacher in Rome, Italy, and teaching at a teacher training college in Cambodia as part of her two-year service in the Peace Corps.  With over 5 years of teaching experience in music, English, and teaching methodology, as well as a keen interest in curriculum development and equity in education, she hopes to work with a non-profit or government organization developing effective education strategies in the developing world.  Chrissy is currently interning as a research associate of Information Communication Technology for Education (ICT4Education) in USAID’s new Global Broadband and Innovations Program.

 Hi, I'm Lauren Lopez!  I am a first year ITEP student and just moved to DC from Santa Barbara, California.  Santa Barbara is a small beach town on the central coast of California and is VERY different than Washington D.C. and the city in general.  I am used to being surrounded by green lush mountains and crystal clear ocean waters, so this is quite a change for me! I am definitely getting used to these differences and am excited to start this new journey of my life on the East coast and as an ITEP student. Before heading East, I was the head teacher in an early child development center.  I absolutely loved my job and loved the amount of challenge the children presented to me on a daily basis, but it wasn't what I pictured myself doing long term.  Last summer I went to the south of Thailand and volunteered as an English teacher in a primary and secondary school.  While teaching I stayed on a small island within a small community and lived with a wonderful Thai family. I can say that that experience was one of the most rewarding I have ever had and is what really exposed me to my passion for international education.  I plan to concentrate on education development through the ITEP program but am also extremely interested in education and the affect it has on orphans whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS and in post-conflict regions.  I hope to one day be a part of, or creator of, an organization which focuses on children's education within these fields.  After ITEP I hope to be overseas utilizing the new skills and knowledge I've acquired...we'll see where the wind takes me!

 Amanda Malamut is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Arcadia University in 2010 with a B.A. in International Studies and a Spanish minor. While she was at Arcadia, she traveled to Costa Rica to study a dam project and environmental sustainability, and she studied abroad in the fall of her junior year in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. She also participated in two Alternative Spring Break Trips to Tijuana, Mexico, and one to New Orleans, Louisiana. After graduation, she has continued to work on creating a non-profit with fellow ITEP-er Cait McGee, Simply Equal Education, which is educating kids about what it would be like to go to school in Equatorial Guinea as well as supply school items to various schools abroad, including the school she worked at while in Equatorial Guinea. Currently, she is working at a children’s bookstore called Booktopia in Bethesda, Maryland. She is very excited to be in the ITEP program. She is interested in water development and hopes to work with an NGO that helps communities easily access clean water.

 Hey! I'm Cait McGee.  I graduated from Arcadia University in 2010 and decided to go straight through with school...just so I didn't decide I could do without!  Now I'm a full time nanny working with a 5, 3, and 1 year means I always have really good stories.  I also am the co-founder of an international organization, Simply Equal Education, with fellow ITEPer Amanda Malamut.  I spent a year of high school as an exchange student in New Zealand which is what led me to this field.  Since then I've spent a semester each in London and Equatorial Guinea West Africa, and shorter trips with classes and alternative spring break trips to Costa Rica and Mexico.  I have no idea where I want to be after I graduate from this program.  In an ideal world I would love for Simply Equal Education to become big enough to hire ourselves, but in the mean time maybe working with orphanages in developing countries?  We'll see, I have some time :)

 Laurie Melin is a second year ITEP student concentrating on international exchange. She graduated from Ohio Northern University in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in history and Spanish and a minor in German. As an undergraduate, she interned in her university’s International Admissions and Student Services office and was very active in several multicultural groups on campus. After college, Laurie worked as a university admissions counselor for two years, traveling in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois to recruit students. She has studied abroad in Chile and Costa Rica, and she spent her first year at AU interning with The Alliance for Global Education and the University of Maryland's Office of International Services. Currently, she helps run the TALK intercultural conversation program at AU. After graduating from ITEP, Laurie hopes to work closely with students traveling abroad (from the US or from other countries). She'd like to focus on intercultural training and education programs, helping students adapt to new cultures, host families, classes or work, and living abroad.

 Maggie Powers, a first year ITEP student and graduate assistant, holds a B.A. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College. She has always had an interest in education, especially at the early childhood level. After finishing high school in Bavaria, Germany, and then spending seven months in Italy during her junior year, Maggie realized that mixing international and early childhood education would be the perfect fit for her interests. While in Italy, she spent time interning with a psychologist in Rome, volunteering to restore medieval houses in San Remo, and studying the renowned Reggio Emilia Approach to early care and education at the University of Reggio Emilia. Maggie is deeply interested in thinking about pedagogy and international approaches to teaching and learning and the ways in which early childhood education could and should connect with international education, such as a project she's collaborating on in Ghana. She is also very interested in technology and thinking about the ways it can be used more meaningfully in the classroom. She is currently conducting research on people's experiences with educational technology and tools like Twitter in higher education with a professor from Bryn Mawr College. You can find her talking about international education and ways to use Twitter to facilitate collaboration and educational exchange at @mpowers3. Going forward, Maggie hopes to continue searching for and finding innovative ways to use technology to create spaces and the means for continual learning and open collaboration, focusing on connecting early childhood educators around the globe.

Takei Roach is a first year ITEP student and native Washingtonian. She holds a BA in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland and a BS in Psychology from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA.  Her interests are in the intersections of language, culture, the arts and cognition. Through her work with the Art and Drama Therapy Institute, a day program for adults with disabilities, she observed the transformative impact of the arts on cognition and self image.  Through her personal performance work she has experienced the restorative and energizing impact culturally relevant arts exposure and practice can have on the whole being.  She has over five years experience in higher education and hopes to contribute to the body of knowledge informing access to and funding for international education opportunities for low income children and youth.  She is currently an academic affairs coordinator in the American University, Kogod School of Business.

Elizabeth Slupski is from Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse with a BS in Business and Spanish. She spent a semester abroad in Spain, traveled to Central and South America, and, having a love of learning other cultures, wanted to work in an international field. Before coming to DC for the ITEP program, Elizabeth worked as an Assistant Language Teacher in Kobe, Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) for three years. Sharing her culture with her students and learning about theirs cemented Elizabeth's interest in academic and cultural exchanges to promote conversation and understanding. She is excited to be studying in DC and have so many internship opportunities available. After AU, Elizabeth would like to work facilitating exchanges and continue her travels (and living) abroad. 

Shelley Swendiman is a first year ITEP student focusing on International Development.  Originally from Kensington, Maryland, Shelley has a BA in Spanish with a concentration in Latin American Studies from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.  After college, she joined the Peace Corps and went to Ukraine where she worked as a secondary education English teacher from 2005-2007.   In addition to her primary assignment, Shelley developed and conducted educational seminars and training sessions on human trafficking and HIV/AIDS awareness for Ukrainian teachers and health professionals.  As a member of Peace Corps Ukraine’s Gender and Development Council, she planned two summer camps: GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), and TOBE (Teaching Our Boys to Excel). She also worked with the International Office of Migration in Kyiv to promote anti-human trafficking education. Shelley currently works at Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, DC as a Desk Officer for Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.  She visited the three countries earlier this year as a member of a Pacific assessment team and spent a month in Tonga last year working with the staff and volunteers on programming and training.  She also serves as a facilitator of Peace Corps trainee orientation events held around the country.  In ITEP, Shelley plans to focus on women in development and anti-human trafficking education.  She enjoys traveling, learning new languages and all things the color green.

My name is Courtney Wright, a Chicago native and now resident of the great city of DC. I graduated in 2007 from Vanderbilt University-Peabody College with a BSc in Secondary Education and English. Post-Vandy, I spent a year working at a homeless shelter in Nashville providing educational and support services along with teaching basic literacy to adults on probation and parole. From 2008-2010, I served as an education volunteer with the Peace Corps in Malawi (southeast Africa). I spent this past summer in South Sudan learning the ins and outs of the development world in post-conflict countries. My interests focus on opening up access to non-formal education initiatives to transient populations (particularly female juvenile offenders, homeless adults, and refugees/IDPs). My particular regions of focus are Africa and urban areas in the US, although I’m open to learning about and going anywhere! I’m not really sure what will go down post-ITEP, but I’m entertaining the idea of continuing on to a PhD and becoming Dr. Wright one day :)

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