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Building Partnerships in International Education  

Article courtesy of Global Ties US.

Throughout November, we’re celebrating the impact of international education and how the Global Ties Network builds partnerships related to language teaching, journalism, higher education, and social media activism. Below, the Dacotah Territory International Visitor Program, GlobalPittsburgh, Pacific & Asian Affairs Council, and the International Institute of Buffalo share with us how participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) forged relationships with community partners to accomplish their career development goals. 

Dacotah Territory International Visitor Program
By Mike Richardson, Executive Director
IVLP: Teaching English for the Knowledge Economy
NPA: Meridian International Center  

DTIVP at the Dignity Statue near Chamberlain, SD.

Dacotah Territory International Visitor Programs hosted a group of five educators from Timor-Leste in coordination with Meridian International Center’s “Teaching English for the Knowledge Economy” International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project. The group visited South Dakota from September 14-19 and met with community members in Sioux Falls and Rapid City who work in language teaching.  

The group spent the first two days in Sioux Falls meeting and observing English as a Second Language classes, first with the Sioux Falls School District and then with Lutheran Social Services “New American Center.” 

The Sioux Falls School System has 2,700 students in grades K through 12 who speak 79 different languages.  Our group observed and spoke with administrators, counselors, teachers, and students.  One of the counselors spoke with the group in their native language, sparking fascination amongst the visitors There were many questions going both ways which contributed to both the hosts’ and visiting groups’ understanding of each other’s backgrounds and cultures.  

The New American Center works with around 800 adults each year, many of whom are refugees, who collectively speak 25 to 45 different languages. The Center connects refugees to resources in the community and helps them become self-sufficient. In addition to resource dissemination, the Center provides English classes, along with classes regarding job skills, social skills, interview preparation, legal topics, and how to adapt to our constantly changing culture. The group observed five different language classes of varying levels and met with the director of the program. The New American Center demonstrated how community members work to incorporate newcomers to the United State and help them reach their full potential through language acquisition.  

The visitors finished their tour in Sioux Falls where they met with the team responsible for certifying English as a Second Language Teachers at the University of Sioux Falls. There were productive discussions between the hosts and visitors about continuing contact and exchanging information for fulfilling their common goals. 

We all boarded our bus and then headed to Rapid City and the Black Hills. It is a 335-mile drive, and included a stop at the 50-foot-tall Dignity Statue on the hill overlooking the Missouri River, which honors the culture of the indigenous people of this region. Seeing this statue of an indigenous woman in Plain-style clothing served to show visitors the amalgamation of cultures and histories that exist in our community. Once in Rapid City, they visited Mount Rushmore National Memorial, did a little shopping, and even did some line dancing before heading to their next stop. 

This program exemplifies why we all work on IVLP programs:  The sharing of culture, experiences, and information for our delegates and our people brings us closer together and allows us to forge connections across common interests and goals.  We look forward to the next experience where we can continue sharing a piece of our culture here in South Dakota with visitors from other parts of the world.