Introducing ACEI’s 5-Step Refugee Guide

November 16th, 2017

A 5-Step Guide to Help Refugees/Displaced People without/limited Documentation

The displacement of people can occur at any time and to any one, whether as a result of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, flood, hurricane, wild fire, or civil war, political unrest and regional warfare. In the midst of such calamities, people may be left with nothing but the clothing on their back or a handful of memorabilia and essentials. Many fleeing their homes and in some cases, their countries, may leave behind precious documents or lose them in the aftermath of a natural disaster or war. In this blog, we offer our 5-step practical guide to those academic institutions faced with assisting refugee/displaced candidates from outside the U.S.

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5 Steps

  1. Assess the Overall Situation
  2. Reconstruct the Individual’s Academic History

  3. Gather Documents

  4. Assess Competency

  5. Verify

Let’s dive deeper into each one of these 5 steps:

Step 1.  Assess the Overall Situation

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Assessing the overall situation helps us determine if the claim for lack of documentation is legitimate (e.g. is the source country at war or devastated by natural/environmental crisis and if so, when did this occur?).

  • Check U.S. Department of State Website for alerts and country updates
  • Search Internet on recent news
  • Email the institution
  • Telephone the institution (find a native speaker or someone fluent in the language to help you with the call)

Step 2. Reconstruct Academic History

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Assessing a refugee/displaced person’s academic history is similar to trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle where several pieces maybe missing. Reconstructing the individual’s academic history will help you have an overview of the person’s studies so that you can begin to fit the pieces together.

Here are some suggestions to help you with this process:

  • Follow your institution’s general procedures (as you would all prospective applicants)
  • Require completion of an application
  • Require submission of official academic documents (this will demonstrate to you what documents, if any, the individual has in his/her possession)
  • Conduct an interview

Step 3. Gather Documents

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Before you rule out the possibility of available documents, set out to gather any academic and supporting documents you can from the applicant.

These documents may include any of the following:

  • Student ID cards
  • Registration cards/enrollment slips
  • Any transcripts, certificates/diplomas
  • Copies of licenses/permits to practice a profession
  • Certificates of professional standing
  • Awards/Trophies/Medals for academic achievements
  • State examinations certification
  • Proof of tuition payments/receipts from institution’s bursary
  • Sworn statements/affidavits from exiled faculty/school administrators
  • Newspaper clippings or Internet links/articles/announcements or printed lists of graduated students

Step 4. Assess Course Competency

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Academic institutions have the means to assess an applicant’s competency in a course or courses.

Assessment of course competency maybe carried out through the following:

  • Interview by member of faculty
  • Assignment of special project
  • Offer challenge/placement exam

Step 5. Verify

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The final step is to verify and check everything that you have gathered to reconstruct a portfolio of your candidate.

Here are some suggested verification techniques to consider:

  • Confirm (again) the crisis situation in the country and institution with official sources (e.g. U.S. Department of State)
  • Ensure that you have in-house expertise on the country/region in question and its education system
  • Compare and verify any documents gathered against samples from same country and institutions in your archives
  • Use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram for your applicant and LinkedIn and websites for scholars from the conflict area. (e.g.: http://bit.ly/2zd6k1x)  
  • When in doubt, consult the advice of colleagues through your membership with professional associations in the field, and/or reach out to external sources such as independent evaluation services (Endorsed Members of AICE – Association of International Credential Evaluators).

links

Useful Links:

Association of International Credential Evaluators

ENIC-European Network of Information in the European Region-NARIC-National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union

NOKUT – European Qualification Passport for Refugees

UC Davis “Article 26 Backpack”

US Department of State

The World Factbook Central Intelligence Agency

For information and assistance with the evaluation of international academic credentials, please visit our website at www.acei-global.org or call us at 1-310-275-3530.

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Dispatch from the NAFSA I, II, and IV Tri-Regional Conference in Denver

November 9th, 2017

Denver

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI) attended the NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Tri-Regional conference this week in Denver.

855 international education professionals joined together to discuss issues surrounding the applied comparative education arena and looking toward to future to build bridges to advocate for our profession. The excellent conference held nine workshops, 131 professionals from all variety of services, 35 states represented, 115 poster sessions, the exhibition hall had record-breaking numbers with a total of 80 exhibitors, and they closed with a silent auction gala on the last evening.

From the Tri-Regional Conference website, it states that the NAFSA Region I, II, IV Tri-Regional Conference will bring sessions on current topics, established best practices, and emerging trends facing international educators in these regions.

Region I is comprised of the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington. Region II is comprised of the states of  Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming. Region IV is comprised of the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota.

Dr. Esther Brimmer, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, welcomed a large group of interested participants at breakfast on the first day of the conference.

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NAFSA Executive Director, Dr. Brimmer & Laura Sippel, ACEI’s Director of Marketing

As Dr. Brimmer welcomed the group, she expressed three ways we can build bridges to help move international education forward. First, she indicated that we need to keep honing our skills as international educators, secondly, building relationships and expanding our knowledge of working with colleagues, and lastly, being a collective community brings us together to improve our communication.

She indicated that learning about new techniques to address issues we face today will bring us together. “By joining together to be a bold voice to advocate for our field builds strong bridges for our international students,” Brimmer said. “We have to build on three levels: local, regional, and national. When we look to each other, we find strength and get tools to be a part of the solution. We have the tools to build a strong bridge and it will withstand the new challenges and we will have a more welcoming United States.”

Dr. Brimmer continued to ask what powerful and positive stories we can tell on our campuses, provide stories that resonate with our field, and that we build bridges together. She said we face roadblocks, but by speaking to State Representatives about the general climate for immigrants, we create a vibrant, diverse community.

The conference held several sessions providing trends, issues, best practices, and tools in our field.

ACEI held a lively “spin-the-wheel” to win a prize!  Many attendees stated this was the best way to get attendees involved and make new contacts and stay in touch with dear colleagues.

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The NAFSA Tri-Regional conference held individual state meetings and Dr. Brimmer personally attended the Region II (Arizona) state meeting, addressing the special needs of each state.

“NAFSA is dedicated to learning about our needs and providing ways to move us forward. I’m looking to the future and what helps our field in the first place,” Brimmer said. “We cannot be experts about your states, but we have a state-level tool kit. We can give back to our regions to be a part of such an amazing field.”

The well-attended business luncheon recognized leaders and emerging leaders of our field and indicated we are stronger than ever. The Conference Chair thanked all the people possible for making this great conference possible.

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NAFSA Luncheon

The conference concluded with an elegant silent auction and gala. This conference broke attendance records and indeed built bridges for our profession in Denver. ACEI had a very productive conference!

laura_sippel

Laura Sippel
Director of Marketing
Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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25 Fast Facts on Kenya and its Education System

November 2nd, 2017

On October 31, 2017 Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was been re-elected for a second term after securing more than 98% of the vote in a highly-contentious rerun election that was boycotted by his main opposition rival.

The recent presidential elections in Kenya have prompted us to report our blog on Kenya where we share with you 25 facts on the country and its education system.

Fast Country Facts:

1. Kenya lies directly on the equator, and is surrounded by Uganda to the south, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia to the north.

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2. The size of the country is 582,000 square miles.

3. Some of the oldest known paleontological records of man’s history have been found in Kenya. Kenya’s Great Rift Valley was formed around 20 million years ago, when the crust of the Earth was split.

4. Kenya has a population of 43.5 million with 3.1 million people living in its capital city, Nairobi.

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Nairobi, Kenya

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Photo credit: Amateur South African Gareth Jones was one of the drivers stuck in the traffic jam on 6/25/13 and decided to get out and photograph the unique scene.

5. Although it does not have an official religion, Christianity is highly prevalent throughout the country.

6. English and Swahili are the country’s official languages.

7. It gained its independence from Great Britain in 1963 and became a parliamentary democracy with a presidential republic with a multi-party system. The government has three branches of power: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The Executive is headed by the president, who is democratically elected for a five-year term. The current president is Uhuru Kenyatta.

8. The Kenyan flag is comprised of three colors, black, red and white edges, and green. In the middles of the horizontal flag is a red, white and black Maasai shield. The Massai shield is a traditional symbol in Kenya that is used to symbolize the defense of the country.

Kenya_Flag

Fast Facts on Kenya’s Education System:

9. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology oversee the country’s entire education system.

10. Old System: 7-4-2-3; established in 1963 after Kenya gained independence. The education system was modelled after the British system and included seven years of primary education, four years of lower secondary education, two years of upper secondary education and three years of university.

11. Current System: 8-4-4-; introduced in 1985 and uses the U.S. education system as a model. It includes eight years of primary education, four years of secondary education and four years of university.

12. School year runs from January to December. The academic year for universities runs from September to June.

13. In 1963 there were only 151 secondary schools, with a total enrolment of 30,120 students. Today there are nearly 3,000 secondary schools with a total enrolment of 620,000 students. Of this total, slightly over 40% are girls

14. Primary education usually starts at six years of age and runs for eight years. At the end of the 8th year, students take exams intended for the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) which covers the following five subjects: Kiswahili, English, mathematics, science and agriculture, and social studies.

15. Secondary school education usually starts at fourteen years of age and, after the introduction of the 8 4-4 system of education which replaced the 7-4-2-3 system, runs for four years. At the end of the 4th year of secondary school, students take exams intended for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). The KCSE are national exams administered by the National Examinations Council.

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Form four candidates at the Starehe Boys Centre sit for a KCSE paper.

16. Vocational secondary education is available at youth polytechnics for those wishing to pursue a trade and follows after completion of primary education and the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). These programs lead to a variety of diplomas and certificates.

17. Post-secondary technical study programs are delivered by various technical training institutes and institutes of technology. The admission requirement is generally a KCSE with a C average. The study programs offered by technical training institutes and institutes of technology vary in duration. Post-secondary study programs also lead to a variety of certificates and diplomas.

18. Higher education in Kenya includes universities that are either public or private. There are a total of seven public universities; these are independent and funded by the government. Public universities are established through Acts of Parliament. Private universities are established through the process of accreditation by Commission on Higher Education (CHE).

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19. At the tertiary level, there are also national polytechnics which offer higher professional education leading to a certificate, diploma and higher national diploma. Two polytechnics have been upgraded to university status and offer degree programs.
20. Admission to higher education at public universities in Kenya is overseen by the Joint Admissions Board (JAB) and has representatives from all public universities as well as the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and the Commission for Higher Education (CHE). Acceptance to a bachelor’s degree program required the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) with a C+ average.

21. Admission to certificate and diploma programs at polytechnics requires the KCSE with a D+ or C- average, respectively.

22. University education in Kenya consists of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Universities also offer Diplomas and Certificates.

23. Bachelor’s degree programs usually consist of major and minor subjects. Depending on the discipline chosen, a bachelor’s program may take 4 to 6 years.

24. Master’s degree program usually take 1 or 2 years. The first year mainly consists of lectures, with the second year spent doing research and end with a final paper. In most cases, admission to a master’s program requires a minimum of an upper second class bachelor’s degree. Those with a bachelor’s qualification below upper second class may be required to complete a postgraduate diploma in the related field before being admitted into the master’s program.

25. A doctorate degree (PhD or DPhil) is awarded after a period of at least 3 years of research conducted during the doctoral program. Admission to a doctorate degree program requires a master’s degree.

Sources:
http://nationfacts.net/kenya-facts/
http://www.kenyaembassy.com/aboutkenyaeducation.html

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Africa: Higher Education Interrupted

October 27th, 2017

Africa

In the past few months, government crackdowns on students and faculty protests at many African countries have disrupted and temporary halted classes and in some cases led to the indefinite closures of universities affecting thousands of students.

Here’s a look at some of the countries affected:

Cameroon

Cameroon

In the wake of demands by staff and students for greater independence for their English-speaking region, the two main public universities in Anglophone Cameroon, after months of partial closures, have been shut down indefinitely by the country’s president.  For more on the university closures in Anglophone Cameroon, click here

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC

In August 2017, the teaching staff at the University of Kinshasa voted to continue their strike to express their unhappiness in solidarity with academic staff of several other institutions in the country over non-payment of salaries and the failure of reaching a resolution with the government. For more on this topic, click here

Guinea

Guinea

In June 2017, a number of private universities in Guinea suspended instruction complaining about delays in payment of student grants from the government and the signing of contracts for teaching bachelor-equivalent courses. For more on the suspension of instruction at universities in Guinea, click here.

Kenya

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Students at the University of Nairobi are finding themselves in the crosshairs of politics brought on by the country’s elections and strike by lecturers. As a result, on October 3rd, following a rash of student unrest, the University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mbithi announced the indefinite closure of the country’s second largest institution. Earlier, the students had protested against police use of excessive force and sexual harassment at the universities of Nairobi and Maseno.  On October 8th, Mount Kenya University shut its doors due to continued student protests and strikes by professors. For more on the university closures in Kenya, click here.

Rwanda

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Since March 10th, thousands of students have found their studies suspended because of partial or total closure of the private universities which failed to meet satisfactory standards of teaching. According to a report in UniversityWorldNews, 10 universities were given until September 2017 to raise their standards, or risk being closed permanently. An update of their status is not available.  For more on the university closures in Rwanda, click here.

Awareness of these events is key for international credential evaluators and institutions of higher education whose students may be from the countries cited above. These students may not be able to procure their transcripts because of the problems back home. With universities temporarily or indefinitely closed, students from the affected institutions will have a difficult time in requesting official transcripts and those who have been able to obtain their records may show gaps in their studies due to the temporary halt in their studies.

For further information on the world education systems and credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Keep a Tradition, Lose the Bad Habit.

October 19th, 2017

balance

Traditions. Tradition, and the importance placed on tradition differs from culture to culture as much as it does from person to person. Recently, in the United States, we have adopted Indigenous People’s Day as a replacement for Columbus Day. And given the recent “conversations” in the United States about confederate statues and monuments, the automatic response of “you can’t erase history”, and the reply of “yes but you don’t have to glorify it” traditions are fresh in the public consciousness. As John Oliver said recently, “Books are for history, statues are for glorification”.

I’m not one for knocking tradition. It’s fun! It can be something as simple as an inter-generational inside joke, or a family game, and its purpose, to unify and humble, is certainly a worthy cause. My problem is with tradition “for traditions sake.” The idea that we are honor bound to our traditions should be a relic of the past. We must remember our traditions but we must remember how they have always evolved. When we lose sight of why we honor our traditions, it loses its purpose, in other words, a tradition becomes a habit. And there are more examples than you might think. Which puts me in mind of a conversation with a friend from the Netherlands.

Always big fans of comparing cultures with light hearted razzing, we were having the recurring conversation our respective homelands and their history:

“Doesn’t your Santa have a slave?” I asked, already knowing the answer

“No, he has a helper,” Ralf replied defensively

“I see, and what is his helpers name?”

“Zwarte Piet”

“Which translates to…?”

Looking down, “Black Peter”

He adds, “But I think he’s a former slave that Santa freed or something… and now he’s black because of all the soot in the chimney”

“Right… so all good now. Remind me though, how do you celebrate?”

A little excited for the nostalgia he replies “All the little kids dress-up and paint their faces black and…”

At which point his excitement fades a bit, “That’s blackface, isn’t it?”

I laughed “Yeah it’s ok though, we celebrate the betrayal and genocide of an entire race every Thanksgiving, so I don’t either of us are completely in the clear.”

Ralf is able to laugh at the Dutch tradition of Black Peter, and me at Thanksgiving for their absurdity and how far these traditions are removed from their origins. But really, while people around the US defend monuments to those who upheld slavery, the story of Zwatre Piet and the demise of Columbus Day are glimpses of hope; glimpses of evolution, perspective and progress. Of course, we shouldn’t forget our history. Just have a little humility.

Which is what concluded mine and Ralf’s discourse.

“Yeah Zwarte Piet might be racist but I mean… we had slaves man, that’s like, our national shame.”

“Yeah but who do you think sold you those slaves?”

“…..Yeah, both of us DEFINITELY  not in the clear”

AlexB

Alex Brenner – When he is not helping international students as ACEI’s Communications Officer, Alex puts his writing chops to work as a script doctor for Hollywood screenwriters and guest blogs for ACEI-Global. Alex has a BA in English from UCLA and has been fortunate to have travelled to many corners of the world as a child and an adult.

For further information on the international credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org.

 

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The Importance of Institutional Accreditation

October 12th, 2017

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The first step in evaluating non-U.S. academic documents is to determine whether the institution where the studies were completed is recognized and approved by the education authorities in the country, which in most instances is the Ministry of Education.

In the U.S. there is no central government body that establishes, maintains and sets standards to oversee academic institutions. Instead, there are accrediting groups which themselves have met or exceed recognition standards in order to review and accredit academic institutions. Accreditation as defined by the United States Department of Education is “the process whereby an agency or association grants public recognition to a school, institute, college, university, or specialized program of study which meets certain established qualifications and educational standards, as determined through initial period evaluation. The essential purpose of the accreditation process is to provide a professional judgment as to the quality of the educational institution or programs (s) offered, and to encourage continual improvement thereof.”

There are some institutions that are “unaccredited” but have formal legal authorization to operate and enroll students or issue degrees. But being incorporated as a For-Profit entity or have a business license to operate does not mean that the institution is also accredited by the nationally recognized accreditation bodies. If you’re planning to study at a college or university in the United States, it is important that you first check on the “accreditation” status of the institution.

Why is institutional accreditation important?

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3 reasons why institutional accreditation is important:

  1. helps determine if an institution meets or exceeds minimum standards of quality
  2. helps students determine is an institutional is acceptable for enrollment
  3. assists institutions in determining acceptability of transfer credits.

A student who attends an accredited institution in the U.S. is able to move freely from one accredited institution to another and receive recognition of his/her studies. Before you enroll in a school, institute, college or universities, check on its accreditation status first. One thing you don’t want to happen is graduating from at an unaccredited institution in the U.S. that will not be recognized by employers, the government or other schools, colleges or universities.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation provides a list of recognized accreditation boards which is available on its website www.chea.org. You’ll be able to check on the accreditation status of a particular school, college or university or access a complete list of accredited institutions of postsecondary education in the United States.

For further information on the world education systems and credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Facts on Puerto Rico

October 10th, 2017

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  San Juan, PR (before Hurricane Maria)                San Juan, PR (after) Source: YouTube 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the devastation it has wreaked on the island of Puerto Rico and displacing more than 3.3 million of its inhabitants, we are dedicating this week’s blog to Puerto Rico and its people.

Timeline of Hurricane Maria: For a timeline of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath click here

Status Updates: You can get the latest status report from the Government of Puerto Rico by going to its website and FEMA posts up-to-date resources and information on the federal response to Hurricane Maria on its website.

Here are some facts on Puerto Rico we would like to share with you in this blog:

1.  Formal Name: The formal name of Puerto Rico is Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, which translates to mean Free Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

2.  Origin of State Name: The U.S. changed its name to Porto Rico (Rich Port) in 1898. It was changed again to Puerto Rico in 1931.

3.  Nickname: Island of Enchantment (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

4.  Original Name: The original name of the island given by the Taino natives was Borikén. Today the name Borinquen is widely used.  Puerto Ricans proudly call themselves boricuas which carries pride and love for their island. (Source: IslandsofPuertoRico.com)

5. Population: 3,351,827 (July 2017 est.) (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

6. Capital: San Juan

7. History/Origins: Puerto Rico was populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples before 1493 when it was claimed by the Spanish Crown following Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a results of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self-government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status with the US, but the results of a 2012 vote left open the possibility of American statehood. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

8. Geography: Capital of Puerto Rico is San Juan. Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean; it is an island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic. It has an area of 9,104 sq km and slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

9. Government: Puerto Rico is an unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President. It is a presidential democracy; a self-governing commonwealth in political association with the US. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

10. US Citizens: As mentioned earlier, residents of Puerto Rico have been considered as US citizens since 1917, when the island was ceded to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War. However, Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income tax to the Untied States and they do not vote in US presidential elections. (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

11. Language: Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico, but Spanish remains dominant among the residents. The issue of language has been an ongoing concern between residents and US authorities. A 1902 law established both languages for official use, but US officials pushed for many years to make English the dominant language in school and government use. In 1991, the Puerto Rican legislature issued a bill making Spanish the official language, but this decision was reversed in 1993, restoring both languages to official status. Puerto Rican Spanish contains many Taino influences, which can be found in such place-names as Arecibo, Guayama, and Mayagüez, as well as hamaca (hammock) and coanoa (canoe). Among many African Borrowings are food terms like quimbombó (okra) , guince (banana), and mondongo (a spicy stew). Some English words are incorporate into Spanish in what is commonly referred to as “Spanglish.” (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

12. Economy: The island’s most important industrial products are pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, and food products. The sugar industry has gradually lost ground to dairy production and other livestock products in the agricultural sector. Tourism is the backbone of a large service industry, and the government sector has also grown. Tourist revenues and remittances from workers on the US main-land largely counterbalance Puerto Rico’s chronic trade deficit. Federal funds to the government and directly to the people have been important to the Puerto Rican economy. (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

13. Migration: Economic recession on the island has led to a net population loss since about 2005, as large numbers of residents moved to the US mainland. The trend has accelerated since 2010; in 2014, Puerto Rico experienced a net population loss to the mainland of 64,000, more than double the net loss of 26,000 in 2010. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

14. Pharmaceuticals: Before Hurricane Maria, Pharmaceuticals represented 72% of Puerto Rico’s 2016 exports, valued at $14.5 billion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The island accounted for 25% of total U.S. pharmaceutical exports. The sector, which grew for years on the strength of tax breaks that were phased out in 2006, employed about 90,000 workers. On Monday, September 23, 2017, the FDA said it is taking active measures to help redirect production and preserve existing treatments to avoid a ballooning health crisis from Maria’s destruction. (Source: USAToday)

15. Island’s Chief Export: More than 70% of rum consumed in the U.S. came from Puerto Rico with Bacardi and Don Q as the largest producers on the Island. (Source: Trip Savvy)

Rum

16. History of Hurricanes: The word “hurricane” derives from hurakán, a term the Spanish learned from Puerto Rico’s Taino Indians. Puerto Rico, has unfortunately, been the victim of several severe hurricanes in the past century. Before Hurricane Maria, there was Hurricane Georges in 1998. On 7 October 1985, torrential rains created a mud slide that devastated the hillside barrio of Mameyes, killing hundreds of people; and considered the single most destructive landslide in US history. On 15-16 September 2004, Hurricane Jeanne, the tenth named storm and the seventh hurricane of the 2004 hurricane season, entered southeast Puerto Rico near Maunabo and traveled west then north across Puerto Rico and exited over the northwest tip of the island near Aguadilla. Following the storm, Puerto Rico was declared a federal disaster area. As the storm approached, the entire power grid of Puerto Rico was shut down by the government, indirectly causing over $100 million in damage and resulting in 600,000 people left without running water. Seven deaths were attributed to Jeanne and there was also landslide damage.(Source: Encyclopedia.com)

17. Energy Dependence: Puerto Rico has been totally dependent on imported crude oil for its energy needs. The island imports and burns oil to generate electricity. Oil has accounted for more than 90% of the island’s total primary energy consumption which means Puerto Ricans have been paying exorbitantly high electric bills for years. Millions of Puerto Ricans are living in the dark at home after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island in September 2017, knocking out its already fragile electric grid. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his company can rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid using batteries and solar power, saying the decision to accept his offer would be in the hands of the local government and the island’s residents. (Source: The Guardians of Democracy)

18. Education: U.S. schools are bracing for an influx of students from Puerto Rico because of the damage brought on by Hurricane Maria. Schools were already facing problems of an economic nature. In May 2017, Puerto Rico’s government announced that 179 schools were closing because of the territory’s $70 billion debt. To save $7 million, about 27,000 students were relocated to other schools. Serious damage to the University of Puerto Rico’s 11 campuses have also prompted sector leaders to raise concerns about an impending crisis in higher education for the region – with academics fearing that displaced students will fail to complete courses and that research will fall behind. Within hours of the hurricanes’ hitting, academic communities on both sides of the Atlantic began discussing how to provide relief and how to keep research on track. (Source: The Times Higher Education; NPR.org; InsideHigherEducation)

19. Mascot: Puerto Rico’s unofficial mascot is a tiny tree frog only found on the island known as coqui. The inch-long amphibian has a powerful and melodic voice, and its high-pitched, chirrupy song can be heard for miles. The coquís sing from dusk to dawn, and while the locals find this a lilting lullaby, unsuspecting foreigners aren’t always comforted by their song. But they are a cute, much-loved symbol of Puerto Rico. (Source: Trip Savvy)

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20. Damage to Ecology: The storm also flattened farms. Puerto Rico’s Department of Agriculture has said that 80 percent of crops could be lost. (Source: ABC News)

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Flattened plantain trees, Yabucoa, PR 9/24/17 (Photo credit: Victor J. Bleu, NYT via Redux)

How You Can Help:

Artists for Puerto Rico Relief Effort: On Friday, October 6, 2017, artists like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Gina Rodriguez, Gloria Estefan, Luis Fonsi and several more banded together and released the Hurricane Maria relief song “Almost Like Praying” for Puerto Rico. All proceeds for the song will go to the Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Disaster Relief Fund.

Relief Efforts: Refer to the list provided in these blog by Consumer Reports  and NPR.

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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