Category Archives: Gratitude

Happy Holidays!

December 22nd, 2017

Holidays_2017

Leave a comment

Filed under Gratitude

Our Message of Thanks to you!

November 22nd, 2017

Thanks2017

A big THANKS to all our subscribers, viewers, regular contributors and guest bloggers. Without you, our blog would not be the success that it is and grown to hundreds of thousands of viewers in a year!

Though we have one day a year to pause and give thanks, I am filled with gratitude every day of the year for the fulfilling work we do here at ACEI in helping students, immigrants, refugees and displaced people from around the world. On behalf of ACEI and its dedicated team, I extend a special greeting of Thanks to express to you our sincere appreciation for your confidence and loyalty. We are deeply thankful and extend to you our best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day.

jasmin17
– Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, President & CEO

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. It reminds me to be thankful and appreciate what I have and how lucky I am. Things become so little and insignificant when I realize how blessed I am. So, be thankful for what you have. Good thing will come to those who appreciate family, friends and their own wellbeing. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Alan17
– Alan Saidi, Senior VP & COO

I am thankful for my wonderful family and that we get to spend time together.

Nora17
– Nora Khachetourian, Executive Director

I couldn’t be more thankful this Thanksgiving because I have amazing family and friends in my life. I hope your Thanksgiving is yummy, delicious, and tasty. 

Yoli17
– Yoli Moreno, Director of Communications

I am thankful for my ACEI and AICE family and the colleagues in our profession who make this world a better place.

Laura17
– Laura Sippel, Director of Marketing

I’m grateful for the wonderful family and friends in my family!

Riley17
– John Riley – Social Media Coordinator

I am thankful for the gift of life and the many blessings that come to me daily: The sunlight illuminating the petals, leaves and grass in the morning garden, the smiles exchanged with complete strangers, the countless blessings of my dear friends and family.  Every breath.

 Jeannie17
– Jeannie Winston Nogai, Public Relations Administrator

I’m grateful to be working at ACEI!

William17
William “Scottie” Thompson, Client Relations

Lately I’ve been thankful for the pretty things in my life: flowers, graffiti, hugs, bugs, whatever.

Alex17
Alex Brenner, Client Relations

To be thankful is to transform. To be thankful for what made you is to be thankful for what you are to become.

Clayton17
Clayton Winston Johan, Evaluator & Communications

Big thanks also come to you from our evaluators: Jennifer, Dmitry, Sanjin, Matthew, Katherine, Alex M., Mark, and Cindy.

scruffy17

And for good measure, here’s a shout out from our resident feline, Scruffy, who is thankful for all the humans taking such exceptionally good care of her so she can meet and greet our applicants who stop by the office!

Thanks20172.png

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gratitude

Spotlight on George Burke: Mentor and Advocate

July 6th, 2017

George

“For 40 years, I’ve been preaching international opportunities among the refugee community,” George Burke, a man of many interests and a strong advocate for international education said.

Burke is an international educational consultant who is presently the International Admissions and Recruitment Specialist at the University at Albany in New York. His rich history involves working with universities and colleges on all facets of international education, international travel and recruiting, and assisting immigrants and under-represented groups. He is a wonderful mentor and well-respected in the profession of applied comparative education. He assists people in the U.S. and all over the world. His dedication is unparalleled.

He is also a Certification Board Member for the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), works in recruiting and academic program development, Fulbright Advisor, President of Steiner House (International Student Cooperative) and works with Welcome Immigrants to Northeast Ohio, Global Cleveland, and Welcome America – all organizations assisting refugees and analyzing the vibrant economic impact of immigrants and the survival of these groups.

“I assist with all aspects of assisting immigrants.  I also travel quite a bit, I traveled 80 days overseas this year. I help students to network and use organizations to build relationships. I’m the person to help them frame the issues and help them find assistance.” Burke said. “We now have new immigrant groups that must be addressed.”

When asked what challenges he sees with the new administration in regard to immigrants, Burke stated that we need diversity and integration. He says these things start within our own communities. “When you think of diversity, there needs to be integration. If you think everything is integrated now, you run into a dead end and you won’t be prepared for the next change. It takes time, but in the long run, we all need to be prepared for change. Integration is being lost. We need to focus on integration and we all need to be involved in our communities.”

He stressed that integration is positive. “Integration is not a negative word. It has been lost in our communities and our society. It is what is being missed right now. But we cannot have forced integration. It has to be a part of our everyday lives and happen organically. We need to be accepting and prepared for positive change.”

For many years Burke has assisted immigrants, refugees, and under-represented groups. He has worked with African Americans in his state of Ohio to assist in providing pathways for them. He also works to integrate African Americans with the immigrant community. Burke said that family connections are very important when discussing integration and the immigrant community, “Family is their connection, they need family relationships. By breaking apart families, we are creating a dysfunctional antithesis of the American story.”

When faced with an issue, Burke said that he thinks about it, talks about it, throws to out to his colleagues and communities, and they throw it back. Keeping an open dialogue is very important.

He not only preaches diversity and integration, he makes it happen. Burke closed with, “These things take time and I always have hope.”

https://www.linkedin.com/in/george-burke-78962511/

http://www.albany.edu/international-admissions/70602.php

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Gratitude, Human Interest

Education For All – A UNESCO Challenge

September 16th, 2016

unesco

On September 13, 2016, ACEI’s President and CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert was interviewed by CCTV (China Central Television)-America on the current state of education and literacy around the world.

 

The United Nations has admitted that It has been unable to meet its goal of getting all of the world’s children into school. Right now, some 263 million children and youth are out of school. The United Nations has previously set a goal of educating all children by the year 2030. A new report from UNESCO, however, says that this goal is too ambitious and that at the current rate of progress this goal cannot be met until the year 2042.

The inability to avail universal education to children has broad implications for not only societies, but also economies.  We need to ask the following questions:

  • Why is there is such a divide between rich and poor countries when it comes to education?
  • How will the limitations of poor countries in enrolling their children in school until 2042 affect their opportunity for growth, when rich countries have met this already met this target.
  • How does a society benefit when its children are provided access to primary school education?
  • What are the biggest obstacles in achieving this goal?

UNICEF answers these questions in its 2007 report which may be summarized into one word: lack. The inability of the poorer countries to meet these goals has to do with the capacities of their governments and those in public office.  Lack is the key obstacle to providing children access to free primary school education. There is lack of both financial (absence of a functioning tax base and budget priorities) and human (absence of skilled manpower) resources.  There is a lack of responsibility on the part of governments refusing to accept obligations without political commitment to do anything about it. There is lack of coordination between the different branches of governments and its various offices. There is also a lack of knowledge and appreciation for the benefits and values of education. Uneducated and illiterate parents may not realize that they too have an obligation to make sure their children are schooled and educated.

Where there is a deficit in a strong education plan, we will see country’s overall health and social and economic success in peril.  As Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert stated in her interview: “literacy is currency.” A nation of educated and literate people is one that can pull itself out of its vicious cycle of poverty and economic stagnation.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Gratitude, Human Interest, Politics, Travel

Sister Deborah and Ghana Jollof: Tasty Rice

This is a culinary tale–or rather competition–West African style.

Last Sunday morning, I heard a story and song on NPR’s Weekend Edition about a rice rivalry in West Africa, particularly Ghana vs. Nigeria, surrounding a ubiquitous rice dish in the region (Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal) called Jollof. The tune’s nice grooves and rhymes caught my ear, as did the conversation between host Linda Wertheimer and Ofeibia Quist Arcton, the Ghanaian journalist and NPR reporter. (When in Senegal, Quist Arcton finishes her stories with a wonderful flourish: “Ofeibia Quist Arcton, Dahkaaaaaaaaaah.” I’ve always loved her style.)

Ghana
Ghanain restaurant menu. Photo by Rachel Strohm (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr

The song “Ghana Jollof” is sung by Sister Deborah (b. Deborah Owusu-Bonsu), a popular Ghanain TV host, model, and academic, who holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Arts, London. The lyrics were written by her brother, Wanlov (“one love?”) the Kubolor. The song basically postulates that the Ghanaian version of the rice dish is better than the Nigerian version. The basic ingredients include rice, tomatoes, onion, chili pepper, salt, pepper; Ghanaian and Nigerian versions add goat, lamb, or beef. The Senegalese version (not part of the culinary showdown) uses fish. Between Ghana and Nigeria it’s a competitive recipe, so think West African Top Chef.

Intrigued by the story, I searched for the video and found it online. It’s quirky and fun, and a little mysterious. Why are those guys dressed up as women? Folks are shown on the up-and-up, driving a 6-series BMW convertible.

I had fun with this, and I hope you do too. For those of you interested in trying the dish, here is the Ghanian vegetarian recipe. And the competing Nigerian version:

toms

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts, Creativity, Education, Gratitude, Human Interest, Music

AN EVALUATOR’S JOURNEY

August 19th, 2016

Sunset

When I accepted my mother’s invitation to accompany her to a cocktail party, I did so reluctantly. It was July 1982 and as a freshly minted college grad with a BA in Political Science the last thing I wanted to do was attend a party with my mother. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done as I left the party with not one but three job offers. I decided to forgo the offer of working at a law office (even though I was toying with the idea of going to Law School), or a real estate office (numbers were not my forte) and chose instead to accept the hostess’s invitation to work at her private not-for-profit Foundation that specialized in international education research and evaluation. The rest, as they say is history. Over a course of thirteen years, I worked my way up the proverbial ladder from file clerk, to junior then senior evaluator, assistant to associate director and finally as Executive Director. Bitten by the entrepreneur spirit and an MBA in hand, I bid goodbye to my mentor and founded the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI) in 1994.

You can say I was born into the field of International education. Beginning from an early age by insisting on “working” at the education firm my mother headed in Tehran, Iran, to attending an international boarding school in England, and continuing my higher education in the U.S. The same is true for my brother and business partner, Alan Saidi, who joined me at ACEI in 1996 as Senior VP and COO. Together, we have infused into ACEI our personal life experiences of having lived in three different continents and benefiting from three different education systems (Iran, UK, and USA). Our mission has always been to make ACEI a company that truly cares for and values its international candidates who are considering to further their education, or qualify for employment, immigration or professional licensing or maybe they are displaced because of war and conflict and seeking refuge in the U.S.

Our own experiences, as international students morphed into immigrants, have enriched our understanding of the dreams of international students, immigrants and the plight of refugees. We have also garnered a deep appreciation of world cultures and the varied nuances of education systems around the world. Together with a team of expert evaluators we pride ourselves in ACEI’s history of over 22 years of dedicated service in international credential evaluation and helping our colleagues at U.S. schools and colleges with the admission of students from around the globe. We continue to share our experience through our e-learning training programs, our blog AcademicExchange, our monthly newsletter The Report, and by contributing to publications on world education systems, and speaking at various international education conferences.

As an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, we at ACEI are committed in preparing evaluations by recommending U.S. educational equivalencies that are consistent and in compliance with the Association’s Standards and Best Practices.

If you are exploring opportunities of outsourcing your international student credential evaluations, we hope you will consider ACEI as your number one source. You and your international students will receive the personal care and attention we know you deserve. It is our mission to be of service and we want to be your trusted source for international credential evaluations.

Kind regards,
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Credentials, Gratitude, Human Interest

In Contribution to Peace: The Role of Multilingualism in Contributing to Process of world Peacemaking

July 21st, 2016

peace_international

Growing up in a country which has lived long successive wars for more than three decades makes Peace and Peacemaking my very first priority. Civil wars, fighting, explosions, extremist groups, segregation and  destructed social structures, displaced people, frightening number of widows, orphans, and immigrants, polluted environment, declined agricultural lands, poverty, hunger, collapsed economies, and almost all other serious problems, are the consequences of long years of unjustified successive wars. I believe that it is time for everyone, for each of us, to take the responsibility of rebuilding a sustainable peacefulness in this world. As an Iraqi architect, faculty, and researcher within the field of architecture, I had a dream, a small dream: for architects and architecture to promote the process of peacemaking, not only in my country but in all conflict zones all over the world.

The Journey was not easy at all. The dream had started to fade behind the rapidly rising conflicts in Baghdad, especially following the civil war of 2006, until the moment when a light started to emerge again at the end of the tunnel. I was blessed with a scholarship to study a PhD abroad. The dream came alive: to study at a University in the United States was the key to my goal.

Being blessed again, I was accepted to study at the University of Cincinnati and that was for me the very first step to bring my dream into reality. One of the requirements for the admission of international students was a language certificate in order to improve their language skills and prepare them for the academic life of University.

Initially, learning English was simply a requirement I had to fulfill in order to start my journey at the university.  I never expected that my journey would actually begin earlier, from ELS, where I learned the real meanings of living in peacefulness. The experience of learning English itself turned out to be my very first, crucial step towards achieving my dream; that is to contribute to the process of peacemaking in this world. 

From the first day, I discovered that ELS is not just a school, it is a new home and the ELS team is our new family. In that small, safe world where I was learning English, I was receiving so much more than I ever expected. Every day I had a new experience. From inside our warm, safe, small classes, I travelled all over the world through our class presentations and discussions about our countries and cultures.  I can’t count how many times we laughed together or how many times my eyes filled with tears. I can’t forget when we were asked by our teacher in SSP class about what we miss the most from our home countries, and how we all answered the same: family and food. During that class I kept listening to my young Omani friend trying his best in English to express how much he was missing his mother and how beautiful he sees her; I was feeling the same.  In our Reading and Writing class, our teacher asked us to write about unforgettable moments in our life and my Chinese friend shared with us his experience with his parents when he was a little child. He used to see a homeless person with his child begging on the street every day on their way to school. His parents taught him to never to look down on that homeless child; instead, he should help him because a homeless child is also a human being and we all need to help each other.    

I also remember my Korean friend when he was trying to explain his understanding of religion; he sees religion as a way to appreciate every beautiful blessing around us on this earth, the sun, the rivers and the seas, the moon surrounded by the stars in the night, the mountains, the colorful flowers, and the birds flying high in the sky, and he feels that there should be a great creator behind all of this beauty. 

Every time that I was blessed to listen to my friends, I asked myself the same question: how would I be able to communicate with all these wonderful people and have this rich experience and live this peacefulness without sharing English as a common language between us? 

The Experience of learning English at ELS gave me the opportunity to learn about cultures, art, history, family traditions, food, and so many other things about different countries.  My horizons expanded. I learned how to accept different points of view as new ways of seeing the whole life. But above all, it is by learning English that I started to build connections with people from different cultures and nations. I discovered the beauty of diversity and I realized that we are all, from all over the world, just a big family. We have the same feelings; the only difference is that we express them in different languages.

The time passed and I transferred to my university program and coursework.  The role of multilingualism in contributing to the process of peacemaking did not become clear enough to me until I started working on my PhD thesis. Searching deep in the theories of peace and peacemaking revealed important derivatives, among them are the following points:

The first is the crucial role of building common grounds between different groups in order to promote a more peaceful and harmonious future for them.The experience of learning English at ELS is an example for the viability of this point. The process of learning English, in one of its deep structures, was an act of building common grounds between people coming from different cultures and nations with totally different native languages. Without English as a common ground language I would not be able to communicate with my Chinese, Korean, Indian and my all other amazing friends from all over the world.

The second point is the emphasis on producing productive connections.  It is essential to the process of creating more peaceful environments to get others with all of their differences to establish new inclusive inter-relational systems. Here comes the importance, if not the urgency, of learning other languages as it enhances communication and builds productive connections between people from different cultures and nations. Building such productive connections can produce a new means of expression, or a new realization. Peacefulness, based on this point, could be the new realization in this world.

Lastly, defining the process of peace building distinguishes negative from positive peace.  Negative peace is an act that halts the direct violence, but it does not end the tension, while positive peace is a process of life enhancement. Positive peace is not a direct act and it is not the absence of violence; it is, rather, a process of creative transformation towards achievement of more sustainable peaceful environments. Building common grounds and producing productive connections are crucial for this creative transformation. Learning other languages helps end separation and opens the doors for creating more communicative and dialogic spaces, wherein multiple points of view benefit from each other’s presence, without necessarily resolving themselves or negating each other. Within such spaces, transformation towards achieving sustainable peacefulness would be possible.

It may seem that the dream of peacemaking in a world full of meaningless wars and war consequences is almost impossible, but sharing my life journey until this moment might be an inspiration. 


  1. John Paul Lederach, Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (Washington D.C.: United States Insyitute of Peace Press, 1997), 73-87.
  2. John Wilmerding, “The Theory of Active Peace,” Peace and Collaborative Development Network. Colombia University, January 4, 2009, http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/forum/topics/the-theory-of-active-peace.

  3. Graham Livesey, “Assemblage” in The Deleuze Dictionary, ed. Adrian Parr (Edinburg: Edinburg University Press, 2010), 18-19.

  4. Johan Galtung, Peace By Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization (Oslo: International Peace Research Institute, 1996), 9-23.

  5. Dongsei Kim, “Towards A Dialogic Peace in the Demilitarized Zone,” Architecture of peace 40, no. 2 (2014): 40-43.

 

My long journey goes back to 1990, when my father left this world. My mother showed strength and great care: education was her very first priority. She used to repeat her dream for me: to become an architect as my father wished, and to get a graduate degree from a university in the United States of America. Although becoming an architect was not an easy dream to achieve, to continue my graduate studies in the United States of America was such a huge dream, enough to be unrealistic and close to impossible. The situations were especially difficult due to the economic embargo suffered by the Iraqi people at that time in addition to many other political and social pressures. But, my mother used to say: “dreams have to be huge otherwise what can change our reality but the ambition to achieve our unrealistic huge dreams?”

Time passed. Despite all the difficulties, by 2002, I was not only the first architect woman in my family but also the first woman with a Master’s degree in Architecture.  Soon after, by 2003, the Iraq War was announced; my mother left this world, but her dream stayed with me and became mine.

In 2003, my first day as a faculty in the same university I graduated from, was the same first day of official work after the military operation in Iraq. Everything in Baghdad including my University turned into destruction. The situation rapidly deteriorated that by 2006 a civil war had broken out; there was bombing, blocked roads, fighting everywhere. Life in Baghdad had almost reached a zero point; many professors left Iraq, students couldn’t attend classes. All of these difficult circumstances were challenges that pushed me to identify a clear goal for my life: to have a positive role in rebuilding this society.

In December 2009, I walked toward the stage among the Arab Ministers of Housing and Construction at the Arab League in Cairo while my name was announced, to receive the Architect Award of the Arab World as a first woman winner of the award. With every step I saw all the faces that have supported me in my long journey, teachers, real friends, and my family especially my parents.

By March 2013, my mother’s impossible dream came true. I started learning English at ELS preparing for my next academic life in the University of Cincinnati, United States Of America.

By 2014, I was the winner of Tamayouz, Excellence Award in Architecture, for the rising star category, announced by Angela Brady; the former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, RIBA.

My journey has not yet ended; as an architect and scholar, I am working on the possibility of introducing the concept of architecture of peace. As a citizen of the global society I am calling for the learning other languages for the role of multilingualism in building connections and common grounds between different cultures and nations, a role which is crucial to the process of rebuilding positive sustainable peacefulness in our global society.

I am fully aware that this is a huge dream and maybe difficult to achieve. But I believe that if peace is our desire, and if each of us take the responsibility and if we all stand together to achieve it, then impossible itself would be the impossible. Peace can become the new realization making this world a better place for living not only for us but also for the next generations to come and the role of multilingualism can help us achieve this dream.  Love still exists deep in our hearts; all we need is to bridge the differences together and bring the barriers down.

Bibliography

  1. Galtung, Johan. Peace By Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization. Oslo: International Peace Research Institute, 1996.
  2. Kim, Dongsei. “Towards A Dialogic Peace in the Demilitarized Zone,” Architecture of peace 40, no. 2 (2014): 40.
  3. Lederach, John Paul. Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1997. P: 73-87.
  4. Livesey, Graham. “Assemblage”  in The Deleuze Dictionary, edited by Adrian Parr, 18-19. Edinburg: Edinburg University Press, 2010.
  5. Wilmerding, John. “The Theory of Active Peace.” Peace and Collaborative Development Network. Colombia University, January 4, 2009. http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/forum/topics/the-theory-of-active-peace

 

Venus Suleiman Akef

Architect_venus@yahoo.com

Venus

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Gratitude, Human Interest, Politics