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Recognized Global Engagement Initiative Programs

The following programs have been recognized as globally engaged through the ACTFL Global Engagement Initiative review process in 2017:


Notre Dame High School, San Jose, CA
Bayard Nielsen

Combating negative stereotypes associated with day workers and immigrants, high school Spanish students at Notre Dame High School in San Jose interviewed local Spanish speakers to create bilingual superhero comic biographies about the identity, culture, beliefs, and hopes of each person they interact with. Heritage learners take on a leadership role in this project, and family members of the interviewees receive the written and spoken memories captured by the high school students. This project increases students’ proficiency through each mode, while also building connections and fostering understanding and empathy. Each stakeholder is inspired and motivated as cross-cultural connections push towards better global citizenship.


Stockton University, Stockton, CA
Gorica Majstorovic

A joint initiative for Spanish language learning and global health engagement, Colombia Study Tour sends Stockton University students to Bogota, Columbia to deliver donations to an orphanage, take immersion courses, and engage in clinical sites. As part of the program, Occupational and Physical Therapy students from Stockton’s partner school, Universidad del Rosario, participate in activities at Stockton for several weeks to raise awareness and interact with the Spanish-speaking community in New Jersey. The collaboration continues throughout the year through book drives, skype interviews, and a minor opportunity in Spanish for Health Sciences. Plans to continue and expand the program continue to focus on the needs of both partners will deepen the connection and involve more people.


Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
Liliana Goens

Angling to inform students who will affect positive contributions to society, this college course requires students to complete 24 hours of tutoring struggling Latino K-12 students. While the volunteer work itself causes connection and reflection for the Butler University students, class time is used to discuss current and relevant immigration issues in the Spanish-speaking community.  The younger students gain academic support and mentors and the college students not only have meaningful opportunities to engage in the target language, but are themselves transformed as they relearn and shift their preconceived notions about the community they live in.


Duke University, Durham, NC
Deborah Reisinger

French students involved with the Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum program are paired with refugee families from Central Africa, meeting once per week in order to improve students’ linguistic and intercultural competencies on the one hand, and transition newly arrived families into American life on the other. In addition to the connections fostered between students and families, Duke students have created resources for the families, such as a bilingual guidebook, “Bienvenue à Durham,” to help refugees resettle. As a result of their partnered work, students feel much more engaged as they promote their community events, and they think more deeply about potential social innovation.


Centerville High School, Centerville, OH
Lisa Ernest

When Centerville High School students visit their partner school Liceo Experimental Bilingue José Figeures Ferrer in Costa Rica, they live with host families and attend school before traveling, studying, and volunteering. The students have prepared for their trip by chatting via whatsapp to gain linguistic and cultural competencies and throughout the exchange experience, they strengthen their desire to learn the target language and to continue in service learning and developing of language. This program looks forward to continued expansion within and among their communities.


Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA
Henry Thurston-Griswold

Juniata students are matched with an organization whose mission aligns with their interests. During the spring semester students develop a service project to be implemented during the summer. Living with a host family and taking Spanish courses, students participate in mentoring and cultural excursions as well as their service project, such as working in health clinics and orphanages, publicizing local artisan work, and tutoring, all of which are needs expressed by their community partner.

ACTFL would like to thank the following members of the Global Engagement Action Group for their work on this initiative:

Beckie Rankin, Chair
Mary Curran
Darcy Pippins
Gautami Shah
Valerie Shull