In November 2020, the Office of International Programs honored three graduate students who demonstrated an active commitment to making a global impact through research. The three winners were Yuiko Chino with research on temporal change in the forest stream ecosystems in Fukushima, Japan; Brittney Sly with research on sustainable nutrition education with Rwandan women; and Melody Zarria-Samanamud with research on climate change, mountain landscapes, and the Andean agropastoral communities.  

Learn more about their areas of research through the abstracts below that the winners submitted for the 2020 virtual Graduate Student Showcase. Congratulations to all three award winners on their amazing and helpful research! 

Yuiko Chino: Temporal change of Cs-137 in forest-stream ecosystem in Fukushima, Japan 

Nine years have passed since Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan, but large amount of radioactive cesium (Cs-137) remains in forests. Understanding the fate of Cs-137 in forest environmentis indispensable because of the long half-life of Cs-137 (30.1 years). Forests in Japan are associated with well-structured stream systemand those in the contaminated area are typically mono-cultures of evergreen, where Cs-137 migrates within terrestrial and stream ecosystems via physical processes, such as through litterfall and soil erosion, as well as biological processes, such as for the food web.  

In this study, we examined the temporal change of Cs-137 concentration based on a comprehensive field sampling in a headwater forest ecosystem in Fukushima in 2012-13 and 2016-17. Cs-137 concentration significantly decreased between the two sampling periods for all the target ecosystem components. However, the decreasing rates of Cs-137, which is descried as ecological half-lives (Teco), were largely varied. The relatively longer Teco of soil indicated the accumulation of Cs-137, and stream insects had different Teco depending on their feeding functions. Overall, the terrestrial ecosystem showed higher contamination compared to the stream in 2012-13, while the systems had similar contamination in 2016-17 except significantly high contamination in soil, indicating the soil will be the main source of Cs-137 in the forest ecosystem in the future.  

Considering the increasing demand of nuclear power plant in the world, this study can be useful for the long-time risk assessment of Cs-137 contamination in the environment of Japan as well as other countries with warm and humid climates. 

Brittney Sly: Sustainable nutrition education: empowering Rwandan women with participatory action research 

Despite national efforts to combat malnutrition in Rwanda, rural residents exhibit a lack of knowledge regarding small-scale vegetable production and nutrition education, particularly regarding diet diversity. Using participatory action research and peer-training methods, we developed an intervention model to determine if sustainable community-level health behaviors, addressing malnutrition at the household-level, can be established. The primary aim of the intervention is improvement in household food security and enhancement of dietary diversity associated with consumption of a greater variety of fruits and vegetables. A secondary aim is to foster dissemination of small-scale agricultural and nutrition information throughout the community. 

Small groups of women (n=42) received agriculture and nutrition education over the course of 16 weeks and the support to start and maintain kitchen gardens. Participants became peer educators who trained approximately 84 additional women in the community. Participatory active learning activities were conducted to enhance collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and empowerment amongst participants. Evaluation was conducted using food frequency questionnaires and household hunger scores, along with participatory evaluation methods during focus groups and semi-structured interviews, in addition to GPS mapping of kitchen gardens.  

The outcomes of this research showed changes in dietary patterns that exhibit improved diet diversity and food security; the dissemination of information throughout the community; empowerment by participants in feeding their households; and culturally appropriate training materials for use at the community-level. 

The future implications of this research are that this collaborative model can be used as a basis for program design and evaluation with similar populations and communities facing malnutrition and food insecurity at a regional and global scale. 

Melody Zarria-Samanamud: Climate change, mountain landscapes, and Andean agropastoral communities 

Mountain ecosystems cover approximately 22% of the world’s land surface with more than 60% of them located in developing countries. People in these areas have developed livelihood strategies to adapt to fluctuating environmental conditions. However, emerging climatic pressures as well as social and economic stresses represent new challenges mountain people are facing.  

This research aims to (i) analyze the effects of landscape heterogeneity on land-use dynamics of agropastoral systems, (ii) study the role of social factors in the decision-making processes of agropastoral communities, and (iii) explore the effects of climate change and management scenarios on the socio-ecosystem.  

The study area comprises three communities settled in the boundaries of Huascarán National Park in the Andes of Peru. The socio-ecological system will be studied through a coupled system approach. An agent-based model will be built to analyze land-use dynamics at the community and household level. This model will be linked to an ecosystem model that estimates primary production of rangelands. A spatio-temporal analysis of landscape patterns will provide complementary information to the models. Field assessments will be conducted to validate the estimations of the ecosystem model. Social information will be collected through interviews and workshops. The development of the coupled model will provide insights into the role of natural and human drivers on the ecosystem and explore the impacts of short vs. long-term climatic and land-use scenarios. 

The Office of International Programs at Colorado State University is appalled by and condemns the “Ching Chong House” Instagram account and fake restaurant listing. This incident demonstrates racial prejudice toward the Asian community and is harming real people by the account’s continued existence on Instagram. Many of our Asian students have seen this account and are deeply disturbed by it.

This incident arises at a time when our country is reckoning not only with a global pandemic, but also with systemic racism. This fake account highlights the need for continued work by us all to combat xenophobia and discrimination that hurts so many people. At CSU, we are all made stronger by the diversity of our thoughts, opinions, and identities. Now more than ever, we need to celebrate that difference and safeguard our campus against xenophobia, hate, and discrimination.

The Asian Pacific American Cultural Center (APACC) on campus put out an excellent statement about the harm caused by this incident:

The Asian Pacific American Cultural Center (APACC) at Colorado State University is deeply disgusted and condemns the presence and increased following of this “Ching Chong House” Instagram account for a non-existent restaurant. The implications of such an establishment are to propagate Anti-Asian sentiment and must be seen unequivocally as an act of racism. Even if such an establishment has the intention of situational humor, this deeply offensive creation publicizes racial vilification and continues to deter us from our mission of racial equity and inclusiveness.

Navigating COVID-19 has been made difficult during these challenging times from continued microaggressions from our national leadership referring to the “Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu.” With the recent rise of racism and hate directed at the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) community, this account desecrates the role and importance of food to APIDA culture.  This highly offensive account only heightens and denigrates the narrative of the Asian community by perpetuating problematic Asian stereotypes including racial colloquialisms, insulting logo, and the national narrative of the “Chinese Virus.”

The various accounts on social media (Instagram, Yelp and Google) are a continuous reminder of the harmful, appalling, and disgusting nuances that white supremacy has created and allows to be perpetuated with little accountability, by encouraging the mockery and oppression of the APIDA community.

We cannot stay silent any longer.  APACC denounces this fake establishment and supports the university efforts to ask that this account be removed.

We are here to support you – please reach out if you have any questions or concerns. Also, if you see or experience a bias-related incident yourself, please report it here.

July 6 ICE Guidance on Fall 2020 Enrollment Requirements

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued guidance last March 18, which allowed F students to maintain their immigration status while taking online courses from inside or outside of the U.S., even if they are out of the U.S. for more than five months. This COVID-19 related guidance was extended to the summer academic term.

Updated guidance for the fall semester was released on July 6.

The major impact of this guidance affects students who attend a school that has decided to go fully online in the fall. This is not the CSU model for Fall 2020.

Colorado State University has opted to offer a mix of online and face-to-face courses in the Fall, which is known as a hybrid model. Students will be permitted to take more than one online course as determined by their academic advisers and faculty.

However, students should try to take face-to-face courses when possible or at minimum take one face-to-face class.

CSU international students taking classes in Fort Collins this Fall:

  • May take more than three credit hours of online courses;
  • Must enroll in the required number of credits to be considered full-time (9 for graduate students and 12 for undergraduate students)
  • Must enroll in at least one credit of an in-person or hybrid course during the Fall 2020 semester; and
  • May not enroll in online-only courses.

Students who have returned to their home countries and plan to take courses online may do so.  We know that many students chose to go home during the spring and summer and that with travel and visa restrictions in place, it may be difficult or impossible to get back to CSU now.  Under the new guidance, CSU will have to “terminate” your SEVIS record since you will not be in the country studying.

When you are able to return to Fort Collins for face to face classes in a subsequent semester, we will issue you a new I-20, which will have a new SEVIS number. This will mean that you have to pay the government SEVIS I-901 fee again. It will also mean that your F-1 status will start anew. For students planning to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), this will mean that you will have to study for a minimum of two semesters more in the U.S. to qualify for OPT. If you have questions about your personal situation, write to ISSS@colostate.edu for personal attention and advice.

Since this guidance is new, ISSS is communicating with ICE to clarify certain points and we will provide updates as we learn more.

The other big part of this guidance is that ISSS will have to create a new I-20 for every F-1 student with a notation about being a hybrid school. The purpose of this is for State Department officials who issue visas and Customs and Border Protection agents who admit students into the United States to understand the model of instruction that CSU will offer and that it is okay to issue a visa or admit the student. The ISSS staff will need to organize this enormous task and begin sending out new I-20s electronically that F-1 students will need to print out, sign, and keep with their old I-20s, passport, etc.

ISSS will also be sharing information about the new ICE procedures with CSU faculty and academic advisers so that they understand how best to work with students on class registration.

June 22 Presidential Proclamation Establishing New Visa and Entry Restriction for H-1B, H-2B, L, Certain J Visas, and Dependents

President Trump issued a presidential proclamation on June 22 instituting a visa and entry restriction on the issuance of new nonimmigrant visas. The new restriction applies to any foreign national who wants to enter the United States on any of the following visa types:

  1. H-1B (temporary specialty occupation employee);
  2. H-2B (non-agricultural temporary worker);
  3. L-1 (intercompany transferee executive, manager, or specialized knowledge employee); or
  4. J-1 (Exchange Visitor) in the intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, and summer work travel categories. (This restriction does not apply to the research scholar, professor, student, student intern, specialist, and short-term scholar categories, which are those sponsored by CSU.)

and who

  1. is outside the United States on the effective date of this proclamation;
  2. does not have a nonimmigrant visa stamp in their passport that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation; and
  3. does not have an official travel document such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document (for example based on a pending Adjustment of Status application – Form I-485) that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued after the effective date.

This proclamation lasts until December 31, 2020.

Note that students in the United States may still change status to H-1B. Also, current H-1Bs in the United States may extend. Please contact ISSS if you have specific questions.

Black Rams Matter: In Solidarity from the Office of International Programs

We in the Office of International Programs vehemently condemn the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others due to the injustice of institutional racism and police brutality. Sadly, there is a long history of enslavement, brutality, and institutional racism against people of color, especially Black and African American community members, in the United States.

We have much to challenge and learn as we work towards a better today that will guide us into an even better tomorrow. We will not sit idly by nor dismiss the pain and suffering that so many have and continue to experience every day. We see you and are here for you. We vow to do better to help society and the CSU campus to address inequities and systemic racism.

Systemic racism, xenophobia, and discrimination have cropped up in grievous ways for our international students and students of color who study abroad. Not only are these experiences painful in themselves, but they add up to an indescribable burden when a person experiences it far from home and their support networks.

If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed or anxious about recent events, please remember we are here for you. You can always reach out to counseling services through the CSU Health Network. If you are discriminated against, please fill out a bias incident report so your voice can be heard and counted. 

In solidarity,

The staff of the Office of International Programs

Virtual Programming Available

The Office of International Programs developed a variety of virtual programming to connect with our international students, those who’ve studied abroad (or look forward to future education abroad experiences), faculty, staff, and our off-campus community. It is our hope that this programming provides all with comfort and newfound knowledge, and inspires dreams about future international experiences during this time of isolation due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Our virtual programming includes:

  • Podcasts
  • Virtual global engagement speakers and panels
  • Cooking with International Programs – a variety of dishes from around the world to try to make at home
  • Virtual meetups
  • Musical performances
  • Art performances

You can find all these and more on our Virtual Programming page on our website. Please enjoy and share with others!

Laurel Hall Undergoing Renovations During Spring Semester 2020

Alert IconDuring the Spring 2020 semester, Laurel Hall will be undergoing renovations on both floors of the building. Work will begin in January 2020.

Starting in January, the Education Abroad advising will be located on the second floor and check-in for appointments will be at the front desk on the second floor. Passport appointments will continue to be held on the second floor during the renovations.

ISSS advising and check-in will remain unchanged until the renovations are complete.

Recurring meetings with external groups held during business hours at Laurel Hall will most likely be moved to alternate meeting spaces. The organizers of your meetings will be in touch about any upcoming meeting space changes soon.

Please pardon our dust as we work to make Laurel Hall an improved space for our students, faculty, and staff!