Henrico County VA

Training ‘global citizens’ for global economy

Mirta Martin, dean of Virginia State University’s school of business, is always looking for new ways to help students learn.

For instance, Martin led the school’s push in 2010 to offer the core curriculum in a digital format. Today, students at the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business are able to download textbooks and other class materials at no cost.

Earlier this month, Gate B2 at the Richmond International Airport became one of Martin’s latest learning launch pads as VSU students Cierra Wilson and Valarie Simpson departed for China.

Wilson and Simpson are spending a semester at Shanghai University as part of VSU’s Caterpillar Global Citizen’s program. Two other VSU students, Nakeya Johnston-Peterson and Ulysses Knight, also are studying at the Chinese college.

“This is the very first time that Virginia State and the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business have sent any students overseas to China,” Martin said. “For these students, it’s a remarkable opportunity because not only are they making history, but also they get to experience a way of life that is quite different from here in the United States.”

Martin said the international experience will help prepare the students for careers in a global economy.

The life-changing adventure for the students started when Caterpillar Foundation invited VSU to apply for a grant through the U.S. State Department’s “100,000 Strong Initiative.”

President Obama launched the initiative in 2010 in an effort to increase the number and diversity of U.S. students who travel to China to study.

“This initiative seeks to prepare the next generation of American experts on China who will be charged with managing the growing political, economic and cultural ties between the United States and China,” according to the State Department’s website.

The program is supported financially by private companies and China has committed 10,000 scholarships for American students to study there.

Maxine Sample, director of VSU's George Bennett International Studies Institute, learned about Caterpillar’s invitation in September 2011.

She submitted a grant application and by October, VSU learned that it would receive $84,000 for the business school’s semester-long program and a second summer study program.

Sample was thrilled to learn that VSU students would be going to China in part because of her own experiences.

“[Education abroad] has been my passion since I won a Fulbright award in 1995 to teach in Nairobi,” she said. “I decided I would find ways for students to share that experience.”

Sample was at the airport along with Martin, other VSU staff and proud family members as Wilson, a senior management information systems major, and Simpson, a junior marketing major, started the first leg of their journey.

Flying to China is a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal if you’ve never flown. The flight was expected to take about 17 hours.

“I am 21 years old and I have been here on the ground for 21 years,” said Wilson, a Dinwiddie native. “I’m kind of scared.”

Despite a few pre-flight jitters, Wilson and Simpson, who had flown once before, were eager to get off the ground.

They were already thinking about the challenges and new adventures waiting for them when they got to China.

“It will probably be difficult to learn the [Mandarin] language,” Simpson said. “[Learning] their lifestyle will be fun and exciting because their customs are different from what I experience on a daily basis.”

They also expect the semester abroad to help when they start their careers.

“[This] will look good on my resume.” Wilson said. “Going to another country to experience a difference culture, how they live and how they work will make me more prepared for the real world.”

The students had a layover in Newark where they were joined by the two other VSU students. Then it was on to Shanghai to connect with other American students studying there this semester.

The VSU group is due back in the country in mid-May. By then Martin will no doubt already be well on her way to developing the next opportunity for another group of VSU students to take flight and learn.

A childhood dream realized
Ulysses Knight, from Phoenixville, Pa., is one of the four VSU students studying in Shanghai. Knight did not qualify for the Caterpillar Foundation grant.

However, Merri Incitti of the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business, said Knight is in China as a result of his long-held passion to study there.

“The faculty and staff of the [business college] came together to ensure that [Ulysses], who has had a true desire to go to China for as long as we have known him, would not be left behind,” Incitti said.

Some of his expenses are being covered by a George Bennett International Exchange student scholarship.

Knight, who flew out of Newark, shared his thoughts about the trip by email before he left for Shanghai:

Q. Why do you want to study in China? What do you think will be the greatest benefit of a semester in China?

A. I’ve always had a fascination with China's culture, infrastructural design and business concepts. The greatest benefit would be to get a firsthand look at the business concepts being done and learning them, as well as being immersed into the culture and lifestyle of another country, which in turn will make me a better leader of tomorrow.


Q. What do you think will be the most difficult part of the semester? What do you expect will be the most fun and why?

A. I believe the most difficult part will be the first week. At Virginia State University, I am very active with two jobs and being the senior class president so it will be a time of adjustment to becoming strictly a student. The most fun will be being able to experience one of my lifetime dreams. Most people dream about going to Disney Land as a little kid but my dream has always been to go to China.

Q. How have you prepared for the semester in China?

A. I have purchased the Mandarin Chinese edition from Rosetta Stone and made a blog and Skype account so I still have some type of communication with family and friends in the states.

Q. What do your parents think about the trip?

A. My parents are my biggest supporters and are very excited for the trip. Both my mother and father are always telling me, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to so if you’re going to dream, dream big!!’
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Community

MADD to host candlelight vigil Dec. 2 at UR

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will host a candlelight vigil of remembrance and hope Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at the University of Richmond, outside the Cannon Chapel. The public is invited to attend and join MADD to honor victims of impaired driving crashes, while helping to remind the community to be safe during the holidays. > Read more.

Tournament supports adoption efforts

Among participants at the Seventh Annual Coordinators2Inc Golf Tournament and awards luncheon Oct. 3 were (from left) Rebecca Ricardo, C2 Inc executive director; Kevin Derr, member of the winning foursome; Sharon Richardson, C2 Inc founder; and Frank Ridgway and Jon King, members of the winning foursome.

Held at The Crossings Golf Club, the tournament will benefit placement of children from Virginia's foster care system into permanent families through Coordinators2. > Read more.

A.C. Moore to host winter craft day for kids

Event will help kick of Marine Corps' 'Toys for Tots' campaign
All 140 A.C. Moore locations will serve as drop-off centers this year for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and all toys collected will stay in the local communities served by the stores in which they are donated.

On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Willow Lawn location will kick off the month-long program by hosting a "Make & Take" craft event for kids. Children ages six and older will be able to make a craft and take it home with them. Representatives from the Marines will be in-store to teach customers about the Toys for Tots program. A.C. Moore team members will be on site to help with the crafts. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


The Dominion GardenFest of Lights Grand Illumination takes place tonight at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! This year’s theme is “A Legacy in Lights: 120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden,” which celebrates the Garden’s history. You can also celebrate Thanksgiving again – tomorrow at Henricus Historical Park. More great events – Lavender Fields Herb Farm and Wilton House Museum will both host their holiday open house events this weekend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A hero is born

Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6,’ lovable robot Baymax delight
It may be time for Olaf to step down as our nation’s reigning cartoon character. Big Hero 6, the latest animated feature from Disney, contains a challenger to the throne: Baymax (Scott Adsit), another lovably chubby white wonder, who will bring joy to children’s hearts and invade every home in America inside a six-foot pile of Disney merchandise.

Big Hero 6 (based ever so slightly on a Marvel comic of the same name) is the story of Baymax – and also his closest companion Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter). And then also their four friends, all of whom join together to form the titular superhero team.

At first, though, it’s only Hiro, a young boy and an engineering prodigy, who’d rather spend his time in underground robot fight clubs than do something productive with his gifts. > Read more.

Authentically Italian

Bella’s feels – and tastes – like Italy should
Short Pump is known for its share of chain restaurants and strip malls, but diners looking for something more distinct can certainly find it without heading downtown or to nearby Charlottesville.

In fact, local husband-and-wife restaurateurs Valeria Bisenti and Doug Muir brought a taste of Charlottesville (and Italy) to Short Pump when they took a chance and opened Bella’s second location in the same shopping strip as Wal-Mart and Peter Chang China Cafe. (Bella’s original location is on Main Street in downtown Charlottesville.)

For a local Italian restaurant, Bella’s is as “Mom and Pop” as its gets. Valeria is Mom, and Doug is Pop. Since its opening about six months ago, diners have been eating rich comfort foods and drinking Italian wines. > Read more.

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Celebrate the holidays in Colonial Virginia at the Wilton House Museum’s Holiday Open House from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy light refreshments, crafts, games, and performances by Barefoot Puppet… Full text

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