Medical Assisting Students Brought Blended Cultures to Class

Through their differences, four of the recent graduates in the Medical Assisting program at Forsyth Technical Community College had more in common than their classes. Three are first in their family to graduate from college, three are first generation American citizens and one migrated to the United States from Nigeria. All of them give kudos to their instructor, Anna Hilton, and to all the instructors for encouraging them and supporting them throughout their program.
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Discovering His Tech Talents Early

Obed Cahua

After Obed Cahua graduated from high school, he decided to pursue a degree from a technical college.  Cahua is autistic and learns differently than his classmates.  Taking advantage of the educational options at Forsyth Tech, Cahua explained, “I really appreciated my school counselor who took time to share with me how I could take courses without getting burned out.” Cahua made the best choices to fit his learning style.

During Forsyth Tech’s Community Computer Clean-Up Day, Cahua worked in an area that comes naturally to him.  He volunteered to help people throughout the community who brought their computers in for the free service.  Cahua is a good listener, extremely patient and enjoys helping others solve problems.  His skills and knowledge of the computers was a valuable resource that day.

Cahua is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and graduated with an IT-Technical Support & Services A+ Certificate and an IT-Technical Support & Services Helpdesk Certificate.  Cahua plans to continue his education and earn an Associates in IT.

Integrity and commitment are the two words that best describe Obed Cahua.

Restored, Refurbished and Renewed

Design students matching swatched

Interior Design Students Volunteering in the Community

 For an interior designer, not only do you need a lot of creative talent, you need project management, leadership and teamwork skills, along with a lot of patience and persistence. That’s exactly what Forsyth Tech interior design students experienced in April working on projects for Habitat ReStore of Forsyth County.

Under the direction of instructor Karen Reilly, first year interior design students used small items from the Habitat ReStores refurbishing, transforming, and repurposing them into improved pieces. Second year interior design students, led by Gisele Taylor Wells, department chair, Design Technologies, spent two weeks in the Habitat ReStore on Coliseum Drive using furniture and accessories from the three area Habitat ReStores to design a studio apartment space from the refurbished or repurposed items.

Students sanding a piece of furnitureIn fourteen days, they planned the design, reconstructed, refinished and re-upholstered furniture in a space. This was in addition to completing their capstone final project and wrapping up classes for the semester.  They were also joined by four Salem College interior design students, who were also completing individual projects but wanted to help out with the larger room renovation.

“For several years, we collaborated with Habitat ReStore and Winston Salem Realtors Association for the ReStore Spaces Event, a design competition and fund raiser for Habitat.   That event included area design students and design professionals, typically 8-10 rooms would be designed with “found” objects.”  The yearly event ended in 2014 when ReStore moved offices and built the new flagship store on Coliseum.  “The program is excited to see this collaboration rekindled as the students really benefit from this type of fast paced design project and it is a great community service experience.”

Leading up to the date, students worked diligently behind curtains in the Re-store. They chose what they wanted to focus on and helped each other. Two students, Anna Stowman and Cassidy Carter,  volunteered to work with Karyn Reilly to design a “bar” from repurposed kitchen cabinets with the goal of creating a piece that Habitat could use that their volunteer and community events.  This team collaborated with the group of volunteers at Habitat’s main workshop just down the street from the ReStore.

Students working on a piece of furniture for their projectSome of the students had previous design backgrounds and experience in construction and refinishing. Others were learning as they worked, saying they didn’t know if they could do it, but once they started, they enjoyed it.

“I found a chair here and took it home, my family helped me reconstruct the ties underneath the seat and I am going to reupholster it,” student Niki Gammons said. “This is my baby!”

The students said their work sparked curiosity from customers and staff in the store, wanting to know what was happening behind the curtain. Once the studio apartment was completed Habitat kept in on display for several days.

“This is a more realistic design experience,” said student David Sink. “We have to collaborate and learn to work with each other, knowing we all have different creative expressions.”

In addition to working on the project, the students completed story boards reflecting their experience and what they learned. While this project may have been challenging, these are the experiences students will long remember. They didn’t think they could do it and they did.

the completed design project

The finished space and individually designed pieces were unveiled at the Habitat Volunteer recognition party on April 15th where the work was prominently displayed and the students were acknowledged during the event.  After the party, all pieces were available for purchase.

First year interior design students included: Abigail Bragg, Karen Celik, Monroe Craver, Sydnee Epstein, Deaveon France, Sarah Goldberg, Marla Griffith, Tori Gross, Amber Leazer, Andrea Lopez Gomez, Emily Razo, Nichola Reilly, Devyn Siqueiros, Elizabeth Tarnowski, McClarghty Thomas, and Emily Tyson.

Second year interior design students included: Cassidy Carter, Niki Gammons, Alyson Jordan, Courtney Mullins, Ashley Simpson, David Sink, Anna Stowman, Brianna Sullivan and Katelyn Wagoner.

Journey from Forsyth Tech to China – What One Alumnus Learned

Bradley Krae

In early March, Forsyth Tech graduate, Bradley Krae, met with students in the Humanities 120: Cultural Studies on China class. He shared his personal experience of life after graduation, traveling abroad and experiencing another culture. After completing his degree in 2015, Brad wanted to explore other parts of the world but did not want to accumulate debt while traveling. His solution was to enroll in the on-line program at TEFL Academy in Chicago (Teach English as a Foreign Language) where he became certified to teach English in over 80 countries. Offered a choice of destinations, Brad decided to move to Shenzhen, a city of 15 million, in southeastern China. It lies along the coast of the South China Sea and immediately north of Hong Kong. Brad first taught English to elementary students and, as he learned the Chinese language, taught more mature students.
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Breaking Down Barriers Through International Study

Group attending the seminar in front of the West African Research Center

More than 4,000 miles from home, her worldview was expanded through spiritual and cultural diversity in a warm environment surrounded by baobab trees and friendly people.

Dr. Stephanie Lovett, adjunct instructor, Humanities, Communication, Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Science Division was in Senegal, West Africa, in January attending a two-week conference on Diversity, Religion and Migration. She was selected to participate in the Council of American Overseas Research Centers competitive program for community college and minority-serving institutions.

Group attending the seminar in front of the West African Research Center

She, along with 16 other educators and two group leaders, experienced lectures, panels, discussions and film screenings at the West African Research Center in Dakar. The conference mission was to foster international learning by exploring the region’s growing multinational diversity and interfaith discussion and influence, especially on young people.  Lovett had the opportunity to meet other educators from across the country, sharing experiences from the classroom, and learning how to connect in a different culture and language.

Lovett explained, “What a beautiful place to be open in studying these issues, breaking down the ‘us versus them’ ideologies.”

“World religions, especially now in America, is primarily delivered with preconceived ideas of religion seen primarily through a Christian lens. Being in Senegal, a Muslim majority country, we could study the complexities of religion while being entrenched in an Islamic culture,” said Lovett, “It was much easier to focus on people and experience their history and religion through personal interactions.”

The trip was an opportunity for Lovett to broaden her experience as an educator and bring back the lessons to students in the classroom. She stressed this as one reason why study abroad programs are so important; the world is much bigger than we realize, yet we have more similarities than differences with other cultures.

“I was surprised by the numerous holiday lights and decorations still on display in Dakar. All countries take on holiday customs from pagan, cultural and sentimental traditions, which are significant to them. Religion gives them a platform for celebration.” said Lovett. “Another interesting practice were vendors on the interstate during rush hour traffic in Dakar trying to sell items when traffic was at a standstill. That made me a little nervous,” she laughed. “But after a few days, it felt totally normal to us and we got the hang of buying cookies through the window.”

A baobab tree near Kaolack

A baobab tree near Kaolack

During the second week of the trip, Lovett enjoyed seeing the landscapes throughout Senegal, as they toured the historic towns of Toubacouta and Saint-Louis. They visited the largest mosque in Africa in Touba, where she met the great-granddaughter of Cheik Amadou Bamba, a charismatic religious leader in Senegal.

They also saw Lake Retba (The Pink Lake in Senegal). Its distinct pink color is caused by Dunaliella salina bacteria, which is attracted by the lake’s salt content. The lake has a salt content equal to the Dead Sea. The local people scoop the salt from the bottom of the lake to preserve fish.

Her favorite visual experience was seeing and photographing all the baobab trees, a symbol for the ‘source of life.’

Lovett explained that the primary language in Senegal is French. She remembered enough of her French training to read the menu. She reported the food was delicious, influenced by the Senegalese French and Indian traditions. They shared mafé, a stew with a tomato and peanut base, and yassa, an onion-based stew made tangy with lemon juice. In addition, they ate lots of rice and couscous followed by lots of pastries. Senegal’s signature drinks are bouye, a drink made from milk and baobab powder (from the Baobab tree), and Ataya, an espresso like mint drink and green tea with a sweet and bitter taste.

Lovett summarized her experience saying “if you only know something through books, you don’t really know it until you see it.” Through this experience, Lovett cultured a deeper appreciation of both the country of Senegal and the multinational diversity of its people.

Dr. Lovett touring Saint-Louis

Dr. Lovett touring Saint-Louis