Tag Archives: Office of International Affairs

TSU Helps Students Explore Ancestry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This holiday season, Erica Conn will get a gift from Tennessee State University she has longed to receive most of her life. Thanks to a new service being offered by the Office of International Affairs, Conn will trace her ancestry.

“I’m not sure where I am from, and my ancestry is not readily available to me because my ancestors were slaves,” she said.  “So my history for the most part is hidden.”

A senior office assistant in OIA, Conn is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at the university. When she heard OIA would be collaborating with Helix, a personal genomics company, to provide ancestry DNA testing services for TSU students and members of the surrounding community, she convinced the office to let her volunteer as a tester so she could tell other people about the product.

Erica Conn

“I just think that it is super important for African Americans, but not just African Americans, anyone and everyone, to know where they are from, who their ancestors are, and what the commonalities are,” she said. “What are the norms from the particular culture? How can they draw from those things, and how can they be better because of those things?

Mark Brinkley, director of International Education in OIA, said helping students explore their ancestry is part of TSU’s initiative to help them become more comfortable with their culture.

“Seventy percent of our student population is African-American,” he said. “The proposition of study abroad is, as we say, ‘Why don’t you go and experience another culture?’ That becomes even more challenging when our students don’t know their own culture.”

To assist students with the process of exploring their ancestry, Brinkley said OIA has developed more programs focused on visiting the continent of Africa, as well as following the African diaspora.

“It’s a historic fact that 12.5 million people of African descent left Africa in the slave trade. Ten million arrived to the Americas. Only 400,000 came to what we call the United States,” he said. “That means that this African diaspora is really immense, and almost anywhere we go, Brazil in South America, the Caribbean, there is a heavy African influence from the ships stopping their before they got to the United States.”

Brinkley said some of the study abroad experiences currently being planned include Senegal, South Africa, Denmark, Mexico and Peru.

Conn, who is awaiting her test results, said she eventually hopes to visit her homeland.

“I will solve the mystery of where I am from and who my ancestors are, but as far as getting there, it’s going to be a bit costly, so I will start working,” she said. “I am going to Africa with my church in 2020, but we know that Africa is a large continent, and I’m not sure where I am from, so the place where we are going may not be remotely close to where I am from.  But I intend to go there, and try to find out as much information as I can.”

Mark Brinkley

Brinkley, whose test revealed that he is 80 percent West African, 16 percent European, 2 percent South African and 2 percent other. said the ancestry testing helps students answer two of the three fundamental questions they ask in their programs: Who am I? How do I know? How do I interact with others?

“It was very interesting this past summer when we were in South Africa. I opened up my welcome to them by saying, ‘I’m coming back home,’ because I know who I am, and I also know how I know that,” he said.

The Office of International Affairs is located on the first floor of Holland Hall. For more information about TSU’s Study Abroad and Exchange Programs as well as ancestory testing, contact Mark Anthony Brinkley at mbrinkley1@tnstate.edu or (615) 963-7660.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Celebrates International Education Week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Office of International Affairs at Tennessee State University kicked off International Education Week 2018 with a workshop on regional diversity and inclusive excellence, and an open house showcasing its new headquarters in Holland Hall.

The week, which began Nov. 2 and concluded on Nov. 8, featured many activities, including a study abroad fair, a panel showcasing cultural diversity, an African dance workshop, and a cultural celebration and family fun night.

Students received walk-in study abroad advisement.

“We’ll be talking to students about what they should be thinking about in pursuing a study abroad experience, not the study abroad experience specifically,” said Mark Brinkley, director of International Education in the Office of International Affairs. “Some students are beyond that. They have already done their research, and they know what experience they would like to participate in. We are talking to those students about how do you apply to that program.”

Mark Brinkley, director of International Education in the Office of International Affairs, speaks with  students about activities planned for International Education Week 2018.

Brinkley said OIA’s new office suite, which is located on the first floor of Holland Hall, provides the space they need to holistically provide international students the support they need.

“We can now better serve our international population whether they be international education, study abroad or

international students and scholars services or the new Intensive English Center,” he said.

The OIA Office has designated meditation areas where students can pray and continue to observe their culture, as well as a conference room where study abroad workshops can be held.

“Our function here is to help those incoming international students understand the historically black college and university culture, and to share their culture on a global level with the existing student base here that doesn’t get to do the study abroad.”

Daniel Bernal, an MBA student from Bogota, Columbia, said that as a transfer student, OIA helped him make a smooth transition to TSU.

“When I came here it felt more like home, and I have done well with the help of the international office,” he said. “They are very helpful compared to my previous university, so everything got taken care of.”

Bernal, a former member of the TSU Men’s Tennis Team, is the second player in the university’s history to earn All-OVC recognition, joining Lawrence Washington, who was also a Second Team All-OVC honoree in 2012. He said the academic environment at TSU has been nurturing and supportive.

“The classroom sizes are not as big compared to bigger universities, so you get more attention,” he said.

Shashamk Nautiyal, a graduate student in Sports Medicine from New Delhi, India, who was recruited to play tennis at TSU, said he also likes the academic environment at the university.

“In any department, they take care of you. They make sure they help you with whatever you need, either academic or personal or even professional. I think that is the most valuable thing,” he said. “They make sure they provide the best learning environment for you to make sure you succeed in your college career.’

Brinkley said International Week 2018 will conclude on the Avon Williams Campus with a cultural celebration and family night that will include a puppet show and international cuisines.

 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

For more information about International Education Week 2018, contact (615) 963-5640.