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Release: May 3, 2000

UI International Programs honors groups' cross-cultural efforts

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two University of Iowa programs and a local elementary school's after-school foreign language program are the winners of the annual Mariko Mizuhara Awards for Cross-Cultural Understanding, given by the UI Office of International Students and Scholars, part of International Programs.

The UI American Indian and Native Studies Program and Office of the State Archaeologist won the award for jointly developing an archaeological field school to teach students how to carry out excavations while being sensitive to Native American concerns. The UI English as a Second Language (ESL) program won for its efforts to connect international students with local residents, including elementary students, senior citizens and UI education students. And the Longfellow Elementary School After-School Foreign Language Program won for its commitment to cross-cultural understanding among parents and students through the teaching of Japanese and Spanish.

The awards are given annually to individuals or organizations who have developed a new and innovative program, demonstrated cross-cultural understanding, sought to build ties of involvement among diverse groups on campus and in the local community, and/or helped to educate others about diverse populations. The program or project needs to have a connection to or an effect on the UI or Iowa City community.

The awards, each of which includes a $200 prize, are given in memory of Mariko Mizuhara, a Japanese student who was a music major from 1988-1992. She died unexpectedly in 1992. Her parents, Shunji and Noriko Mizuhara, established a memorial fund for the awards.

The UI archaeology field school project, carried out in Western Iowa during summer 1999, brought student archaeologists into direct contact with American Indian people by inviting guest speakers to the school and taking the students to several reservations in South Dakota and Nebraska. Larry Zimmerman, who directed the program, said this approach "showed students that Native people live in the contemporary world and that the pasts archaeologists build affect Native lives. For Indian people, it showed that archaeology is interested in who they are, not just who they were." He added that the program will use the $200 award to give a partial scholarship to a Native student who will participate in this summer's field school in Northeast Iowa.

The UI ESL program has established links with several local elementary schools, the UI College of Education, and the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center in order to provide opportunities for ESL students to interact with native English speakers of all ages. The ESL students were matched with elementary school pen pals to exchange information about their respective

cultures. UI students preparing to become teachers met weekly with ESL students for group discussions to share cultural information and break down stereotypes. And ESL students studying the Great Depression met with senior citizens to learn about their experiences during that time.

In nominating the Longfellow program, Darin Henry, a parent, wrote that it "gives opportunities to young children in our community to learn languages and study in our own community about diversity on local, national, and international levels." The program involves UI foreign language students as teachers and invites people from Japan and Spanish speaking countries to share information about their food, music, dance or other cultural traditions.

The award will be presented to representatives from each program during the International Programs Graduation and Global Scholars Celebration May 12 from 10-11:30 a.m. in the International Center Lounge.