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Hendrix to Launch Inaugural English Language and Culture Institute

CONWAY, Ark. (April 21, 2014) – This summer, Hendrix College will offer its first Summer Institute for English Language and Culture for degree-seeking international students.

Gwen Stockwell was recently hired to direct the program. She will also serve as director of international student services. An alumna of Williams College, Stockwell has studied and worked in Japan, Korea, Guatemala and Spain and has taught English for Speakers of Other Langagues (ESOL) at the university level in various settings.

The Hendrix Summer Institute will not just offer international students linguistic preparation but will also introduce international students to American, liberal arts, and university cultures, integrating reading, writing, listening and discussion skills that students need to succeed at Hendrix.

“This program will get our international students ready for critical thinking, writing, and experiential learning,” Stockwell said. “It’s a very exciting opportunity to create a curriculum that is content-based and looks at various aspects of American culture, including education, politics, economics, even relationships.”

Stockwell hopes that students will have the opportunity to travel throughout Arkansas and to experience American cities. She also hopes for students to have a home-stay experience with local families.

The 10-week program, scheduled for June 2 through August 8, will host 30 international students, including 17 students in the Rwanda Presidential Scholars Program, which was established in 2007. Hendrix leads a consortium of 18 U.S. colleges and universities that work with the Rwandan government to provide four year, undergraduate scholarships to a select group of Rwanda’s best and brightest students.

“Through the Rwanda Presidential Scholars Program, we have learned a lot about how to better prepare international students to succeed here,” said Dr. Peter Gess, director of the Odyssey Program and International Programs at Hendrix.

While large universities with significant international student populations have ESOL as a standalone language training program, Hendrix is somewhat unique.

“It’s pretty innovative for a liberal arts college,” said Gess. No other liberal arts college in the Associated Colleges of the South, the academic consortium to which Hendrix belongs, provides a similar program, he added.

In addition to the Summer Institute, Hendrix has developed a new partnership with the University of Arkansas Clinton School for Public Service, the first school in the country to offer a Master of Public Service (MPS) degree to prepare graduates for careers in nonprofit, governmental, volunteer or private sector service. Clinton School students are required to complete an international service project. This summer, two Hendrix students will join two Clinton School students on international projects, including a re-education program for child soldiers in northern Uganda and a sustainable community program in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. The Hendrix students will receive Odyssey credit for their participation in the project.

“It’s a win-win,” Gess said. “Clinton School students get a mentoring experience, while Hendrix students get a mentored experience. Plus the project partner gets a multiplicative effect, and we expose Hendrix students to the Clinton School as a post-graduate opportunity for public service.”

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit