APP | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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AUIS Students Lead Cleanup at Lake Dukan in Sulaimani

August 18, 2016 - Sulaimani (KRG), Iraq: Around 100 students from the Academic Preparatory Program (APP) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) hosted an event to clean up areas surrounding Lake Dukan in Sulaimani today. They were joined in their efforts by staff and faculty members, as well as AUIS President, Bruce Walker Ferguson.  The event was part of the APP Service Learning Program for the students to encourage learning outside of the classroom, as well as to develop the young students' critical thinking and communications skills.  "AUIS is teaching our students that learning goes beyond classroom.  We want to encourage our students to engage in the community in order to change their environment for the better.  I truly believe that our students are the key to a better Kurdistan," said Rachel Gresk, APP director, who also joined the students at the cleanup.     This year, the students decided on two service learning goals: helping refugees and those displaced by conflict in Iraq, and protecting the environment. Over the course of the last semester, the students have been fundraising and developing close partnerships with local NGOs for their initiatives. The lake cleanup is the latest initiative by the environment protection group, who are partnering with Waterkeepers Iraq (NGO) to find meaningful ways to raise awareness about protecting the environment in Sulaimani and surrounding areas. The students used a crowdfunding campaign to raise $1000 for the cleanup.  The volunteers spent the afternoon clearing trash and litter left by tourists and picnickers on the lakeshore. "We took part in this project because we want to save our environment and our nature. This is our responsibility," said Ismail Jamal, APP student and president of the AUIS Environment Keepers club.    "We regularly hold such activities to raise awareness about environmental issues and to educate people about the consequences of polluting clean water and green spaces," said Mr. Nabil Musa from Waterkeepers Iraq, who accompanied the students at the cleanup. "We encourage students to participate in these activties to protect nature. We are very happy to partner with AUIS on this project and are really proud of what these students have accomplished." Another group of APP students has also raised funds to supplement the irrigation of public parks and newly-planted trees in Sulaimani, in consultation with the Sulaimani Garden Directorate, to find the best ways to preserve green space in the city. To that end, they have raised over a million dinars thus far to pay for water tankers, and are planning to host  a small event on August 27, 2016, to join in the watering of a park.    About the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani Established in 2007 as a not-for-profit institution, AUIS is dedicated to providing a comprehensive liberal arts education for the benefit of young men and women from Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, and the wider region. The University seeks to produce graduates of responsible character with the necessary knowledge and skills for professional and national leadership. The academic program, taught in the English language by international faculty, is designed to develop strength in critical thinking, the ability to communicate well, a strong work ethic, good citizenship and personal integrity.  The growing student body at AUIS represents the region’s diverse ethnic and religious landscape as the University continues to the be the destination of choice of more than 1,600 students. Reflecting Sulaimani’s location at an international crossroads, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, Ezidis and Christians, live and study together in an open culture fostering diversity and tolerance. Academic freedom is a principle guaranteed in teaching, learning, and research in a manner identical to that found at regionally accredited colleges and universities in the United States.  Follow AUIS on Twitter @auis_news and Facebook @auisofficial for latest information and news. For media enquiries or interview requests, please contact Bzhar Ali Boskani, media and public relations manager, at [email protected] or 964(0)770-4615-385.  

Lake Dukan Clean-Up

The students of the Level 2 Academic Preparatory Program are hosting a Service Learning Project at Lake Dukan in Sulaimani on Thursday.    All faculty, students, and staff are invited to join the Level 2 students in cleaning up Lake Dukan. Please email Chris Guajardo at [email protected] if you are interested in joining the event.   Event Info:   When: Students are leaving campus at 2pm on buses that they have organized. Event starts at 3pm and ends approximately 6pm. Some buses will arrive back to campus at 9pm. Where: See attached photos (near Hotel Ashur which can be found on Google maps).    What to bring:  Blue/white t-shirt (AUIS t-shirt if possible) Gloves for picking up rubbish 2 garbage bags large hat or sunscreen water    

AUIS Lecturers Attend TESOL 2016 International Convention

  Academic Preparatory Program Senior English Lecturers Zayne Amer and Chris Edwards attended the TESOL 2016 International Convention in Baltimore, US from April 5-8, 2016. TESOL is the world’s largest professional association for English language teachers. In addition to attending, Ms. Amer and Mr. Edwards were invited to present a technique they have developed for teaching students how to use grammar knowledge to better understand academic reading. Entitled Grammar Strategies for Academic Reading Comprehension, the presentation was well-received by a standing-room only crowd of English teachers. “We wanted to show that English teaching in Kurdistan is alive and well, based on research, and always trying new things”, said Mr. Edwards. A team of AUIS Academic Preparatory Program lecturers were also invited to speak at the TESOL Arabia conference earlier this year. More about TESOL 2016:

APP Students Engage Actively in Service Learning Projects

We are Level 2 students of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani’s Academic Preparatory Program (APP). We are currently planning and working with our peers on our new service learning projects. Three of our classes have voted to help children of the refugee and internally displaced (IDP) community and three classes have voted to work on environmental action projects with Waterkeepers Iraq. Both sets of classes have formed working groups to raise awareness and collect international donations through websites which we have developed ourselves. The three classes who have voted to work with children have set as our mission is to bring hope and happiness to the children who have suffered the effects from the ongoing political crisis, violence, and sectarian divide. They are also vulnerable to sexual abuse, health problems, early marriage, and to work in poorly-paid labouring jobs. Our overall goal is to raise USD 2000 to provide materials for children at nearby refugee camps. Our first goal of raising funds for 50 soccer balls has been accomplished. We chose that goal so that children have some activities during the summer holiday when schools will be closed. We have also just completed our second goal, which was to raise funds for educational materials for teachers and students at the local camps. For the remaining two weeks of our semester, we will continue to raise funds and then deliver these materials to the camps. We also want to raise awareness in our society to let people know what is happening to these children. Please act now, and help us bring a smile to the children’s faces once again. For more information on helping the cause and updates on our stories, please follow us on social media.  AUIS Helping Refugees (AHR) Facebook Blog Crowdfunding - donate online to our cause  AUIS Environment Keepers Facebook    -- Mohammed Khidr, APP student 

APP Team Presents at TESOL Arabia Conference

  Recently, three members from the AUIS' Academic Preparatory Program presented at the 22nd TESOL Arabia International Conference and Exhibition in Dubai. This is an annual English teaching conference geared towards educators and learners in the MENA region.   APP’s Deputy Director, Ms. Katherine Yaw, led a presentation/workshop on The International Test of English Proficiency (iTEP) exploring AUIS’ implementation of the  iTEP, pros and cons of using the assessment, and the implications for iTEP use in the broader Middle Eastern context.   Rachel Ramey and Laura Schlichting, both APP faculty members, led a workshop on how to better combine writing and grammar in the classroom for better and more genuine communication geared towards teachers and educators of all levels.   The TESOL Arabia conference provides a unique opportunity for educators and administrators across the Middle East to gather and share ideas. AUIS and the Academic Preparatory Program continue to strive to be a valuable part of that conversation.

A New Beginning for APP Students

Faculty blog by Matt Pezsek, APP Instructor  To the new students of the Academic Preparatory Program (APP), welcome and congratulations on starting an exciting new chapter of your life at AUIS!  Just as students start their new life here, a new semester has started in APP. Every semester brings change and excitement for not only students but also teachers.  Recently, APP has started Foundations and Access. Foundations was started to help students with lower English abilities improve their speaking and listening skills whereas Access is for students who will start their APP experience at a later time.  When I first arrived in February 2013, neither of these programs existed.  It is amazing to see how much APP has grown in a relatively short span of time.  I believe it is a testament to not only the popularity of AUIS as the premier institution of higher learning in the region, but it is also proof that students from the KRG and Iraq are aware that APP is the best program for learning to read, write, and speak English at a high level. As a teacher who usually teaches Level 1, I am fortunate to be one of the first teachers students meet when they enter APP.  When the students first arrive, it is fascinating to see the variety of students AUIS is fortunate to get. Students from all over the KRG and Iraq come to study here, and many of the students have either lived or have family who live in diverse places, such as the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Norway, and the United States to name just a few.  In addition, even though all students enter into APP to learn English, many of them speak additional languages.  In addition to their native Kurdish or Arabic, I’ve had students who are fluent in French, German, Finnish, Norwegian, and Dutch.  In a way, APP and by extension, AUIS is like a mini United Nations with a wide variety of backgrounds.  Yet, despite this diverse population, the students are all united in the fact they have the same desire to have an American-style liberal arts education in English that will prepare them for their lives in the region or abroad.  This desire has always been a constant I’ve noticed each semester when I meet new students for the first time, and I ask them why they chose AUIS. AUIS is like a mini United Nations with a wide variety of backgrounds. Of course, learning in a foreign language is not easy, and many students often worry they will not be able to keep up with the teachers who only speak English.  However, new APP students need not fear!  A vast majority of current AUIS undergraduates and graduates went through APP at some point in the past and succeeded.  New APP students will pass into the undergraduate program and graduate from AUIS, too! Even though APP is a tough program, help is never far away!  New students can ask past APP students who are now in the undergraduate program about their experience, and they can also ask current APP students.  Most importantly, students can ask any APP teacher for help.  It doesn’t have to be just the teachers they have. All the APP teachers enjoy interacting with students and are willing to help in any way they can.  Ultimately, everyone (fellow students, teachers, and administrators) in APP and AUIS has the same goal of wanting to help students succeed. This new semester in APP promises to be exciting, and I look forward to helping the students enter into this new chapter of their life.

APP Graduation Fall 2015

January 27, 2016 - Around 150 students graduated from the intensive Academic Preparatory Program (APP) to move on to their undergraduate programs at AUIS. The students will begin their undergraduate classes as the new term commences next month. In the graduation ceremony organized by APP, the graduating students were presented with certificates in the presence of their family, friends and teachers. Students were additionally awarded for top grades, high attendance and volunteer work, as well as the Teacher's Award which was presented by every teacher to one student in their class. The Academic Preparatory Program (APP) at AUIS prepares non-native English speaking high school graduates to enter the AUIS undergraduate program by teaching them academic English, critical thinking skills and study habits. The program has been awarded international accreditation for the next five years by The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation.    View photos in a slideshow below or click on the photo to view/download images on Flickr.  

Our Future Leaders

  AUIS welcomed over 90 students in the past few weeks to participate in the Future Leaders Program. This week long program invites students who are undecided about which university they want to attend to come and see AUIS, meet other students from the area, and participate in a project-based course. Our students for this year focused on the themes of community, leadership, creativity, global citizenship, and creative thinking.  Students worked together to create and develop their own unique countries, including building a government, an economy, and various aspects of the culture. As one of four teachers for this year’s program, I got to work with multiple groups. I was so very impressed by their drive, creativity, and their willingness to work so well in groups of people they had just met. The presentations at the end were very well done, and even those students who were nervous to speak in front of others managed to stand up and present. All of the instructors were proud and we look forward to working with those who choose AUIS for their university in the coming months. We know that no matter where these students choose to go, they are motivated, creative, and team workers, and are truly young adults who will one day be leaders. You can view all the photos of the 2015 Future Leaders Program on our Flickr page:


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