A professor and several students discuss sustainability issues along the shoreline at a beach in Monterey Bay.

In addition to their academic expertise, our faculty have professional experience in major organizations around the world. They bring a genuine commitment to the success of our students as mentors and colleagues.

Meet some of the faculty whose experience in the field comes to life in the classroom:

Beryl Levinger

Program Chair, Master of Public Administration and International Policy and Development
Levinger’s vision and foresight help turn passion into a profession for Paul D. Coverdell Fellows.

My name is Beryl Levinger, and I am the Chair of the Development, Practice, and Policy Program here at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. The early 1980s saw me working in New York City at Columbia University Teacher’s College. And it was from there in 1981 that I traveled to Washington DC. To attend a conference to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Peace Corps. So there were thousands of participants in this conference. And we stayed up until all hours of the night talking and sharing. And there was one thing that amazed me and that was that everyone said the same thing.

Wow, Peace Corps was the greatest thing that I ever did in my life. It was the peak of everything I had ever done. And I thought to myself, this is kind of amazing to say that you’ve peaked in your early 20s, that life from that point forward was downhill. And I began to think about what could be done so that that trajectory would be an upward one. How could we reverse it so that Peace Corps could become a launching pad to greater and greater accomplishment? And then I had an idea. What if we put together a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers who were pursuing their graduate degree in education? And worked with the city of New York to place those students in really difficult troubled schools. So I took the idea to Washington and I met with the Peace Corps leadership and amazingly they were on board.

So cut to 2015, the program is now on 90 campuses throughout the United States. And more importantly to me is what’s happening right here at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Here I am in Monterey, California welcoming a brand new group of 30 Peace Corps fellows to our program and our campus. And there was a certain sense of overwhelming emotion that just infused every single cell in my body. As I realized that the dream that occurred so many years ago in New York was a living reality. And that this group and I would be sharing a journey together. And we’d be learning from each other.

And more importantly, their visions and their dreams for a better world were going to be met, not only with the passion that we have here on our campus, but also with the professionalism that they were going to develop.

Kathi Bailey

Professor, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Teaching Foreign Language
Bailey is pleased and honored to be a catalyst for her students’ greatest achievements.

My name is Kathi Bailey, and I work in the TESOL and TFL Programs. TESOL, T-E-S-O-L, is Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, and TFL is Teach Foreign Languages. Some years ago, the TESOL Association started an initiative called the Leadership Mentoring Program. And every year, at the beginning of the TESOL Convention, there was a really nice lunch that was given to honor the people who were serving as leaders in TESOL.

So I got to the lunch early, and I found a table at the back of the room, and I took a seat off to the side so I could see what was going on. But as I was sitting there and the room filled up, lots and lots of people came over and were talking to me.

Most of them are graduates. They were hugging me and telling me about their accomplishments, their publications, their families, their jobs, their raises. It was really exciting. And after a few minutes of this, one of the wait persons who’d been standing just behind me. She came up to me and she said.

Excuse me, are you the person being honored at this lunch in? Shouldn’t you be sit at the head table? And I said, no, I’m not the guest of honor. Why did you think so? And she said, well, because everybody’s hugging, and thanking you, and telling you about how great and difference you made in their lives.

And so then, the program began and everybody settled down, the lunch was served. And I kind of thought to myself in a quiet private way, I am the person being honored here. I’m honored by the promise fulfilled by our graduates. They’re working all around the world, as program administrators, materials developers, authors, editors, teacher educators, test developers, researchers.

And of course, they’re excelling as language teachers worldwide. This is what I find so rewarding about working in this program. The students that come here, the students we attract have the capacity for leadership. They make a difference. It’s a great, great place to study, and it’s a great place to work.

And my hope is to continue this legacy of leadership so that our graduates will continue to influence language education worldwide.

Jeff Langholz

Professor, International Environmental Policy
As a young Peace Corps volunteer, Langholz learned a lifelong lesson about sustainable practices.

My name’s Jeff Langholz, and I’m a professor here at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey. And when I was in my 20s, I was serving as a US Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. I was living in a little village in the middle of the jungle with about 30 families living in mud huts.

And it came time to grow crops. And so the villagers went out and they started cutting down the rainforest with their machetes and then burning it. And I tried to stop them. I said, wait, don’t burn down the rainforest, it’s so beautiful. These are the lungs of the planet.

Look at all the monkeys and parrots and wildlife. How can you do this?

And the villagers politely ignoring me while the forest went up in smoke. A short while later, a time of year came that they called the hungry season, when there wasn’t enough food to go around. And during this time people were dying, especially the very old and the very young who were weakest. And one day, a mother and father brought their son to me, a little two-year old boy who was almost dead. They handed him to me and asked if I could save their two-yea-old son who is dying of malnourishment.

And I looked at this boy, and he was so weak he couldn’t speak, but his eyes were looking at me as if to say, please help me. I know I’m dying, can you do something, please? And that boy died right there in my arms. And the next time it came to go out to cut the rainforest to grow food, I was leading the charge.

Instead of saying don’t cut the rainforest, I was out there with a machete cutting down as much forest as I could. We’re gonna cut down forests, we’re gonna grow so much food. Nobody’s dying on my watch, especially no little kids dying in my arms. And since that day, I’ve realized that we need to figure out how to sustainably on the earth.

How can we have it all? How can we have our human needs for food, clothing, shelter, economic development but also take care of these natural resources that sustain us? And I’ve been on a quest for sustainability ever since. And that’s what we do at Monterey every day.

Laura Burian

Professor, Translation and Interpretation
When Burian decided to study language on a whim, it changed the course of her career and academic future.

My name is Laura Burian, I’m a professor of Chinese and English Translation and Interpretation here at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. I started studying Chinese in college pretty much on a whim because I was curious to learn about something that was completely different. And I really had no idea what I was gonna do if I mastered it with Chinese language skills.

I was living and working in Taiwan for a couple years after college, and I saw a sign with an advertisement for the institute. And I decided, lets give this a try, lets see if this is a good way to professionalize my language skills, and I had no idea what a wonderful and exciting career path it would take me on.

I ended up with opportunities as a freelance translator interpreter to learn about all kinds of different fields, to work with people ranging from CEOs of major corporations to the leaders in the government, leaders in the private industry, leaders in the film industry. Things of that sort that I definitely would not have predicted as a student.

And for me, coming back here to teach has been wonderful. It’s been great for me to be able to share my experiences with students and help them to see what they can do with the skills that they’re picking up here. And it’s also wonderful for me to see where the students actually take them.

For me when a student will call me up, and ask for mid career advice, and let me know everything that he or she has done, it’s very humbling, and it’s an honor to see that this time at the institute has started them on career paths. Whether they’re working as interpreters for major international organizations or as translators for really important documentation, it really is wonderful to see that they are making a difference and that they are excited about their careers.

So for me as a teacher, it doesn’t get better than that.

Anna Vassilieva

Professor, Russian Studies
As a young but demanding teacher in a village school near Leningrad, Vassilieva saw something remarkable in her students.

My name is Anna Vassilieva, and I’m a professor of Russian studies here at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. I began teaching at the age of 21, and my first year of teaching was at a small school not far from Leningrad. I was a demanding young teacher, I wanted my students to be able to recite Shakespeare sonnets by heart.

I wanted them to read Hemingway, and Steinbeck, and Jack London, and Goldsworthy. And they were wonderful, but at some point I had to go visit them at home in the class which I supervised. And it was a shock to me, it was a real culture shock because I assumed that everyone of those kids grew up like I grew up.

With libraries, and caring loving parents, and what I saw in many cases, were huts where my students had to share space with hens, roosters, or pigs. Many of them had drunken fathers, I knew that they were alcoholics. The environment that I couldn’t even imagine would help them study and be good students, yet every day they were coming prepared.

I’ve been teaching in the United States here at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey for 25 year now. And that first year of teacher at that small village school has stayed with me as an inspiration. Because I want my American students, graduate students here to be as inquisitive, and as passionate about learning as those kids in the small Soviet village were.

And they are, I’m very proud of my students. And when I enter the classroom, when I work with them, I always think that my story, my life story serves in a way an inspiration to them. And the way they perceive and take it, and what they do with that, is an inspiration to me.

Philipp Bleek

Professor, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies
Bleek learned firsthand the importance of negotiation and communication skills when overcoming barriers.

My name is Philipp Bleek, and I’m a Professor in the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program here in Monterey at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. In 2012-13, I had a really remarkable opportunity to take a leave from Monterey to go serve in the federal government in Washington D.C.

Maybe the most important thing that I did while I was in government was to staff an interagency group focused on Syrian chemical weapons. Doing that effectively required overcoming a lot of barriers. There were barriers within the Pentagon, where I worked. There were barriers between the Pentagon and other agencies, including the State Department.

And maybe, most critically, there were barriers between the US government and other governments, most crucially, the Russia Federation, with whose officials I had a chance to negotiate as part of a White House delegation. And in all those cases, overcoming barriers hinged on empathy, and respect and camaraderie at least as much as it hinged on cold headed calculations of shared interests.

That experience has been hugely relevant for my teaching, for my research, and, also, for the policy work that I do now that I’m back here in Monterey. So I try to remind my students that grad school is, not only a chance to build skills and expertise, but it’s a chance to learn to play well with others.

That sounds warm and fuzzy, but that turned out to be a really crucial factor in our ability to deal with the threat of Syrian chemical weapons effectively. The world can be a pretty ugly and dysfunctional place. But the way in which individual human beings are able to find ways to overcome barriers and to work together on the Syrian chemical weapons issue is something that gives me hope.

Kent Glenzer

Professor, MBA, MPA, and International Policy and Development 
Glenzer learned from one of the best to be an exemplary development professional.

Hi, my name is Kent Glenzer and I’m the Dean of the Graduate School of International Policy and Management here at the Middlebury Institute. And I want to tell a story from my past that shaped my career as a development professional and who I am as a teacher.

It was back in the 80s, I was just out of a Peace Corp and my wife just got got a job back in Mali with USAID. And so the first couple of weeks there, I pounded the pavement for a local hire job. And finally secured a position as executive assistant with Sandy Lomark, the country director of CARE International in Bamako.

Over 18 months, Sandy introduced me to the business of international development. I worked a bit in procurement, in finance, in donor relations, in programming, in communications, even going out to the field to manage sub-offices. As a mentor, Sandy was unyielding in her perfectionism toward me, but also exhibiting a lot of compassion and encouragement.

She invited me to engage with her as an equal and then was very precise and specific at the moments where I wasn’t quite up to that task yet. That single relationship made my career, 30 years of working on questions of poverty, social justice, and human rights largely in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Four years ago I changed careers and came to the Institute and I think of Sandy a lot. Because Sandy’s job with me, wasn’t to replicate herself through me, but to make me a better development professional than she had ever been. That’s my job in the classroom here, to make every student that comes into the classroom a better development professional than I ever was.

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