Institute of Critical Languages and Cultural Exchange



I.C.L.C.E. Charter:


 Click Here to See Videos of Our 2009 Learning Activities

   STARTALK Summer 2009 Opening Ceremony Photos


Residential Advisors/Interns


CynthiaCynthia Christenson - Cynthia Christenson is currently a junior at Tulane University and is majoring in environmental science, her passion since childhood.  She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and graduated from Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville, Louisiana.  With a special interest in the Arabic language, Cynthia will be attending the American University in Cairo for the 2009-2010 academic year.  She has previously worked with learning-disabled children helping them develop reading, writing, and language skills.  She enjoys international travel and in the past four years has visited Costa Rica, England, Italy, Egypt, Thailand, and Cambodia.  Her future plans include obtaining an M.S. degree in environmental science and possibly living and working in the Middle East.

Sarah Handal - Sarah Elena Handal graduated fourth in her class from Baton Rouge Magnet High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is a graduate of Louisiana State University with degrees in Psychology and French. Along with those degrees, she has studied Arabic for a sum of four years in High School and in College. She has travelled all throughout Europe every year since she was sixteen.   She wants to further her education to the PhD level in Psychology. Her passion for teaching has made her decide to become a teacher after finishing her education.

Sarah Ross Steward - Sarah Ross Stewart graduated from Sweet Briar College with a degree in Philosophy in 2008 and she is an intern for Startalk’s Arabic program based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Sarah Ross played lacrosse at Sweet Briar and was a member of   a major community service group on campus.   She has most recently traveled to European Countries including Spain and Italy. Currently she resides in Davidson, North Carolina working as a waitress in Mooresville and Cornelius, North Carolina.  She plans to open a branch of StarTalk in North Carolina and Virginia with a concentration in the Arabic language. She aspires to work for the US Government and continue to improve the United States.

Kim Vu – Kim currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana and attends Loyola University of New Orleans.  She is a history major, with and emphasis in French history, a medieval minor.  She has traveled to many different countries and believes that experiencing other cultures is essential to education.  In the past couple of years, she has traveled to Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Australia, France, and Italy.  She plans to attend The Abby in a small French city during her spring semester and aspires to either work as a lawyer or become a curator of a European museum in the future.



Gakeria Barnes – Gakeria attends school at Central High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and she will shortly be a junior.  Gakeria enjoys volleyball and she aspires to become a foreign language interpreter for the United Nations.

 Zachary Blanchard – Zachary attends Little Cypress – Mauriceville High School in Orange, Texas and will be going into the 11th grade.  He plays for his school’s football team and runs track.  He is a highly motivated student and greatly cares for academics.  He wants to join the United States Navel Academy to train to become a marine officer and earn his degree in aerospace engineering.    

Brett Beeson – Brett attends Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Virginia and will be a senior this coming school year.  She hopes to join the United States Navel Academy and hopes to travel abroad.  She speaks Spanish, enjoys traveling, and volunteering. She enjoys learning languages and is highly motivated to do so. 


Claire Conway – Claire is going to be a senior at the Loomes Chaffee School in Connecticut.  She is 17 and lives in West Springfields, Massachusetts.  Claire runs cross country and track for her school, and she is the editor and chief for her school newspaper.  She enjoys science and languages, and hopes to become a doctor someday.  She likes to read, learn new things, and meet new people.  She hopes to become a pediatrician because she wants to help people, and she thinks knowing more than one language would help greatly with being a doctor.


Leanne Conway – Leanne is from West Springfields, Massachusetts and she is going to be a junior this fall at Deerfield Academy.  She has been taking Arabic for nearly three years and she will be in Arabic III this coming fall semester. Her interest for languages began when she was young.  She decided that she wanted to learn the Arabic language and traveled to Egypt in the 8th grade.  She immediately fell in love with the Arabic culture and wanted to learn as much as she could.  She decided to attend this program simply to learn more about the Arabic culture and language and to help others learn about it as well. With this background, she aspires to work with foreign countries.   In school, her favorite subjects are Arabic and math.  She also runs cross-country and loves to play ice hockey.

 Joe Conway –Joe was born and raised in West Springfields, Massachusetts and attends the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where he will be a senior in college.  He joined this program with his two sisters, Claire and Leanne, and he enjoys the learning experience that they can share together as a family.  He plans to spend a semester in Spain to improve on his verbal skills in the Spanish language, experience Spain’s culture and he aspires to help I.C.L.C.E. create a program that will assist the legally blind to learn critical languages.

 Sophia Crooks – Sophie attends St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she was born and raised.  She has studied the Spanish language for eight years and the French language for two years.  She wants to be able to help those in need in poverty stricken countries and learning different languages aids her in her mission. 

 Hala El-Shaffey – Hala attends South Forsy High School in Cumming, Georgia.  She has studied the French language since she was in kindergarten and is now taking it at an AP level.  She is an active member of several clubs at her school.  She is a part of Habitat for Humanity, Beta Club and French National Honors Society.  Upon her most recent travels she visited France.  Her goal is to master the Arabic language because it would fulfill both personal and professional aspects in her life.  She aspires to become a biomedical engineer. 

 Zhushun Fang – Zhushun, as known as Jason, was born in China and moved to America when he was two years old and attends Baton Rouge Magnet High in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He speaks fluent Chinese and has great motivation for learning the critical language.  Some of his hobbies are dancing, which he is incredibly passionate about, drawing, playing soccer, and singing.  He has already written a song that includes some of the Arabic language that he has learned in this program.

 Jordan Henderson – Jordan is a sophomore at Dutchtown High School in Geismar, Louisiana.  His hobbies are reading and video gaming.  He aspires to attend an undergraduate university and medical school to become a neurosurgeon in the near future. 

 Kelly Johnson – Kelly will be a junior at McKinley High School and currently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  In the future she would like to attend medical school to become a pediatrician.  She wants to learn the Arabic language to contribute to the country’s negotiation efforts in the future.   

 Jacob Jolibois – Jacob is home schooled at the Freedom Academy of Baton Rouge in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana.  Jacob has had three years Latin and one year of the Russian language.  He planes to attend Patrick Henry College in Virginia.  He would like to graduate with a major in communications and a minor in journalism.  He is very active in political campaigns on a city and state level.  His hobbies include photography, graphic design, public speaking and debate.  Jacob was a member on the Central High School swim team for the past three years.  The number goal in his life is to strive to be like Christ.

 David Jones – David will be a senior at Central High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He enjoys being involved in school activities and writing.  He has studied the Spanish language in high school and believes that learning other critical languages is imperative to ones education. His plans include attending LSU and majoring in psychology.  He aspires to become either a government linguist or a psychologist.   

Shawnika Lacy – Shawnika presently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attends Central High School.  Her academic interests include linguistics and law and she would like to have a career either as a lawyer or as an interpreter for the U.S Government.  

Ivan Lafayette – Ivan is 17 years old and he was born in Lisbon, Portugal, but raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he currently resides.  He is a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School and aspires to pursue a career in business, political science or law.  His hobbies include ultimate Frisbee and as he goes to college next summer, he wants to go forward with the Arabic language and learn about its culture and society.

Jerry Parker – Jerry was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and recently graduated from Zachary High School.  Jerry will be attending Southeastern Louisiana University.  He is familiar with the Spanish and French languages and is interested in learning about other languages and cultures.  He plans to take the experience he has learned from this program to inspire other student to be more critically aware of other languages. 

 Robert Rosati – Robert currently lives in Spanish Fort, Alabama and attends Spanish Fort High School.  He would like to major in physics or engineering possibly at the University of California Berkeley.  He is familiar with the French language and he wants to learn the Arabic language to understand more about the culture and communicate with the more diverse population. 

 Heather Shaw – Heather attended Global Studies and World Language Academy at Tallwood High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Currently she resides Baton Rouge, Louisiana and plans to attend LSU.  She is currently learning the German and Russian languages and believes that the Arabic language will aid her in her future career as a government employee. 

 Molly Stewart – Molly will be going into her junior this coming school year at Rockbridge County High School in Lexington, Virginia.  She plays lacrosse and basketball and plans to attend a university after high school.  Traveling abroad is one of her interests as well as starting a non-profit organization.  Before studying the Arabic language, she previously studied the Spanish language and she believes that learning as many languages as she can will aid her in her mission to create her non-profit organization. 

 La’Tigre Stokes – La’Tigre lives in Central, Louisiana and attends Central High School where she will be a senior.  She previously studied the French language and hopes to travel to French speaking nations one day.  She enjoys math and chemistry, but she would like to attend college to major in criminal justice.  From there, she would like to do language translation and possibly attend law school. 

 Khadijah Thomas – Khadijah will be a sophomore at Zachary High School and lives in Zachary, Louisiana.  Her favorite subjects in school are math, science, and Spanish.  She would like to attend medical school to become a pediatrician and a Spanish translator.  She would like to attend Xavier University in New Orleans for her undergraduate degree.  Her experience of the Arabic language will aid her in her future career as a pediatrician.

 Teara Vessel – Teara is a resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attends Baton Rouge Magnet High School.  When she attends college, she would like to major in secondary education and she also plans to open a day care center in the distant future.  Her experience in this program will allow her to be more diverse and give her the skills to communicate the different ethnicity America has.

 Kadijah Waker – Kadijah currently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and will be going into 10th grade.  She plans to attend a four-year university after she graduates from high school, but is not sure what she would like to study.  However, she does enjoy learning about the Arabic language and culture that she is gaining from attending STARTALK’s program.

 Jabbar White – Jabbar currently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attends Woodlawn High School and will be entering 11th grade.  He aspires to attend an undergraduate college and major in biochemistry.  Jabbar likes to meet new people and make new friends and learning about different critical languages will help him to communicate better with the different diversities in America.  

 Timothy White – Tim is from Zachary, Louisiana and just recently graduated from Zachary High School.  He will be attending Millsaps College on a basketball scholarship.  His major in college will be mechanical engineering and he plans to incorporate his Arabic language experience with his future career. 

  Spenser Watson – Spenser is 15 years old and attends Dutch Town High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He would like to pursue his interests in documentary filmmaking, humanitarian services in foreign countries, animation, and literature.  He would like to become a professor of modern film studies. 

 STARTALK Summer 2009 Opening Ceremony Photos