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Home > News & Events > Press Releases > 2009 > New American Culture Course Connects NOVA Students with Madagascar

Press Releases

New American Culture Course Connects NOVA Students with Madagascar

September 21, 2009

<em>Photo by Kevin Mattingly, NOVA</em>

What if you were able to connect with students from across the world each week to discuss the different perspectives of American Culture?

A Study of the American Culture (HUM 295) is a new course being offered at the Alexandria Campus of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) that connects NOVA students with undergraduates from Madagascar via video connection. The course examines various aspects of American Culture and encourages students to think critically about the English language, literature, film, history and politics.

“This class is a wonderful opportunity to discover the different pieces of a big puzzle, with America being the puzzle,” said student Karima Ben-Ayed, “It’s unique because we are able to interact with students from across the world and learn the different ways American culture is interpreted.”

Dr. Jimmie McClellan, dean of Liberal Arts at the Alexandra Campus, got the idea for the course when he traveled to Madagascar and met with U.S. Embassy staff to discuss an interest they had in teaching American Culture to Malagasy students.

Shortly thereafter, 20 students were chosen to participate from the University of Antananarivo and the College Royale in Madagascar based on their grades and English-speaking abilities. At NOVA, 10 students enrolled in its first semester class this fall.

“The quality of the transmission is extraordinarily crisp and clear,” said Dr. McClellan, “To see someone live halfway around the world and have them appear to be in the same room as the students here is an exciting experience.”

HUM 295 meets each Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the Bisdorf Building of the Alexandria Campus, while the Malagasy students meet at the U.S. Embassy in the capital of the Malagasy Republic at 5:30 p.m.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jimmie McClellan at 703-845-6223 or

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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site,