Alumni Council

Meet Your Alumni Council – Council members meet online.

Gal Lahav
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Gal Lahav  –  ISRAEL  –    2016-2017 (ECIR)
I came to Ann Arbor from Israel to participate in U of M’s MA in Japanese Studies Program. I found IHAA (then ECIR) while frantically searching for housing. Immediately, I was struck by the inclusive and friendly spirit of the place and the people who run it.  IHAA was my first home in Ann Arbor, and even though I moved elsewhere for my second year in the program, I came to visit as often as possible. In my time there, I made friends from many different countries, cultures, and backgrounds, all of whom have enriched my life immensely.

In my experience, the best way to get the most out of the IHAA experience is to participate. As busy as you are (and I know you are), take as many opportunities as you can to try out IHAA activities and events. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, or what impact you’ll have on someone else’s life.

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Infer Khalid Baig   –  PAKISTAN  –   2017 (ECIR)
With a background in Social Development and Policy, I am a passionate advocate for inclusivity and diversity. As a feminist, my areas of interest include access to education and support for initiatives in mental health awareness. I studied anthropology at UM and lived for a short time at IHAA. There, I had wonderful experiences engaging with cultural diversity and making friends from across global borders. My favorite memories include coffee hours for promoting friendships among international students, and participating in the Pakistani Community Meal that let me introduce the cuisine of my homeland to everyone! I now work as a content marketing specialist.

Jandeui Kim
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Jandeui Kim –  S. KOREA & TURKEY  –   2019

With a long career as a market researcher and business planner in the field of stock information in South Korea, now I work as a researcher in the field of economics in Turkey. 2019, the year my husband and I stayed at IHAA, is such an unforgettable year. Its warm and affectionate atmosphere welcomed us from the first day we arrived. We were never alone with such various events like taste of the world, international friendship hours, cricket match and picnics. With friends from all over the world, we learn how small the world is. Such unpurchasable memories I made at IHAA and I still miss all the moments.

Behcet Özkara
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Behcet Özkara –  TURKEY  –   2019

I am a Neuro-marketing scientist and came to UMICH for a research in 2019. While preparing to go to Ann Arbor, where to live was not of my concern because I decided it already. One of my colleagues who stayed at IHAA a few years ago had been always telling me how good experiences he had there. Who says high expectations lead to disappointment? IHAA didn’t only offer us a room but friendship, diversity, open-mind and good people. And all the staff at IHAA still make my heart warm. I keep in touch with most of the friends I met at IHAA. I still think it was the best decision that we stayed at IHAA.

Lex Guiritan
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Lex  Guiritan –  PHILIPPINES  –   2019

I lived at IHAA because of the various opportunities it offers especially that my purpose to be in the US was to share my language and culture with the world.
I was a Fulbright Scholar under the Foreign Language Teaching Assistants Program in my stay at IHAA during AY 2018 – 2019. While under the Fulbright Program,
IHAA had enabled me to reach out to the community and widened my perspective on diversity and global understanding. Its GEU program had exposed me to different activities
that gave me an opportunity to learn things while doing it. With such, I can say that choosing IHAA as my home in the US was one of the best decisions I had during my Fulbright stint.
Liesbeth Vicca
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Liesbeth Vicca –  BELGIUM  –   2019- 2020

I taught my native language, Flemish, at the University of Michigan during my Fulbright Program. I called IHAA my home because I was surrounded by caring friends, I lived in a motivating international environment and at the same time I had the space to be myself. My favorite memories include Tastes of the World, where we could drink and eat meals from different countries, International Friendship Hour, where I went to an elementary school and told 9, 10 and 11 year olds about Belgium and organizing Zumba classes for the residents.

When Covid-19 made us stay inside, I relied a lot on IHAA. They were always there for us, to check up on us, to see how we were doing physically and mentally! I still teach Flemish at the University of Michigan, but remotely.

Former Alumni Council Members

Served Spring 2018 – Spring 2020

Japan's flag

Keiko Yokoto-Carter 横田カーター啓子  –  JAPAN  –   1996-1997  (ECIR)
My expertise is centered on Japanese studies, particularly in the Humanities and Social Science fields. Beyond knowing the needs of researchers in these fields, my knowledge base includes an understanding of how scholarly communication is practiced in Japan, trends in publishing, vendors and scholarly organizations, and my personal network of researchers and stakeholders in Japanese studies from around the world.  I have been the primary negotiator to bring Japanese commercial databases to the North American university libraries since 2000. I am an advocate for digital scholarship, open access and the University of Michigan Library in my network.

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Sofia-Eleftheria N. Gonida  –  GREECE  – Fall 2012 & Spring 2018 (ECIR)
Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Human Development and ECTS/Erasmus Coordinator of the School of Psychology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.  I earned my Ph.D. in Psychology (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), M.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science (Catholic University of Leuven/Louvain, Belgium), and completed postgraduate studies in Psychology (Aristotle University of Thessalonik) and BA in Philosophy, Education, and Psychology (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) My research includes: i) gender issues and adolescents’ educational and career choices, “cognitive abilities test for children and adolescents”, cognitive, metacognitive and motivational processes in preschool and early school years,  students’ avoidance behaviors (self-handicapping and avoidance of help seeking) during elementary and early high school years, and parental involvement in students’ homework.

I stayed twice at IHAA (then ECIR), fall of 2012 and spring of 2018 while I was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan. ECIR has been strongly associated with my memories of the US and it is always the place I want to be when I visit Ann Arbor. ECIR is simply the best place for someone to stay while in Ann Arbor! Wonderful international atmosphere, community spirit, great location. Huge heterogeneity in terms of geographical distribution, national and religious background, age range and studies orientation. Community spirit as a result of the ECIR friendly, caring and wonderful people. Highly recommended to everyone!

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Paul (Baga) Bagavandos  –  INDIA  –   1977-1988 (ECC)
I was a graduate student in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at UM and received my graduate degree in 1987.  Presently, I teach at a regional campus of Kent State University in the Department of Biological Sciences. My fondest memories of “ECC” are potluck dinners and fall weekends at Tecumseh.

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Andrew Morriss-Andrews   –  CANADA  –  2014-2015 (ECIR)
I’m a Canadian who came to the US for my PhD in physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I came to University of Michigan to do a postdoc in Chemistry, studying interactions of protein molecules with computer simulation. I lived at IHAA (then called ECIR) for a year, and have been going to their social events for three years. Currently I am a data scientist at Ford, using artificial intelligence / machine learning techniques to study vehicle styling trends.