New class in December

From December 2017 through March 2018, International Education Center will offer Citizenship Class. This class will help students prepare for the U.S. Citizenship test, while broadening their understanding of United States history. Topics will include Early History and the Colonies, Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, System of Government, the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, the Judicial Branch, the 1800s, Recent US History, Rights and Responsibilities, U.S. Government Today, and Geography.

Students who attend all of the sessions will be prepared to pass the U.S. Citizenship Test. This class is for students with a CASAS score of 195 or above. Class will be offered on Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 pm. Contact us today to enroll!



Summer Activities

Summer is coming! We will experience three months of warm weather, sunny days and endless fun outdoor activities. The Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis) offer lots of activities during the summer – don’t miss out! Following are some of our favorites: 

Summer Festivals

Festivals are happening almost every week during the season.  Most are free or for a small cost.

4th of July Fireworks and Parades

Nothing beats seeing the famous fireworks celebrating Independence Day. In Minneapolis you can see the Red, White & Boom fireworks from the Stone Arch Bridge, the Mill City Museum Observation Deck (paid entrance ticket and only 35 people allowed), Lake Calhoun (from a distance), and restaurants with rooftops. Fireworks start around sundown, but get there early as these spots fill fast.

There are plenty of other activities in the Twin Cities to celebrate Independence Day. Check out Edina 4th of July Parade and 4th in the Park in St. Paul for races, parade routes and music events.

The Minnesota Twins

Baseball is one of America’s favorite sports. From April to September, the Twins play over 160 games. Summer is perfect weather to watch the game at the Target Field and support the Minnesota Twins without wearing your thick winter jacket!  Single home game tickets can be purchased at a reasonable cost at


Cycling the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway

If you like to bike (and it’s free!), Minneapolis is one of the top places in the country for bicyclists. The Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway links park areas in Minneapolis with special corridors for pedestrians and cyclists. It has about 50 miles (80 KM) of trails through parks, lakes, wetlands, gardens, woodlands, some of the best nature sites in town. Eight miles cycling per week during the summer is a healthy (and fun) summer activity!

If you don’t want to complete the entire byway, take a cycle around “The Chain of Lakes.”  The route is within the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway’ area and it covers trails around Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, Brownie Lake, Lyndale Park and Lyndale Farmstead Park. Minnesota is famous for its 10,000 lakes and this route will take you to five beautiful lakes in the Twin Cities.

For more information on the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway go to:

Picnic at the park

Did you know that June 18th is International Picnic Day? A picnic is a great way to spend your summer day outdoors with delicious homemade food, friends and family, and getting close to nature (that includes the ants and squirrels at the parks). There are several popular places around the Twin Cities for picnics such as Hidden Falls (St. Paul) and Minnehaha Falls (Minneapolis). You may need to reserve the picnic area if you come with a large group of people. But don’t worry, there are plenty of picnic sites for a small number of individuals on a first-come, first-served basis. 

More information about picnic locations in the Twin Cities can be found on the parks websites: St. Paul Parks and Minneapolis Parks.

Readers' Recipes

Indonesian (BBQ) Satay with Peanut Sauce

We are starting a new column of recipes from readers. Our newsletter reader and IEC volunteer, Indah Susanti, will share her favorite recipe from her home country, Indonesia. 

“Indonesian satay is a popular menu for lunch and dinner time, we usually eat the satay together with white rice. We have tens variety of satays, but this time I introduce the satay recipe from Java Island. The popular meat for this type of satay is chicken with its original name is ‘Sate Ayam’ (Chicken Satay).”

Essential Ingredients

  • 600 gram of meat of your choice (boneless Chicken/Beef/Lamb/Pork/Plant-based meat), slices the meat into small-medium size cube pieces
  • Bamboo skewers, soak them in water before skewering the meat

Marinade Ingredients

  •  ¾ large Shallot, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coriander, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sweet soy sauce (at Asian shop called as Ketjap/Kecap Manis)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Little bit of salt and water
  • ¼ cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • If you like to have it spicy, add chili paste or chopped “bird's eye chili

Peanut Sauce Ingredients

  • 5 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • ¼ shallot
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • water
  • sweet soy sauce (at Asian shop, it is called as Ketjap/Kecap Manis)
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  • If you like to have it spicy, add chili paste or chopped “bird's eye chili”

Barbecue Time!

1.    Mix all marinade ingredients in a plastic bag or a bowl. Then add the meat cube slices, mix them well with the sauce and put them in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours.

2.    After marinade, put the meat cube slices into the bamboo skewers. Give space in between the meat.

3.    Barbecue the meat in the skewers accordingly. Turn the meat frequently and basting the leftover marinade sauce into the meat each time you turn the skewers.

Making the Peanut Sauce

1.  Prepare the oil, fry lightly the chopped garlic, shallot and peanuts on medium heat (add the chili if you like)

2.  As the peanuts look brown (not too dark), then put the fried peanuts, garlic, shallot in a blender and mix them. Add a little bit of water and salt to the mixture then until it turns into a fine paste.

3.  Move the paste from the blender and cook the paste over low heat, mix it together with sweet soya. If the sauce is a bit too thick, please add a little bit of water.

4.  After the sauce is warm, then serve together with the meat in the skewers.


  • If you can’t find sweet soy sauce (Ketjap/Kecap Manis), use Japanese soy sauce and mix it with a little bit of sugar.
  • Best with chicken meat.
  • Three top keys to get delicious crunchy and tender satay: the marinade, how to grill the satay and its peanut sauce dressing.

Do you have a special recipe to share? Please share it with us by sending your short story and recipe (with a photo if possible) to

IEC volunteer spotlight

Stan Graham has volunteered at IEC for more than five years. He was born in the village of Wagner, Bahia State, Brazil and lived there the first 14 years. Besides volunteering, Stan also enjoys reading fiction, biographies and history. He currently assists in ESL classes and holds 2 math tutoring sessions each week. His volunteering helped many students and we are truly grateful for his gift of time and talent.

Stan will continue his work at IEC through June and then plans to move to Seattle. He will be greatly missed!

How long have you been volunteering at IEC?

I don’t remember precisely when I started, but it was when IEC was at 8th and Hennepin---probably around 2010. I mainly help in ESL classes, but also have taught math courses in past years.

Have you volunteered at other organizations before IEC? 

No. But, for several years I have served on the Board of University Retirees Volunteer Center (URVC), an organization affiliated with the University of Minnesota that searches for volunteering opportunities and for volunteers to fill those needs. It’s how I connected with IEC.

Why did you choose to volunteer here?

I had taught part-time at the University of St. Thomas for many years before I retired, and I wanted to continue in the education field. 

What do you enjoy most in your work at IEC?

Helping students wrestle with the English language, thinking constantly about how difficult it would be for me to learn a foreign language while living in a foreign land. Equally important is the friendship with students and staff. They are very friendly and helpful.

Do you have a message for our readers?

The effort and time have been worth it, a thousand times over. That’s been my experience. I’m always thanked as a volunteer, and I understand that. But, I’ve derived much more benefits from volunteering than I’ve given in services.

Enjoy Seattle, Stan – we’ll miss you!

IEC student spotlight

Fartun A. Omar is a 24 year old from Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. She arrived in Minneapolis in July 2015 knowing only “yes” and “no” in English. Today she speaks in English during the interview with us. She has been a student at IEC since August 2015 and she shared with us how the class has helped increase her confidence and plan for her future. She hopes her future career will be a contribution to her community. Following is our interview with Fartun, a student who has a dream and works hard to achieve it.


New Class this Spring/Summer

English 500: Intensive Reading & Responsive Writing

This course offers advanced students the opportunity to upgrade their academic reading, speaking, vocabulary, and writing skills.

Students will examine the daily life and culture of a group of the first Americans to inhabit the northern plains around what is now western Minnesota and the Dakotas.   

This course will include in-class reading of the novel Waterlily, analysis of written material, vocabulary development, critical thinking, discussion, and writing response papers.

Note: this course is limited to students who have achieved a score of 6th grade or higher on the TABE reading or language test (minimum TABE score of 524) and possess basic word processing skills.

English 500: Intensive Reading & Responsive Writing will be offered in the afternoons from 1:30 - 3:30, Monday – Tuesday - Wednesday, for 8 weeks starting May 23 through July 20. Please sign up with the front desk if interested.  There is a $10 materials fee due at registration. Individual copies of Waterlily will be available for purchase through the school for $5.


Intro to Interpreting

This winter IEC will again be offering Intro to Interpreting.  This course will give advanced (400/500) ESL students an introduction and orientation to the field of community interpreting.  Students will learn about the ethics and requirements of interpreting, how to practice and improve interpreting skills, and common vocabulary and practices for interpreting in legal, medical and educational settings.  This course is offered in partnership with the University of Minnesota's program in Translation and Interpreting, and we are pleased to have Professor Scott Homler as a co-teacher for this class.  This is a unique opportunity for students who are fluent bilinguals to get a first step into the exciting career field of language services.  Students who successfully pass this course with a minimum of 90% attendance will receive a certificate upon completion.  Intro to Interpreting will be offered in the afternoons from 1:30 - 3:30, Monday - Thursday for 6 weeks, starting January 25. Please contact the front desk to register or get more information.