PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP

Preparing for Global Leadership: Cultural Competence and Connections with and for International Students and Colleagues

In Grad Student Success Seminar, PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP on February 2, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Preparing for Global Leadership: Cultural Competence and Connections with and for International Students and Colleagues. A UMBC Success Seminar: Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011, 1:00-2:15 PM, UMBC’s AOK Library, 7th Floor Open Area.

Join a panel of faculty, postdocs, and graduate students to share experiences and answer questions regarding the following topics:

•    What does it mean to be culturally competent?

•    How does cultural competence play a part in mentoring students or relationships with professors in graduate school?

•    How can we promote cultural competence at work, e.g., connections with colleagues?What can we gain from interacting with people from other cultures?

•    What kinds of things should one do to gain cultural/intercultural competence?

PANEL

MODERATOR: Violeta Laura Colombo, Language, Literacy, & Culture (Argentina)

Vincenzo Tamma, Ph.D., Physics (Italy)

Rachel Sturge, Biology (Canada)

Huguens Jean, Electrical Engineering (Haiti)

Nohemi Voglozin, Geography and Environmental Systems (West Africa)

Nandadevi Cortes-Rodriguez, Biology (Mexico)

Wenjia Li, Computer Science (China)

Satarupa Joardar, Language, Literacy, and Culture (India)

Dr. Ed Larkey, Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

Dr. Dwayne Arola, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Adriana Medina-López-Portillo (tentative), Program in Language, Literacy, and Culture

Lunch will be served. Please RSVP. This seminar is free.

RSVP on MyUMBC: http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

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  1. For those who have asked about another screening for Huguens Jean’s movie on Haiti, Lift Up will be shown at the Pratt Library on March 27. http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5913

  2. Violeta and wonderful panel participants,

    A very helpful gathering. I took copious notes and found the panel’s comments enlightening. I also believe more US/American students should come to such events to learn how to interact best with their foreign born classmates. Nice work!

    Andrea

  3. NOTES FROM THE SEMINAR:
    “Preparing for Global Leadership: Cultural Competence and Connections with and for International Students and Colleagues”

    PROMISE Success Seminar UMBC AOK Library Library 1:00pm-2:15pm

    February 16, 2011

    Discussion Topics
    • What does it mean to be culturally competent?
    • How does cultural competence play a part in mentoring students or relationships with professors in graduate school?
    • How can we promote cultural competence at work (e.g. connections with colleagues)?
    • What can we gain from interacting with people from other cultures?

    Moderator: Violeta Laura Colombo, Language, Literacy, & Culture (Argentina)

    Panel:
    Vincenzo Tamma, Ph.D., Physics (Italy)
    Rachel Sturge, Biology (Canada)
    Huguens Jean, Electrical Engineering (Haiti)
    Nohemi Voglozin, Geography and Environmental Systems (West Africa)
    Nandadevi Cortes-Rodriguez, Biology (Mexico)
    Wenjia Li, Computer Science (China)
    Satarupa Joardar, Language, Literacy, and Culture (India)
    Dr. Ed Larkey, Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication
    Dr. Dwayne Arola, Department of Mechanical Engineering

    Question 1: What were you experiences about cultural competency in working with graduate students?

    Dr. Larkey stated that for students coming to the United States for the first time, the first few months are confusing and disorienting. When returning to their home country, they may find that you have lost cultural competency in their home country. Dr. Larkey emphasized that there is no such thing as “one time” cultural competency. Cultural competency comes from every day exposures to symbols, cultures and systems. Dr. Larkey recommended that students use networking opportunities available at UMBC. He also encouraged students to become aware of stereotypes about international students, such as those
    for Asians and Muslims. Dr. Larkey posed the question, “How do you deal with Cultural Competency in a productive manner?” He also emphasized the importance of listening, as he stated that students will become mediators between the United States and their cultures.

    Question 2: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of working with individuals from other cultures?

    Dr. Arola commented about the diversity in the Engineering Program and that one must be flexible in working with students from many cultures. Dr. Ariola recalled that his training has come from having diverse students which has exposure him to different cultures as well. From these interactions, Dr.Ariola learned that areas of medicine, engineering, and health have different levels of importance in the United States and also other countries. One of the challenges Dr. Ariola noted was that some faculty have not received training in cultural competency. He noted that patience is needed when thinking about a student’s background before deciding if a matter is of a personal or cultural nature.



    Question 3: How do you work with faculty who are not as culturally competent?

    Dr. Larkey mentioned that some faculty might not realize that there are problems among their students. For example, he described how in China, professors are considered to be authority figures. Students are expected to accept knowledge from their professors and not question it. Dr. Larkey mentioned that this may become a problem for Chinese Ph.D. students who are expected to establish their identities as researchers.
    An audience member suggested attending department orientations. There was also a suggestion that these types of orientations should be extended. It is important to encourage confidence and conversation even outside of this type of seminar.

    Mr. Li said that coming to the United States was a cultural shock and it took a while for him to get used to it. He also shared jokingly that his first exposure to United States culture came from Hollywood and McDonalds. He said that he later became acquainted with restaurants such as Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse. He recommended meeting others outside of the classroom in order to have cultural exchanges. He mentioned that this has been helpful in job searches. He invited individuals from China, the United States and India to meet for a mixed cultural environment. Mr. Li said that learning about an annual event for each culture is good way to learn about other cultures. For example, he learned that Diwali is an important celebration in Indian culture and Thanksgiving is an important event in United States culture.


    Question 4: How do you manage to make use of resources at UMBC?

    Ms. Sturge stated that she came to the United States and Canada. She said that she realized that although she saw similarities between the cultures, she realized that they are not the same. She encouraged everyone to make friends outside of the lab. Ms. Sturge mentioned that she is involved in the Graduate Student Association (GSA) (she is the GSA President).She said that GSA works with graduate students with for travel assistance and she encouraged graduate students to take advantage of the social events that GSA sponsors.

    Ms. Cortez-Rodriguez stated that she is from Mexico and that she noticed many differences between the United States and Mexico. For example, she learned that in Mexico, individuals greet each other with a kiss, however this is not done in the United States. She mentioned that the GSA has helped to meet others and enjoy beer at Flat Tuesdays and cultural nights. She remarked that UMBC is very diverse and there are many opportunities to learn about cultures by trying food samples.


    Question 5: How did you manage to build international connections as part of your experience with working on your Ph.D.?

    Dr. Tamma mentioned that when he came to the United States from Italy, he did not know anyone. The transition was difficult. He recalled three processes that helped him. First, Dr. Tamma said he loves to interact with others both within and outside of the University. Second, he mentioned that getting to know professional people in his department (Physics) was helpful. Dr. Tamma mentioned that he had begun his Ph.D. program in Italy and a partnership with UMBC allowed interactions between both universities. He was able to see interactions between people of different backgrounds and skills which was helpful for his personal and professional growth. Third, Dr. Tamma urged students to realize the difficulties of being a Ph.D. student. He encouraged students to take a moment and “have a life” when they become overwhelmed.


    Question 6: Huguens Jean, can you tell us about your documentary film?

    Mr. Jean described his film as documentary about post-earthquake Haiti. He stated that he wanted to show a different image of Haiti with this film. Mr. Jean stated that when people come together, a culture is formed (a lab group is an example). He mentioned that it is a mistake to assume that you know who people are and how they act; he emphasized that one must be constantly exposed to culture to learn about culture. From his documentary of Haiti, he observed a new culture- people living in despair. Mr. Jeans also stated there is a need for constant dialogue with yourself and others about culture- how do elements of culture change over time and some things about culture that do not change. FILM WEBSITE:
    http://liftupmovie.com/


    Question 7: To Nohemi Voglozin: What has been some of the most rewarding and challenging experiences for you as a graduate student?

    Ms. Voglozin remarked that language has been the most obvious challenge. She noted how English is the dominant spoken language and because this is not her native language, this has been a challenge for her when interacting with her professors and students. Ms. Voglozin stated that often others are not used to the way she speaks or understand her accent. She recounted her frustration of trying to prepare responses in English for her instructors who have already have moved on to another topic by the time her responses are ready. Ms. Voglozin also described the culture shock of realizing that here in the United States, students do not greet each other and ask about significant others; she remarked how she has seen classmates outside of the classroom and they pass by without acknowledging her. Ms. Voglozin described a stereotype of the United States that she was familiar with, namely that everything is “green and easy”. She also described an Africa stereotype of “wild animals roaming in her backyard” that came up during conversations with her roommates.

    Ms. Voglozin recounted that her undergraduate class sizes in her home country were often 200 students or more, which did not allow time for instructors to ask students individually if they needed help. She said that people here interpret that students who are from her country who have had this experience do not ask for assistance because they do not need help. Ms. Voglozin emphasized that the real matter is that they just do not know how to ask for help. Ms. Voglozin suggested to international students to take advantage of faculty office hours to get assistance since most students do not use them.

    Among the rewards that Ms. Voglozin has experienced is learning about the many cultures of her roommates, who are from China, Korea and Thailand. She said she has learned about many types of foods and holidays. Additionally, Ms. Voglozin has received well wishes from colleagues who have encouraged her and complimented her on occasions when she has worn her ethnic apparel.


      Questions/Comments from Audience

    How do we learn about topics we don’t know about?

    Ms. Sturge encouraged everyone not to be afraid to say, “I don’t get it” and see where you can go from there. She said sometimes just talking about what you are sharing or like is a good way to learn. For example, you may like Mexican food or you can find a popular topic from the news to start a conversation.


    How do we “break the ice?”

    Mr. Li suggested asking about a holiday, as this can help one to understand other cultures.
    Dr. Larkey said that it is important for both sides to get over the fear by starting a question.
    Mr. Jean said that everyone should see what makes us common. He recalled from his documentary that one should not take cultural differences for granted. He said that Haiti was known as a country divided by class and race. After the earthquake, a survivor told him “We are all white -dusty white”. Race, gender, and backgrounds have been dissolved.

  4. Cultural Competency seminar

    This seminar consisted of a panel of students and professors who are all either international students or have had extensive interactions with international students here at UMBC. The panelists discussed the challenges associated with being an international student and adapting to the new culture and environment of the US, all while balancing their work as a student. They also discussed the rewards of the sacrifice they made coming to this country: their friends, their new experiences and their new opportunities.

    I think one comment, from Huguens Jean, really struck a cord with me. He mentioned that culture is a relative thing. I would tend to agree. He said that any time you get a group together with the same purposes and/or motivations that you have now formed a culture, no matter how diverse the make-up of the group. For example, many laboratories across the campus have a certain culture associated with them that the lab members understand very well, but that outsiders may not. And so his point, which makes sense, is that we are constantly faced with new cultures and having to understand how people interact with each other, from the microcosm of the laboratory culture to a moving from one country to another.

    Natasha Wilson 2/28/2010 9:06am This post is mirrored on http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

  5. I enjoyed hearing from all of the panelists about their different experiences with other cultures. In particular I found it interesting to hear from the International students, especially how they adjusted to American culture, and how they have influenced their lab-mates or roommates. As a military dependant, I have experienced many cultures and am familiar with some of the shock that comes with moving to a new country, and even the shock that is experienced moving back to one’s own country.

    I also related to Huguens Jean’s statements regarding culture as relative, and I think his comments were exemplified in all of the international students. They all mentioned how there was sort of an “adjusted” culture in their labs or houses since they had joined and gotten to know their lab-mates or roommates. I think as long as people have some cultural awareness, if they are not culturally competent, that there can continue to be a shared culture among people from different backgrounds.

    This post is mirrored on http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

  6. I learned from this panel discussion how dangerous it is to assume things about other cultures, and how cultures constantly being developed, anywhere and everywhere around us. It does not have to be where you come from, but the present environment you are may constitute as culture.
    Wenjia mentioned how coming to the U.S. things were different than what he saw on in the movies. For international students many challenges present itself throughout their stay here, and it is the job those who have been adapted to the American culture to be more hospitable and this also gives us an opportunity to learn about their traditions. Different languages may present communication barriers at first, but that should not prevent building cohesive relationships with international students.
    One takeaway from this is to be sure to ask a question first about cultures to those within the specific ethnic groups to avoid building a culture full of friction.

    This post is mirrored on http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

  7. This event was a pleasant PROMISE event that allowed participants to understand and consider the different experiences that international students endure when entering US institutions. The students gave a varied set of experiences however they all had the same underlying message of persisting despite being presented with cultural challenges. Some challenges were social in nature while others pushed their limits in regards to interpersonal communications. Faculty members who were aware of the challenges of beginning an academic career in a different country provided their own expertise on what it means to be culturally competence or at least seek to become of aware of multiple cultures of students.
    http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

  8. This event was a pleasant PROMISE event that allowed participants to understand and consider the different experiences that international students endure when entering US institutions. The students gave a varied set of experiences however they all had the same underlying message of persisting despite being presented with cultural challenges.

    Some challenges were social in nature while others pushed their limits in regards to interpersonal communications. Faculty members who were aware of the challenges of beginning an academic career in a different country provided their own expertise on what it means to be culturally competence or at least seek to become of aware of multiple cultures of students.

    This post is mirrored on http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

  9. This seminar confirmed several of the actions that I thought people did regarding involvement with a different culture. It was a great seminar because it talked about little details that are taken into account when conversations are brought up, and also little details that are taken for granted when doing the same.

    It would have been awesome if we had more time to ask more questions, some of those would have involved overcoming obstacles, what factors matter in decision making when it comes to moving to a different place either for school or research. Recommendations for communication skills, overcoming the whole thing about English being a second language.

    This post is mirrored on http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

  10. The speaker most impressed me was Huguens Jean. His comment on developing culture in our labs and classes, made sense to me. I have gone through the same experience since I have an office with fellow statistics and mathematics graduate students, where we do certain things that have become part of our office.

    Nohemi Voglozin talked about difficulties that international students experience when they are new here. Through my own experience, I also seen international students needing to work harder than resident students. The discussion was very informative from international students’ perspective.

    This post is mirrored at : http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670.

  11. This informative UMBC Success Seminar focused on “Preparing for Global Leadership: Cultural Competence and Connections with and for International Students and Colleagues.” Professors and students from diverse backgrounds were on the panel to discuss and share their experiences and expertise with respect to acquiring cultural competence. I truly enjoyed the seminar and learning from different backgrounds.

    The fundamental nature of cultural competence was defined as an ongoing learning process which is relative to location and population. Exposure to different cultures can come from listening about the experiences of individuals. It is also an important aspect to becoming more knowledgeable and conscious aware about a culture. Thus, communication is a helpful skill to build cultural competence for both local and international connections.

    This post is mirrored on http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

  12. I found this program to be enlightening. As an engineer, I know how important it is to be able to work with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Hearing and learning from the other international students not only allowed me to understand their struggles as American students but also helped me to understand methods for relating to my peers. We live in a world that relies on global partnerships. Understanding everyone may not be possible, but at least attempting to come to a common ground is crucial to our success.
    My personal take home from this seminar was to push myself to learn more about others. I am interested in traveling overseas, and I know that in order for me to do that I must understand different customs of other countries, much like international students learn American customs. Being able to speak a common human language but also understand and respect unique differences will aid in my ability to be successful.

    This post is mirrored on http://my.umbc.edu/groups/promise/events/5670

  13. […] Preparing for Global Leadership: Cultural Competence and Connections with and for International Stud… […]

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