Tag Archives: international internship

Our Journey Back to MN

Here’s a video compilation of our long trip back to Minnesota from Port Elizabeth.  We flew from PE to Johannesburg. From Johannesburg we flew into Dulles (Washington, DC).  Then we got a shuttle from Dulles to National Airport to avoid a 12-hour layover.  Then from National we flew into Minneapolis.


You Studied Abroad…but what about ROI?

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First 24

Moments of culture-shock durning first day being back in the States:

1) Just hearing one language, my ears are bored
2) How loud the commercials and TV shows are. It seems like everything is on level 10 and stays there
3) I keep going to the wrong side of the vehicle
4) No one is walking, I’m used to seeing many people walking to work, school, the store, and even on the highways people are walking
5) Where are the combies??? Seriously, I miss these guys.
6) Going to the grocery store made my eyes vibrate. All of our packaging is SO bright!
7) Wastefulness is everywhere
8) Americans really are loud
9) Our vehicles are huge
10) I’m handling US money like foreign currency


My heavy heart

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As I get ready to leave South Africa my time could quite easily be consumed with marking a list of lasts.  But then I would forget to marvel in the beauty that each new day brings. I keep thinking that this is a bittersweet moment. However, today I had a realization, my heart is not heavy from sadness. On the contrary, I leave South Africa with my soul opened, a wealth of new experiences, and friends. My heart is heavy with love.


Cubata, where even Germans eat with their hands

Cubata Portuguese Grill was definitely an experience for the senses!  A big group of us went there last night and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. `One of the girls who got there first and was familiar with the restaurant ordered for the whole group. The owner asks only how many people are in your group and what meat you want and then he takes it from there.
This is a picture of me with the owner.

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Here is a few pictures of our food. The consensus at my end of the table was that these were the best chips (fries) we’d had since landing in South Africa.

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It was quite a feast!

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Yes, photographic evidence of two of the Germans eating with their hands! We’ve been a good influence on them 😉

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Very happy and full group of people!

Oh, but we did have a little room left for ice-cream.

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Feedback is a gift

feedbagIs it?

I can still see the poster neatly hung on the wall of my manager’s cubicle at American Express.  It was in full color and showed a single daisy in a terracotta pot.  However, my understanding of feedback has stayed rooted in corporate America’s space.  In my mind thinking of feedback as a gift always felt as genuine as those uber motivational posters every business major had in their dorm rooms in the 1990s. Feedback in work never felt like a gift but rather it always felt judgmental and punitive.  Feedback was given with performance reviews where you were told if you were going to get a raise or explained why you were not receiving one.  Feedback in school is generally tied to a grade and also feels punitive.  The feedback is an explanation of what you did wrong.  I’ll also say that receiving feedback in school had its own problematic roots that I’ve already delved into a bit. So, neither experience (work or school) had positive roots for me when it came to receiving feedback as a gift.  Until recently.  Over the past five semesters I have worked in a writing center, four semesters at SCSU’s The Write Place and one semester here at NMMU’s Writing Centre.  Through my immersion in the writing center culture, pedagogy, and practices I realized that feedback can be a gift.  I asked two of the people I’m working with this semester at NMMU to read through my thesis chapters and give me feedback on what I had written.  When they returned them to me with detailed comments I felt like I had been given a gift.  I read through the comments carefully taking in what they had to say.  They were deliberative and inquisitive and I processed each one individually.  I have now been both a manager and a consultant in the writing center where I gave feedback to employees and students.  I hope that as I move into the classroom I can help my students understand how to receive feedback but more importantly, I hope I can model a healthy manor to give feedback as an instructor.

 


Carpe Diem, it’s not what you think

Last week, in a writing center workshop my supervisor told us about reading Harry Eyres’s book Horace and Me: Lessons from an ancient poet. Eyres retranslates Horace’s famous line “carpe diem” from seize the day (which is how most of us know it if from nothing else, we know it from dead Poets Society)to “taste the day.” The new translation has been rolling around in my head for a week or so now and it fits my time here perfectly. Seizing the day seems like such an aggressive translation while tasting and it’s synonym savor are enjoyable actions. Actions of appreciation and delight. Appreciating each day as a gift can get overplayed in our daily grind of life. But removing the grind and taking time to truly taste the day is also an active role in the appreciation. Appreciation can feel passive because it is a mental and spiritual act, whereas tasting requires physical movement. It intertwines the body with the mind and soul to make ethereal moments palatable.

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Good Morning, PE

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Study Abroad Blog Community

imageWhen I first started this blog, it was just as I had been approved for this semester. I didn’t start following other study abroad students until January. I was packing and getting ready to leave and so was this vast community of people. I could go through the WordPress Reader with the tag study abroad and see other people who were struggling with how to pack 6 months into one or two suitcases. As the transition actually happened, we got onto planes so excited for our adventures. Lots of posts of “Yay! I’m SO excited!” As my cohort made our way to South Africa we met other students in the airports and on our planes who were headed off for the semester too. It feels like you are part of a community. The sense of community is growing smaller by the day because the programs all finish at various times. Many students go back for the end of the semester at their home university and so I’m reading blog posts of them leaving. We don’t leave South Africa until the end of June. I’m happy to be here the whole time, I truly wish I could be here the entire year! I have another transition waiting for me back in the States. A move, a new school and new challenges. While it was so fun to be apart of the blog community at the beginning, I find myself guarding against reading too many of the study abroad posts written by students who are leaving and heading home. I don’t want to mentally feel separated from my program until I have to. I plan on keeping this blog going as I move to Washington, D.C. and transition it to thoughts about my experience there and teaching. I hope some of the other bloggers I have grown acustome to reading will keep their blogs going as well. It is a nice community.


Letting magic happen

20140505-204644.jpgMagic can happen in the classroom, a tutoring session, or meeting with a colleuge in their office. You have to embrace it. Let there be space enough for it to happen and lastly, you have to let go of your agenda so it has space to flourish.

Today, I popped up to someone’s office for a few minutes so we could discuss questions that I had after the workshop. I mentioned my idea of turning students’ perceived negatives into a positive. There was a lot of discussion at the workshop about how the students are not ready for university level education. The lecturers talked about how students use electronic devises in the classroom and how disruptive it can be to them as they try to teach. It seems this topic of discussion comes up quite a bit no matter which country I’m in. They started talking about how students multitask in their personal time or time away from the classroom. The conversation then took a sharp and predictable turn to “but they’re multitasking poorly.” So, this morning in our conversation I mentioned to the woman conducting these workshops, that multitasking is exactly what lectures expect from students, they just don’t want them using electronic devises to do it. For example, if a student is taking notes they are multitasking. The student has to listen to the instructor, process the information, and then translate it into notes on their paper. In order for the student to take notes well they have to listen, process, and write almost simultaneously. My real point was basically, like with employees, when training (teaching) you have to meet students where they are and then go from there.

I had a few more questions for her about South Africa’s higher education system, as a whole. It is a completely different system than I’m used to in the United States. The only instructors who get courses on pedagogy are in the education faculty (department). Other faculties (departments) assume teaching is common sense, everyone can do it. I was a bit surprised by this way of thinking but at the same time, not totally surprised. If this meeting had happened back in February, I would have been blown away. However, having been here this long and worked with as many students as I have, I had already picked up on this attitude. This attitude reflects in their teaching practices as well because in the workshop they mentioned several times not wanting to “spoon-feed” students. I know I mentioned that in the previous posting on this workshop but it really made an impression on me!

We went on to discuss the biggest debate in South Africa’s higher education circles, the restructuring of higher education to a four-year degree. This does not mean that South Africa is considering transforming to a liberal arts based educational system, but rather this additional year would be a transition year. She stated that many students drop out because they aren’t fully prepared for university life and this unpreparedness expresses itself in two ways. First, students who don’t have to work, away from home for the first time, and cannot handle this level of freedom. These students end up failing out of university because they party too much. The second group fails out of university because they are not fully prepared academically. So, these students come to university, but they are not fully prepared for the academic rigor they encounter in the classroom. Additionally, these students are generally balancing more responsibilities along with adjusting to university academics. They are probably working and could also be taking care of their younger siblings for example.

I’m looking forward to my next workshop on Thursday, Authentic assessment of student learning.


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