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GLOBAL UMD: A Warmer Campus


Paulin Leong and Taisha Bauer  
Paulin Leong and Taisha Bauer went out for a "date" when they took the Intercultural Communication class in 2012, and they've stayed friends since then.  

Global UMD is a new podcast series for spring 2015. Follow the episodes on the UMD Homepage.

Podcast Transcript:

(Intro Music)

Narrator Jiaxun Fan: This is Global UMD, presenting you stories about the diverse voices on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus.

Fan: Three years ago, a freshman, Taisha Bauer from Beulah, North Dakota, walked into the Intercultural Communication class with expectations like 'I thought it would just be more like conversations, like lecture kind of style. I thought it would be like a regular class.' However, after she saw her classmates, Bauer was terrified, but also excited.

Bauer: I was, like, there are not a lot of white people. I am from western North Dakota, and there, the diversity is, like, zero. So it was exciting for me to have a chance to learn from people.

Fan: Now Bauer majors in Cultural Entrepreneurship. When asked to pick the most interesting class she has taken during the past three years, she chose Intercultural Communication.

Bauer: There isn’t another class that really gives that chance to, like, connect with people on, like, a really personal level.

Fan: The Intercultural Communication class was created by the Department of Communication to help students from different backgrounds become friends. As a professor who has been teaching the class for 11 years, Ryan Goei said the key is to tell students to treat everyone as individuals.

Professor Goei: If you tell people to read a book about the differences amongst and between cultures, then they will learn differences, they won’t learn to reach out to people and treat them as individuals; and that’s always been the key, and then you might learn something about how culture intersects with that individual.

Fan: Every Intercultural Communication class has been set up carefully to create a diverse atmosphere in which students can explore new things and receive positive energy from each other.

Professor Goei: We set up the class to be roughly broken into the thirds. So it is about a third white Americans; about a third domestic students of color; and about a third international students. That’s the key — you have a bunch of different people in one class, and then what we do is we structure events so they are fun, because if we just put you in and say ‘Hey, get to know each other,' that won’t work.

Fan: In this class, you don’t need to worry about taking notes or studying for exams. All you need to do is to open your mind, bring your courage, and have fun with your classmates in and outside of the classroom. This is Bauer, listing activities she has done with the class.

Bauer: We went canoeing in, like, Wisconsin, we went roller skating, we went bowling, we played Frisbee, we went to Park Point and did some fun stuff down there.

Fan: For students in this class, going out for dates is the most interesting part. These non-romantic meetings bring two people from different countries together and the goal is just to have fun.

Professor Goei: There is no prescription here, there are no directions to say 'you must talk about culture,' it is not like that. It’s just go get to know somebody, reach out a little bit and spend a minimum of two hours together, do something fun.

Fan: Picking the first date always makes people nervous, but Bauer found an international student. Paulin Leong comes from Jobor Bahru, Malaysia, and has since become a special friend.

Bauer: We went to Caribou.

Leong: We went to Subway.

Bauer: Oh, we went to Subway?

Leong: She treat me Subway; I still remember.

Bauer: Oh yea, I bought her Subway, and then we went to Chester, and we just like went for a little hike and then sat and talked at the picnic tables.

Fan: Leong came to the United States in 2012 to study piano performance in UMD’s Music Department. She wanted to learn more about Duluth by taking the Intercultural Communication class, but she learned about more than just the city.

Leong: I think this class is very impressive because, like, we don’t need a textbook, everyone is a textbook.

Fan: The Intercultural Communication class from all around the world. It tells us that even a “Hi” or a smile in the hallway can warm up our campus.

Bauer: We see each other in the hallways, and it is always exciting.

Leong: Oh yea, we are always excited when we see each other. *LAUGH*

Fan: This is Global UMD, and we tell you stories about the many voices on our campus.

NOTE: Intercultural Communication was created by Professor Mike Sunnafrank and first offered in 1994. Since then the course has been one of the most popular courses at UMD. For the past 11 years both Professors Sunnafrank and Goei have taught this unique course bringing students together to learn from and about people from cultures and societies different from their own.

The two friends still spend time together. intercultural class
Leong and Bauer went out for sushi after a busy week during spring semester. Students from 2014 fall Intercultural Communication class. The class was created by the Department of Communication. Students in this class learn to make friends with people from all around the world and get involved in outdoor activities. For more information about the class, contact Professor Ryan Goei or Professor Mike Sunnafrank.

Listen to other episodes of Global UMD:

Internships in America

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

A Warmer Campus

A Global Living Experience

Podcast and story by Jiaxun Fan, March, 2015.

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Cheryl Reitan,

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