All incoming international and master's degree students take an American Legal Systems class to help them prepare for the upper-level law school classes they are about to take. This is the first semester that the course included two lunch hour workshops discussing how to adapt to new and different cultures.
Communication today is characterized by an increasing amount of contacts between people with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The ENRGP 2012 class represents over a dozen countries, from Indonesia to Chile. Intercultural communication is on the rise in the classroom as well as in the business sphere.
Today's students must be adept at intercultural communication if they wish to be successful in their work. This is especially true for many of our environmental and natural resource students who will go on to work internationally. Communication between these actors should be as constructive and precise as possible.
These workshops were taught by our very own Lucy Daberkow, (pictured above) Associate Administrative Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program, who is an expert in intercultural communication, applied linguistics, and English as a second language. She was able to engage the students through her ability to relate to the international students' experiences of adapting to life in the US. She focused her discussions on identifying levels of intercultural communication and awareness, and then outlining cultural backgrounds and motivations for differences. The workshops concluded with a discussion on how best to bridge these intercultural differences.
The lunch seminars were lighthearted and engaging. The students enjoyed the opportunity to openly discuss their cultures. They also bonded over the similar barriers they were experiencing to adapting to life in the US. The discussion of gender roles proved to be one of the most interesting for the group.
It is our hope that we can continue to offer intercultural communication seminars to our students, both international and domestic. Our students should receive every advantage as they complete our program and we are proud to say that intercultural communication is a skill we value and would like to share.
Graduate Program Assistant