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Reflections on Intercultural Learning & Teaching

What Does Intercultural Competence Have To Do With Entrepreneurship?

Last month marked the three-year anniversary of me leaving my stable, full-time job to start True North Intercultural. Reflecting on the journey so far, I’ve noticed a striking number of parallels between intercultural learning and entrepreneurship. I’ve realized that the work I’ve done around my own intercultural development has actually helped me as an entrepreneur.

And so, in this post, I’d like to discuss how intercultural learning has contributed to my success in building a business. The reason I share this is because I think there are a lot of people who don’t see a connection between intercultural learning and their discipline or area of work. They assume intercultural learning is only about interacting more effectively with people from different cultures.

While that’s certainly an important goal of intercultural learning, developing our intercultural competence also involves building skills that are useful in tons of other areas of our...

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Four Easy Activities for Developing Values Awareness & Intercultural Competence

intercultural activity Jan 29, 2019

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about values. Earlier this month, my spouse left a high-paying job with no idea what his next step will be. In fact, the same day he left his company, he also left the country for the rest of the month.

The reason he left is because he’d realized he was no longer living in alignment with his core values, primarily family and freedom.

My spouse was born and raised in Spain, which largely shaped his attitudes and values surrounding work, money, and family—attitudes and values that don’t always square with corporate America, especially a high-stress job that requires him to be physically present the vast majority of the time. He has come to realize that while he is happy to work hard, he needs a job that gives him independence and flexibility to be more present for his family.

This misalignment has become increasingly obvious to him as our kids get older and the years away from family in Spain—including aging parents—add...

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Making Connections: Intercultural Learning & Universal Design for Learning

guest interview Dec 14, 2018

One of the things I enjoy most about my work—especially about facilitating the ten-week online Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program—is that I get to develop relationships with amazing educators, help them explore connections between their own work and intercultural learning, and then watch as they go on to apply what they’ve learned in unique, intelligent, and transformational ways.

This past fall, I was honored to be invited to co-facilitate a session at the POD (Professional and Organizational Development) Network conference with Lillian Nave, an alum of the very first cohort of the Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program. When I heard more about how she’s not only integrating intercultural learning into her teaching, but also making connections between intercultural learning and another important area of her work, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), I knew I wanted to interview her for this blog.

Lillian Nave,...

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Remembering Dr. Michael Paige

Uncategorized Nov 20, 2018

Above: At my Ph.D. commencement in 2013 with advisor, Dr. Michael Paige, and my daughter (who I was pregnant with when I first started the program).


The field of intercultural education lost one of its founders—and I along with many, many others lost a wonderful mentor and friend—when Dr. Michael Paige passed away earlier this month.

You don’t have to look very far to find Michael’s impact on the field (and I highly encourage you to read his work if you haven’t; a few suggestions are listed at the end of this post), but I would like to use this platform to share a little about what I will remember most about him, and to create a space where others can do the same.

In 2006, I was working as an international student advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and had decided I wanted to pursue a PhD to further develop my capacity to help people and educational institutions maximize the learning opportunities inherent in intercultural...

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From the Margins to the Center: The Shifting Role of Intercultural Development in a Polarizing Society

Are you feeling frustrated, dismayed, disillusioned, angry, sad, or powerless about the current state of the world? If so, you’re certainly not alone. But my experience at two conferences recently gives me hope and makes me believe we may actually be able to play a part in turning the tides… 

Last week, I attended a regional NAFSA (Association of International Educators) conference, followed by the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) biennial conference. As I reflected on the week, I came to a powerful realization:  we are in the midst of shift—both as a society, but also within higher education—when it comes to the role of intercultural learning. While developing intercultural competence was once seen as a “nice to have,” growing trends in our society are now forcing individuals and organizations to recognize such capacities are actually “need to haves” and to begin to do something about it.

Let me explain why I...

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Equipping Students of Color with a Global Mindset

guest interview Sep 25, 2018

If you haven’t yet noticed, I love learning and growing as an educator and human being. And I enjoy sharing that learning with others who are also passionate about their personal development.

That’s why, when I recently heard about the work my friend and colleague, Dr. Kami Anderson, is doing with HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to better equip students of color with a global mindset, I knew I wanted to interview her for this blog.

Dr. Kami Anderson is an interculturalist, scholar, and language advocate. An HBCU alumna herself, Kami partners with HBCUs to help more students of color develop a global mindset. In addition, as Founder and CEO of Bilingual Brown Babies, she’s created an online program that meets Black families where they are in their journey to bilingualism. Kami holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Spelman College, a Master’s degree in International Affairs/Interdisciplinary Studies in International...

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Lessons Learned from Institutional Approaches to Intercultural Learning

best practices case study Aug 27, 2018

In this fifth and final post in a series highlighting how different institutions are supporting intercultural learning, we examine some of the themes and lessons learned from these institutional spotlights.

If you haven’t yet read the previous posts in this series, I’d encourage you to do so before you continue reading (but if you seriously just want the Cliff Notes, I understand; I wrote this post especially for you):

The following are some of the key lessons we can learn from these institutions:

The importance of supporting faculty and staff’s intercultural learning.
Augsburg, Purdue, and Taylor are all focused on developing the intercultural capacity of faculty and staff, and have shown that doing so can have direct, positive impacts on students’ intercultural learning.

In the Wofford example, we saw how participating in...

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Spotlight on Wofford College’s Intercultural Living & Learning Community

best practices case study Jul 24, 2018
This post is the fourth in a series highlighting how different institutions are supporting intercultural learning. While previous posts have looked at institution-wide approaches, this one discusses one particular project—an intercultural living and learning community—developed by two professors at Wofford College, an independent liberal arts school with approximately 1,700 students in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
At Wofford, first-year students can choose to participate in a living and learning community (LLC), which means they live together while taking two classes linked by a common theme. In Fall of 2017, professors Dan Mathewson and Britt Newman, who teach religion and Spanish respectively, teamed up to offer an intercultural-themed LLC, and invited me to partner with them in the process.
Origins of the Intercultural Living & Learning Community
Mathewson has taught an introductory religion course at Wofford for many years and is always...
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Institutional Approaches to Intercultural Learning Series: Spotlight on Taylor University

best practices May 21, 2018
This is the third post in a series highlighting how different institutions are supporting intercultural learning. This month, the spotlight is on Taylor University, a non-denominational Christian liberal arts college in rural Upland, Indiana, with just under 2,000 students.
According to the university’s website, approximately 80% of students have an overseas experience while at Taylor. Short-term faculty-led programs are growing rapidly, with Taylor sending about 15% of the entire student population on such programs (referred to as “global engagement experiences” at Taylor) each January the past few years.
For that reason, Dr. Charlie Brainer, Associate Dean of International Programs, explains, “Increasing faculty intercultural learning and expertise in leading student groups abroad is vital to our efforts.” In early 2017, Brainer reached out to me about partnering with True North Intercultural to build the intercultural capacity of...
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Institutional Approaches to Intercultural Learning Series: Spotlight on Purdue University

best practices case study Apr 22, 2018
I often get asked by educators, “What are other schools doing to foster intercultural learning?” So I’m answering this question with a blog series highlighting several institutional approaches to intercultural learning.
For background on how I’m defining intercultural learning (hint: it’s about much more than learning about other cultures), see last month’s post, which featured Augsburg University, a smaller, private school in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This month, the spotlight is on Purdue University, a state school with more than 40,000 students in West Lafayette, Indiana.
A Focus on Developing Intercultural Competence at Home and Abroad
In late 2011, Dr. Charles Calahan, then a faculty member at Purdue, was asked to take on a new position that would focus on developing intercultural competency both on campus and through more intentional, targeted study abroad efforts.
Calahan, whose title is now Assistant...
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