2019 was a year of purposeful experimentation at True North Intercultural.
I started this company in 2016, providing intercultural consulting and training services to institutions of higher education. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what’s most effective in helping institutions achieve their intercultural learning goals. I’ve also learned what my own strengths are—intercultural training and coaching—and the magic that can happen when we work within our strengths. As a result, I've honed in on creating high-impact professional development programs that empower educators to more effectively foster intercultural learning. And I’ve learned a lot in the process.
In this (longer than usual) post, I’d like to share some of the highlights of 2019, what I’ve learned, and what the plans are for 2020.
We served a LOT of people. And they are doing amazing things! Through on-campus workshops, one-on-one coaching,...
Above (from top left, clockwise): Darla Deardorff, Kris Acheson-Clair, Dawn Whitehead, Hazel Symonette, Mick Vande Berg, Terrrence Harewood, Beth Zemsky, Leigh Stanfield, Amer Ahmed, my empty chair, Chuck Calahan. Also present, but not pictured: Annette Benson, Allan Bird, Chris Cartwright, Joenita Paulrajan.
Wow, my September was busy! One of the things I had the pleasure of doing was spending two days at an Intercultural Learning Leadership Retreat, organized by Purdue University’s Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment & Research (CILMAR).
CILMAR brought together a diverse group of intercultural educators to brainstorm about the future of professional development related to intercultural learning in higher education, and we enjoyed a lively discussion (and good company).
Although next steps have not yet been determined, I would like to share here three themes that stood out over the course of our two days together.
#1: The importance of deep...
Above: My kids, learning (in Spanish) the basics of how to scuba dive.
At the beginning of summer, my spouse and two kids and I typically spend several weeks in Spain, where my spouse’s whole family lives. During our recent trip, I was reminded of the importance of finding and embracing our “learning edge” during intercultural experiences. And also how different that can be for each one of us.
My kids are currently ten and twelve. Anyone who is a parent of—or close with—multiple children knows how different their ways of engaging the world can be.
Our trips to Spain are great opportunities for me to observe my kids’ personalities and strengths in action, and also to see where the new and different starts to make each of them (as well as myself) uncomfortable. That’s what I call the “learning edge.”
In most of my intercultural trainings and online programs, I talk with educators about the importance of helping learners find their...
In last month’s blog post, I shared some of my favorite resources for intercultural learning activities. This month, I’m following up with a discussion about the importance of effectively debriefing those activities and other intercultural learning experiences. Because the learning really is in the debrief.
This is true whether the “activity” is an intercultural experience—such as a site visit during study abroad or an intercultural dialogue session on your campus—or an in-class activity such as one pulled from the resources mentioned last month.
The activity is where you set the stage. The debrief is where you dig into the learning.
Why Debriefing is So Important
Experiential Learning Theory tells us that experience alone does not lead to the kind of deep, transformational learning that is the goal of intercultural education. As Kolb (1984) says, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of...
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