Read more about alumni of the Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program and how they are applying their learning.
As the Coordinator of International Education at Alfred State, Cyan Corwine runs a busy one-person office, supporting international students through their interpersonal, academic and community experiences in the U.S., as well as all students studying abroad.
After two years in her role, Cyan decided to enroll in Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching to engage in formal training in intercultural learning, which she considers to be “the heartbeat of international education” in order to best serve her students and expand on her own lived experiences working and living across cultures.
Cyan says, “The course was amazing! It was accessible, customized and personal.” Through the program, she gained new skills, tools and language to proactively guide and facilitate student learning and navigate intercultural communication, especially in complex group settings.
She appreciated the well-designed program structure, scaffolded learning environment, and focused, reflective space for theoretical and applied learning. She loved Tara’s personal engagement with each learner, as well as sharing and receiving feedback from other students in the program, adding richness and peer accountability to her learning experience.
As a result of participating in the Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program, Cyan feels more focused and able to pinpoint specific areas of growth, improvement and impact. At the institutional level, she is bridging her arts background with her recent intercultural training to create an animated intercultural video series for international and study abroad students to engage in ongoing intercultural reflection throughout the semester.
She feels that all educators, in any role, will benefit from this program and adds, “Our community and environment shine brighter when we learn to celebrate others, celebrate ourselves, and bridge the space between. By learning how to identify and navigate the differences and needs around us, we help those we interface with feel recognized, safe, heard and seen, which makes for a far more fruitful learning environment. It’s incredibly important to understand that our way of being is not the only way of being. When we learn how to get out of our own way, we become more adept at helping others do the same, and I found Foundations of Intercultural Teaching & Learning to be the perfect inroad to this type of personal and professional progress.”
As Upper School Head at The Bolles School, a co-ed day and boarding school in Jacksonville, Florida, Moya Marks is an educational leader within a vibrant community of diverse cultures, nationalities, faiths and experiences. The Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program linked her lifelong passion for intercultural communication with her current focus on bringing global learning, multicultural leadership and diversity & inclusion initiatives and teams together on her campus.
Moya found that being a learner in the program reignited her energy for this important and vital work, which can easily move to the back burner within the busy demands and operational aspects of our working lives. The Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program emphasized the importance of creating an intentional focus on intercultural development, whether one is advising an international student or designing a post-program reflection following short-term study abroad programs.
As a result of participating in this program, Moya is looking at new ways to actively facilitate intercultural learning among both staff and students and collaborating with international student advisors and the multicultural leadership team to discuss ways to effectively adopt new tools and ideas learned through the course.
As a busy professional, the asynchronous, online program offered an easy and flexible way for Moya to engage with the course content, whether early in the morning, during lunch or in the evenings. She especially appreciated insights from the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and her personal feedback session with Tara, which established a common vocabulary and meaningful starting point for individual development.
Moya says she appreciated Tara’s well designed and delivered lessons and the robust peer learning community, which provided insightful feedback, innovative ideas and valuable connections that have continued beyond the end of the program. She was grateful for Tara’s teaching and leadership style, which fostered both flexibility and accountability for learners to be active participants in the online course and community.
As a result of the program, Moya hopes to create an innovative two-day retreat for international high school students focused on intercultural communication and leadership, designed around experiential activities that give students space to explore their intercultural experience and tools to thrive in a new cultural setting.
Moya strongly recommends this program to anyone who works with international students or with U.S. students going abroad, especially those working in K-12 education and seeking to creative inclusive communities for all. “I’ve been in the field for quite some time, but it forced me to step back and revisit the work and gave me a real energy to start thinking about new and varied ways we could be approaching international and multicultural work, seeing it differently and more expansively.”
According to Tommy Vorst, the Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program “sets the bar for expansion and enrichment.”
As a Chief Mindset Officer at the Avans University of Applied Sciences, Tommy supports and prepares international business students for their required overseas internships and study abroad experiences. Most of his students have limited experience outside of the Netherlands, so the internship presents a unique opportunity to begin exploring questions of self-awareness, identity and perspective-taking outside of their own cultural experience.
Tommy has significant personal experience crossing cultures, yet realized that he needed to accompany this with more formal intercultural training. He defines his own family as tricontinental, trilingual, and tricultural, and has a “suitcase full of life experiences” living and working abroad. He enrolled in the Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program to build upon this rich, lived experience through more formal intercultural training in order to develop his capacity to foster and facilitate these skills in his students.
According to Tommy, “This is the eighth time I’ve started an online course and this is the only one I’ve finished.” He credits Tara’s authentic approach, skillful coaching, and engaging facilitation style for encouraging him to engage deeply in the course and gain significant personal insights from the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and other activities. He was impressed with Tara’s ability to work with participants developmentally and to thoughtfully co-create the learning experience. Most importantly, according to Tommy, she created a compelling online course and community by intentional design, inviting continued engagement throughout the program.
“Tara holds herself to at least as high a standard as her participants, in terms of course design and execution.”
Since completing the Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program, Tommy says he is actively using new exercises, skills, and tools from the course within a pilot program for international business students. In addition, he has established a new team of faculty, teaching cultural content from diverse fields and perspectives, to begin discussing intentional opportunities for intercultural competency development in their courses.
Tommy also credits the program and Tara for helping him develop important insights into the complex intersections of professional culture and national culture and the need for acceptance and humility on the collaborative path to success. He increasingly recognizes that it is most powerful to approach each situation as a learner, to adopt and adapt, to learn the lay of the land, how things work, and how things will be perceived and heard, versus entering new situations with a “solution.”
Tommy recommends the Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program to all faculty seeking to expand their own and their students’ intercultural knowledge, noting the significant benefits at an affordable cost.
“One’s understanding of culture has the potential to be exploded, expanded, and enriched through this [program].”
As a Program Manager at the University of Maryland School of Business, Greg Rafal’s work focuses on helping students develop a global mindset and skills for bridging differences and doing business effectively across cultures.
Greg enrolled in the Foundations of Intercultural Learning & Teaching program because he recognized the importance of deepening his own intercultural competence and reflective practices in order to design effective, experiential programming that develops these same vital skills in his students.
Greg says he appreciated Tara’s engaging teaching style and clear expectations, which created a true learning community and also demonstrated her deep commitment to helping each learner achieve their unique goals. He also gained a new network of colleagues: “Everyone came from a different background so hearing personal stories and professional challenges that we can relate to and learn from really helped to deepen my understanding of the content.”
Greg greatly appreciated the balance of theory, application and personal engagement, giving him a solid framework, best practices, and hands-on exercises for designing student programming and pursuing his own development. He enjoyed being in the “learner” seat and going through the experiential learning cycle so that he could better implement such work with students.
The depth and breadth of resources were exceptional and the course design gave him a “next step” for continued development after each module and a well-designed plan for moving forward after the course.
With powerful new tools for building experiential learning and facilitation into his programs, Greg hopes to create a ripple effect of learning through ongoing personal development and engagement with his team and his students. He is actively pursuing more learning opportunities across cultures and intentionally expanding his community with a focus on understanding diverse perspectives, especially when in challenging discussions or disagreements. He is now approaching global programs with a more holistic eye, bringing intentional design for intercultural development to the forefront of his work.
“Within the field of education and life in the 21st century, it is hard to make time to reflect. This course really helped me see the value in mindfulness and develop reflective practices. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to enhance their own intercultural competency and positively impact the intercultural competency of their students. It helps you to “see” and teaches the value of enhancing your global mindset with intentionality.”
As an anthropology professor and chair of Principia College’s Global Studies Department, Dr. Sally Steindorf was drawn to the Foundations in Intercultural Teaching and Learning program as an opportunity to further her institution’s commitment to internationalization and acquire intercultural frameworks, theories, and concepts to integrate into her classes and work with students.
Sally started sharing and applying lessons learned in the program immediately, with both her students and colleagues–especially the definition of intercultural learning as an explicit, four-step developmental process.
As a result of this program, Sally is introducing an innovative intercultural communication session to Principia’s new student orientation for all students in order to establish the foundation for building an inclusive community, create a deeper connection between the college’s significant international student population and domestic students, and provide intercultural tools and activities for ongoing development.
Sally appreciated the program’s accessible online format that works well with a busy, full-time work and family life and felt Tara was highly attentive, caring and responsive to individual and group development. “The course was very thoughtfully designed with a combination of learning and engagement through videos, activities, writing and reflection.”
This was her first online learning experience and Tara’s encouragement of active learning and focus on mindfulness in the online course design led Sally to become increasingly mindful of her own communication patterns and those of her peers.
As a busy faculty member and reflective learner, Sally is thrilled to have ongoing access to the rich resources and course materials, thereby extending the value and experience of the course into the months and years ahead.
Sally strongly recommends Foundations in Intercultural Learning & Teaching to anyone seeking to create inclusive and equitable communities at their institution. Through this course, one acquires intercultural theory and practices applicable to every student body and campus community, expanding understanding, empathy and practical skills for bridging individual and cultural differences. “This skill set I learned through this course can be used every day, with anyone.”