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Communication Students Study Abroad

Bill Flavin (06)

My name is Bill Flavin. I am going to Western Seminary this fall to pursue training for pastoral ministry. This past summer I spent a month in Uganda doing ministry in schools, hospitals, prisons, and churches. It was an eye opening experience, but I was as prepared as I could have been for it. I knew that I would experience cultural differences, and was able to spend some time preparing for that shift in culture before I left. Entering a different culture really gave me an opportunity to reflect deeply on my own cultural assumptions and values, to learn a great deal more about who I am, and what I want to become.

 

Sarah Quesada-Lubbers (06)

As a Communication/French major, going to France for a year was one of the most rewarding experiences of both my academic and personal development. Part of learning how to communicate is listening to and understanding others, and nothing was more challenging than to do so in another language. It is my understanding that many global problems tend to come about because of problems with communication.


Atop the Eiffel Tower

Struggling to express yourself in another language can be frustrating and difficult at times, but in the end it was a pleasure to overcome those difficulties and to learn so much on the way. So many different life aspects play a role in world affairs: different views, opinions and of course, language barriers.

 



In France, I was fortunate enough to live with a host family that was quite extraordinary. They were well-educated, knowledgeable and generous. Sometimes I thought they were a bit off the wall and crazy! Yet they taught me everything I needed to know about the French culture, the language and even how to joke around in French! They say that you have really gained proper knowledge of a language when you use it to make people laugh. The dinner table is
where I was able to communicate my ideals, my views on politics, religion, culture, living in the States as a bicultural Mexican and American (who grew up in Mexico). I noticed I was an ambassador of my two cultures. I was bringing the living American (and Mexican) culture with me and projecting it to a French family who welcomed it enthusiastically. Through hand signs, facial expressions, grammatical mess-ups and humor, we were all able to share meaningful messages that allowed us to grow culturally and spiritually. I love these people. When my real family came to visit me in France and met my host family, it was entertaining to translate back and forth in Spanish, English and French, although I admit it was truly a strenuous communication exercise. In the end it helped me to build up proper communication skills! And even more, we all had a good laugh! I still keep in touch with my French host family and often call them from the States. This family became very dear to me, and it was all because both sides were willing to communicate our differences with respect and healthy doses of good humor. Going abroad is truly where you learn how important it is to be understanding, open-minded, independent and communicative.