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Sept. 26, 2016
By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant
Northwest Missouri State University faculty and students are participating in a new program this fall that encourages inclusion, equity and diversity while building bonds with international students.
Activity Buddies is a collaborative and interdisciplinary pilot program to build cross-cultural awareness. It is the creation of English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors Helen Konstantopoulos and Nancy Hardee, Assistant Professor of Education Dr. David Kiene, Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Nathan Wilson, Professor of Communication Dr. Bayo Joachim, and Assistant Professor of Communication Dr. Joy Daggs.
Konstantopoulos said the goal of the program is to help students improve and develop intercultural competence to work in an increasingly diverse world. The program also supports Northwest’s strategic objective of enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion.
“As an ESL teacher, I am constantly looking for ways to help Konstantopoulos said my international students assimilate and acclimate to their new home here at Northwest,” Konstantopoulos said. “Getting them involved on campus is one way to do that. Activity Buddies gives them the opportunity to experience campus culture while getting to know another Northwest student.”
Activity Buddies participants are students enrolled in Northwest’s English as a Second Language program as well as multiculturalism in education and intercultural communication courses. Instructors survey the students to gauge their awareness of cultural bias and development of understanding others.
The program pairs students of diverse backgrounds for the purpose of exposing them to language and culture. Students participating in the program meet once a week in addition to completing assignments and attending University activities together.
“Communicating with Americans is definitely a good way to improve our English skills to and experience American culture,” Sota Tango, a sophomore English major from Niigata, Japan, said. “I hope that my English speaking skills are getting better and better, and I want to have good friends.”
Students enrolled in the ESL program benefit from Activity Buddies by practicing language skills while learning about and adapting to their new home at Northwest. Degree-seeking students enrolled in multiculturalism in education and intercultural communication courses gain insights to their areas of study and communicating more successfully with a more globalized citizenry.
“I hope that all the participants in the program gain experience in communicating and interacting with people different from themselves in hopes of gaining a more global outlook,” Konstantopoulos said. “I believe this experience will help them succeed in their future careers, no matter what the career is.”
Faculty will give a presentation about Activity Buddies at the Mid-America Teachers of English to Students of Other Languages conference Sept. 30 in Kansas City, Missouri. Outcomes of the program will be presented at additional professional conferences.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468