As Manager of Intercultural Programs in the University of Iowa’s Office of International Students and Scholars I have the opportunity to work with students from all over the world, as well as train my colleagues (faculty and staff) to effectively communicate with, serve and teach international students. Cross-cultural communication is at the heart of what I do on a daily basis. Developing these skills has been a gradual process and I continue to enhance them every day. Living abroad and earning two Master’s degrees certainly helped.
While I am very proud of these accomplishments, I also know that my deepest understanding of what it is like to try to adapt to a foreign educational system (though mine technically was not) and to communicate with others whose language I could not fully understand or decipher (although in my case, we were all speaking English) probably had its beginnings around 1968 when I was diagnosed with “dyslexia.” That year, when I had to repeat the 3rd grade and spent hours each week reading out loud to the school principal, I learned what it felt like to be marginalized, to feel foreign, and to know I was competing against the odds.
Despite these initial challenges in childhood/adolescence, I have found my niche in the field of international education and now enjoy fulfilling relationships with many friends, colleagues and especially, with my husband, Dave. I am successful at what I do, because I focus on my unique set of strengths, and have learned both to ask for accommodations and to overcome obstacles. As a result, I am able to work in an area I feel passionate about and enjoy – advocating for international students on campus and helping others communicate across cultures. I have never met a person without potential. We all have it! I enjoy helping students find paths to success, and when needed, create new pathways!