Tammy Brians, an ESL instructor at Winona State University facilitated a Winona International Network (WIN) event series in late February to help international and American students create personal and academic connections through practicing interfacing skills with peers and learning how to navigate networking in a professional setting.
Brians explains, “The original idea was to bring together study abroad students with international students and domestic students, getting them some exposure to people that are from different cultures.” WIN germinated through collaboration between WSU English Language Programs (ELP) and the study abroad office.
The first two workshops gathered a full house, delving into business communication practices, such as elevator pitches and effective first impression dialogue. The third workshop was used to reflect on personality types in order to self-identify strengths/weaknesses and use them as an advantage when navigating the business world. The workshops, Brians explained, “…were specifically designed to help participants understand themselves better as well as other people.”
The events were sponsored by the WSU Foundation, which supported promotional efforts and also provided an evening meal for those in attendance. Brians expresses her gratitude by saying, “We are really happy for all their support, which helped us draw students to the networking table” said Brians. Participants have since reported that connections made at the events have grown into sustainable friendships and lasting professional relationships.
WIN plans to expand similar cross-cultural communications opportunities in the future.
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