Since 2005, the Multicultural Learning Solutions (MLS) office has collected opinions from previous students, workshop and seminar participants to provide some information on the quality, content, structure and pedagogical approach utilized in the various training components offered. Please see the testimonials below:
"The international/multicultural interview was the most beneficial aspect of the entire course. A lot of people go their entire life without having a conversation with a foreign individual. It aids in breaking down stereotypes."
"I really enjoyed this class. It was my favorite of the semester. The information was interesting, the text wasn´t too wordy. There was a good mix of video, lecture and group work. I think the lectures were most helpful. It was great to have a professor from a different culture teaching this, we knew he wasn´t just teaching something he learned – he actually experienced it. It would have not been the same without Professor Fluck – he really added to the class knowledge and fun. He is interesting and entertaining."
"Yes! This was one of the best classes I have taken here at The University of Montana for the last two years. I thought that all of the assignments were relevant to course learning. They weren´t the usual ´read a book, write a report´, they were very interactive. The Online Discussion Forum was a great idea. Some people are shy about speaking up in class and this structure allowed them to an opinion or statement in a more comfortable setting. The Interview was a great experience getting to speak with an international student about what it was like for them coming to America. They point out things in your culture that you have never thought about, that are strange to them. It was an eye-opening experience.. I am so glad I was able to take this class. I do enjoy business but I enjoy the human element more and that´s what this class delivered. I also enjoyed the professor, who made this class painless while we were learning."
"To be honest with you, I didn´t think those workshops would be that useful for me because I´m going to a university in Japan; my country, and because I have taken several cultural adaptation workshops before I left Japan and during English training camps in Colorado. However, I found that your workshops were the most useful, most interesting, and funniest. Of course it reminded me what I learned in those workshops I had before, but it also gave me even more points of view to look at things. What you talked about totally fit with what I am currently experiencing as an international student in an American university, and when I go back to Japan. Group discussion really stimulated my thoughts. It was very interesting to learn customs in other countries and even in my own country, too. I think having workshops before going abroad helps students a lot like it is helping me now. It is important to have general ideas of what may happen while we are in other cultures. Especially if we can get those information in fun workshops like yours, that´s perfect!!"
"The topics and material covered in Cultural Adaptation for International TA´s and RA´s was interesting and directly related to existing daily-life situations and problems. The instructor had deep knowledge about the topics and he presented the information in a relaxed manner. Students were stimulated to participate in discussions. The PowerPoint presentations were well structured. Group discussions prepared the workshop participants for their class discussions. Scientific facts and information were combined with good examples and daily life situations. It was interesting to learn how difficult students from different countries experience class situations and how they deal with them."
"I found your workshop to be very good. You´ve got a great personality and I really enjoyed coming. I feel that the workshop is a good way to introduce students who have never lived abroad to the differences that inevitably come with it. Thank you very much."
"I thought the workshops were great. Although they did not specify entirely specific information for the country I am going to be attending next year, I felt like I was able to get a lot of what I needed in a more global sense. Particularly in having a variety of different places represented by different "sojourners" (a phrase I wasn´t entirely familiar with before). I think it helped relax any anxiety, I had before the workshop in asking myself the basic instinctive questions of whether I will be able to adapt effectively. I feel like I am more prepared not to have expectations, and just allow myself to go with the flow. I thought that the workshops were good in this respect because rather than giving you a step by step procedure upon arrival, it keeps you open and aware, and gave me the confidence to adjust accordingly. Everyone is not the same and so my adaptation into culture will be far different than another."
"I like using Blackboard and the online discussion forums. It helps promote classmate/peer discussion on class material. A lot better approach than answering homework questions on our own. The activity that promoted the most understanding was the multicultural interview, because it was a one–on–one learning experience. I also thought the feature films were the best teaching technique because they offered either first hand experience, or paralleled experiences in different cultures."
"I liked the lectures and videos. It made class fun. It made me want to come instead of reading it. I also enjoyed writing the major multicultural paper. My interviewee mentioned many of the things we had learned about in the class, so it was nice to know we were learning accurate information. If I had to do it over again, I would. I have already been recommending the class to my friends."
"I found this seminar extremely important in preparing myself for my study abroad next year. The whole concept of culture shock and adaptation to the new environment is very helpful in adjusting in a new country. I particularly enjoyed the video on the last session of the Cultural Adaptation Seminar about people sharing their experiences while they were abroad, it helped me a lot to picture myself in their situations and imagine the way I would react to certain things. Overall, this cultural adaptation seminar was a success, and I am sure my fellow students who are going abroad too next semester found it extremely useful as well."
"The topics and material covered in Cultural Adaptation for International TA´s and RA´s were really interesting. It helped me to get more confident in my teaching. I like to learn more about teaching (in the US) and being able to talk about it with other people is really nice."
"The cultural workshops opened my eyes about things I had never thought of before, such as reverse culture shock. I did not know that existed. I also liked your humor. It added to the sessions and made the hour just fly by. I definitely think you should keep having these workshops for as long as there is a study abroad program here at the U of MT!"
"I enjoyed your class thoroughly. The course provides students with information that is extremely valuable. This gives students who believe that they are going to be working in situations where cultural sensitivity is a necessity the confidence to perform well."
"Thank you for all the hard work you put into the Cultural Adaptation Workshops. I think all the information and activities you incorporated in your presentations will prove very useful in the upcoming adventures we are all about to embark on. As a whole, I believe the workshops were very beneficial and really got me thinking about what my experience is going to be like and what I will take from it all. On a more personal level, you are hilarious and I think you truly had everyone´s attention in that room, which is hard to do on a Friday afternoon. You have a wonderful presence and a knack for public speaking. I am not so sure how successful the workshops would have been without your presence."
"The Workshops reinforced for me things I´d already learned for myself and taught me new things as well. The exercise I participated in on the first day of the Workshops was certainly one of the most helpful things for me. I realized the next day that the other students were greeting us and I felt stupid and shallow for not realizing it during the exercise. This taught me to be more sensitive to things I might consider a bit odd–which I found that greeting to be. It completely threw me, and I didn´t know what to do with that information. Now I feel better prepared for such a situation in my future travels. I would like to thank you for the time and consideration you put forth in teaching those workshops."
"I really enjoyed the Cultural Adaptation Workshops. They had some fun activities that taught a lot but also helped keep a pretty fun, energetic atmosphere that was greatly appreciated during this intensely stressful time. I can´t really offer any ideas to make the workshops run smoother because they seemed to be right on the money. Thanks for holding them for us; I am sure they shed invaluable light that will surely help us in our journeys abroad."
"I enjoyed the instructional videos and the lectures in this course. There were so many new things I learned from them. Cultural taboos were particularly interesting as well as the lectures on communication. The multicultural interview was the most helpful assignment. It gave me the chance to interact with an international student and establish a greater understanding of what it would be like to be an exchange student. The interview helped me put into practice what I had been learning in class all along."
"I really liked the use of blackboard (the online component) for this course. It is very helpful to be able to look up class handouts when you are off campus and the online discussion was pretty fun and interesting. I liked the guest speakers and the field trips and the in-class discussions where one group was to take one stance and the other to take another stance, and we talk in each group and discuss our views during class. This really helped me understand and think deeply about the topic and think about the good things, even if I was against it. Basically it helped me think more critically."
"Dr. Fluck...brings you into the material and doesn´t just present it in a generic fashion. His enthusiasm transfers over to the students. The course has helped me build cultural sensitivity and awareness. It has also sparked a deeper curiosity in all cultures and a general understanding as how cultures operate as individual entities."
"I felt very comfortable in sharing my opinions and ideas in the class. Dr. Fluck made the atmosphere very user-friendly, fun and interactive."
"I was aware that other cultures had many differences, but I did not know what they were. I liked learning the little things like hand signals customs and manners."
"The organization of this class along with clarity, precision, and depth was exceptional. Everything was organized much better than many other classes I have taken. All of the material was clearly defined and provided an easy outline to follow."
"I have never been abroad before. At the beginning of the class I felt somewhat intimidated of the other students knowing that many had the opportunity to travel already. Given the fact, I think this class benefited me more because I knew so little about different cultures. Not knowing much, kept me interested throughout the semester about all the facts, as in gift taboos and overall multicultural differences."
"In general, I very much appreciated the Cultural Adaptation workshop series that you conducted for students who are going to study abroad. Although personally I found that most of the information was obvious, as an individual who has traveled abroad several times, I´m sure the information was more useful to other students with less international experience. Also, despite its self-explanatory nature, I think it is sometimes worthwhile to state the obvious, and this was one of those instances. The most useful day for me was the 5-hour workshop with you and Marja. Again, for me personally, the reason I valued the experience of your seminars was not so much for the information provided, but for the chance to dialogue with other students and feel like, collectively we are a group. I feel less alone, and less intimidated by my upcoming study abroad knowing that there are many other brave UM students who are doing the exact same thing, experiencing the exact same emotions, going through the same stresses, difficulties, and thrills. Finally, I think it is a wonderful idea to provide students who attend the seminars and complete assignments with a certificate acknowledging the students´ efforts. I will certainly use this certificate on my resume."
"I enjoyed the atmosphere of the class. I´ve been in other discussion-based classes before and this was probably the best I´ve encountered. The vibe was relaxed and it allowed people to open up on sensitive issues. The feature films were all quite educational, pertinent and interesting. I thought the final multicultural interview project was a perfect way to incorporate and tie together all the lessons taken from this course."
"I found the cultural workshops to be quite enjoyable. I´m fascinated by cultural difference, my major is even cultural anthropology, but I so rarely get such "applied" cultural awareness in class. Therefore I enjoyed your presentations quite a bit. You had very good examples in your presentations...."
"I thought the workshops were well thought out and smoothly run. I appreciated that they didn´t take up a huge amount of time, but thought they still managed to deliver important information..I think the information you discussed will be helpful when I go abroad, especially in dealing with any difficulties I´ll face."
"I wanted to let you know how helpful the cultural workshops were for me. They were very helpful..GREAT JOB! Thanks for your time."
"I really enjoyed the diversity of the class. We studied something new every week. I found learning about different cultures to be very interesting. I also liked the online forum and the relaxed approach to the class that it presented. I would definitely take the course again because of the non-traditional curriculum we covered. "
"I found your workshop informative and enjoyable. It was helpful to learn about communication and body language. Your guidelines provided me with ideas to conduct the reference interview and help students....Frequently we do get students who have been "all over campus" to access the answer to a particular question. I now will not hesitate to jump up and say let me show you, rather than give the standard...around the corner, up one level, to your left and so on. I guess you helped me put myself in the student´s shoes!... I feel more confident in my interactions. Finally I found the "W-Shaped Curve" and adjustment stages to be very helpful in my understanding of not only international students but all U of M students. Thank you for your presentation. Your personal stories were interesting. Your humor makes the workshop fun."
"I especially liked the intertwining of the lectures with the movies, class participation, guest speakers and online discussions. I thought that this mixture did a good job of maintaining interest and reinforcing concepts. The Online Multicultural Discussion Forum provided a good platform for an exchange of ideas. I would recommend that people take this course and if one is offered of a similar nature in the future, I would definitely consider it."
"I believe the three lectures were very informative. I think it was great that we had a chance to mentally prepare for both the highs and the lows that await us while studying abroad. Sharing that it is normal to experience culture shock, and if we do we now have the tools to recognize and deal with it, will most defiantly save some of us stress while abroad. I believe that portion of the lecture should continue to be included. I also believe that breaking into groups was a good way to communicate with others traveling and gain insight from fellow peers."
"I gained more of an appreciation for speaking with people different from myself. I feel like this course was like an introduction into "out there". You can bet that I will be in at least two foreign countries in the next four years and that I will have made a larger number of international connections."
"I gained a new appreciation for my own culture and the differences within it. I was also able to learn about other cultures abroad that OI may have never learned about. When I meet people of other cultures, I am more sensitive to their differences. Now I am very excited to travel abroad and experience all the cultures I have learned about. This information will help me in my broadcast journalism career because I will be able to communicate better with people I interview and work with."
"I have been outside of the country many times, so I know what it is like to be in different cultures, but this course made me aware about cultures from parts of the world I have never been to. I also liked that we not only focused on cultures from around the world, but also on very different cultures here in the United States."
"This course has helped me to picture foreign persons not just as that - a foreign person whom I know nothing about - but as a person worth getting to know with a different background and as much complexity as any other person. As a student this course will help me to be more aware of different cultures - to be more interested to get involved and learn about them. I think it will make foreign relations more defined and meaningful."
"It would be interesting to see how I would view the class a second time after I have gained the cultural knowledge from the first class. Yes, I would take the course again to become more aware of multicultural issues."
"I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops. I think that having 3 short, 1 hour sessions was a fine amount and the material was good to save away until I go abroad. The thing I enjoyed most was the class participation and stories of how others in the class dealt with certain situations and proof that the information being presented is something useful to know for our abroad experiences. I also appreciated that we talked honestly about how we might not actually enjoy our experiences for some time (until we get to the top of the W), and that it is completely normal...which is quite opposite from the jaded advice and encouragement I have received from others. The workshops and the paper also made me look more deeply into the cultural differences in the county I will be visiting and made me sit down and think how I would adapt to these differences."