COMM 2100 is all about community

InterculturalCOMM_2016March_06-feature

“Community” in its truest sense was displayed at RCTC in the COMM 2100 class, Intercultural Communication, when Dr. A Patel and Heather Homes came to present.

Mayo Clinic’s Dr. A Patel and Vice President of Marketing at Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc., Ms. Heather Holmes, were one of several presentations from Rochester area community members in the class. This unique hybrid class helps students learn and appreciate intercultural concepts through reading and class discussion and  also includes immersive “hands on” intercultural conversations and events, both on and off campus.

Dr. Patel and Ms. Holmes possess a passion for intercultural communication and international development, putting into practice their skills via their leadership and  involvement  in Rotary International. Dr. Patel highlighted the importance of civic engagement and lifelong service, sharing theoretical as well as practical applications of empathy and equanimity through mutually-respectful partnerships.

Asking students what is your “ah-ha” or a special learning moment, Dr. Patel engaged the class in a discussion of how improvement in intercultural communication competence can happen just by taking the risk to learn beyond the familiarity and comfort of the classroom. He additionally stressed the need to explore one’s learning style and better understand how to practice emphatic decision making.  Ms. Holmes emphasized that Rotarians practice communication in Rotary Club meetings and interactions by coming together as individuals, leaving titles such as “Mayor” or “Doctor” at the door.

Currently, the club is working with RCTC’s Spanish Instructor, Lillyam Arroyave,and Math Instructor, Don Baldus, to provide efficient stoves to impoverished community members of Guatemala. The speakers invited the Intercultural Communication class and all RCTC students to visit a local Rotary Club meeting and participate in the activities surrounding the long-term stove project.

Ms. Holmes will return with Dr. Patel to the class on 4/27 for a follow-up discussion on intercultural communication and business protocol. Ms. Holmes’ sharing of her experience with Rotary International, The Rotary Club of Rochester, Rochester Civic Theatre, Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI), and Destination Medical Center will help students understand the expectations of business leaders and the needs of the community for competent communicators in Rochester’s workforce and citizenry.

Dr. Patel is a Pulmonologist as well as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic who has been involved in numerous global health initiatives. He is the past chair of the Rochester Diversity Council and currently serves as a trustee of the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust. Dr. Patel followed the meeting with the following gracious gesture, saying:  “Thank you all so much for the fantastic learning exchange today around the topics of cross-cultural communication, engagement, and lifelong service learning.” He will continue to connect COMM 2100 (and other classes/students at RCTC) with area leaders and Rotary members.

COMM 2100 pulls together community and student voices to explore crucial components of culture and communication. Collaboration and efforts and activities to achieve a mutual understanding of cultures is key to the class. Community leaders, members of the refugee and immigrant community, Student Life Clubs members, and on campus convocations all contribute to the success of the class. Class sessions have included SKYPE discussions to students in seven different countries to explore the need for intercultural dialogue and apply these concepts to one’s personal and professional life. Such efforts are simply necessary for the Rochester area, Minnesota as a whole, and our nation to be successful in a globalized economy.

For more information on the RCTC Communications program, please visit their site: http://www.rctc.edu/program/comm/

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