SoulPancake and our communication skills

My roommate and I were talking to the other day about how communication is evolving. We had just finished watching a SoulPancake video on YouTube in which Rainn Wilson asks that viewers send in videos of their own, to a question he asked.

Many people say that my generation’s communication skills are getting worse, and in some cases, I agree completely. We lack conversation skills in some aspects and truly need to work on that. But at the same time, I would say that how we communicate isn’t necessarily getting bad, but also evolving into forms of communication that we’ve never had before.

Take the Rainn Wilson video. This specific one was a part of his Metaphysical Milkshake segment and he was interviewing Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He asks viewers to right on a balloon, something they learned that blew their minds and proceed to pop the balloon and upload a video of you doing it. The idea of not just being a sedentary viewer but an active participant in the conversation is different.

As the internet evolves, our ability to communicate through it evolves as well. Instead of being bystanders to others, we join the conversation. We have and opportunity now to not only connect with those around us, but with complete strangers around the world. This allows for a unique collaboration of ideas and thoughts. We have a platform that can get people involved and allow others to learn something new.

The challenge will be to use this new platform of communication to only enhance the one that we already have. Another problem is that people tend to me more rude on the internet. Manners and respect still play a vital part in intelligent discourse. I see our changing forms of communication as an opportunity and not a downfall.

Now if only they could create a way to depict sarcasm in text… 🙂

A few things I do know about the future

As graduation continues to sneak up on me (the weather had been making me forget that it’s spring) there are so many unknowns about this summer and next fall. When I think about them, I just get overwhelmed. So I thought I’d share a list of things that I do know.

1. I am graduating this May… finally.

2. I am officially hooked on WordPress. I’ve had a Blogger blog for these last four years, and while I’ve loved it, WordPress has so many more options for my blogging. So, needless to say, this WordPress blog will still be up and running for long after graduation… though it will have a few changes.

3. I’m moving to Pittsburgh sometime in the next few months. This morning I had a “Holy crap! I’m moving to Pittsburgh in the next few months!” freakout. It’s still weird that it’s actually going to happen. I’ve never moved far away from my family before.

4. I’m going to get my Masters in Library Science at the University of Pittsburgh. It one of the top 10 schools in the nation for Library Science- specifically for the Youth Resources specialization, so I’m still pinching myself to force myself to believe that this dream is actually coming true.

5. I’m going to read a lot of books this summer. I’ve already started my list by reading “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, which everyone should read because it’s genius, but there will be so many more!

6. I’m writing a book. It will probably take awhile, but knowing that I am writing it causes me to pay more attention to how the authors I like write their books. There are many things I don’t know about creative writing and it’s easiest to learn through how other people use various mechanical concepts or tell a story and then experiment with those concepts.

7. I’m sure there are a lot of other things I know, but I don’t want to bore you. So this is me saying that I know that there’s a lot more that I know.

Summer is almost here people, get excited.

Through the eyes of an international student (final column)

At the beginning of the school year, Wookyung attended Blue and Gold festivities held on campus. Fresh off the plane from Goyang, Korea, where it’s a 20 minute bus ride to Seoul. She was very quiet and shy, but ultimately curious about America and excited to meet the American students that surrounded her. South Korea is a relatively Christian nation, so though Wookyung came to UNK to study psychology she also wanted to study and learn more about the Bible.

With her Korean Bible in hand, she filled out a little card with the Navigators, a Christian group on campus, that she was interested in joining a Bible study. This is how I met Wookyung. I was leading a Bible study with the Navigators and went to her dorm to see if she was interested in joining a Bible study.

What Wookyung wanted most that day was an English Bible. Though in Korea, children can begin learning English as early as third grade, it’s very rare for them to have the chance to speak with a native English speaker. While reading English was easier, the challenge came when conversations began. She stayed quiet in Bible study, not understanding fast-paced conversation, or complex explanations.

Wookyung, along with other Korean students, joined the program, Conversation Partners. But disinterested American students who they were partnered with, were only their for class requirements. At one point, their American partners only played basketball with them, and no conversation happened. Wookyung, disheartened, asked herself, “Why did not they do it pleasantly if they did it at all?”

With what seemed all opportunities were gone when it came to befriending American students, Wookyung was a little depressed and spent more time in her room and with other Korean students. But her curiosity and desire to learn English, helped her overcome the sadness as she forced herself to go to events and spend time with American students regardless of the outcome.

At Christmas, she jumped on the chance to spend the vacation with a new friend in a small town in Nebraska. Wookyung was excited spend three weeks with an American family, from the main aspects of celebrating American traditions, to the smaller things of watching movies. “The made me feel like being with my family. I will never forget those times.”

Wookyung’s time spent in Bible study also helped her break out of her shell. Through talking with students and praying, she got to learn more about God and also learn more about American students.

After spending nine months here, looking back, Wookyung hopes that American students could walk a day in her shoes when it comes to conversation. If she missed something in a conversation, she pretended she didn’t.  It meant so much to her when an American student took the time to make sure she understood. “If you have an opportunity to talk to international students, it will be good for both of you guys to check they are making sense and there is a difficult word or context,” Wookyung said. “Your explanation will be better. We want to understand what you are saying and just be involved in the conversation together.”

As Wookyung prepares to head back to Korea, she’s grown in so many ways. She’s conquered the challenge of language barriers and the differences in cultures. But her final outlook on her time in America is stunning, “I also could know how American people are thinking about their family and friends. It was not very different from Korea and I just became to know human (people)’s love is same everywhere. Especially here Kearney’s people are great and I will never forget them.”

Through the eyes of an international student

At the beginning of the school year, Wookyung attended Blue and Gold festivities held on campus. Fresh off the plane from Goyang, Korea, where it’s a 20 minute bus ride to Seoul. She was very quiet and shy, but ultimately curious about America and excited to meet the American students that surrounded her. South Korea is a relatively Christian nation, so though Wookyung came to UNK to study psychology she also wanted to study and learn more about the Bible.

With her Korean Bible in hand, she filled out a little card with the Navigators, a Christian group on campus, that she was interested in joining a Bible study. This is how I met Wookyung. I was leading a Bible study with the Navigators and went to her dorm to see if she was interested in joining a Bible study. I knocked on her door, a little nervous, and it opened for me to see a shy smile and hear a quiet voice.

What Wookyung wanted most that day was an English Bible. Though in Korea, children can begin learning English as early as third grade, it’s very rare for them to have the chance to speak with a native english speaker. While reading English was easier, the challenge came when conversations began. She stayed quiet in Bible study and when with American students because if the conversation became too deep, then it became more difficult to understand.

Wookyung and many other Korean students joined the program, Conversation Partners. But disinterested American students who they were partnered with, were only their for class requirements. At one point, their American partners only played basketball with them, and no conversation happened. Wookyung put it splendidly, “Why did not they do it pleasantly if they did it at all?”

With what seemed all opportunities were gone when it came to befriending American students, Wookyung became a little depressed and spent more time in her room and with other Korean students. But her curiosity and desire to learn English, helped her overcome the sadness as she forced herself to go to events and spend time with American students regardless of the outcome.

At Christmas, she jumped on the chance to spend the vacation with a new friend in a small town in Nebraska. Wookyung was given the chance to spend three weeks with an American family, from the main aspects of celebrating American traditions, to the smaller things of watching movies. “The made me feel like being with my family. I will never forget those times,” she said.

Wookyung’s time spent in Bible study also helped her break out of her shell. Through talking with students and praying, she got to learn more about God and also learn more about American students.

She wishes is that American students could walk a day in her shoes when it comes to conversation. Listening and participating in a conversation is much different than reading. During conversations, she would miss the context of something and then simply pretend to understand the conversation, too afraid to disrupt it in case she interrupted the flow. It means so much to her when an American student takes the time to make sure she understands something. “If you have an opportunity to talk to international students, it will be good for both of you guys to check they are making sense and there is a difficult word or context,” Wookyung said. “Your explanation will be better. We want to understand what you are saying and just be involved in the conversation together.”

As Wookyung prepares to head back to Korea, she’s grown in so many ways. She’s conquered the challenge of language barriers and the differences in cultures. But her final outlook on her time in America is stunning, “I also could know how American people are thinking about their family and friends. It was not very different from Korea and I just became to know human (people)’s love is same everywhere. Especially here Kearney’s people are great and I will never forget them.”

Column topic, through the eyes of an international student

It took me awhile to finally pin down a column topic, but with a suggestion from my professor, I decided that for my final column I would tell the story of an international student who is going back home to Korea this summer. In these past couple years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many of the Korean students on campus.

One girl, Wookyung, has been in the same bible study as me this past year. While I will be interviewing her soon, I am really interested in what her full experience has been. I’m asking her what her struggles have been, and also what have been some of the really good things.

The question that I’m really interested to know the answer for, is what she wants American students to know about international students. I think the best way to know what is helpful and what is hurtful, is to simply ask.

I just wanted to throw my idea out there! I can’t wait to see what Wookyung has to say.

Look to the helpers.

When tragedy strikes, we are are given so many reminders that life is about more than “us.” As a collective, whether we were a block from the finish line at Boston, or half way across the country, we all felt the pain and heartache of the event. We asked ourselves, what we would be doing had it happened closer.

We prayed and hoped that the outcome of the bombing wouldn’t be dire and without hope. We watched with lumps in our throat at police officers, soldiers, paramedics and regular people raced to tear down the barriers that separated them from the injured. We sat in awe of the countless acts of heroism that occurred. Of people not thinking, but reacting.

In moments of tragedy, we are reminded that our human existence is more about community than singularity. We need each other to live and thrive. In the fast-paced society that we live in, it’s easy to forget that there is more to this life. It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragic even to bring us these reminders.

However, I think John Green’s thoughts on the bombing explain this feeling the best. Watch his video below.