Wednesday January 20, 2016

Windom sign

The last regular seminar of MARL Class VIII took place in Windom, Minnesota. I grew up about fifteen miles away and it was especially interesting for me to take a closer look at the agricultural and rural communities in which I lived, as well as to see the changes that have taken place during my time away. The theme of this session was diversity, something in which rural and agricultural leaders must be well informed as we continue to work in a global industry and as the demographics of our own communities continue to shift.

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We opened the session with a training with Peter Campion, a graduate student in Organizational Leadership and Policy Development at the University of Minnesota. Peter emphasized the need to recognize the different lenses that are used by people from different cultures, races, and worldviews. He began his training with an activity using the photos from Istvan Banyai’s Zoom. Each classmate was given a different drawing from the book. When we had only our own image to give perspective, our view of the story told by the images was very narrow and incomplete. When we could see the images of everyone else, the story became connected in a way that none of us could have imagined with only our own image.

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Mr. Campion taught us about culture and values through additional activities and discussions. He challenged us to identify behaviors in our lives that are representative of our own values and assumptions and to be aware of how this creates our own lens through which we view others.

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Nathan and Nhi Hay thanked by Yolanda Cotterall

The rest of Day 1 was committed to preparation to our international seminar. Excitement rippled through the class as we finally got to learn what we would be experiencing in Vietnam. I, for one, am thrilled that there is an option to go kayaking! Nathan and Nhi Hay gave a very informative presentation to the group about their experiences in Vietnam. Nathan lived in Vietnam for two years while working for Cargill, during which time he met Nhi. Their presentation about the history of the country, the culture, the foods, and traffic patterns was so helpful to us all as we prepare for the trip.

Submitted by Whitney Place


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