Discover another culture through storytelling – the Observer


Getting to know a different culture can be a fun and interesting experience, but it can also be difficult. On May 4, the Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP) and the Brooks Library held their quarterly cultural conversations, which offered students and staff the opportunity to experience a new culture through storytelling.

The City of Bellevue launched Cultural Conversations in 2010 and it was developed to help create diversity within the community. CWU adopted the program in January 2019 with the goal of bringing more diversity to the CWU and the Ellensburg community.

Maureen Rust, librarian in charge of student engagement and community outreach, said that before adopting this program, there was no place for people to interact or experience other cultures. therefore gave the community the opportunity to hear from other non-Ellensburg natives about their culture.

“A friend, who [used] working at the Diversity and Equity Center, shared how difficult it was to live in this community as a person of color because of the feedback they would get from people in town, ”said Rust.

The intention behind this program is to have a guest speaker tell their story and give listeners the opportunity to connect, have conversations, meet new people and broaden their experience of the program, according to Rust.

The May 4 Cultural Conversation featured guest speaker Keiko Walsh. Walsh grew up in the Japanese prefecture of Tottori, came to Ellensburg in the mid-90s and has lived in Ellensburg for 25 years. At first, Walsh didn’t want to come to the United States, it was his mother’s idea and his mother hired Walsh to attend the summer term at the CWU, according to Walsh.

As an ESL student, Walsh learned English for three quarters by singing music, reading children’s books and poetry, as well as playing sports. Walsh said that moving from Japanese culture to American culture was not at all difficult. She had some difficulty adjusting to American culture, but it was not as difficult as some other Japanese.

In fact, Walsh found it funny and interesting. What was interesting to her was how Americans say “excuse me” after sneezing, but when they blow their nose, they don’t. In Japan, they do not blow their nose in public.

“In Rome, do like the Romans,” said Walsh. “It’s not really quite true, in my opinion, I represent myself, I do not represent Japan… when we meet people from a different culture, you have to meet them as a person and not as a culture. “

Rust said this program has fostered the relationship between the library and OISP, as well as many friendships with international students.

“Going virtual has really eliminated geographic boundaries, which has been great, so we’ve had a lot of participation both from the people in the centers and then only from the people who are interested,” Rust said.

The CWU Brooks Library received a $ 3,000 grant from the American Library Association, which will help fund quarterly cultural conversations and add books, aligned with the speakers’ country of origin, to the Brooks Library and the library. Ellensburg Public.

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