Monthly Archives: February 2013

Competencies and a Cross-Cultural Perspective

gwen dungy at nissiThe second day of the Institute was divided into two sessions. During the morning session, we reviewed the lessons from the previous day and the goals the participants had for the Institute. Most of the goals not met on the first day were going to be addressed on this day. Our topic was the competency Advising and Helping.  Before giving an overview of the session, participants also shared what they saw as the most pressing concerns their students had. We would plan to use the list of concerns for role playing during the Advising and Helping session.

We learned that some of the participants had had some training in active listening skills, and we asked them to demonstrate some of the skills of active listening for the entire group. During the role play, one person was the student with a concern, one person was the helper, and the third person was the observer. The role play was videotaped and played back for all to see and share in discussing observations related to active listening skills. There was enthusiastic participation, and the exercise seemed to be quite effective.

oscar felixThe afternoon session was the Host Country Session on culture. What began as an information session became a lively discussion among nationals who had different perspectives on traditions and customs. This session is an invaluable part of the NASPA International Student Services Institute, and the only thing we would change about it is where we place it on the schedule. In the future, we will do the Host Country Session earlier in the program in order for non-nationals to have this information as the competencies are reviewed since the competencies were created from a U.S. perspective.

Dr. Oscar Felix, Dr. Courtney Stryker, and I think the participants learned and were satisfied with the Institute. In a cursory review, the evaluations were extremely positive.

NASPA International Student Services Institute

The first day of the NASPA International Student Services Institute (NISSI) was attended by forty participants, ten of which were undergraduate students. The five male and five female undergraduates were an interesting and thought-provoking addition to the Institute. As we student affairs practitioners talked about students, these students were able to interject the student perspective as they were living it.

courtney strykerDr. Courtney Stryker, student affairs administrator at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, hosted NISSI at Zayed University’s Abu Dhabi campus. Some photos of the convention center where the Institute is being held speak volumes about the AAA facility with so much space and architectural interest. The facility is impressively beautiful, comfortable and quite practically useful.

Zayed UniversityFrom 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Dr. Oscar Felix and I shared a sketch of student development and learning theories. I talked briefly about the evolution of student affairs, the purpose of the publication Learning Reconsidered and how the publication has redefined learning.

oscar felixDr. Felix gave an introduction to various student development theories. Participants were engaged throughout the session and had quite a bit of discussion on Sanford’s challenge and support theory.

It was interesting to see the different perspectives of students and student affairs educators on whether or not students were more challenged than supported. Baxter-Magolda’s theory on self-authorship caused several participants to recall conversations with students who were at the threshold of making the decision to take responsibility for self authorship or sacrifice their own independence for the sake of tradition and family pride.

Tomorrow as we discuss and practice using the basic skills of advising and counseling, we might explore how the helpers would guide a student who is in-between.



Had a really fine dinner and discussions with colleagues last night at an Indian restaurant in a shopping arcade next to the Shangri-La Hotel. Yes, it really does look like it should be called Shangri-La.

After dinner, sleep did not welcome me with open arms. Writers have described the sound of the wind during the night as howling, haunting, or even mournful. As I lay awake last night, because my body has not adjusted to the new time zone, I likened the sound of the wind to an ensemble of wind instruments, especially the flute. The sound was lilting and soothing, and for that, I am grateful.

In just a few hours, Dr. Oscar Felix and I will meet the participants who are attending the first NASPA International Student Services Institute (NISSI) in the United Arab Kingdom (UAE). This NISSI is a collaborative program created by Colorado State University Student Affairs in Higher Education program, Zayed University, and NASPA.

I could not be more excited about the Institute and future possibilities!

Oscar Felix, Colorado State University; Courtney Stryker, Zayed University;  Karla Fraser, American University of Afghanistan, Gwen Dungy, NASPA

Oscar Felix, Colorado State University; Courtney Stryker, Zayed University;  Karla Fraser, American University of Afghanistan, Gwen Dungy, NASPA

Dreaming While Awake – International Student Services Institutes

It’s 1:00 a.m. here in Abu Dhabi and 4:00 p.m. on the East Coast of the United States.  I left my house at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, February 1, for Dulles airport to take British Airways to Heathrow in London and from London to Abu Dhabi. I lost a day, so to speak, in travel. As soon as I finish this message to you, I will finally go to bed since I’ve not been prone since Thursday night, January 31. 

I’m surprisingly alert and have such a sense of well-being. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so thrilled that the vision Kevin Kruger and I had about ways to fulfill the NASPA Board’s international objective is coming together on several fronts much sooner than either of us expected. One dream was to offer student services institutes internationally. We had our first one in December in collaboration with the Hong Kong Student Services Association. Speaking of collaboration, a partnership with Colorado State University’s SAHE program working with Dave McKelfresh, Jody, Donovan, and Oscar Felix is a fantastic dream as well.

I’m also pumped because Courtney Stryker, Zayed University in Abu Dhabi,  and I had an impossible dream to have a NASPA International Student Services Institute (NISSI) this February despite some setbacks along the way. The potential success for the Institute is beyond what either of us dared hope. I will give a better account of attendance and response after the first day of the Institute.

Last year, Denny Roberts, gave me an opportunity to represent NASPA in the Region III 6th Annual Gulf Conference program as a panelist along with Greg Roberts and colleagues from Hamad Bin Kalifa University in Doha, Qatar, or Education City. This year, Courtney Stryker and the Conference Planning Committee are giving me an opportunity to keynote the NASPA-ACPA Gulf Conference following the NASPA International Student Services Institute. It’s all coming together beautifully, and I am going to get some sleep now to continue the dream.