Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Can I get an Augsburg brochure, please?

Hello everyone! I am in Beijing, China as I write this blog and I have so many stories to share with you about the IIE fair in Shanghai. Let me start with the pictures above. Check out the crowd! It was incredible to experience. (BTW, do you see the Lionel Ritchie look alike in the crowd? :) ) Let me tell you, it was H-O-T in this room, as I'm guessing you could imagine by the sheer amount of people that attended. There were a few highlights that I'm eager to share with you all. The first was meeting the parents of an applicant for the 2008-2009 academic year who decided to attend another University. They came to the fair particularly to tell me that their son will be transferring to Augsburg in the Spring, and they wanted the opportunity to meet me. They didn't speak English, and I don't speak more than four Chinese words, so we communicated through the translator. I couldnt' believe it!! My Spring travel to Asia was beginning to pay off.
They left and the hundreds of people continued to visit the Augsburg table. Some just to collect "free" items, and some to inquire about our programs. I couldn't believe how excited people got about brochures...I mean, excited, excited. Who knows what will be the evental outcome of people thinking they've got some really cool free stuff, specifically a travel brochure, but as the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."
Eventually, a young woman and her mother ended up at my table. We talked for some time about Augsburg's programs, our curriculum that embraces experiential learning, how committed our campus is to having our student body "live" out their education, how our location in the city lends itself to a plethora of opportunities for our students, and more. As I was talking to this family, another teenager and her mom stood near, listening. I continued talking with Shuyu and her mom and as our conversation came to a close, she asked me if she could give me her Common Application and copies of her SAT scores. She then said, "I think that it was fate that brought me to the Augsburg table. I don't know why I came down this aisle of the fair, but I am very glad that I did." (If you could have seen my smile as she said this, you may have giggled--it was the cheek bursting/burning kind of smile. Okay, I was proud...)
Things didn't stop here. The mother and daughter that were waiting patiently as I talked Shuyu and her mom through all of my favorite things about Augsburg were ready to hear more. The students name is Chong and her mother is an English teacher in Shanghai. They proceeded to tell me that her mom helped a student attend a college in Minnesota and that they think that we have a beautiful state. We talked and talked and talked and finally, Chong looked at her mom and said, "I want to fill out the Augsburg application now. Can I?" And her mom nodded her head and we began filling out the application together. Now, I must interject here and tell you my favorite part of this whole story. This particular student wants to study business, but she loves math, and she can't STOP talking about her hamster, "Tim" (with an accent on the "i"). I mean, one of her first questions when we started talking about living on campus was if she could bring her hamster "Tim" with her to Augsburg. She was serious. So serious that halfway through filling out the application she looked up at me with her big, jovial eyes and said, "Can I show you pictures of Tim?" I had to do all I could not to start laughing, and this was no easy feat. I nodded my head and she pulled her iPod out of her purse and started spinning through hundreds of pictures until she found her favorite ones. The pictures of "Tim". I looked at three pictures, told her how cute Tim is, and at just about the time she was ready to click through dozens more photos of her hamster, her mother touched her elbow and told her kindly, "Chong, how about you finish your application now?" Chong looked back at her, nodded, put her iPod and precious pictures of her hamster back in her purse, and completed the application. Personally, I think Chong needs to take Pre-Vet classes (which I suggested after seeing her inherent and persistent love of animals), but she politely shook her head. Who knows, maybe she'll figure out how she can love something so much and have it as her career. Isn't that what finding your vocation is all about? That's what I'm here doing. Working to send this message in a country where people believe still believe more in rankings and name recognition than the importance of finding a right fit, and it is worth it.
I came to this fair so exhauted I had NO IDEA how I was going to get through one more 15 hour day. I left this fair with three new relationships and the belief that my travels are creating a presence in China. How could I possible not make it through another 15-hour day with this realization?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Run, Forrest, Run!

Hello friends. I have arrived safely to Shanghai, China after three days in Hong Kong of visiting high schools and attending the IIE fair. Our bus delivered us safely to the hotel around 9pm last night and our "tour guide", Lisa (who mentioned that we can call her Mona Lisa if we like), gave us a brief introduction on the city during our 60 minute ride from the airport. One of my favorite comments she made was that the Asian people call visitors from the United States "Fish eyes, long nose." The people from Asia find our features beautiful so she wanted us to know that we should not be offended if we notice them staring at us.

Our tour is moving at a whirlwind pace, literally. After our 9pm arrival and it nearing 10pm before our luggage and boxes with our admissions materials was delivered to our rooms, it was nearly 10pm. I feel FAST asleep which was essential as I needed to be up at 5:45am to get ready and have breakfast before our 6:45am departure from the hotel. Today we did two college fairs and in another two hours, I will be attending the IIE Shanghai fair from 6-9pm. I am looking forward to representing Augsburg and sharing our campus with the people of China...if I can only keep myself awake. :)

Tomorrow the bus departs at 6:30am and we will be visiting Concordia high school from 8am-10:30. From there we will travel to Shanghai American School Pudong to meet with their students. At 4:20pm our group departs and we will fly to Beijing.

I am exhausted..literally, yet I couldnt' love more what I am doing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sharing Augsburg with Vietnam--GO AUGGIES!

I am blessed. I have have a job that I enjoy thorougly day in and day out. Of course, some days are easier than others, but I have deep passion for the work that I do. I AM BLESSED.

Yesterday I visited two high schools in Ho Chi Minh city and attended the Institute of International Education (IIE) college fair. There were over 2000 attendees and Augsburg's presence was felt. Several students approached me to share their story of how they learned about Augsburg and why they want to attend our "University". I was especially moved by their understanding of Augsburg's mission and how we live it out. Students talked to me about our website and how impressed they were with our marketing. MANY students actually wanted to take several of our inquiry cards with them because they "loved" the design. They talked to me about our commitment to service. One student knew about Augsburg because a friend of her's studied abroad in Minnesota and told her, "Augsburg is the best "University" in the area." This particular student gave me her completed application to Augsburg and told me that she is taking one year off after high school to do community service before beginning her pursuit of higher education. She understands Augsburg. Many students talked about their deep interest in becoming an "Auggie" because of their conversations with a recent graduate of Augsburg who is from Hanoi. They have learned about student life and Minneapolis through emails with her and are "very impressed." Augsburg's alumnus understand Augsburg. Our international presence is growing and I am proud.

Tomorrow I leave for Hong Kong. My journey continues and I am thankful for my time in Vietnam. I have connected with the families of current students, I have spent time with an alumni of Augsburg and her family, and I have made new connections that I look forward to nurturing. I am grateful to the people who have made my trip unique and who have shared their stories with me. Until next year, Vietnam....Chao tam biet.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I'll Take a Bird's Nest To Go, Please.

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon! Here's a quick history lesson before I explain the picture and the title of this blog. HCM city was called Saigon before 1975 when it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the Vietnam war. This name change occured to honor the leader Ho Chi Minh who was successful in having the French leave Vietnam.

Okay..and here's the story about drinking Bird's Nest. This is a real drink that is made from boiling a bird's nest found in Vietnam. Yes, I said boiling a bird's nest. The story is that the saliva that comes from the bird's mouth when building the nest is absorbed and by boiling it, the extract is released and is very nutrient filled. I've got to say, it was refreshing and delicious. So, there's one more thing to add to my, "I've never tried that before." list.

Here's a quick update on my travels. I flew from Hanoi to HCM yesterday. The minute I left the airport I could feel the vibe of this city and it was energetic. I learned that there are 18 million people living in Vietnam and 8 million of them live in Saigon. Here's another quick fact--There are over 5 million motor bikes in HCM alone. Until you have the opportunity to see what 5 million motor bikes in one city looks like you almost can't even imagine it, but let me help you try by sharing the advice that I received from a colleage before traveling to this country for the first time. When I told him that I would be going to HCM city he looked me straight in the eye and said, "Do you know how to cross the street in Ho Chi Minh city?" And I replied, "No." (Obviously..but a rhetorical response seemed necessary.) And with a no-nonsense look on his face he told me, "You just close your eyes and walk." I grinned. A big grin. I found this commentary humorous. He just looked at me and said, "I mean this seriously." He was right.

So, I find myself back in this vibrant city and and I couldn't have receieved a more hospitable welcome from Ana and Mr. Piet, the parents of Tina Nguyen, an '08 international student alumni of Augsburg. They have taken me to eat food I would have never tasted....A vietnamese pancake, coconut milk with jelly, snail stuffed with ground pork, cuddlefish, iced tea, and more. I have been eating more than any person should EVER eat, but it seems outlandish NOT to while I am here. They have taken me to the countryside, they have helped me bargain in the market, they set up appointments for me to meet with advisors and prospective students. They have welcomed me to their country and they have not accepted one penny from me. They refuse. I am humbled.

The city is constantly in motion, at all hours of the day. I am amazed at how people don't have more accidents or knock each other over while driving. Literally. Remember readers....8 million people in one city with more than 5 million motor bikes. This does not include cars, taxi's, buses, etc. I am amazed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

3 Flights and19 hours later...Hanoi Welcomes Me

Greetings from Hanoi, Vietnam! S0, I'm here and I've got stories to share, starting at the very beginning when my life consisted of flight time up high in the sky. I left Minnesapolis at 11:45am and arrived to Seattle, WA nearly 4 hours later. I brought my laptop along with seasons 1-3 of House but, much to my dismay, the DVD's wouldn't play sound out of my laptop. I could hear everything iTunes, the sample DVD's in the program on my desktop that should give me sound but nope, not House. That left the first leg of my trip to finishing a terrible book I was reading that I brought with the intention of conveniently "leaving" at the Seattle airport for someone to stumble upon. Which is exactly what I did.

The second leg of my trip was from Seattle to Seoul, Korea. I sat next to a couple from India. They spoke broken English (0k, they knew about 5 words, literally, but the little that we did talk, we got along fine) and we became "friends". They were in Seattle for two months visiting their daughter. What we bonded over wasn't the conversation, but food. The woman initially gave me a big handful of grapes. I wasn't very hungry, but I didn't want to say no. I've learned enough in my lifetime to accept food from others, especially people from different countries. By saying no, in essence, I fear coming off as disrespectful. I chose not to "risk" that and ate the not-so-fresh fruit. A couple of hours later, and the three of us were back to bonding over food. The two of them were eating something that looked A LOT like dried fish food. They started eating and I got up to go to the bathroom. When I returned to my seat there was a paper bowl on my tray table 1/4 filled with this yellow flakey stuff, oh! and 6 Ritz those made the bowl, I'll never know. I tried it with a big smile on my face the whole time I was moving the spoon to my mouth for the first bite thinking, "Please don't let this taste like fish food. Please don't let this taste like fish food." And IT DIDN'T! :) It was sort of salty and peanutty.

A few hours later even MORE food came out of their bag and, you've most likely guessed it by now, they wanted to share. Admittedly, I had never tried or SEEN any of the Indian food they were presenting me, so this was a fun adventure. This time I got a paper plate with two home made pieces of round bread that was a bit thicker than a tortilla and greasier. Not my favorite, but I was already in SO deep at this point in our "friendship", I couldn't say no. I mean, the woman grabbed my hand and called me her "sister". Bonding people. We were bonding. Next to the greasy tortillas I got three small scoops of different flavors. One looked like jelly but the flavor was a bit spicy, sweet and pickled. My taste buds were NOT enjoying this option. Next was a pickeled jalapeno that had something like a bunch of nuts all over in it. Again, a very intense mixture of flavors which was edible, but not to my liking. And the third scoop was much like crushed peanuts. So, basically, you eat with your hands, breaking off a piece of bread and then you pick up your flavor of choice with your fingers using your bread as a utinsel, and you eat. I didn't have enough water to get me through this plate, but the dear couple was pleased, and that made me happy. We got a picture at the end of the first one of this trip.

Now I am in Hanoi and yesterday was my first official work day. Nothing like arriving to your hotel at midnight and starting your work day just 8 short hours later. I had a great day. An international student alumni of Augsburg met me at my hotel and we visited Hanoi Amsterdam high school. I presented to the 10-12th graders and then in 4 different classrooms. The students were attentive, very interested in Augsburg, and extremely bright. Later in the afternoon I had individual appointments with three students and their parents. My day ended with dinner at the home of one of Augsburg's current students parent's house. We ate steamed fish, Vietnamese spring rolls, and crab soup. Dessert followed...fresh mango, papaya and some small pastries. By 10pm I could barely keep my eyes open..but this trip has just begun and I'm having a blast!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Asia: Here I come

I've got a big trip comping up. I'll be leaving for Asia in a little over a week to represent Augsburg at IIE fairs in HCMC, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. I'll also be doing some individual visits with families and visiting several high schools. In total, I'll be traveling for 19 days. There's an excitement about planning for a trip like this...I wonder who I will meet? What connections I will create? If I will sleep? What new foods I will try? And then there's the sadness in leaving my 2 1/2 year daughter for such a long time. Finding a balance in all of this is something that I am still learning.

Before I leave, though, I will have the great pleasure of seeing Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul, and Mary sing in the quad at Augsburg College. I am SO excited for this opporunity that has been gifted to us all because of a deep friendship and a lot of gratitude. Here's the story. An incoming transfer student from Vietnam has been singing with Peter for some years. The two of them developed a freindship and because Peter is so pleased with all Augsburg has done for this international student from Vietnam, he will be singing on our campus as a way to say, "Thank you." If you read my blog and live in the area, the concert will take place on Thursday, September 25th from 11:45am-1:15pm. Let's bring a big crowd.

And, if you read this blog and you live in any of the countries that I will be visiting in October email me at and we can schedule a time to meet. In between now and then, check out what the students at Augsburg are doing on their very own Homemade site:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of Classes at Augsburg

So, today is the first day of classes at Augsburg. The energy around campus is buzzing. You would barely recognize that just a week ago it was still "summer". Yep, we are moving quickly into the fall season. Here are the tell-tale signs:

*Athletic sports are in full swing. There are football, soccer, and volleyball games happening on most nights. The track and field team is in full gear as well. If you want to follow Auggies Athletics, check it out here:

*The air is crisp and even chilly. Especially in the morning and evening. Last night I went to the men's soccer game and put on jeans for the first time in months. Personally, I like the change of seasons and the feeling of putting jeans and a sweater on. It's cozy. It's comfortable. Fall is nearly here.

*High school students are applying to Augsburg. I read 5 international student applications just yesterday and met with a sister of an applicant from Congo this morning. I LOVE this part of my job. Working with international students and forming relationships with each individual and their families. This year Augsburg welcomed 18 new international students to our campus from countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Argentina, Ecuador, Sweden, Slovenia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Norway, and Canada.

If you are considering applying to Augsburg, check out our application and newly launched web design here:

Fall is here.
The recruitment cycle begins again.
Life is good.