Asian Heritage Month Events at IU South Bend!

 Come join us for Asian Heritage Month at IU South Bend!


Hmong Embroidery: Threading a Cultural Narrative

A Lecture by Professor Andrea Rusnock

Date: April 16th

Time: 5:30-6:30pm

Location: Schurz Library 5th floor Atrium

Learn about Hmong culture as Professor Rusnock (Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies/Art History) unravels the history and artistry of Hmong embroidery stitch by stitch.

Doing Business with/in Asian Cultures: A Forum

Date: April 17th

Time: 4:30-5:30pm

Location: AI220B

Join us for an invigorating forum with Milind Agtey (President of Easy Access), Professor Haiyan Yin (Assistant Professor of International Business), and Professor Gihoon Hong (Assistant Professor of Economics) to discuss how to effectively bridge cultural gaps while working with Asian businesses.

The 16th Annual Asian Heritage Festival

Date: April 17th

Time: 5:30-8:30pm

Location: The Grille

Enjoy a night of festivities and see student clubs and local groups share their engagement with Asian culture. Includes a sampling of Asian cuisine, dancing, crafts, a silent auction, and much more! 1

ALSO: visit our display in the library lobby for the month of April!

The Journey of Superman Around the World!

Growing up, my family moved a lot: we moved from country to country for various reasons such as economic and political instability. As a young child, I remember telling my grandmother that I just really hated moving. When she asked me why, I told her that I disliked moving to a new place because it meant finding new friends, attending new schools, and sometimes learning an entirely new language.  My grandmother always reminded me that I was lucky because they are many “blessings” one gets from traveling. She always encouraged me to seek the best out of each new travelling experience. At the time, I couldn’t see what she was talking about, all I could think was that leaving my home to go to a completely strange and different place was a terrifying idea. Over the years, I have lived in ten different countries around the world, everywhere from Africa to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North America.

When I was young, I thought my culture and language was “the right one”. I did not have an outside perspective on different cultures, but that quickly changed when I encountered situations with different traditions. I remember in the Sudan, I often bumped heads with a classmate in middle school, who now remains a close friend, we often argued about many different topics, such as which childhood superhero was better, he liked Batman and Superman was “the hero” to me because he was awesome and is not even from earth, (yes, we read about American super-heroes there). I identified with Superman; he was from the planet Krypton and I was from a different country, which I felt was close enough. He was a superhuman and I wished that I could eventually become one too.

Other times my friend and I talked about which country had the best food or sports. One time I said Central African Republic, my home country, is the best because it has pineapples and fresh guava, but in Sudan there is nothing like that because it is mostly hot, humid, and dusty.  Central Africa great basketball teams, but in Sudan they don’t even play basketball. My classmate said that in Sudan they have Shawrima, Kebab, and Shaia (common food among northern African countries and the Middle East), as well as the gigantic soccer stadiums we didn’t have in the Central African Republic. I enjoyed soccer and loved to eat most of the food that he mentioned, but I never admitted it since denying it allowed me to compare and contrast the different cultures. It enabled me to see things from a rather unusual prospective. The differences and common things I shared forged friendships between groups of people with different backgrounds and religious beliefs.

I learned that “diversity” is beneficial when people from different cultures try to communicate and learn about each other. It helped me look at my own culture differently, in a less-biased manner. I may not have gained superhuman abilities like Superman, but I learned to adapt and function within differing societies, which allowed me to have super-traveler skills. I have grown to appreciate the great values traveling added to my life (apart from the lack of superhuman abilities).  Finally I understand what my grandmother meant.

4 Crucial Tips for Study Abroad Preparation

With warmer weather just around the corner, many students at IU South Bend are gearing up for study abroad trips to Costa Rica, Florence, Oaxaca, London, and Edinburgh during spring break or summer break. As a student who traveled on a study abroad trip last summer to Berlin and Prague, the main advice I can give to these students and any prospective student is an old standby: preparation, preparation, preparation. How exactly can our IU South Bend students prepare for their study abroad trips? How can preparation and organization make other students want to study abroad, too? These questions are going to be answered in four ways that I believe all students should know before they study abroad.

1. The first preparation tip should be the most obvious and most important of all: the passport. Do you need a passport to travel to your destination? If so, make sure to apply for a passport about three to six months in advance of the departure date of the trip. Not only that, but make sure to have copies available of your passport with you in case of an emergency. Keep your passport, passport copy, and personal identification card on you at all times during your study abroad trip!

2. The next tip is one that should begin around the same time as acquiring your passport. When preparing to travel to your specific location, you must first become familiar with the place you will be visiting. Researching the location will help you to better understand local cultures and differences between your home country and a foreign country. Two of the most fun aspects to research, in my opinion, are local delicacies and the country’s language. Although you may be tempted to revert to English, make sure to learn a few key phrases in the country’s native language.


IU South Bend Students in Costa Rica, 2014

3. As a chronic over-packer, my biggest issue was deciding what to pack and what not to pack for my trip. The essentials are appropriate clothes (for layering in case of warmer and/or cooler weather), comfortable shoes, plenty of socks, underwear, or swimwear depending on your location, cell phone/cell phone charger, basic and minimal toiletries, and any books you know you will need for your time overseas (i.e. English to foreign language dictionary, books to read on the plane, sketch books and/or journals). It is extremely important to keep in mind that although it might be tempting to bring all your own toiletries along, most locations will be able to provide you with cheap and small versions of your favorite products. Keeping enough space in your luggage for souvenirs and goodies to bring back home is key when deciding on how much to pack into your suitcase.

4. Lastly and equally as important, when you prepare yourself to study abroad, you must go in with an open mind. Traveling to a foreign country can seem exciting and frightening all at the same time, but just remember that you will learn to grow as a student and as a person when experiencing a new culture and gaining lifelong experience with internationalizing your education. The most important piece of advice I can give you all when preparing for study abroad is this: put yourself out there and have fun!


IU South Bend students in Prague, 2014

Need more preparation tips and advice? You can find a few fantastic resources for study abroad and traveling here, here, and here. Do you have any study abroad advice or stories? If so, let us know in the comments!

A German Student’s Perspective

11022881_871140402948029_137498649_nTo those of us born in the United States and have little or no international experience, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine the vast diversity and cultural differences present in the world outside of our own sphere of influences. This challenge also faces those who were born abroad, when they choose to pursue a study or work opportunity here in the U.S. To these international adventurers, our lives and cultural norms may seem completely new and foreign (literally and figuratively), from their own worldly views. During the fall of 2014, IU South Bend was fortunate to be called home by several international students who decided to leave behind their comfort zones and join us for their academic study. One such student was Alina Felder, who connected with us through a mutual exchange program with the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany. Alina is pursuing her undergraduate degree in European Studies and was afforded the opportunity to study in the U.S. before returning to Europe to continue her education.

After sitting down with Alina for an interview, it became clear that she had a very different global view than many Americans I’ve met who have not had the chance to travel or study abroad. Alina reflected, “I do not usually judge people, I attempt to shy away from that. I did have some preconceptions of American life before I came, but in most instances they turned out to be wrong.” One major standout that Alina noticed was in the style of clothing worn by people of similar age groups in Germany as compared to here in the U.S. “In Germany,” she mentioned, “you never see young people wearing yoga pants or sweat pants in public unless they look like they are going to exercise. People, I feel, judge these persons because they are not properly clothed according to societal standards. In America, it is more relaxed. You frequently see young women wearing yoga pants and I do not believe that people judge them as harshly, if at all, as compared to Germany.” From my standpoint, it is difficult to imagine our society actively judging young women who wear these types of clothes in public as part of their casual dress. I often think about Alina’s words, and it is clear that yoga pants and sweats are really becoming staples for many men and women, both young and old. It is interesting to see this small difference through Alina’s eyes and realize we have just become accustomed to seeing such casual clothing without pausing to consider that they could cause controversy in another culture.11024836_871140416281361_1740623346_o

Alina also mentioned a difference in school routines between her own university in Germany and IU South Bend. In Germany, they are much more focused the final result of their learning in classes, as opposed to the gradual result that we employ in the U.S. Alina noted, “the class schedules are very different in the U.S. than in Germany.” The content and frequency of the homework in American institutions also shocked her. “I felt overwhelmed at times. In Germany, we do not have homework, we only have our final exams. It is difficult to complete all the readings and assignments during the semester, especially for someone who does not speak English naturally.” The rigorous classroom assignments and demands cut into her freedom to see more of what the U.S. had to offer outside of the academic halls. Alina is looking forward to wrapping up midterms and having more time to get out and experience American culture to the fullest.

Mao Kitsch and IU South Bend

China has been in the news a lot lately…which reminds me, did you know Mao kitsch is a thing?! Throughout China’s major metropolitan areas, and in areas where there are large amounts of Chinese immigrants, you can find all kinds of items with Chairman Mao’s likeness adorning it. While it’s unclear why this is so popular, it has some obvious influences from Andy Warhol’s silkscreen prints of Mao. This cultural development, this fascination with all things Mao, but in kitsch, is one of the many things IU South Bend students can learn about in an upcoming class with visiting lecturer Ke Ren.


IU South Bend students have a unique opportunity to learn more about modern Chinese culture in a fascinating 10 week course, “Cultural History of Contemporary China.” This course will explore the rich cultural and intellectual changes in post-Mao and reform-era China. Students will investigate developments in literature, film, art, music, academia, and the mass media, while discovering the interactions between popular and elite culture. Special attention will also be given to how culture has profoundly impacted Chinese social and economic development during the last thirty years. This course starts on Wednesday, February 18, so students should sign-up right away. This is a great way to learn about the side of China Americans don’t often get to see – while getting some college credit.

Course: HIST-T 190 (5866), 3 credit hours Start Date: Wednesday, February 18. Meeting Times: MWF, 8:30 – 9:45 a.m.

Celebrating International Culture Locally or Paczki’s: More than Just a Polish Jelly Doughnut

One of my first memories as a child is having ponchkes Krapfens (sometimes called sufganiyah, but they are not quite the same thing) with my grandmother. Not yet old enough able to talk, I remember the smells permeating from the kitchen and wafting through the rest of the house. They would barely have time to cool before I would devour them, in all of their gooey sweet delight.


A paczki is a pillow of deep fried dough that is bursting with a sweet filling. They are then covered with sugar, icing, or more traditionally, dried orange zest. The main difference between a more typical jelly doughnut and a paczki is the dough, which is typically richer in flavor. Common throughout Central Europe with slight variations and names, the name paczki comes from Poland. In Central Europe, plum and rose hip jam are the traditional fillings, but sometimes others are used, including strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry, apple, and my Oma’s favorite, apricot. Cream cheese is also common within the United States and is gaining popularity around the world.

In Poland like many other Catholic countries, lard, sugar, and eggs are not to be consumed while fasting during Lent, therefore in many countries, these food items are consumed in a delicious pre-fast celebration. This is the concept behind Fat Tuesday, to eliminate these food products from the household and what better way to do that than by turning them into to a delectable treat like a paczki? Other religious faiths have similar traditions, for example in the Jewish community, ponchkes and sufganiyah, as well as other food fried in oil, like latkes (potato pancakes), are served around Hanukah to celebrate the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem.

Due to Polish immigration  in the area, there are several local bakeries in South Bend were you can get a paczki during this time of the year. Stone’s Old Fashion Donuts, Macri’s Deli, Baker’s Dozen Bake-Shop, and Dainty Maid all bake fresh paczkis. Even Meijer makes a very good, albeit slightly more Americanized, version of this Central European delicacy. If you have never had the pleasure of biting into a fresh, fluffy, sweet paczki make sure to get out there and try one before they disappear for another year!