Instructors from Normandale Community College's Communication Department were named the 2019 winners of the Minnesota State Innovation in Global Education Award at the Academic and Student Affairs Leadership Conference.
This year's winner was the Normandale Communcations Department's The Culture and the Art of Storytelling. Over the past few years, instructors Aimee DuBois, Jennifer Isaac, and Chad Kuyper have been exploring cultural understanding through the art of storytelling. Their study abroad classes have explored storytelling and the oral tradition in the British Isles, Australia/New Zealand, and Scandinavia.
The Innovation in Global Education Award recognizes high impact practices of faculty and staff that increase students' understanding of the growing interdependence of nations and peoples through cross-cultural and international experiences.
As their nominator wrote, "Storytelling is at the heart of intercultural understanding. Stories reinforce values, tradition, and myths." Professors DuBois and Kuyper explain that this unique approach to global education benefits students in two unique ways. First, stories and storytelling unite human beings from all cultures because storytelling is an integral part of human nature. Second, students broaden their understanding and empathy of others by experiencing a culture with which they were previously unfamiliar.
The third member of the recipient group, Jennifer Isaac, passed away on October 13 after a very short but tough battle with cancer. Her contributions to this program and to Normandale were acknowledged at the awards dinner. Isaac was a faculty member in the Communication Department at Normandale for 19 years. She was a champion for global studies at Normandale, serving many years on the global studies committee and advising the international travel student club.
She was the driving force behind partnering with Story Arts Minnesota to bring a storytelling festival to campus in 2018 and was an award-winning storyteller herself.
Isaac appreciated how storytelling connects people by helping them understand both their own and others' cultures, and because of this she was one of the co-founders of the Human Library project at Normandale.
Above all, she was a teacher who inspired her students to wander with wonder. Isaac's boundless energy, focus on student enrichment, and soulfulness will be missed. Donations can be made in her memory to the CareyOn Study Abroad Scholarship at Normandale.