Friday, December 30, 2011

Minnesota Rising Blog 2011: Post Playback x 11

From hosting our second annual Un/Conference to being featured in the October 2011 edition of the Minnesota Business Magazine to the launch of our Cascading Conversations Tour, we are pleased to be able to look back on this year with pride and amazement at how the network for what's next is being built through the collaborative efforts of so many!

Thanks again to all you readers for your support and engagement this year! May I present the Minnesota Rising Blog 2011: Post Playback x 11 for your reading pleasure:

1. More to the story: @MinnesotaRising 2011 Yes, Minnesota Rising is emergent, co-designed, and a bit ambiguous. But we've figured it out a bit more in 2011 about what and who we are and where we're going. Read more, and we invite you to join the story!

2. Friday Fun: Architects by Rise Against Because every movement needs an anthem. I submit this one for consideration: "Do you care to be the layers of the bricks that seal your fate? Or would you rather be the architects of what we might create?"

3. Use only what you need Word. Er, photo.

4. Will Minnesotans write a better future? We kicked off the Citizens League's 60th Anniversary Program late this year. This post includes Sean Kershaw's Star Tribune commentary that asks Minnesotans to dream bigger and plan for the long-term, with a future that begins in 2012!

5. Give it some gusto: Nuance in word and action I was invited to be a guest blogger on the YNPN-TC blog in March and used it to reflect on ways to become more intentional and creative on a daily basis. It's never too late to submit a comment!-)

6. Why We're Here: Twin Cities We sure do love it here! And we can put it into video footage and words. Check it out.

7. Thanks to the Minnesota Rising 2011 Un/Conference Planning Crew! This year's Un/Conference was bigger and better in every way. And these people helped make it happen. Plus, their mugs and bios are completely adorbs!

8. Framing Open Questions These guidelines for asking searching and powerful questions are one of a number of tools I've picked up through my engagement with the InCommons Art of Hosting community this year. I hope they can be of use to you and yours in the next!

9. Cause for Connection: Mark and Lisa Adopt My friends, Lisa and Mark, are incredible people. And they are looking to become amazing parents. Can you help make the connection?

10. Report Roll: What Does the Next Generation of American Leaders Think? This study provides a quick and fascinating look into the minds and attitudes of rising leaders in the U.S., and gives us a sense for what's on tap for Minnesota's new guard.

11. Un/Conference Breakouts: Al Coleman's Secrets to Success Sure, Al Coleman was featured in the likes of Forbes magazine when he wrote and published his book this year, but he still made time to attend and present at the Minnesota Rising 2011 Un/Conference! For that, we are eternally grateful. And these insider tips aren't too bad, either.

Happy holidays and we look forward to working with you in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

[Required Reading] CGE and Reciprocity: Recent Explorations

I was fortunate to study abroad and away for nearly half of my college career, with comprehensive academic programs that combined service-learning and community engagement in meaningful and memorable ways. I spent a semester in Namibia and South Africa with Augsburg College's Center for Global Education with their "Nation Building, Globalization, and Decolonizing the Mind," program, and was pleased to see that their Fall 2011 newsletter included some research about the reciprocity that can result from these types of exchange programs. Check out the brief below and see how we can, indeed, be better together!

CGE and Reciprocity: Recent Explorations

Contributors: Ann Lutterman-Aguilar and Suyen Barahona Cuan

Reciprocity is a term used widely here at the Center for Global Education, and it is one that is gaining attention in the wider world of international education. We are pleased to see a growth in understanding about the actual exchange of benefit and harm that can occur when groups of North Americans travel to and live in another country or community.

Ann-Lutterman Aguilar’s Findings on Reciprocity in Mexico

Since reciprocity is a key element to our programming, it has been a significant asset to our organization. Ann Lutterman-Aguilar, site director in Mexico, has data from her doctoral research (see professional involvement section of Annual Report) that assists us in better understanding the exchanges we are making with communities in Mexico. While Ann’s research is primarily about vocation, a critical aspect of her research explores the question, “Do only U.S. students benefit from programs, or do Mexican community partners benefit as well? In other words, does reciprocity truly exist?” Ann’s research included data gathered from 105 Mexican community partners who answered questionnaires and participated in focus groups and in-depth interviews. The Mexican participants included members of host families, long- term guest speakers, and internship supervisors. The findings demonstrated that Mexican partners do indeed believe there is reciprocity existing in the intercultural encounters with U.S. students. Specifically, participants reported significant increases in their appreciation for and understanding of many forms of diversity, including greater appreciation for racial, religious, and sexual diversity. Another important impact of the intercultural encounters identified by Mexican participants was the overcoming of internalized classism and/or racism and discovering the value of their own voices.

The CGE-Mexico team has adopted David Fox’s classification of two primary types of reciprocity within international education:1) direct, or “specific reciprocity,” which involves “giving back directly to those who have served them,” and 2) indirect or “generalized reciprocity,” in which the host community “believes that someone or some group, be they from the host community or not, will benefit from what participants contribute to society someday.”1 This is what some refer to as the “pay-it-forward” form of reciprocity—it doesn’t directly benefit the community, but the community trusts that participants will take positive action in the future as a result of the experience. This sentiment is highlighted by the fact that research participants praised the programs’ emphasis on social analysis and contrasted it with programs that “seem to be more interested in moving foreigners to feel compassion and provide charity to the poor.” For example, Nahua spiritual leader Ignacio “Nacho” Torres Ramírez said: “The students get to know us in person and feel and experience closeness with an Indigenous community. They also directly experience our spirituality, our cosmovision, and our lives first hand…these encounters help fight racism and classism and create the solidarity rather than charity because people can’t walk away from these relationships just saying, “What cute Indigenous people, what a lovely culture, what pretty clothing.”

Reciprocity Panel at CGE All-Staff Meetings

Three participants from Ann’s research contributed to a panel presentation on reciprocity at CGE’s biannual staff meetings in July (see highlights section of Annual Report):

Victoria Maria de León Alvarado from the faith-based women's group Luz y Libertad, a group that has met with many of our students and participants over the course of several years.

Juliana García Quintanilla from the Independent Human Rights Commission of the State of Morelos (CIDHM). She has served as both a speaker and internship supervisor. CIDHM has been involved with CGE-Mexico since its founding.

Rosario Bello Escorcia, who grew up in a host family and is now a Spanish teacher at UNIVERSAL, the language school that hosts our students.

During the panel, Rosario shared that CGE experiences helped her learn a great deal about identity and stereotypes, particularly her stereotypes about people from the United States. She had always perceived U.S. citizens to be rich, but then students began to arrive and they spoke about their lives, many of which had been lived in poverty. Rosario also shared this story with Ann and the panel, which demonstrates Ann’s findings about internalized racism: “When I was sixteen years old, one of the students who lived with my family asked me what ethnic group or tribe I belonged to. I said, ‘No, I’m not Indigenous. I am Mestiza; my grandfather was Spanish.’ I was very angry and offended at first. But the student wouldn’t stop talking. She said, ‘But you look more Indigenous than mixed-race.’ So I began to look at myself, and eventually…I began to feel proud of who I am and not hide it. I began to accept my Indigenous heritage and learn more about the history of my people ... That conversation changed me because it started me on the path to acceptance of my own identity.”

Victoria spoke at length about how meeting with students taught her that her voice is valued. Over time, the gratitude and praise offered by the students built her confidence, and this is a significant benefit to her personhood and to her work. Juliana’s contribution to the panel was offering the advice that CGE should create more time during exchanges to further enhance the reciprocity. The panel was an excellent way for the entire organization to better understand what reciprocity is in the words of those with whom we share the exchange.

Other Sites: Reciprocity in El Sontule Community

In addition to Ann’s research, our other sites have explored more closely how reciprocity exists in their context. One example is the relationship between CGE in Nicaragua and the El Sontule community, located within the Miraflor Nature Reserve. CGE-Nicaragua has been working with the community for over ten years. Program participants stay in the homes of members of the New Dawn women’s cooperative. They are hosted as part of a rural-ecotourism project, where they learn about crops and the process of producing organic coffee.

CGE students and travelers also have the opportunity to hear the stories of these women, whose community and cooperative experienced counterrevolutionary attacks during the Sandanista Revolution. The women of the cooperative say that some of the benefits of the relationship with CGE have been: They shared their personal stories with visitors, including stories of violence and suffering and in this process they have been able to heal their wounds and overcome some of their fears. Similar to some of the comments made by our partners in Mexico, the women express that before they began hosting our groups they were shy about hosting foreigners because they felt they did not have important personal stories. By hosting CGE groups, the women have gained more confidence speaking in public and are also aware of the impact that they have on others. There is now a sense of pride and empowerment and higher levels of self- esteem. Another important result of the relationship has been the establishment of the scholarship fund to help sons and daughters of the women pursue an undergraduate degree. The funds come primarily from CGE travel seminar participants or students.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

MN Campus Compact | Five Questions for: Diane Tran

Originally published by Minnesota Campus Compact on Monday, December 19, 2011.

Five Questions for: Diane Tran

Diane Tran, Project Manager at Grassroots Solutions, College of St. Scholastica alumna

1) What about your college experience influenced where you are today?
In my current community and professional work, I work to advance policy and social change through advocacy and education. It was during my time at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN that I was able to practice and develop insight into a great deal of the skills I now employ daily – understanding systems, building coalitions, and utilizing collaborative leadership skills. The Benedictine values of community, hospitality, respect, stewardship, and love of learning provided practical grounding for me as I pursued my academic studies and, I believe, were the most important part of the education I received as part of my undergraduate studies.

2) What is the most exciting thing that you do in your job?
I’m a project manager with Grassroots Solutions, a Minneapolis-based consulting firm specializing in grassroots strategy, training, organizing, and evaluation. We work with a variety of national, statewide, and local clients including nonprofits, government and associations, corporations, and candidates. My team works on both electoral and advocacy projects and I’ve been fortunate to engage on issues like promoting the clean energy economy, protecting antibiotic efficacy for human health through changing industrial farming practices, and preserving medical care for the poorest of the poor in Minnesota. I’m lucky to work with great people on behalf of important causes.

3) What book should everybody read, and why?
The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy, by William Strauss and Neil Howe, was published in 1997, and details the researchers’ theory of American history as a series of recurring cycles. As a student of history, it is fascinating to consider their proposed understanding of people and cultural shifts as part of larger archetypes and natural systems. As a citizen concerned by the partisan divide and political gridlock that seems today’s norm, it is comforting to take the long view that the current political and economic challenges we face are neither unprecedented nor new to the human condition. As they purport, “In nature, the season that is about to come is always the season farthest removed from memory. So too in American history, past and present.”

4) Who or what is inspiring your work these days?
Minnesota has a nationally recognized civic tradition and I’m proud to be a part of contributing to that trend. We Minnesotans vote and volunteer in record numbers and we are concerned about the well-being of our communities. I have served in recent years on the boards of directors for the Citizens League, Kids ‘n Kinship, National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP-MN), the Minnesota Public Health Association, and the Minnesota Women’s Consortium. I volunteer with youth and direct service programs at my church, teach courses on active citizenship for emerging leaders, and am pleased to be a part of the civic infrastructure of our great state.

5) What are you passionate about?
I’m the founding blogger for Minnesota Rising and am engaged in work to build relationships, trust, and a shared vision for the rising Millennial generation in Minnesota. Having been a youth, student, and community organizer, I recognize that young people do not have to wait for some appointed time upon which we can assume the mantle of leadership. If our generation is able to come together now because of our common experiences and a shared admiration for and commitment to Minnesota, we have that much more opportunity to continue our state’s historic legacy of educational attainment, economic vitality, and healthy communities. I invite any and all young Minnesotans interested in joining the discussion to contribute to the “Our Minnesota: Building A State of Trust,” cascading conversations tour and to work with us to develop the collective capacity of this generation for impacting Minnesota’s future.

We’re starting a new type of blog post, asking alumni of Minnesota Campus Compact member institutions about their civic experiences and reflections. If you have people you’d like to hear from or questions you’d like to ask, please let us know — or ask someone questions yourself and send us the results to share. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Final Cut: Words to Strike from Your Resume

It's been a great boon to me to be part of the Institute for International Public Policy network, for continued professional development, networking, and career advice and mentoring. As evidence of the knowledge-sharing and continued support they provide to alumni (and as to why you should encourage eligible students to apply for the 2012 fellowship), I share below an article that crossed the IIPP wire not too long ago, about how deleting words from your resume proves less is more. See and share below!

11/04/2011 @ 12:35PM |379,890 views

Final Cut: Words to Strike from Your Resume

Final CutIf you’ve applied for a job recently, you’ve probably looked over that 8½ x 11” summary of your career more times than you can count—and tweaked it just as often—in pursuit of the perfect resume.

But before you add another bullet point, consider this: It’s not always about what you add in—the best changes you can make may lie in what you take out.

The average resume is chock-full of sorely outdated, essentially meaningless phrases that take up valuable space on the page. Eliminate them, and you’ll come off as a better, more substantial candidate—and your resume won’t smack of that same generic, mind-numbing quality found on everyone else’s.

Every word—yes, every word—on that page should be working hard to highlight your talents and skills. If it’s not, it shouldn’t be on there. So grab a red pen, and banish these words from your resume for good.

Career Objective

My first few resumes had a statement like this emblazoned top and center: “Career objective: To obtain a position as a [insert job title here] that leverages my skills and experience as well as provides a challenging environment that promotes growth.”


Yawn. This is not only boring, it’s ineffective (and sounds a little juvenile, to boot). The top of your resume is prime real estate, and it needs to grab a hiring manager’s attention with a list of your top accomplishments, not a summary of what you hope to get out of your next position.

You can be “experienced” in something after you’ve done it once—or every day for the past 10 years. So drop this nebulous term and be specific. If, for example, you’re a Client Report Specialist, using a phrase such as “Experienced in developing client reports” is both vague and redundant. But sharing that you “Created five customized weekly reports to analyze repeat client sales activity”—now that gives the reader a better idea of where exactly this so-called experience lies, with some actual results attached.

Also eliminate: seasoned, well-versed

Team Player
If you’ve ever created an online dating profile, you know that you don’t just say that you’re nice and funny—you craft a fun, witty profile that shows it. Same goes for your resume: It’s much more effective to list activities or accomplishments that portray your good qualities in action than to simply claim to have them.

Instead of “team player,” say “Led project team of 10 to develop a new system for distributing reports that reduced the time for managers to receive reports by 25%.” Using a specific example, you show what you can actually accomplish. But simply labeling yourself with a quality? Not so much.

Also eliminate: people person, customer-focused

While resumes are meant to highlight your best attributes, some personality traits are better left to the hiring manager to decide upon for herself. There is a difference between appropriately and accurately describing your work skills and just tooting your own horn. Plus, even the most introverted wallflower will claim to be “dynamic” on a piece of paper because, well, why not? When it comes to resumes, keep the content quantifiable, show tangible results and successes, and wait until the interview to show off your “dynamism,” “enthusiasm,” or “energy.”

Also eliminate: energetic, enthusiastic

References Available Upon Request
All this phrase really does is take up valuable space. If a company wants to hire you, they will ask you for references—and they will assume that you have them. There’s no need to address the obvious (and doing so might even make you look a little presumptuous!). Use the space to give more details about your talents and accomplishments instead.

In a crummy job market with a record number of people applying for the same positions, it takes more than a list of desirable-sounding qualities to warrant an interview. Specific examples pack a punch, whereas anything too dependent on a list of buzzwords will sound just like everyone else’s cookie-cutter resume. So, give your resume a good once-over, and make sure every word on that page is working hard for you.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Muse.

Elizabeth Lowman is a proud word nerd, happy to silently correct your grammar as you speak. A life-long passion for language parlayed into a career in writing and editing on topics ranging from court reporting to natural ways to boost your immunity. When not busy feeding her addiction to pop culture, sushi and/or cupcakes, you can find her trying to be a good wife, daughter and friend.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Constantly being recreated

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being recreated. "
-Brenda Ueland

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans: Nick Banovetz!

I was honored to nominate Nick Banovetz, on behalf of Minnesota Rising, as one the Minnesota Jaycee's Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans this year. His leadership has been evidenced since Minnesota Rising's inception, starting with his "Mobilizing the 'Burbs" breakout session at the first Un/Conference, his contributions to the Minnesota Millennial Research Roundtable, and helping land Minnesota Rising some notable mentions in Minnesota Business Magazine this past October. Thanks for your hard work and congratulations on your selection, Nick!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Accepting Applications: Institute for International Public Policy 2012 Fellows

With winter break swiftly approaching, there's no better time to make a highly talented and ambitious college student you know aware of the amazing opportunities afforded by the Institute for International Public Policy Student Fellowship Program. With ample support for studies abroad, graduate level courses in statistics and memo-writing, and some amazing fellow Fellows, the application is worth spending a few days of the holiday on. Give the gift of knowledge and a boost of encouragement to someone you know this year!

Institute for International Public Policy Student Fellowship Program


The UNCF Special Programs Corporation’s Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP) Fellowship Program is now entering its 17th year. The Institute seeks to enhance U.S. national security and global competitiveness by promoting excellence, international service, and awareness among a representative cross-section of the American citizenry. IIPP also seeks to broaden access to international education and training opportunities for underrepresented minority college students.

Fellowship Components:

· Sophomore Summer Policy Institute

· Junior Year Study Abroad

· Junior Summer Policy Institute

· Summer Language Institute

· International Internship

· Internationally Focused Advanced Degree Program

· Wraparound Student Services (academic, study abroad, and career advising)

Eligibility Requirements - We welcome applications from undergraduate sophomores who:

· Are enrolled full-time at an accredited, four–year baccalaureate-granting institution.

· Are U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents (documentary support required).

· Will remain enrolled at their undergraduate institution for two years following their acceptance to the Fellowship.

· Have a minimum 3.2 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale).

· Have a strong demonstrated interest in international affairs.

· Are an underrepresented minority (African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Asian American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander).

· Plan to seek admission to an internationally focused advanced degree program.

Students from Minority Serving Institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Other Minority Serving Institutions (OMIs) are particularly encouraged to apply.

Application Deadline: February 15, 2012



Visit us on the web at WWW.UNCFSP.ORG/IIPP, hear our Fellows’ stories, join our Facebook page, follow us onTwitter, and encourage your students to apply online today!

To view a one page description of the Fellowship, please follow this link.

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