How did you first hear about CIMBA?
From my department chair and other faculty at Oklahoma State.
Did you have an idea of what to expect before coming based on any other professors that you knew?
Yes, I talked to Dave Carter at Oklahoma State, and he gave me a good job preview of how it would be in terms of the teaching schedule and travel breaks.
Can you describe your CIMBA experience inside and outside of the classroom?
Inside the classroom has been really fun for me because at home I teach at a commuter campus. Here, I’ve been able to get to know my students really well. This has been more of a family atmosphere: much more getting to know the students, interacting with them, seeing them multiple times per week, and then engaging with them outside the classroom. They’ve been playing with our kids, hanging out, and getting to know them better as well.
What would you recommend for faculty coming to CIMBA in the future, potentially with family members or kids?
I would prepare your materials in advance so that part is out of the way. I would also prepare more material than you think you will need. You can always back off. Prepare activities in class to keep students excited and into the material because you can’t lecture two hours a day to the same students three days a week. It has to be a multifaceted teaching approach with activities. I recommend downloading videos before you come here and saving them on your computer. Use the Mozilla Firefox add-in to save YouTube videos to your computer, and they’ll be great tools.
The experience outside the classroom has been amazing. Having a family here makes it a challenge but a good challenge. You have to make sure that you find ways to keep them busy. The more independent that they are in terms of their willingness to go do things while you’re teaching and working, the better off you will be. They don’t want or need to be hanging around your apartment the whole time. Plan for travel both with your family but also within your teaching schedule. You want to do the best teaching job you can while also optimizing your travel to ensure you see as much as you can with your family and keep them as integrated as possible.
What has surprised you the most about living and teaching in Paderno?
The weather was a surprise! It was colder than we expected for longer than we expected. You have to remember that Paderno is north of Minneapolis, Minnesota. When you come in January, it’s a consistently, depending on where you’re from, cold temperature. That will break, at least it did this year, around the end of February or beginning of March.
Also, in general, planning travel is work! People think that, you know, you just go but that has largely fallen on my wife. She is the travel planner in terms of finding locations and accommodations and then she says, “We’re going here on this day, get us there.” I go find the planes, the trains, or whatever else we need. Most of the people of northern Italy are incredibly accommodating, super nice, and very helpful.
Can you talk a little bit about your discussions / working with our LEAP team in terms of the technology stuff?
I think it’s all very intriguing and that students should take advantage of it as much as they can. I wish I would have had more materials ready when I got here so that I could have had time to incorporate the sociometers, EEGs, and skin conductance.
What do you think you’ll miss most about teaching at CIMBA? Or about living near Paderno?
Having lived in another country for about the same amount of time 17 years ago, there will be things that I will miss but I don’t know what they are yet. I’m sure the food will be one of them. We’ve had a really great group of faculty. I also told my students that smell is a huge trigger for memories and that’s what I remember from Guatemala. When I smell something that reminds me of Guatemala, it takes me back there. There will be things that will remind me of Paderno and Italy – whether it’s food, smells, whatever.
Again, the students have been great. Like any other program, you’ve got a number of great students and you’ve got a number of students that are here for an international experience. There are a number of students that I’m sure I’ll stay in touch with. Some have even formed relationships with my kids. And the staff! We’ve had a really great time together. It’s just all new, exciting, and challenging but that’s what we like. People think we’re crazy because we’re always on the go and doing something. I’m sure my kids will cry on the way to the train station when we leave Paderno. They don’t know it yet but they will. There will be things that they will miss, too.
How do you think being at CIMBA will influence your return to teaching at Oklahoma State? Are there things that you think you will change? Things that you think you might find more difficult? Things you’ll find easier?
I tend to have a lot of class activities anyway, but I think it will get me to push even further in that direction. I want to get students to learn more while they don’t realize they’re learning. I’ve always believed in, and I’ll mess up this quote, but Walt Disney always said, “I’d rather entertain people and hope that they learn something than try to teach them and hope that they’re entertained.” To me, the key is to get people to learn without realizing that they’re working – get them to want to learn. I also will work harder to get to know students better on our commuter campus. I’d genuinely like to be more integrated with them.
Any last thoughts for people thinking about getting involved with CIMBA?
Don’t come with expectations. Come ready to embrace anything and everything. Just show up at the airport, walk outside, and take it all in. And keep doing that. Don’t come with expectations that it’s going to be like home or it’s going to be like someplace else you’ve been. No place is going to be like where you’ve been or home and if you go into that with simply no expectations then you’ll really be blown away.