Communication is the key to life 

Maddie Duffield attended the second Cultural Understanding Workshop  for her culturally diverse family systems class. But she learned so much more than she thought she would. 

“The biggest thing is talking about how different people in different cultures do different things. In my class, we’re learning about people’s values. If you work with them in a medical setting, it changes how they feel about it,” said Duffield. “I think taking what we learned about communicating with people and their different values can be applied to my class. It was helpful to learn.” 

Minnesota State’s Maverick Diversity Institute offers a ‘Cultural Understanding Workshop’ to help students explore new skills and, eventually, intercultural collaborations. The second workshop, Communication and Conflict Resolution, took place Tuesday in the CSU.  

Zeke Sorenson, Director of the LGBT Center, gave a presentation on intercultural communication. One topic they discussed was Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, a tool to introduce people to intercultural communication and how to understand how culture can affect communication. Other models would have been too advanced for students just learning about this topic. 

“It’s one of the models that is best to introduce the topic and help folks to start to understand those pieces. With the particular audience I had today, I knew it was a majority of students, so more than likely, they were coming into it with little knowledge of how culture actually impacts communication,” said Sorenson. 

Sorenson said learning about intercultural communication is important because it helps people understand one another and become more of a community. 

“It’s important to be able to work through conflict so we can solve problems. Without communication, you tend to spend the majority of your time trying to prove who’s right, and nothing gets done,” said Sorenson. “Especially when it comes to problem-solving or trying to solve a problem. Communication is absolutely key. But it also helps to build relationships.” 

Thomas Carlson, NtaisNag Vang and Brandt Nye, three graduate intern students from the Counseling Center, gave a presentation on conflict resolution. Nye said learning about this topic is important for college students as it’s a significant time in their lives. He also said learning proper communication is the foundation for anything to happen. 

“There is a lot of volatility in relationships, big decisions to be made, and changing lifestyles — even just a lot of changes and a lot of decisions that will kind of set them up for the rest of their lives,” said Nye. “You need to communicate and communicate effectively. I think so many issues, nationally and globally, could be better managed, or at least better handled, if there were more people with communication skills.” 

One thing Duffield said surprised her was when Sorenson showed a picture of an iceberg where the whole iceberg was showing. It showed 20% of the iceberg is visible, and 80% is invisible. 

Sorenson chose to use this photo because it shows communicating with people is more than just verbal; it’s also nonverbal. 

“I didn’t realize such a big number is kept inside and only a small amount, as shown, because I feel like a lot is shown. It was just very surprising to see,” said Duffield. 

The third workshop will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. April 9 in CSU 245. The topic for this workshop is Stereotypes & Collaboration. Students can register for this free workshop on Mav Central under events.

Header photo: Minnesota State’s Maverick Diversity Institute offers a ‘Cultural Understanding Workshop’ to help students explore new skills and, eventually, intercultural collaborations. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at

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