ASU instructor given the opportunity of a lifetime to benefit another culture

By

Lynne MacDonald

Darien Keane will spend the month of July halfway across the world teaching communication to benefit students of another country.

Keane, instructor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, will spend the remainder of her summer in Sudan working with ASU alum Neal Van Hydershadt, who teaches rhetoric and composition at the American University in Cairo. Hydershadt and Keane are working with the Bridges International Organization, which are coordinating the international project with the Sudanese Ministry of Human Resource Development.  

“The opportunity to work in a new culture on the African continent seemed like a chance of a lifetime,” said Keane. “I am excited to use my experience teaching communication to benefit another country.”

The joint project is to create and deliver a business-communications training for a new certificate that the Sudanese Ministry anticipates becoming part of a continuing adult education program at a local university.

Keane is part of a team of three course developers currently creating the pilot program, which will continue to be a work-in-progress during the summer. The title of the course is “English Writing and Communication Skills in Business and Professional Settings.”

Each course developer will have 20 students and a teaching assistant. They will teach through the entire curriculum over the course of the project. The total in-class time is about 95 hours.

“I expect I will get to know these students really well,” Keane said.

The students participating in the program must have a working knowledge of English and need to apply for acceptance into the pilot program. Participating students will be government employees who work with the public, and most will have a college degree.

“The objectives of the courses are to help the employees become more familiar and comfortable with communicating with Westerners and with using English,” said Keane. 

Topics being covered include: the communication process, listening skills, best emailing practices, introducing a colleague, small talk, running a meeting and giving a presentation.

Keane plans to incorporate her international teaching experience into the communication courses she teaches at ASU, introduction to communication and small-group communication.

She also hopes to grow her teaching practices in new ways and gain new ideas of teaching activities through her collaboration with the two other professors.

“I look forward to immersing myself in a new culture that is very different from my own,” Keane said. “I hope to come away with a deeper understanding of cross-cultural communication and the communication training process."