Northeast Instructors Receive Warm Velkommen in Scandinavian Country

by jamesc  6/26/2014 10:26:44 AM --  NORFOLK – Since Northeast Community College instituted global educational opportunities as one of its eight institutional priorities, several students, faculty and staff have had experiences of not only learning and understanding other cultures, they have grown personally as well. Three Northeast instructors are the latest to experience a real world culture first-hand by traveling to a distant land. Brian Anderson, broadcasting instructor, Cara Hoehne, business instructor, and Kate Trindle, history/geography instructor, traveled to Denmark this spring to teach at Aarhus Business College in Aarhus, Denmark. “The trip to Aarhus was an amazing experience, both culturally and educationally,” Anderson said. “Our hosts provided us with a great mix of both that helped us bring those experiences back to our students and classrooms.”

 

Administrators at Northeast and Aarhus signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in April 2013, designed to promote relationships among students, faculty, administration, and board members that will mutually benefit each college. The Danish institution sent three instructors to Northeast Community College in October, 2013.

On their recent visit, Anderson, Hoehne and Trindle had the opportunity to immerse themselves in both of Denmark’s education system and culture.

Hoehne said she enjoyed getting to meet the students. “They divide their students based on the degree they are seeking and where the person is in life when they are seeking that degree.  At Northeast, we put all of these students together.”

She said in her business communications class at Northeast, she has instructed students enrolled in business, diesel technology, wind energy, utility line, administrative assistant, computer programming, medical administrative assistant, graphic design, drafting, welding, and auto body. Hoehne said she also has had students of all ages in one classroom - from a high school senior to a second career grandmother.

“I believe these dynamics create a unique atmosphere with many different opinions and perspectives. Our students receive first hand experiences and enjoy communicating with students from across campus.” 

The age range at Aarhus Business College is primarily between 15 and 22, however, there are some non-traditional students, but not as many that are found at Northeast. In the Danish education system, students can choose their direction after 9th grade.  They may go on to 10th grade and finish high school or choose a technical college or trade school, such as Aarhus Business College, where they learn specific skills to prepare them for life in the work force.

Trindle said Aarhus instructors requested she have three different presentations when she taught. “I received the best response from students on The American Dream and American Politics. I also presented on Nebraska Culture. While our political systems are way different, we concluded that the American Dream isn’t all that different than the Danish Dream. Our means of securing the dream are a bit different.” 

Trindle said the Aarhus students were eager to learn and asked good questions about Americans and American life. “They have impressions from movies and media and wondered about which stereotypes are true. They asked some great questions.”

The Aarhus MOU actually got its start through the Northeast broadcasting program. The Danish college doesn’t have a broadcasting department, but it wants to incorporate more of the technology. That’s where Anderson comes in.

“The vision of this partnership is to create a European TV station that is programmed entirely with college programs from around the world. Northeast was chosen to be part of this project because of its excellence in broadcasting. As the program evolves, it is our hope that our TV newscasts or other programs produced on the Northeast campus will be aired all across Europe on a regular basis.”

Aarhus Business College has a number of campuses spread out in the city of Aarhus. “Between the three of us, we had the opportunity to speak at most of them. I spent most of my time at their main location where their broadcasting course is offered,” Anderson said.

“Unlike Northeast, Aarhus Business College offers students a one-week broadcasting course instead of a full-time major of study. Each student at the college has the opportunity to take the course and learn about the world of TV broadcasting. During the week, they learn about cameras, video editing on the computer and putting an entire show together. I had the opportunity to speak to students and help them with video editing and camera handling skills.”

When he wasn't observing the broadcasting course, Anderson spoke to English classes about American media culture, funding differences and how the Federal Communications Commission operates in the U.S.

“We had the opportunity to see both Danish radio and TV industries in operation. Unlike the U.S., most TV stations in Denmark are owned and governed by the Danish government,” Anderson said. “Visitors would be surprised to watch an entire 20 minute TV program or listen to a radio broadcast without any commercials. The government provides most of their operating funds, unlike the U.S., where advertising dollars and commercials are the only sources of income for commercial stations.” 

The Northeast instructors had the opportunity to visit Danmarks Radio (DR), which also includes six TV stations in addition to numerous radio stations. Aarhus is one of those stations.

Anderson said the TV stations run Danish programs, but most of the content is programming created and distributed in the United States. “Another day, we visited an Aarhus radio station called "go!FM" The station reminded me of northeast Nebraska radio because their focus was on how to provide the best content and information to the listener. They had great personalities, focused on news and listener benefit and even went out into the community and did live broadcasts to meet their listeners.”

Another aspect of Danish broadcasting is called "Project: Gellerup." The project is designed for Danish residents who may be out of work and who are looking for a skill to help make them employable. This particular project teaches them how to shoot, edit, and create various video projects that are made for television.

Aarhus, a city the size of Omaha, is the second largest city in Denmark and is the principal port city of the country. The three instructors said the Danes rely mostly upon public transportation and their own foot power (walking and biking) instead of automobile traffic. The tax on a car purchase in Denmark is approximately 180%, so many choose not to buy a vehicle. Outside many public places, there are areas where bicycles can be locked up and stored.

Anderson, Hoehne, and Trindle also had opportunities to see portions of Denmark and experience Danish hospitality.

Trindle said the faculty and staff of Aarhus Business College were extremely friendly and welcoming. “They were eager to escort us through Aarhus and throughout Denmark to show us the beauty and diverse landscapes of their country. We were welcomed into their homes and they treated us very well. It was a great study in Danish culture.”

She said the Danes are a proud people and willing to share their accomplishments. “We visited a union and met with union representatives who explained the Danish model in which almost all Danes are union members and are paid a fair living wage no matter the level of job. It seemed to me that they have all but eliminated poverty and with that, eliminated crime. We also visited a clinic and hospital and were introduced to their system of free, state-sponsored healthcare. Their college tuition is free as well. Students are paid a stipend of approximately $1,000 to cover their living expenses while in college.”

The Northeast instructors had the opportunity to see a good portion of Denmark too. To the north, they visited Skagen, which is the northern most tip of the country. “This was my favorite stop on the tour,” Hoehne said. “It’s where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea and you can literally see an "X" in the water.  Our guide was curious as to why we were picking up seashells on the shore.  We quickly let him know that we do not have seashells in Nebraska.” 

The group also took a three hour train ride to Copenhagen, the country's capital - where there saw the Queen's Palace, Parliament, The Little Mermaid statute and numerous other famous landmarks. They also traveled south over the Danish border into Germany to the town of Flensberg. On the way to Germany, they stopped at a former WW II concentration camp and bunker complex and one of Denmark's first communities, Ribe.

Anderson said the night before they left, they stayed at the famous Legoland Hotel in Billund, Denmark. “Everyone in the U.S. has heard of or owns Legos, but do they realize that this product originates in Denmark?”

Anderson, Hoehne, and Trindle enthusiastically agree that the trip was very beneficial to them as it gave them a better understanding of the Danish culture. 

“I think my cohorts will agree that we have come home with a much better understanding of Denmark and Danish culture and we can share that with our students and be one step closer to making our curriculum more international,” Trindle said. “Our students will benefit from this partnership with Aarhus Business College. We hope in the near future to be able to offer such an exchange for our students and theirs as well.”

Anderson called it an “amazing” cultural and educational experience. “In today's world, it is important that our students learn about other cultures and learn how to operate in a global climate. When I teach my students about advertising or commercial production, I will be able to relate to them about how it's done in Denmark. I will be able to tell them about how the skills they are learning at Northeast can be utilized in a broadcasting career in Denmark and how the programs they create here in the U.S. could be seen in European countries,” he said. “I also brought back a few classroom ideas, such as an increased use of labs and group work, that I will be using beginning this fall.”

Hoehne was very complementary of their hosts at Aarhus Business College. “They had a fantastic itinerary planned for us, and we basically saw the entire country of Denmark.  We were asked many times if we need down time, and we enthusiastically said ‘no, we want to see it all!’”

She feels very fortunate to have been chosen to travel to Denmark. “Northeast's commitment to Global Educational Opportunities for our students should be commended. Whether a student travels abroad with Northeast, has exchange students in their classroom, or has an instructor who travels abroad, global and cultural understanding will be enhanced.  We can talk about how the world is getting smaller in our classrooms all we want, but if we can bring in real life experiences, people, and examples, students will truly understand just how important global and cultural understanding can be.” 

 
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                                                              PHOTO CUTLINE

Brian Anderson, broadcasting instructor at Northeast Community College, speaks to a class at Aarhus Business College in Aarhus, Denmark recently. Anderson, along with Cara Hoehne, business instructor, and Kate Trindle, history/geography instructor at Northeast, traveled to Aarhus as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that administrators of the two colleges signed last year. The MOU is designed to enhance cultural awareness and workforce development.

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