SMSU Welcomes Udon Thani Rajabhat

Kim Watkins, News Editor

When the Udon Thani Rajabhat University students and faculty come to Minnesota they hope for a chance to learn about a part of American culture, to see how schools and businesses are run, to get in touch with the community and, hopefully, to see some snow.

Southwest Minnesota State University hosts a group of students and faculty members from the Udon Thani University as part of a cooperative program between the schools, which is going on its fifth year.

A five-year agreement was met between the schools when the program originated and a new agreement has recently been signed, continuing the program through 2017.

“We have three groups this year…one is Business Administration (B.A.), one is Strategy of Learning Management, also called Curriculum Instruction (C.I.) and then the Program in Development Strategy (P.D.S),” Dr. Sharon Kabes, SMSU professor of education, said.

According to Kabes, P.D.S is the newest group added to the program. While the B.A. and C.I. groups visit a variety of different schools, the P.D.S. group visits local businesses and technical colleges.

“The groups have people…teaching them about different things that happen in our businesses. It interests them to find out the mission of the businesses and how they meet that vision,” JoAnne Hinckley, assistant professor of education, said.

When this program started five years ago, the success of it was unforeseeable. This program has come a long way since its inception.

“We model different teaching styles…lecture is predominant there…we have interactive groups and teams,” Kabes said.

According to Hinckley, these teaching styles were implemented in a revisiting professor’s (Dr. Nueng) classes.

The visitors from Udon Thani also get the chance to visit some well-known places in Minnesota.

“We recently went up to Itasca to see the beginning of the Mississippi…saw Paul Bunyan and Babe…Bob Larsen’s sister’s home and saw her artwork…we stopped in Twin Valley which had three inches of snow…the students were so excited,” Kabes said.

The visitors also visited a small, Presbyterian church where a fundraiser was being held. The students put a scarf into the silent auction, raising 50 dollars, and also performed some traditional dance moves. They will be visiting Pipestone later in the week, where they will get the chance to learn about some of the Native American culture in Minnesota.

“They are getting credit for this. Their culture is formal…always giving and thanking. We’ve learned so much from them,” Kabes said.

Many changes are happening in this program and it reflects greatly on both the SMSU and Udon Thani universities.

Thanks goes to Huong Pham, Kabes, Hinckley, Robert and Premjit Larsen, Dennis Lamb, Ruthe Thompson, the SMSU Jazz Band, the Hmong Student Organization, the Lions Club International, Rotary International, Dr. Donald Robertson, Sandy Nelson, Rev. Celeste Lasich, Dr. Ronald Wood, Dr. Beth Weatherby, Scott Crowell, Dr. Raphael Onyeaghala, Dr. Jan Loft, Ajeev Shah and everyone in support of this program.