Friday, September 28, 2018

Presentation on Death and Grief

I’m on the train right now heading to a conference, and in about two hours, I will be speaking about how death, loss, and grief touch so many lives, including my students who live so far away from their families.
It can be a difficult topic to address, but so many people struggle and want to be understood. Our own son, Josh, died by suicide.
Being ready to sit with someone in their pain and discomfort is the mark of a true friend. I encourage all to be that friend.
Heartache is certainly not limited to death. Illness, abuse, divorce, loss of employment...the list goes on...are all traumatic events.
I will share post a copy of the presentation later this morning.
Here is a listening activity on my site that models possible conversation when someone loses a family member or friend close to them:

Thursday, September 27, 2018

End of the Harvest

As we come to the end of the harvest season in our garden, I wake up each morning with a thankful heart that we have a home where my dad can live with us, great family and friends, and food that we can enjoy and share. So, if you live in the area and could use some vegetables, you’re welcome to visit our place. Life is filled with unexpected twists, hills, and valleys, but I relish in the exhilarating adventure, feeling fortunate for what I have.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Finding Good Answers

In my work with international students, I have been asked many questions over the years, and one of my roles as a teacher is to help them learn how to find answers to their questions, particularly when it comes to understanding people from
so many different cultures.
First of all, I try to emphasis that people who teach them HOW to think are people worth listening to because they don’t view themselves as the source of knowledge. However, people who tell or teach my students WHAT to think are probably caught up in their own wisdom and intellectual hubris, and they can’t seek the flaws in their own reasoning.
The second point is learning to ask the right questions to get the right answers. Simply asking, “So, what do American families like to do at Christmas?” is the wrong question because it first starts out with an unclear definition of who Americans are.
Brazilians are Americans; Hondurans are Americans; Mexicans are Americans. (I am also concerned when people stereotype the cultures of my own students which can lead to unfortunate and harmful labeling.)
This question about “Americans” that comes from a very ethnocentric worldview makes it impossible to answer because it isn’t based on a clear definition of what an American is.
So, on whatever topic or field of study you are in, learning how to think logically and rationally is one of the keys to a deeper understanding of the world around you.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Finding Hope

As I mentioned in earlier post, our family participated in a suicide awareness walk, to honor those who have lost loved ones and to support those who are struggling.
We had a large group of family join together to celebrate the life of our son, and also express hope to others who are struggling as well.
All too often, people feel I needed shame and the burden of the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness is something that as a society and as a world we need to work past in order to have compassion for others. If you are struggling personally, or have someone else in your life who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, I encourage you to seek out help and resources that might be available, hopefully, in your area.
That said, if you’d like to contact me directly and share your own story, I’m happy to listen.
You can find out more information on our son at this website:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Homestay Experiences

Homestay can be a rewarding experience for international visitors and students going overseas, BUT you have to find the right place with the right people. In this listening activtity, ask yourself if this is a place you would like to stay. Enjoy a few laughs: