Feel Empowered by Your Culture

By: Luiza Goncalves Oliveira Benvenuti, Senior Psychology Student from Brusque, Brazil, and Senior Peer Career Guide with University Career Services

We, international students, have a lot to talk about when it comes to the differences between the American culture and our own. However, how can we feel empowered about the stories, perspectives, and experiences we share and how do you we know the best way to do it? In this post, Brianne Wolf and Kaitlyn Waller are going to help us answer these questions.

Brianne Wolf is from a small town in Nebraska. She lived several years in Spain and currently works in Mexico City as a Global Programs and Outreach Manager for the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Kaitlyn Waller is from Minnesota and besides getting her undergrad in Iowa and Masters in Wisconsin, she also lived a few nonconsecutive years in France and China. She currently is the Student Success Navigator for the CUSP Rwandan Scholarship Program
  1. Can you share the skills and strengths you developed from traveling/living in another country and culture?

Adaptability and flexibility are extremely useful and applicable to any job position. Nowadays, employers are looking for people that can face unexpected situations and are able to understand what needs to change and be adjusted for the company to move forward and be successful. Additionally, being exposed to a new language and culture can improve your knowledge on that language and also help you develop the ability to work with people from different perspectives, skills, and viewpoints.


  1. How can International Students focus on the strengths and qualities that come from their stories and experiences? 

Know that your perspectives and experiences are important, unique, and can be incredibly beneficial and useful while addressing complex problems. A big tip here is using the resources on campus such as the writing center and the career center, to help you reflect and identify the strengths and skills you can and what is the best way to share those with others.


  1. What are some tips you would give to International Students that are struggling with cultural adjustment?

Connect with people from the United States. Making friends can help you better understand the country and culture and may increase your sense of belonging. There are events on campus that will give you the opportunity to connect with domestic students such as Coffee Talks. Stay busy on campus and in the community but also stay connected with your home country through calls to your family and friends or by being part/starting a cultural organization at UNL.

Brianne has experience volunteering with a couple of organizations in Lincoln that might allow you to connect with people from other parts of the world that are learning English (if you want to reach out, send her an email at bwolf4@unl.edu).


  1. How do you think International Students can start conversations about culture in a workplace/classroom setting? 

People are interested and curious about different parts of the world that they may have never been to and perhaps are just uncomfortable and/or shy to ask about it. So, start with easy and relatable topics such as food. You can try participating in events that will allow you to share about your culture, such as potlucks. Know that any contribution you decide to make will be valuable to others and that research shows that the most successful companies are the most diverse organizations. In other words, whatever information you decide to share, it will definitely broaden the perspective of the people around you.


  1. How do you think International Students can empower and help each other into feeling comfortable about their cultures in America?

Help UNL create an environment that will be welcoming and inclusive to international students by sharing your feedback about events on campus – what would you like you? what worked and what didn’t? – with faculty, staff, organizations, etc.


If you want to watch the full video, click here.

By Luiza Benvenuti
Luiza Benvenuti Career Connections Intern