Upcoming Cultural Exchanges
Feb. 25: Mamadou Djiguimde- Burkina Faso
March 11: Natasha Francksen- United Kingdom
March 18: Sharifa Djurabaeva and Ziyoda Gazieva- Uzbekistan
March 25: Isaac Muhando- Kenya
April 1: Emelie Snickars- Finland
April 8: Luma Bashmi- Bahrain
April 15: Danah Alqunfuzi- Saudi Arabia
All events are on Wednesdays at 12 p.m. in the Rinker Center
Source: Ball Sate Calendar of Events
Hallo, Ball State. That’s not a typo, but it is a Germanic hello said Michael Werning, a German graduate student and English literature and international studies major.
Werning presented Feb. 11’s Cultural Exchange at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. This event takes place at noon every Wednesday, hosted by the Rinker Center for International Programs. Since 1998, it has offered an insider’s look at a different country each week by allowing an international student or faculty member to tell their story.
This semester, countries highlighted include Kenya, Uzbekistan and Finland.
As a German student, Werning has encountered some misconceptions about his country in his time abroad. For example, all citizens in Munich, a German city, do not wear lederhosen, the leather pants sometimes used to stereotype the typical German.
Heather Wilson, the graduate student in charge of Cultural Exchange, said the program is important because it offers Americans and international visitors the opportunity to expand their horizons and challenge preconceived ideas about one another’s cultures.
“Being exposed to the culture can help others be more knowledgeable of it,” Werning said. “It’s more of a genuine experience.”
Werning comes from Paderborn, a city located in midwest Germany. Paderborn is almost twice the size of Muncie.
Before coming to the United States, Werning traveled to other countries, including Chile, during a four month student exchange program. Before Ball State, Werning studied in Wisconsin. He plans to spend two more semesters here.
One of the biggest surprises he encountered in the states was how late stores such as Wal-Mart stay open in the U.S. Despite this, Werning said adjusting to U.S. culture has been somewhat easy.
Cultural Exchange presentations are meant to be causal as speakers briefly touch on basic facts of their country before discussing topics such as what they most enjoy about their country, what they miss or what they find most interesting.
At his presentation, Werning discussed topics such as the geography, history and education of Germany.
He focused on famous German festivals – Carnival in Cologne and Oktoberfest. At Oktoberfest, people across Germany celebrate the harvest with their own versions of the fall celebration. Werning talked about the different beer tents and pretzels at the festivals he attended.
Werning finished by offering suggestions to potential travelers to Germany.
Werning recommends tourists stop in major cities such as Berlin, Munich and Cologne. Be adventurous and try the food in Germany, said Werning.
“Vielen dank,” Werning said in conclusion. “Thank you very much.”
Tomorrow, Mamadou Djiguimde will give a presentation on Burkina Faso, a country located in West Africa.