Stanford-Sydney Connections, Fall 2010

This fall we’re once again connecting students from our Stanford writing & rhetoric classes with students from the University of Sydney in a whirlwind of 8-video-conferences-in-2-days.  This is our 4th or 5th time connecting with Sydney in this way, and each time its a marathon of adrenaline, student excitement, exchanges of materials and ideas, and on-the-spot tech management.

We’re excited this year to have some new Stanford classes joining our exchange.  On the roster for the video conferences are:

  • The Rhetoric of Advertising (first year students)
  • The Rhetoric of Social Networking & Online Privacy (first year students)
  • Fake News and the Rhetoric of “Truthiness” (first year students)
  • The Rhetoric of Gaming (first year students)
  • The Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics (first year students)
  • The Rhetoric of India in Global Cinema (second year students)
  • Rhetoric and Global Leadership (second year students)

All in all, we may be cycling up to 195 students through our connections with Sydney this week.  Our lesson plan is similar to that in past years — a focus on looking at cross-cultural differences through American and Australian political cartoons, and then an activity that asks the students to present on an area of thematic interest to their classes and/or research project.

We would love students who participated in this exchange to leave a comment here for their international group partners, perhaps finishing up an idea that they talked about in the session, reflecting on what they learned, a memorable moment from the video conference and how it went!

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47 Responses to Stanford-Sydney Connections, Fall 2010

  1. Doria Charlson says:

    I really enjoyed sharing our political cartoons and getting to hear a little bit of context surrounding the current political system in Australia. Similarly, it was great to hear their perspectives on the US. I loved that our converstation organically flowed from the “scripted” conversation to speaking candidly about the education system and life in our respective countries. Super fun!

  2. Sophia Nguyen says:

    I love the cross cultural blog experience! Sydney students are so friendly, and I learned a bit about current Australian politics and Australian slang. The most memorable moment is probably when Ben opened his mouth to start talking because that accent completely got blazoned into my head! It surprised me how similar our projects were, but how different our ages were. One of the girls was already 23! For future intercultural communications I will definitely capitalize on the extra time left to build a stronger relationship with the people I am put with.

  3. Will Borthwick says:

    This was a great experience. We talked a little about Australian politics, but it was even more fun to just get to know the Australian students and see what life is like over there. My most memorable moment (besides learning that the Australian class was being taught by one of my fraternity brothers) was probably listening to them explain more thoroughly the Australian political cartoon. It really gave me a better look at Australian culture and allowed us an icebreaker to talk about other issues.

  4. Bojan Milic says:

    It was a pleasure taking part in the video conference with students from the University of Sydney. Through discussing the political cartoons and rhetorical images presented, we gained valuable insight regarding issues ranging from our countries’ political situations to differences in educational systems. This activity, through the responses of the Australian students, made me realize the global applicability of my research project.

  5. Taylor, Daniel says:

    Overall, it was a very interesting experience since we got to learn about a different culture and society. Not being able to figure out the Australian political cartoon was a little frustrating. You finally see how kairos is an important aspect in creating a rhetoric piece.

  6. Tyler and Paige says:

    We had a great time talking to both groups from Australia despite some technological issue (echoes). It was interesting to hear about Australian politics, but more importantly how Australians view American politics. They seemed to know a lot more about our current issues than we did about theirs, which was both eye-opening and a bit humbling that we knew so little.

    As far as our presentations, they asked us some thought-provoking questions to help us further our arguments. Their interest in our topics was a good indicator of the content of our developing arguments. All in all, it was a good experience.

    Thanks!

  7. It was our honor to be privileged enough to video conference with another group of students that are just like us! AND halfway across the whole world! They presented some interesting points of conversation on the complexity of their political system. It was perplexing how their system mirrored our own in both the essential core of the government down to their issues of controversy such as immigration and economic stimuli.

    From a technical perspective, it was neat being put in touch, in real-time, with students so far away. We particularly enjoyed the collaborative drawing – how we could make notes on their cartoons and they could respond by circling/pointing things out. It was a very neat process!

  8. Ray Laureano says:

    I really enjoyed doing this connection. I keep telling myself that I should keep up with current events and politics, and that was evident during our talk. I think that learning a little more about a country that I don’t know much about while talking to peers about the same issues that two very different countries are faced with was very engaging. I was surprised at how these two universities were very alike and how we could exchange things which were familiar to all of us. I think that I can take a lot of this with me for the rest of the course. My research paper, after all, deals with cultural differences so this connection might be the jump-start to my topic.

  9. It was such an awesome experience to get to meet all of you and to learn about the Australian environment and culture. Your accents were so cool!! 🙂 We really enjoyed your analyses of political cartoons; this exchange allowed us to enhance our understanding of the countries that surround us. We appreciate your contributions to our research projects. We know you’re getting close to your summer vacations — enjoy!

  10. Group B Thursday says:

    Our Sydney friends said their memorable moment was when someone walked in our room and offered us a plate full of “lollies”. Our most memorable moment was hearing the word “lollies”. This instantly caused us to verbally combust and explain the concept of Outback Steakhouse…they didn’t get it. I guess they call it Cowboy Steakhouse over there to give the same feel. In the process of all this we learned two things: other countires know a lot more about our country then we know about theirs (especially American music), and we are significantly more obnoxious then “Ozzies”.

  11. Ling Ling, Mitch, Jonathan says:

    The Australian cartoon revealed lots of political problems in Australia, for example refugee problems. They have lots of problems between the prime minister and the ex-prime minister. It was also surprising that they don’t live on campus.

    For me(Mitch), I hadn’t thought about the way the colors of my selected image reinforced the rhetorical appeals of the images. I also didn’t think about some of the sociological aspects, especially regarding a game like Grand Theft Auto.
    I (Jonathan) received the idea of using franchises like Metroid, and how that might give me more evidence for my research.
    I(Ling-Ling) got insightful feedback about thinking about how girl and guy gamers are perceived differently even if they do the same things.

  12. Evan Plotkin, John D'Atri, and Brandon Whale says:

    We enjoyed the cross-cultural rhetoric conversation. It was interesting to learn about different events from around the world from a different perspective than ours. We were particularly intrigued by one student’s presentation about Korea around the outbreak of mad cow disease. We all learned that we needed to narrow the scope of our research a little bit and will walk away from this with new angles with which to approach our topic. The process of explaining our slides helped us define our topic.

  13. We enjoyed getting to know people from Australia and seeing their sicknasty cartoons. It was interesting seeing their political cartoons, because we had no clue as to what they meant (Although apparently neither did the Sydney kids…). It was an interesting experience communicating in such a way with people we didn’t know. Although it was hard to hear and understand them at times, we still got the basic message. They used slang with which we were not familiar, such “mad” for crazy and as “uni” for university. We thought that they would also be studying video games, but they found it cool that we were. It was crazy hearing about their “summer” break: from November to March, almost five months long… We had different views on rhetorical strategies, as even though we study the same textbook they don’t see it the same way. It was also crazy to hear about the impact American culture has had on Australia.
    Lybo says: uh what?
    Carl says: PARTY TIME. END.

  14. Kristen Carnohan says:

    It was really fun to see how similar we are to the Australian students. We enjoyed talking with them but had a few technical difficulties. We didn’t understand each other’s political cartoons very well at first, but they were easy enough to understand once we explained them to each other. We finished talking about the material quite early and had extra time to discuss our schools and lives.

  15. Alexandra Tamplin says:

    I really enjoyed the cross-cultural connection. It was really fun to discuss life here in Stanford with them and to hear how life is in Sydney. I found it interesting how much they knew about our politics and were interested in learning more. They were super friendly and it was a lot of fun.

  16. Morgan says:

    Talking to Australian students from the future was really cool!! I wish we could have asked them for the winning lottery numbers, but we were too busy talking about our cartoons and explaining the various cultural differences to each other. Connecting with them and discovering that our humor really wasn’t that different was really, really fun. It’s so weird to think that even in the future in Australia there are people who think Americans are funny and will laugh with (at) us. I was a little surprised that they’re accents weren’t as prominent as I had expected, though they were present of course. At the end once we had finished all our assigned talking points, we started playing pictionary. And by pictionary I mean we drew animals and buildings on the computer screen and the other group guessed what it was. Amazingly, they were able to comprehend our badly draw pictures and the game inevitably ended in laughter. I would love to do this activity again.

  17. April says:

    I am currently a freshman at Stanford University and last week, Stanford PWR – Fake News and Truthiness met with Australian students in Syndey. This connection was wonderful and I enjoyed every moment of it. Sharing political cartoons was quite interesting because personally, I am not very knowledgeable of Australian politics or culture. Despite this, the Australians were very thorough in explaining the cartoons and I hope that my group was as detailed too. This cross cultural experience brightened up my day even though I was so extremely anxious before. It allowed us Stanford students to get an open sense of the global similarities and differences between cultures. In addition, we had the amazing opportunity to speak with a couple students in the “future!” – pretty awesome I must say.

  18. Sharad Bharadwaj says:

    I thought the CCR experience was an awesome way to see life from someone else’s point of view. It was interesting to see a slice of life from a completely different part of the world, but what struck me the most was how similar the Australian students were to us (or vice versa). I think the project really highlights how much we share in common with people who we think are vastly different from us (I’m especially thinking about how the experience will be with the Egyptian and Swedish colleges). On the whole, i definitely loved the experience and I would recommend it to other peeps too.

  19. James Nagle says:

    The Cross Cultural Rhetoric program with the Sydney students was a very interesting experience. It was great to be able to compare views on politics and cultural perspectives with students from Australia. I was surprised by how familiar the Australian students were with American culture and politics considering that all of the Stanford students had a very limited knowledge of Australian politics and pop culture.

  20. Geffen Oren says:

    Having relatives in different countries, I did not surprise me that these Australians knew a lot about American politics and culture. What came as more of a shock were the differences between the US college system and the Australian college system. Whereas the majority of us fly or drive long distances to our school and therefore live at school, Australians commute to school everyday from their houses which might be 1-2 hours away. Also, another thing that intrigued me was that Australia had no night life, at least that is what the students we talked to claimed. I guess they have very different ideas about having fun during the night that we do in the US.

  21. Aziza Dawodu says:

    Hello, I enjoyed the cross-cultural rhetoric project video call. I was able to meet new people from around the world, and got a glance into their culture. We were also able to crack jokes with one another and laugh together. For example, someone brought in mini oranges for snacks and we explained how we called them “cuties.” They explained that they call them mandarins and we said we have mandarin oranges too. It was also stimulating to see how their political cartoons were similar to ours and we both found the others cartoons funny.

    I think this program allows students to be more globally aware. As we communicated with Australia, it seemed as though they knew more about America than we did about Australia. Meeting them and talking to them creates a greater awareness about the global world.

  22. Ben Lerman says:

    The cross-cultural connection was awesome! My group had a great time with the Australians, and it was really interesting to see how, although the specific content of their political cartoons is completely different from ours, the strategies used by the authors are virtually the same. We finished a bit early, and ended up sharing our favorite satirical youtube videos, which was yet another great mixture of culture.

  23. Aliza Rosen says:

    I am a Stanford freshman in PWR1: Fake News and The Rhetoric of Truthiness. I really loved our cross-cultural rhetoric video chat with students from Sydney. It was so interesting to talk with students all the way across the globe about the same things that we have been learning about. The students my group chatted with were very well versed in parody and humor. I especially enjoyed when we shared our cartoons with each other. Although I did not understand the cultural aspects of their joke at first, the main components of the political cartoon they shared were very similar to the cartoons we have been studying in class – it was so interesting to see that even in Australia the same techniques were being employed to convey a political message. Beyond the academic side of our conversation, it was really fun to chat with the students in Sydney and compare our lifestyles as college students. In a globalizing world, exchanges like this one are extremely important in fostering international collaboration; to get this opportunity as an undergrad is so fortunate. I really enjoyed this whole experience and would love to participate again!

  24. Luis Alamilla says:

    Like everyone else, I immensely enjoyed the cross cultural rhetoric program. It was a fun, educational experience that was made memorable not just by of the awesome Australian accents but because of the unique opportunity it presented Stanford students to gain a perspective not only on our culture and political systems but of another region as well. The opportunity to exchange ideas and converse with people of different backgrounds was greatly rewarding and as a whole the cross cultural rhetorical program should not be abandoned.

  25. Coral Abbott says:

    It was great to get to interact with people from halfway around the world to discuss politics and humor! I really knew nothing about Australian politics, and learning about it from a point of view of humor actually made it much more interesting. For example, they showed us a cartoon of the two candidates for prime minister doing handstands for the three remaining people (in parliament maybe? we couldn’t always understand their accents, but they sounded really cool) who had yet to decide who they were going to vote for. They told us that the two candidates were doing everything they could to impress the remaining 3 people, and it was pretty obvious how critical they were of the candidates for doing this. What I thought was interesting was that, though they knew quite a bit about America, they didn’t know too much about politics in general, nor did they care to. I think they knew a lot more about pop culture, which is pretty similar to how things are in the United States for a lot of teenagers. They told us that “Australian politics is basically really boring and dumb” which I think is an attitude that many people our age seem to hold about politics in general.
    Also, they thought Stanford had an enormous amount of students, because their school has 1,000 students per class, and that is considered massive. But by U.S. university standards, Stanford is somewhere in the middle.

  26. Jason Chaves says:

    I loved the video conference we had with students from the University of Sydney. It was so interesting to hear them explain their political cartoons because you get a sense of how their government system compares to ours and then how the problems in government may be similar. We also exchanged popular YouTube videos and found that there were a few that we had both heard of and found funny, but then there were ones that only we or they had seen before and because it hadn’t been publicized as much here (or in Australia) they (or we) didn’t find it immediately funny. It was very eye-opening in regards to comparative governments and how humor may or may not translate depending on certain similarities across cultures.

  27. William Dannemann says:

    I thought that it was really cool that we were able to talk to people on the other side of the world and compare our humor. There was one thing in particular that really struck me which was how much of a disconnect there was between our political humor. None of the Americans got the Australian politics jokes, or even the general composition of Australian politics, and the same went for the Australians with American politics. However, that being said, we did manage to find common ground with YouTube. Goes to show why viral videos go viral.

  28. Emma Makoba says:

    It was an incredible opportunity to be able to talk to students living in Australia. I found it especially enriching to discuss contemporary politics with them. To be able to learn more about how the Australian political system worked was fascinating and something I new little about prior to the video conference. Their commentary on our politics and the cartoons or parodies we showed them was very interesting. More often than not, they were very well versed in American politics and could understand the cartoons or parodies presented. Conversing with others from different backgrounds is an integral part of promoting global citizenship, something that Stanford is a strong proponent of. Thus, the exchange with the Australian students was not only enjoyable but also an important and beneficial experience.

  29. Elena Leon says:

    Overall, I think the experience was definitely a positive one. Our group had some technological issues but besides that, it was interesting just interacting over a video with people on the other side of the world. Some of the phrasology was significantly different. Sharing political cartoons really delineated the stark contrast as to how media affects us all. The Australians couldn’t understand our political cartoons, but we couldn’t understand theirs either without explanation. It goes to show how much cultural identity influences knowledge of current events. I think it would be a very fun experience to do an exchange program just to see all those specific differences and cultural phenomenons.

  30. Alfredo Corral says:

    I though it was a great experience, I mean speaking to people with Australian accents is great enough itself. So much explanation went into the political cartoons that we would merely acknowledge the joke. I learned that relevance is important to humor and youtube videos is relevant to the whole world so sharing those was a way to laugh together. I actually found it interesting how there are immigration problems in Australia like that in the United States.

  31. Elena Stamatakos says:

    Despite some technical difficulties, it was an overall great experience! I thought it was interesting to get to know the Australian students. We swapped some common stereotypes and laughed at the ridiculous ones. I didn’t know much about Australian politics and it was a great experience to learn about it from the student’s perspective. The cartoon they analyzed for us was very similar to what would appear in an American newspaper, but without their insight I would have no idea as to what the comic was critiquing. I’m looking forward to future cross-cultural programs or events!

  32. Tara Trujillo says:

    This cross-cultural experience was an extremely valuable opportunity. In regards to our assignment, for our PWR class “The Rhetoric of Truthiness,” it was so interesting to hear the Australian students explain their political cartoons and to be able to learn some of the history and politics of a country I know nothing about. But beyond our class assignment, it was so priceless to just be able to talk with the students, learn a little about their culture, school, and interests, and bond with people who are so like us even though they live across the world. I would definitely like the opportunity to do something like this again. It was well worth the hour out of our day.

  33. Bonnie McLindon says:

    CCR was a wonderful experience. We had no technical difficulties, and the transfer rate was very fast, so there was little to no delay. The exercise with political cartoons was so interesting because we were able to not only learn about the political issues in Australia but also recognize that easily understood ideas in our society can be misinterpreted by those of other cultures. The exercises and presentations were interesting, but what was honestly more educational was hearing about the perceptions of each other’s nations and cultures and then expressing the truth about our lifestyles and homes.

  34. Ana Rosa says:

    This cross-cultural project was very rewarding to my insight in international politics. The students’ from Sydney did an amazing job at provinding us with context to issues we were very unfamiliar with and I think that otherwise, without this activity, I personally would have never thought of such issues. Also, it was very interesting talking to them about how issues of food policy within the United States are also problems in Australia: Farmers fighting for their rights, people fighting obesity, controversial ways to promote food and ideas, etc. I can definitely say that I have had an extremely rewarding experience and made some amazing Australian friends. 🙂

  35. Steven Lee says:

    I enjoyed the CCR with the students from Sydney, despite some technical problems with echoes. Although I am a freshman, I participated with the second year PWR class “The Rhetoric of India in Global Cinema”. I particularly felt that the political cartoon activity was the most interesting, because I realized how little of Australian politics I knew of, and how little of American politics the Sydney students knew of. I learned much about the “boat people” that has been an issue in Australia for years, and overall throughly enjoyed the experience.

  36. Patrick Quigley says:

    Overall, the Cross Cultural Rhetoric program was an enjoyable and rewarding program. It was interesting to see the point of view of the students from another country on our political cartoon as well as learning about their culture through both their projects and the political cartoon that was presented. Moreover, I found the most rewarding part of the program was near the end where we talked about the cultures. We talked mostly about the different educational systems there, which was interesting to find out how different the United States and Australian system was. I would definitely recommend doing a program like this to anyone else and found the time spent well worth it.

  37. Talia Mahony says:

    I really enjoyed the cross-cultural rhetoric program. It was interesting to hear about the similarities between our freshman writing classes and the types of analysis we study. I was surprised and a little embarrassed about how much they knew about American politics and how little I knew about Australia. Once we were done talking about the cartoons and our research, I really enjoyed hearing about “uni” and how different their college experience is from ours.

  38. Mallory Smith says:

    I enjoyed this experience a lot, and thought it was a valuable complement to what I’m learning in PWR. It was great to be able to share and talk through my ideas with people of very different cultural backgrounds and perspectives. I thought it might have been nice to have seen the political cartoon before the session, so that we could better explain what the cartoon was about. All in all, I think this is an excellent program that opened my eyes to a different culture.

  39. Maisy says:

    The cross-cultural connection was a great experience! It was a great way to learn more about the little differences in everyday life that distinguish our cultures (for example when we talked about my research project on soda, we learned that Dr. Pepper was never popular in Australia). The political cartoon exercise was also interesting, as the Australians were well-versed in American politics, but didn’t necessarily understand the American humor behind the cartoon. It was a great experience, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

  40. Caitlyn Pura says:

    I had an absolutely amazing experience with the Cross Cultural Rhetoric chat. The Australian students were incredibly social. We could facilitate both an intellectual and lighthearted conversation, which made the experience very enjoyable. Members of our PWR class, “The Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics,” discussed the subjects our upcoming Text in Conversation papers, while the Australian students explained their speech projects to us. The discussion of the political cartoons was very engaging, however, I was slightly embarrassed when it was revealed that while the Australians knew everything about our political leaders, my partner and I could not even name theirs. Overall, it was a fantastic hour of chatting that I hope to participate in again.

  41. Sherlene says:

    I enjoyed this cross-cultural experience and getting to interact with the Australian students! Exchanging ideas on the political cartoons made me understand even clearer the importance of audience and decorum in crafting one’s speech/cartoon. It was interesting to understand their education system too and learning how they approach learning in schools.

  42. Mary Bass says:

    The cross-cultural exchange was an insightful and worthwhile experience. It provided an opportunity to learn about different political and social customs in Sydney. It was very interesting to learn about prevalent research topics in Sydney. CCR definitely served to broaden my knowledge of worldwide culture. We had minimal technical difficulty.

  43. David says:

    I enjoyed looking at the Australian political cartoons and learning about current events in Australia. It was also fun to give the Australian group a perspective on current events in America.

  44. Ellie McCardwell says:

    I learned from the Sydney-Stanford connection that international communication, regardless of good technology, is sometimes difficult. My group had a hard time with figuring out the sound and also pulling up images. In the end though, it turned out well. The most memorable moment was after we had gotten through our presentations, we talked about our favorite funny youtube videos. We were all surprised that we had seen the same ones and thought they were funny. I learned that intercultural communication is with people who are different than you, but there are also a lot of similarities which makes it enjoyable.

  45. Angela Gradiska says:

    I thought it was a great experience video-chatting with the Australian students. Although we encountered issues while trying to view images from our essays, it was still amazing to communicate with students across the world learn about the cultural differences between our countries. For example, we were completely unaware of the current political issues going on in Australia, but they were able to synthesize our political cartoon correctly. Overall, the cross-cultural rhetoric project was a positive experience that I would like to participate in again.

  46. Elena M says:

    The cross-cultural video conferecne with Sydney students was an incredible experience. I loved the relax feel of our conversation. Everyone in each group, Stanford and Sydney, was so eager to learn and was curious about one another, which was great because I left the conference having learned much more about culture in Australia than I had even hoped for. The conference made me realize how little I know about other countries and their politics, so I loved hearing the Australians’ point of view of the current situation in Australia: much more meaningful and interesting than reading up in the newspaper or in a book. A great experience!

  47. Pingback: Connecting with Sydney « The Rhetoric of Gaming

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