The Need for Intercultural Competency in your Workplace


Guest blog by: Karanveer Singh Brar

With the fast pace in globalization and drastic change in the business world, there have been an increased number of people traveling to different countries in the search of better life and well-paying jobs. This has led to developing a need for adapting to the concept of multiculturism and diversity.


The concept of diversity is a burning topic in western countries where people from different rthnicities and cultures reside together in search of better life. This diversity in the workplace offers an entirely new challenge for the employers. Anyone traveling from a different part of the world has their own set of beliefs, norms, values and most importantly perspectives, for instance, colors depict different meanings in among cultures. Sometimes these differences can be stark, so it is necessary to inculcate these differences in a good way so that everyone feels respected. Effective communication at the workplace is the most essential stepping-stone for bringing together people from different cultures. This includes sharing ideas, beliefs and understanding to help adapt quickly and work productively for the organization.

Every organization defines a set of goals and has a vision towards their success, but having a set of rules in place is not the only thing the organization can rely on. It is the effective delivery of these goals and ideas to the employees that would bring a change. Since we are talking about a multicultural workforce, the delivery of these ideas have to be very clear and easy for anyone to understand. According to Graduateway (2016) “A diverse cultural community helps an organization to change their market and moreover an organization has to be familiar with the social aspects of thinking in order to reach to their desired target.”Image 2

To put this in perspective, let me take my personal experience as an example. I came to Canada as an international student, found a part time job at a big store. I had certain set of duties and tasks to perform everyday like maintaining a clean and safe work environment, being friendly to my colleagues and managers and above all interacting with customers. During the first week of my job, I found it very hard to talk to anyone. I was hesitant to initiate conversation fearing what the person in would think of me as I was from a different part of the world and wore a turban. However, my managers and colleagues were very friendly and open minded and helped me out in every task where I felt stuck. I was fortunate that I worked in an organization where people helped each other but not everyone is always that lucky.

If my coworkers would have been rude or offensive to my opinions or culture, I would have faced a lot of difficulty in adjusting to my new life and could have even quit. Concluding this, it was the friendliness, openness, warmth and understanding of my peers that made a difference. This clearly defines the important role that intercultural communication played in developing a strong and long-lasting relationship with the organization.

There are various ways through which intercultural communication at the workplace can become effective. One of the best ways is listening to the podcasts and reading books on interculturism. Recently, I found a podcast  about resolving the issues related to intercultural communication by understanding the nature of intercultural conflicts. In this video (2017), Marie Gervais, CEO Shift Management Inc. talks about the diversity in the developed countries. Followed by the discussion on the ways understanding can be improved among the individuals who come from different cultures or countries.

Communication has a deeper meaning than what we normally perceive. It is effective when it creates a friendly environment and encourages people to share their ideas without skepticism. Also, communication should make people feel comfortable about discussing their opinions with their supervisors and other higher authorities. Sometimes a person with a brilliant idea can be undermined just because they are culturally different. Thirdly, effective communication not only means communicating the message effectively but also giving an equal importance to the feedback because this will make anyone feel valued for their thoughts. As a consequence, if effective intercultural communication is practiced at the workplace, the process of adapting to a new culture would speed up for a new immigrant and they would be able to work more productively and efficiently.

Additional Resources

Gaille, B. (2014, January 28). What Colors Mean in Different Cultures. Retrieved from

Graduateway. (2016, May). Retrieved March 16, 2020, from Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace Essay Example:

Gervais, M. (2017) Intercultural Communication at Work: Understanding Cultural Conflict Styles · ShiftWorkPlace. Retrieved from

Intercultural communication in the workplace and the role of communication in an organization. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2020, from НОО Профессиональная наука:

Rouse, M. (2020, January 29). What Is Globalization? Globalization Explained. Retrieved from

Wolfe, M. (2019, February 11). Changes in the Business World. Retrieved from



Intercultural Accessibility

Young girl signing

Guest Blog Post By: Jinnie Saran


Often, when people are met with something that they are unfamiliar with, it can spark a feeling of extreme discomfort and intimidation. From my personal experience and from what I have learned through my intercultural communications class, this is typically due to the fact that people are unsure of how to interact in these situations as they do not have the necessary knowledge and cultural sensitivity to communicate. Generally, people do not want to do or say the wrong thing therefore; this can also lead them to avoid asking any question from the people they encounter such as those whom may have disabilities.

When culture comes to one’s mind disability doesn’t usually fall under that umbrella. However, people with disabilities identify as their own cultural groups. For instance, a popular one is deaf culture and blind culture, as these groups also have their own languages, sign language, and codes such as Braille. In the article “ Disability as a cultural identity,” it is suggested that with the right control from people who are disabled, special education schools have the potential to become positive sights for the promotion of disability in a positive cultural identity. It is also conveyed that this could offer disabled children and their families a genuine choice within their education. Although some people with disabilities such as myself wish to be integrated into the main stream educational system, some people wish to stick closer to their cultural identity. For example, people who are deaf within the United States, may wish to attend Gauldet University as the people there are already familiar with their language and accepting of who they are.

Due to people having disabilities, it is often not thought that they too will be traveling our world and making connections with others. In the article “ Intercultural communication and disabilities from a communication complex perspective (Parrish-Sprowl, 2015),” it is expressed that 10 percent of the world’s population is comprised of people with a disability and are often overlooked. However these people are being mainstreamed within cultures as well as traveling to other countries along with others who are now more frequently traveling due to technological advances. The disabled are marginalized and discriminated against within their own country, therefore when the able bodied interact with those who have a disability interculturally the challenge is greater. The article suggests that people with disabilities should be taken into consideration when developing skills and in future studies conducted.

It is important for the able bodied society to know not only that they can ask individuals with disabilities questions, but also what steps they themselves can take to foster and uphold an inclusive environment. In the TEDx Talk “Blind is Beautiful” (Saran, 2018) I discuss my own challenges with my disability and explain how we can not only educate society about this topic, but how to also incorporate the learning about disabilities within the educational system. Throughout my educational journey, I have learned about various minorities in depth, and yet disability was seldom mentioned. Perhaps this may be why communication and interaction between the disabled and able bodied is quite challenging.

Photo from the Blind Beginnings Facebook page
Me, gearing up for a bike ride

Due to many misconceptions held by society people with disabilities are often deprived of the physical activity they need or crave. In his TEDx Talk,  “People with disability are athletes too,” David Kyle (2017)  describes their journey with their disability and becoming a athlete. They stress the importance of physical activity for all people.

People with disabilities struggle with the same challenges that able bodied people experience, it is just that they do things slightly differently. In the video “Blind Parenting,” (Marsolais, 2016) this is demonstrated quite accurately. Shawn Marsolais explains her experience with parent-hood and how though it has been difficult meeting other moms, that she believes her son has become a better communicator due to having a blind mother. She also stresses the point that she deals with the same challenges any working mother would.

Though the sources and information presented here are quite accurate in providing a basis of understanding and a gateway in building connections among the physically challenged and able-bodied, there is no way to replace the face-to-face experience and chance to ask questions for both groups as even two people with the same challenges are still different people. All one needs to do is view this as a characteristic of our personality and hopefully that makes things slightly easier. Remember, just start with “Hello.”

To find out more and increase your intercultural competency, following is a list of places to start:

Kyle, D. (2017). People with Disabilities Are Athletes Too. TEDX Talks.

Lawson, J. (2001). Disability as a Cultural Identity. International Studies in Sociology of Education.

Marsolais, S. (2016). Blind Parenting. Accessible Media Inc.

Parrish-Sprowl, J. (2015). Intercultural Communication and Disabilities from a Communication Complex Perspective. Russian Journal of Linguistics.

Saran, H. (2018). Blind Is Beautiful. TEDX Talks.

Become more interculturally competent – women in the workplace. 


Guest Blog by Kendra Bagley

Diversity in the workplace has increased drastically due to many factors such as globalization, outsourcing, and even drawing talent from multicultural regions.  This increase in diversity makes it much more important to focus on creating inclusive corporate cultures.  When considering how to build an inclusive corporate culture, it is important to understand the challenges that each diverse group faces in order to become more interculturally competent communicators in the workplace.

Women make up a large portion of the work force, yet there are still many challenges that they face daily in the workplace.  When considering women in the workplace, the wage gap, and lack of women in leadership positions within a company, sexual harassment, expectations to look and dress a certain way, or inability to contribute openly in meetings are serious concerns.  Uncovering and understanding these issues is the first step to creating a better corporate culture, then learning how to address them and increasing the intercultural competence within the company will help corporate teams to be more successful and will create a culture where people of diverse backgrounds can thrive.

I have been very fortunate in that the organizations I have worked for have had very inclusive cultures, but I know that many women and people from diverse backgrounds aren’t always so lucky.  Aside from reading books, there are many ways that a person can increase their own intercultural competence to make sure that they are treating all people in the workplace in an appropriate way.

One way I learn to become a better intercultural communicator is by listening to podcasts.  I commute at least an hour every day, and I try to fill that time with something educational.  I recently came across a podcast called The Transformative Leader, and the episode I listened to was an interview between culture transformation consultant Amir Ghannad, president and founder of the Ghannad Group and Vicki Hudson, Chief Collaboration Officer of Highroad Global Services.  The podcast discussed how to build a collaborative, high performing team across diverse cultures.  In the interview, Vicki discusses the challenges that companies face in different scenarios that require intercultural communication and competence such as offshoring, mergers and acquisitions, and the day to day existence of global brands.  Her three recommendations for building a productive cross cultural team were to learn culturally specific terms and acronyms; to set clear rules around objectives such as meeting etiquette and project deadlines; and to always try to find ways to connect on an personal level with those from other cultures to be able to build trust.

Another series that I have started listening to is called Women at Work by the Harvard Business Review.  This podcast has over 40 episodes that walk women through different aspects of being women in the workplace, many of which are centred around communication.  I enjoy listening to this podcast as it helps me to understand the challenges that women face in the workplace and gives great advice on how to overcome these challenges.  This will help me to be a leader in my workplace, and will prepare me in the event that a future company that I work for is less interculturally competent.


Cardon, P. G. (2010). Using films to learn about the nature of cross-cultural stereotypes in intercultural business communication courses. Business Communication Quarterly, 73(2), 150-165. Doi:10.1177/1080569910365724

Cheney, R. S. (2001). Intercultural business communication, international students and experiential learning. Business Communication Quarterly, 64(4), 150-165.  Retrieved from

Ghannad, A., & Hudson, V. (2019, Dec 5). TTLP 053: “The Power of Cross Cultural Collaboration” – An Interview with Vicki Hudson [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

Jaidev, R. (2014). How pedagogical blogging helps prepare students for intercultural communication in the global workplace. Language and Intercultural Communication, 14(1), 132-139. doi: 10.1080/14708477.2013.866129

Kochman, T., & Mavrelis, J. (2009). Corporate tribalism: white men/white women and cultural diversity at work. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

“I feel like you aren’t hearing me.”

“I feel like you aren’t hearing me.”

By Hannah Celinski

Have you ever found yourself saying this during a conversation with a colleague or a friend? In recent months, I have sat on a variety of committees and panels where I have experienced or observed obstacles to communication. I have also found myself misunderstood on occasion, and I’ve realized that part of the issue is not being clear, it’s being heard.

I facilitate 3-day sessions called Instructional Skills Workshops. I often run an exercise on the second day, where I have people pair off. First, they sit back-to-back and Speaker A tries to tell Speaker B a quick story. The room is loud, they can’t see each other, and the message quickly becomes garbled. When the pairs debrief, only small sections of information are retained.

Then they switch partners and Speaker B tries to tell a story, while Speaker A does everything they can, short of leaving the room, to avoid what they have to say. Again, not much is retained, and Speaker A often admits that they were so busy trying to get out of the room, they didn’t pay any attention to what Speaker B was saying.

Finally, the speakers sit face-to-face and engage in Active Listening techniques. The message clears up immediately, and information is exchanged fluidly.

The next time you find yourself sitting in a meeting, thinking only about what you are going to say next, consider doing this instead:

  • listen carefully to what the other person is saying with no judgement one way or the other
  • carefully consider their point, shelving the potential bias of your own opinion
  • reflect on how their input might be useful with regards to the topic at hand
  • clarify any points the speaker made that might seem out of place, or perplexing
  • speak their points back to them to be sure you have understood their intention and nuance
  • share your own perspective while building on their offering

Use Active Listening to Coach Others

Another way to foster success during meetings is to prepare a living document that identifies how the group wants to work together during the session, or over the course of the committee duration. Identifying strategies to navigate difficult subjects or dissent is paramount to success in these instances.

Consider adopting practices like “ouch,” “oops.” If someone says something hurtful, you acknowledge the moment by simply saying, “ouch.” The person who was speaking says, “oops,” then a conversation can unfold around the issue by addressing it before the meeting is derailed through misunderstandings or microaggressions. (You can find more about ouch/oops here: )

Finding ways to communicate effectively is vital. I was reminded of the importance of these practices recently, as I found myself disengaging from a discussion to temper my anger. This resulted in a lack of engagement on my part, and I know I missed valuable information while I was bringing myself down to a workable mental space.

We expect our students to listen actively, but sometimes it is important to remind ourselves of the tenants of Active Listening, so we don’t end up tuning in for, “I feel like you aren’t hearing me.” You probably aren’t. Let’s instead aim for: “That was productive. Thank you all for listening.” I know I’ll be going into future meetings with this as my goal.

I’ve included further resources for Active Listening from The Centre for Creative Leadership here:

You can find more about Effective Listening through the UFV Student Services here:

Interested in learning effective ways to communicate better> At UFV, we offer a Professional Communications Certificate. To find out more information, go to

UFV Practicums, College of Arts

UFV Practicums, College of Arts

By Jennifer Barkey, ABT Practicum Student

Earlier this week, I sat down with Elise Goertz, Internship & Practicum Coordinator, and learned a little about UFV’s College of Arts practicum program. This was a fascinating experience, since I am also a UFV practicum student hailing from the Continuing Education Department.

What’s the scoop?

What exactly is a practicum, anyway?

Practicums are hands-on learning experiences outside of the classroom that offer students the chance to put theory to practice and actually work in their chosen field of interest.

These types of experiential learning opportunities are available to all qualifying students within the College of Arts. Students can gain actual work experience and make invaluable connections while studying–and will receive credits towards their degree! Most practicum courses are 3 to 6 credits, depending on the number of hours required.

Experience is essential

Practicum and internship opportunities are so valuable because they allow students to gain a hands on experience with the career or field that they are working towards. The completion of a practicum during a degree program gives graduating students a huge advantage! They walk into the workforce with both experience and education under their belt.

Is it a fit?

Have you ever thought that a specific job would be perfect for you, only to land it and find out you dislike it?

While completing a practicum, students gain practical knowledge that can only be found by working in the chosen field or profession. They then have a better gauge on their satisfaction level within the potential position as well as being able to identify gaps in their current education level when it comes to the practical application of knowledge. The earlier students can critically analyze their educational paths and future career choices, the easier it is to redirect to an educational or career path that is a better fit.

Is it required?

As was stated above, a practicum can be set up for any student within the College of Arts, however, only Criminology, Communications, Global Development and Graphic Design currently require a practicum. Although practicum and internship courses are not a requirement for all Degree and Certificate programs within the College of Arts, they are recommended.

Practicum courses also help students meet the ‘Civic Engagement’ piece of their degree requirements.

The Benefits

  • Hands-on practical training which help streamline future job choices
  • Identifying educational strengths
  • Can lead to future job placements
  • Development networking skills
  • Credits toward degree completion
  • Gaining actual experience
  • Classroom learning is put into practice
  • Students able to “try out” a job/field of interest before completing their degree
  • Students are paired with compatible employers
  • Practicum courses meet Civic Engagement requirements

More Info!

Don’t miss the exciting Practicum & Internship Lunch and Learn Information event happening on March 31, 2020 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in B101. Come and hear more in depth information about practicums and internships within the College of Arts. Bring your lunch and come learn about how you can get involved!

This event features:

  • Testimonials from prior practicum students
  • Linda Pardy sharing on domestic practicum placements
  • Cherie Enns sharing about the exciting Queen Elizabeth Scholar Internship, and international practicum placements
  • Q & A with an expert panel

You will want to attend in order to hear about the QE Scholar Internship program where you can travel abroad to East Africa, specifically Tanzania, Kenya, and India, for your internship. There is only a 2-year window for this program before the funding runs out which is at almost $7,000!

So, come to B101 on March 31st and hear about these exciting opportunities then take the next step and begin your practicum journey.

The Next Step

Find a full list of current practicums and internships that are offered by the College of Arts here. But don’t stop there, if you don’t see what you are looking for, make sure you drop by Elise’s office anytime Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 9:00am and 2:00pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:00am and 4:30pm, or email her for more information!

Once you have discussed possible practicum ideas, she will send you the application and you will need to fill it out and send it back with your updated, vetted resume. This resume will be shown to potential employers so it must reflect current experience and education. The Career Centre is available for examining your resume and helping you reflect your current information.

Again, I invite you to join the Practicum Information Session “lunch and learn” on March 31st from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in B101 for your first step towards concrete practical knowledge application.

*Photos by UFV photographers and captured from UFV’s Flickr page

Back for season three: The Riverdale Universe: Ride or Die conference returns

Back for season three: The Riverdale Universe: Ride or Die conference returns

Jess Wind
Photos by Sarah Sovereign Photography, used with permission from Raspberry.

Academics, nerds, and fans alike will gather on March 13 for the third annual Riverdale-themed semi-academic conference about the Archie Comics adaptation and its expanding universe.

What started as a joke on Twitter in 2017 quickly ballooned to an interdisciplinary, multi-year conference and accompanying anthology (Riverdale: A Land of Contrasts due out in 2020), that explores and critiques themes represented (or lack thereof) in the CW’s Riverdale, Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and other Archie Comics content. Previous years have featured a body-positive, feminist photoshoot, tales from a casting agency, cross-property conspiracy theories, and an annual Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style interactive fanfiction, along with a healthy dose of academic critique.

The Riverdale TV show is the latest in an expansive property featuring America’s favourite blundering redheaded teen, the two women that fight over him, and his burger-loving best friend. Though many scholars and critics have pointed out this contemporary adaptation bears little resemblance to the “All-American teen” on which it is based.

What we’ve come to refer to as the Riverdale universe is an ever-expanding media-verse, including now three TV shows including Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix), and Katy Keene (CW), and tie-in comic book series.

Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are both filmed in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver areas, giving the show a strong sense of place for those of us that drive past Rocko’s diner in Mission, or the Fort Langley Community Hall regularly. Riverdale is not just “anywhere USA”, but also distinctly BC’s lower mainland. One thing continues to be true as we prepare event logistics for the third time: this “semi-academic” conference made up of fans, industry professionals, and scholars, could only exist here.

“What we’re doing is not quite academic, and not a fan convention, but something weird, and strange, and fun — fun being the key thing” says Heather McAlpine, conference organizer and associate professor in English at UFV in an interview with Raspberry last year.

What this have to do with communications?

In communications, we spend a lot of time talking about people. We talk about audience, and the relevance of purpose. We talk about inclusivity and barriers. We talk about stories.

The Riverdale Universe: Ride or Die conference breaks these conversations out of the classroom and gives them more real world significance. Engage in the public exchange of ideas in a laid back atmosphere that does away with long-held stereotypes of the stuffy academic lecture-style presentation.

That said, Riverdale itself doesn’t always burden itself with questions of audience relevance, inclusivity, or storytelling, and past presentations have critiqued how, why, and what we expect of our entertainment. McAlpine explains the relationship between audience and content in Riverdale.

“Audiences are totally starving for better, more thoughtful, more inclusive representation in our media,” she says. “And we get so excited when we’re promised that kind of representation, but in many cases we’re let down by tokenism or representation that actually ends up reinforcing negative stereotypes.”

Whether Riverdale is “good” television (it’s not) isn’t a question. It is, however, exceedingly enduring (Archie first appeared in Pep Comics in 1941), problematic at times, campy and nostalgic at others. It fails (often) and gets back up (always). And it’s these in-between spaces that offer rich ground for critique and push boundaries, and where we situate the third annual Riverdale-themed semi-academic conference.

The conference is an interdisciplinary effort made up of faculty from UFV Communications, English, and elsewhere across the College of Arts, as well as UFV alumni. Presentations this year include the return of Citizen of Riverdale, a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style fanfiction, staged readings and new conspiracy theories, a preview of the upcoming academic anthology: Riverdale: A Land of Contrasts, and a fresh dose of scholarly criticism.

The Riverdale Universe: Ride or Die conference takes place on March 13, 2020 in the South Asian Studies Institute (F Building) on Abbotsford campus with panels beginning at 9 am. The building is accessible, registration is free, and anyone from UFV and the public is welcome to attend.

See you there!

Communications Opportunities in the Fraser Valley

Communications Opportunities in the Fraser Valley

By Jennifer Barkey, UFV practicum student

Living in the Fraser Valley is desirable because of the beautiful setting, easy access to recreation activities and exercise, and its wide variety of opportunities for healthy living.

Wouldn’t it be even more attractive if we were able to work in our community as well?

Armed with this idea, I hit the internet to find out how many job opportunities there are within the Fraser Valley that also involve excellent communications skills and perhaps advanced communications schooling. I was not disappointed with the myriad of postings scattered across the information highway; I found a plethora of them quickly and easily through popular websites such as,, and

Sifting through the postings, I quickly realized that excellent communications is highly sought after in almost every industry out there. I saw postings for web specialists, marketers, managers, cooks, dispatchers, sales associates, and many more, all listing excellent communications as a required skill. A few postings required detailed working knowledge of communications practices and processes. The individuals these companies seek are able to discern which type of communication is most effective for the situation. Some prestigious postings also required a bachelor’s degree in Communications.

So how do we do it?

The best answer I can offer on how to acquire these exemplary communications skills is this: education, of course!

Thankfully, The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) is conveniently located here, with campuses in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, and Hope—and can meet your educational needs in this area. Want to advance in the workforce? Enroll in a communications program at UFV: UFV offers a professional communications certificate, as well as a communications minor.

It will change your life for the better by giving you an advantage over other candidates, and open the door to opportunities in the Fraser Valley that are waiting for you.

Talk to an advisor today, or email

*Photograph by Jennifer Barkey

Catching up with public speaking award winner, Liz Power

By Jess Wind

Every year one student from each section of CMNS 235: Public Speaking is nominated by their class for the Rise and Shine Toastmasters award at the end of the semester. These nominees present an acceptance speech as their entry for the award and one exceptional speaker is chosen for the annual $600 prize.

Our most recent winner is Liz Powers, a Bachelor of Arts student with plans to major in psychology before moving on to a Masters in counselling. She’s prepared for it to take longer than the average four-year degree because on top of being a student and server, Liz is a mother of three.

Liz came into every class with a smile and enthusiasm that radiated to everyone around her. Liz’s speeches were relevant to her life, and that of her audience with a healthy dose of humour to draw her listeners in. Most memorably, Liz taught us how to bake cookies for her demonstration speech, and there were plenty of samples to go around.

I caught up with Liz to find out what it took to earn the nomination from her classmates, and the mark Public Speaking has left on her.

Talk to me a bit about your decision to take the class and your journey throughout the term.

So I took the class because I was told there was no final exam. I was just trying to balance out my course load and figure out how to do that with kids and going back to school because I was still really new to the process.

And then the process of learning how to write a speech and then how to execute it was actually far more interesting than I thought it’d be.

What did you think about being nominated, and then about winning?

I was actually very surprised. And then I was grateful and also ungrateful in that I was like “I don’t have time to write another one of these and memorize it,” but I thought, it’s good practice.

Winning the award was a nice confidence booster. It was almost necessary at that stage. When I got the email that I won, it was at a really difficult stage in my life personally with my kids and what not and that was just like a nice moment in what was a really chaotic couple of months.

How’d you plan for the final speech?

One of the memorization techniques that was mentioned in my psychology class was the memory palace. And so I used that to memorize my last speech which was so helpful.

I memorized the speech walking through my house from room to room and each space in my house had a different component of my speech. So when I was giving my speech it was a lot easier because it had a flow to it … I feel it made the process far less nerve wracking.

Do you find you’re more aware of speaking skills in others now?

I am more aware of my hand gestures when I’m talking, because when I started I looked like an aerobics instructor from 1980. Which is really appropriate being the size of my hair typically.

I went to the Tedx Chilliwack, and it was very interesting watching the different speakers because they work with coaches and some of them were so on point and I can tell [they’ve] really dialed this down. I was so impressed — things I probably wouldn’t have noticed before … but now when you understand the number of things that need to go into that. And then the moments where they would forget you could see them stop and close their eyes and look for it in their mind … I know what that moment feels like.

Do you have any tips for the next round of public speaking students?

In terms of memorizing, the memory palace was key for me. And the other thing that I think helped was … I practiced in front of my video recorder … and then I would watch it. And then I would do it again and I would watch it. I would see where I stumbled or where I missed and then I would try to make those pieces more memorable.

And I would also practice in my car, anytime I was driving anywhere, it was repeat, repeat, repeat.

Looking toward the future, Liz dreams of opening a bed and breakfast one day and possibly combining that with her counselling focus into a retreat centre.

I actually just love making people’s beds and cooking them breakfast and telling them about the community and all the cool fun things there are to do.  


Another (awesome) Writer in the House

By Mai Anh Doan

Jennifer Browne gets things done FAST. There is no doubt about that when you are her co-worker and witness the way she organizes her tasks and wades through the myriad of administrative requests of an ever-growing department. She simply puts it down to being a mother three kids.

But of course, we know there’s more to it.

What some of us don’t know is that Jen is a published writer with six books under her belt. Outside of her current full-time job as the Communications Department Assistant, she’s a professional writer, copy-editor, and event coordinator. Jen writes extensively about plant-based food, digestive health, and mental health.

Writing and publishing books to her is personal. It started with her personal interest in finding practical books to tackle everyday physical and psychological health issues. When she became frustrated and couldn’t find what she was looking for, she decided to write what she felt was missing in the bookstore. She also creatively involves her children in her writing projects. She co-wrote her latest book, Understanding Teenage Anxiety, with her oldest son while having her younger son photograph another book.

“How do you do it?” I asked Jen about her finding time for writing.

“I believe that health is a very relatable issue. When I interviewed people for my books, I could feel it in the tone of their voice. How they were (just like me) concerned about their own wellbeing and wanting to find ways improve it. They empowered me; I wrote everywhere including during my kids’ soccer games, ballet lessons, you name it. Anywhere I had five minutes of free time.”

And that passion fuelled her writing ferociously.

After completing her first book, Happy Healthy Gut, in 2014, she was asked to write a follow-up cookbook (Vegetarian Comfort Foods). After that, she immediately started not one, but two books, at the same time. Baby Nosh and Medicinal Tea came out in 2016 as the results of this creative craze. She vowed to herself to never write two books simultaneously again—until 2019. Two of her latest books, The Anti-Anxiety Cookbook and Understanding Teenage Anxiety, were released in the same year she started a new job in the Department of Communications here at UFV.

Since joining the department in March 2019, Jen has been more focused on her full-time role here, but she still keeps writing in the back of her mind. “Working in this environment constantly reminds me of how important communicating with the audience is—just like writing. If you put your students or your readers in the center and try to understand what they need, you’ll achieve leaps and bounds, for sure.”

“Would your busy schedule mean that we might not see another book of yours for quite some time?”, I attempted to fish information about her writing plan.

“I’m still learning a lot about this job, and I’m loving it, but I keep my creative juices alive too. I’ve been administratively coordinating the SiWC (Surrey International Writers’ Conference) to help writers develop professionally for seven years now. Being surrounded by these motivated and inspiring people at these events, I can’t help but think about my next book. I’d love to write some fiction next time around.”

Well, fiction or non-fiction, we wish Jen the best a new year as a new semester has just started. We are thrilled to have another writer in the house (or department, to be correct) that shares the same philosophy with our other members—connecting with and focusing on people.

Useful tools for a virtual world: team communication

Communication styles in virtual communication by Francis Norman (

Students taking CMNS 420: Virtual Team Communication in Winter 2019 had to communicate virtually with their instructor and online classmates, because their instructor was teaching from Australia. Virtual teams create collective action without team members working in the same time and space. In this class we used technologies including video conferencing, instant messaging, blogging and short videos to interact with each other.

We researched useful platforms and tools for virtual team communication including SSharepoint (and IR System), Yammer, Trello, Slack and OneNote, BlueJeans, Skype, Dropbox, Google docs, WhatsApp chat and Blink.

Check out the videos below where students, Lisa Matty and Heather Simpson describe the features of some of these tools.

Watch Lisa Matty’s self shot review of OneNote, Collaboration at your fingertips (5.07 mins). Lisa demonstrates how to be a responsible hands-free driver while also collaborating with her teams.

Watch Heather Simpson’s quick introduction to using Zoom for video conferencing and instant messaging, Knowing your options: An introduction to zoom (4.35 mins).

Try these tools out and let us know what you think.