A retro microphone stands in the center of International Student Advisor John Hildebrand’s desk. So far, it has heard the stories of four students from four different countries, and it has plans to hear hundreds more.
Hildebrand started his podcast, “International Voices,” in January to highlight the many cultures and variety of students he talks to in the International Affairs Office.
“I think as employees in the International Affairs Office, I feel like we have a pretty unique experience every day,” he said. “Sometimes maybe we take it for granted because we have different perspectives, different opinions, different languages on a daily basis in this office and I think that that is something that is so valuable.”
In the most recent factbook on SUU’s website, in spring of 2016, 5.6 percent of students were from a country other than the United States. These 495 students hail from 42 different countries.
Hildebrand said he listens to podcasts all the time, so he jumped at the idea to start recording these conversations in his office.
“I was thinking about creative ways, creative outlets, for how I could sort of share a message and I thought about how easy it would be to just get a microphone and start recording some of the conversations that I already have with students, so I just decided to do it,” Hildebrand said. “I really didn’t know that much about podcasting at all, I just asked a few friends that I have that have their podcasts and they advised me on some equipment.”
Jessica Mancuso, a freshman management major from Capriata d’Orba, Italy, was the first person to be on Hildebrand’s podcast. Mancuso said she always wanted to come to the United States and had to persuade her parents to let her study overseas.
“It is important not be afraid of the diverse, we have to embrace other cultures and be ready to learn as much as we can from people with different backgrounds and nationalities,” Mancuso said.
So far, Hildebrand has interviewed students from Italy, Saudi Arabia, Mali and Japan and hopes to accurately represent all cultures on campus.
“I’m trying to highlight different parts of the world with each episode,” he said. “I’m trying to be really conscious about representing different cultures and language groups because ... I can think of 100 students I’d like to interview, which is good for future episodes.”
Nouman Kante, a freshman political science major from Mali, shared his story with Hildebrand. Kante grew up as the fourth child in a home with 20 brothers and sisters.
“We have multiple houses, so if you get older you can build a house,” Kante said. “We have a big property and we build small houses around, but when it’s dinner time, when it’s time to eat, we all come together, and we share meals.”
The podcasts come out every Friday, and this week’s episode will feature Rui Tsuchiyama, a senior outdoor recreation in parks and tourism major from Japan. “International Voices” can be listened to on any podcasting app. Hildebrand wants students to get involved in the podcast and encourages them to ask questions on the International Voices Facebook page.