Pioneer Spotlight: Liz Kruse
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Liz Kruse is the assistant director of International Programs at University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Originally from a farm near Decorah, Iowa, Kruse earned her Bachelor’s degrees in English Literature, Spanish, and International Studies at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and earned her master’s in comparative and international development education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her opportunity to study abroad in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, as a student, and her Fulbright experience teaching English in Madrid, Spain, sparked her interest in international education. This is her sixth year working with UW-Platteville’s international students.
What made you want to study international education?
Although I went to Decorah schools, I lived closer to Postville, and I was always curious about the dynamic playing out there between the "locals" and the Hasidic Jews who ran the Kosher meat packing plant. I was also an avid reader, and for as long as I can remember, I've had a desire to see and experience the places/cultures I read about. That desire propelled me to study abroad in college and then live abroad after I graduated. I chose this field because I wanted to work with college students in a higher education setting, and because I wanted to work with students from all over the world without having to be "on the move" all of the time myself. I get the best of both worlds!
What was the best part of studying abroad in Spain?
I would say learning more about who I am as a cultural being was the best part of studying abroad. Growing up in the U.S. and Midwest, I did not see myself as having a culture until I studied abroad. Studying abroad really showed me that I was influenced by my Midwest upbringing; I could even see the differences between me and some of the other study abroad students who grew up on the East or West Coast. Living and studying in Spain, I discovered new ways of living life and new ways of "being" in the world. I saw how things I'd only viewed from one perspective before could be seen from multiple perspectives. Spain helped me "slow down" and enjoy life more and taught me to focus more on relationships than tasks. Also, I loved learning about Spanish culture and getting to travel throughout Spain. Spain is a fascinating country because it has so many regions that have their own identities and some even have their own language. I loved being able to travel extensively in Spain so that I could really get an in-depth look at one country, instead of doing a whirlwind backpack tour of Europe.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love that my job is so interesting and meaningful. I get to meet so many students and learn about different cultures. I get to be creative, problem solve, and learn something new every day. My favorite part of my job is probably seeing students overcome obstacles to meet their goals, like when international students get their degree in a language other than their own native language. That's amazing, and I love being a part of their journeys. I also love working collaboratively with others on campus to help make UW-Platteville the most welcoming place it can be for international students (and all students). I really enjoy my work with the International Student Advisory Board, too, because I get dedicated time to speak with international students about the issues and topics that matter most to them.
Where is one place you have not traveled yet, but would love to experience?
Since I speak Spanish, probably anywhere in Central or South America. Peru is at the top of my list.
What do you do in your free time?
I love running, reading, being outdoors, spending time with family, scrapbooking, napping, and of course, traveling.
Interview by Olivia Joehl, Student Writer, Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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