Tales from the Departure Lounge

#29 Tales from the Departure Lounge LIVE with Jon Stauff

November 21, 2023 Andy Plant & Nick Cuthbert Season 2 Episode 29
Tales from the Departure Lounge
#29 Tales from the Departure Lounge LIVE with Jon Stauff
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The British are coming! Andy and Nick touched down in the beautiful city of Boston, USA to record an episode on stage at The PIE Live North America conference '23 with Jon Stauff, assistant vice president for international affairs at South Dakota State University. 

Dressed as pilots (not Nazi officers or strippers) we talked to Jon about his time in Germany at the fall of the Berlin Wall, trips to the Emergency Room while overseas and what to do with all the weird and wonderful academic gifts you receive on the road. The sound is very poor and crackly but that's what you get with live broadcasting (I blame the tech guys)! 

Final boarding call: Berlin, Germany

The PIE Live North America will return in 2024! Check out www.thepielive.com for details including dates, speakers and sponsorship opportunities. 

Tales from the Departure Lounge is a Type Nine production for The PIE www.thepienews.com

Nick:

Welcome to Tales from the Departure Lounge. This is a podcast about travel for business, for pleasure, or for study. My name's Nick and I'm joined by my co-pilot, Andy. And together we're gonna be talking to some amazing guests about how travel has transformed their. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey. Welcome to the podcast.

Andy:

Hey Nick.

Nick:

Hello.

Andy:

Welcome back from Boston.

Nick:

We did it.

Andy:

We went to the USA.

Nick:

How did you find it? Your first trip to America.

Andy:

I thought it was amazing. I actually took my wife Jenny with me and she said it would be a great place to go and find a husband. So, make of that what you will. everyone was really, really, nice apart from the pedestrian crossings. They weren't very polite. I'm going to play you a little clip I recorded at pedestrian crossing.

Nick:

This is why she's looking for another husband,

Andy:

Wait. You hear that?

Nick:

Do it again.

Andy:

Wait. Wait. I mean, I am repeatedly pressing it there, but, no niceties there, just wait.

Nick:

assertive.

Andy:

How is your Boston accent?

Nick:

Wait.

Andy:

Wait!

Nick:

It was a great conference in a great city and it's returning next year.

Andy:

Good plug. And we... We did a live episode with John Stauf from South Dakota State University. What a guy! What a lovely chap.

Nick:

he's the sweetest guy I think I've ever met.

Andy:

And he was, good enough to come on stage. One thing to mention about this is the audio. is absolutely awful on John's mic, so please bear with us, it just didn't record very well. Gets a bit better about eight minutes in.

Nick:

The sound quality isn't great on this one. It's probably worth saying that John has a hearing impairment and he's quite softly spoken. And because it's recorded in one take, the sound levels, are a little bit different.

Andy:

But what a life he's had. he's a German and modern European history. Professor, he was, in Germany for some monumental events,

Nick:

There's some reference to us wearing Nazi uniform, when they're actually just pilot hats.

Andy:

The same pilot hats that we wore on stage at the Pi Live in London,

Nick:

what I love about the lives is that you get the audience interaction. You can hear people laughing and,, clapping and eating their lunch I like it. A big thank you to anyone who made the effort to come and watch this recording live. We really appreciate it.

Andy:

Yeah, thanks very much. We talked about gifting etiquette with him, we talked about losing body parts, we talked about study abroad, and he's taken lots of students overseas, and the benefits of study abroad,

Nick:

stick with it, folks. There's a lot of good stuff here.

Andy:

historian who dared to podcast Lie With Us on stage in Boston, he's a hoarder of gifts and a great storyteller. Let's get some tales from the Departure Lounge from John Stauf.

Nick:

Welcome, welcome to Tales from the Departure Lounge, everyone. We are here live in Boston at the Pi Live, and we're very, very lucky to be joined by John Stauff today from South Dakota State University. So John, welcome to the podcast. Great to have you on. The first question we always ask our guests is our final boarding call, and that is, if you could take our listeners anywhere in the world, where would it be? I'd like to take you to Germany. It's a place that helped shape my future, but it also, helped shape my sense of being an American, and, it shaped everything about the life I lived. why did you end up in Germany? my first trip 1985. different time then. East and West Germany. We didn't know, it was the last year of the Cold War, And I thought as an American that I would be popular because after all we liberated Germany and our army was everywhere and I was really naive about that we were stationing missiles in West Germany pointing toward the east so, it was a real wake up call for perspective it really helped me to, ask questions and not make presumptions about, the way people thought. So were you there when the Berlin Wall fell in, 89? I I was there in a variety of turning points in 1985, and there was a summer of bad things happening to American soldiers, and there were several attacks upon American soldiers in discotheques in various parts of Germany, which was a bit scary as an American at the time. I was 19, and then my 1989, the fall, something happened in Germany. And I'm sure those of us who were old enough to remember the Berlin Wall falling, that was certainly a turning point. For so many things happening in the Western world and then eventually in Eastern Europe. At that time, I didn't have television, I had radio. So I was listening to the radio every hour. There was a news report and we were that much closer and that much closer to something happening. Then all of a sudden it happened. And then the next morning I wake up I was in Göttingen, Germany, just about 20 kilometers from the border with East and West Germany. And there was a Porsche parked in front of McDonald's in Göttingen and there were There were four semicircles of people just staring at the car, and they were from the East. And one thing you learn in Germany, you never touch another man's car. Don't do it. Alright, so. That's universal. All these people were just staring at this Porsche. Not touching it, I knew then that the world was going to be different and I was in a really great place to explain what happened and affirmed my choice of being a college professor. Did you then have conversations with East Germans that hadn't been over to the West and what was that like? For many people I was the first American that they had actually had a chance to speak to. And as time went on, of course, there was a great deal of uncertainty, they didn't have a lot of money, what was going to happen to their savings in these German marks, and of course, one of the major reasons for coming was to go shopping. And so the strategies that they used in order to purchase that TV, that consumer good that they had wanted and never had a chance to own, my professor he was absolutely condemned. He thought. Well, you know, this is really great we can create a socialist state in Germany that is true to the teachings of Marx and is truly humane and so forth. And I said, Professor, I'm going to contradict you. I know you're a distinguished professor and you have all these books and titles, but you haven't seen the people looking at the consumer goods and I don't think they're going to go in that direction, um, ultimately. I was right, but, um, I think it was the only time I was right in seven years of working with them, but, that, that ivory tower perspective versus that on the ground perspective. It really encouraged me to think my students, they need to experience things just as I've been experiencing them. I thought maybe this international education gig might be a better way to, to have an impact on students and a really great teaching tool. So you have led a career of taking students on tour all over the world. Tell us some of the countries you've taken students to, I've taken students to a number of countries, obviously Central Europe, Germany, Austria, France, were in my sweet spot, in the wheelhouse, if you will. I've taken students to Ireland, which is the other half of my ancestry. But, South America, Ecuador, Peru, uh, Brazil. I've been in an office that has sent students to six continents, and dozens and dozens of destinations, But this sounds like a nightmare. Taking students overseas is fraught with problems, And many of them end up in the emergency room. Am I right in saying this? You must have had this experience before. Yeah, yeah, yeah. For a variety of reasons, and not just, overindulgence in alcohol. But, I'm sure many of us who have led programs have encountered that. In various continents. And, uh, I think that the one that I remember the best, I wasn't actually leading the program, but my best friend was leading it. And I decided he needed a translator in Central Europe. So I said, I think I need to go. I think we had 26 bottles of wine by the end of that, that journey, at the end of the day. But, we were with MBA students, and I think most of you who have led students to Broaden O, give me a group of undergraduate students any day compared to graduate students, because they're older, they have more money, and they can get into more trouble. But, the idea that, okay, we're relating to them, it's all first name basis, and so we're relaxing after a site visit, in Strasburg, and if any of you have been to Strasburg, it's a very sophisticated, worldly, cosmopolitan city. So we're in the backyard of a chateau, a French 18th century chateau, where there was a sand volleyball court, and so the students are playing, uh, sand volleyball, and I was better in shape then, so I was able to play. And then there was this rather heavyset woman who was a nurse, and she's playing barefoot, and I never would have recommended you to play barefoot on a sand volleyball court in Strasbourg, France. So she cuts her foot, and I take a look at the bloody mess, and I'm counting toes, and this is really important, and I counted four, and Amy, I seem to, I seem count four toes. I mean, what's happened? And she, and she was fine. You know, she was, she was upset that she had cut herself, but she wasn't freaked out or anything. And my colleague and I are looking at her foot, and like, I'm looking at him and saying, you know, and in fact, no, I'm counting, I'm holding up my hand for four, and four fingers, and it's like, well, is there anything missing? I mean, what? I only count four toes, and she, oh no, no, don't worry, I only have four. I think, well, that's good. That's good, because, um, we're looking around the stand, and we don't see anything. And, I, I, okay, so off to, you know, but then My French is not good. I consider Strasbourg to be a German city. And you can edit that out if that's too inflammatory. But, So I'm hoping,, I'm hoping someone speaks German in the emergency room. Because I could do it in Germany, but I could not do it in French. And explaining the situation, No, she only had four toes. And, anyway, It became, it became a really funny experience for her, and I'm sure memorable, uh, certainly memorable for me, but, It gives a whole new meaning to finding yourself while studying abroad, doesn't it? Exactly. No, I'm, I'm taking a refresher course for first aid and CPR next week, because those skills do come into play at times, and we encourage our faculty to, to take them up, too. The next section of the podcast is called Any Laptops, Liquids and Sharp Objects. So John, can you tell our audience any travel hacks or things that you have to pack when you're going overseas? well, uh, this isn't going to be relevant to anyone who doesn't have a cochlear implant, but I basically bring a wide variety of charging devices so that I can hear, so I have a lot of battery type of operations, so that takes up a certain amount of space in my bag that makes me be a little bit more efficient in the rest of my packing, but, I'm wearing a blue sweater and. I tend to have a blue sweater wherever I go. Very handy. It makes me feel warm, but it also makes me feel content and happy. Like, like, like, like all men, 90 percent of your wardrobe is navy. That's just how we roll, isn't it? but John, sometimes... You need extra luggage because of the academic gifts you receive on tour. Okay, we've not discussed this with any other guest, but John brilliantly described this to us many of us in this industry, in this sector are very involved in India, right, and we can travel a lot to India for a variety of reasons, particularly after 2020 and the new educational policy that allows for credit transfer, etc. And I've collected a herd of elephants. That is very, very impressive. Um, different sizes, different materials, and often all at the same time. So if you're doing one of these multi city trips, you could, you could come back with 12, 15 elephants of different sizes. And you can give them away, and people in your office might be impressed. Oh wow, he thought about me, and he brought me an elephant. And... Well, no, I didn't think of you at all. I'm trying to get rid of them because I have too many. So, um, and then I, I got a large ship that was about 24 inches long, and it was made out of very small pieces of wood and had drunk together with, with twine, and how am I going to get this back? And so that was a donation to someone in Hyderabad, I think. But, um, I, I just was in Papua New Guinea, and I know your previous guest spent time in Papua New Guinea and I don't, I don't want to repeat Papua New Guinea stories, but I bet she came back with like five portraits of a bird of paradise. Because everybody in Papua New Guinea gives you a bird of paradise in some form. Um, it could be in chocolate, it could be a, a large portrait, um, it could be a silkscreen t shirt or something, but birds of paradise are hot, and we have one at the beginning. So. And, and largest gift you've received? Or largest or heaviest gift you've received? The largest or heaviest gift? Well, I was a mere observer because I came back from Kazakhstan with a root canal and a beautiful, that's another story. But, um, a beautiful metallic map of Kazakhstan, which all of us need in our offices. But my colleague, who was the College of Business Dean, at a previous institution, had been the professor of the rector of the university in Kazakhstan when the rector had been at the University of Kentucky. So he had a mentor relationship. And what better way to reward your mentor, but to give a, I would say three feet by two feet rock sculpture in an encased glass portrait of, of horses in Kazakhstan. And we were going on to Germany to that 18th century chateau that I mentioned. And, and so we're going on to Lufthansa in, in Almaty to, to Frankfurt, and we have to talk on this, this port, this thing, this three and a half by two, three by two type of ground portrait. And my German came in handy, so, you know, very contagious. And am I right in saying you're hoarding a lot of this stuff? You, you worry that someone's going to turn up and you're going to have to get the gift out to say, you know, we have what you gave us. That's right, isn't it? Yeah. I'm very interested in an audience about who's got the guilt of put the gift in the bin or who's got a spare room full of this stuff I mean, you must have received some. I had one in China. It's a huge wooden frame. they make a two glass panels with sort of feathers that make a picture in the middle. And this one, this one looked like a, um, like a, it was a cat, but it looked like it had been hit by a shovel. Uh, and it was, it was just too big. It was nice, but it was too big. So I, um, yeah, I left it in the hotel room, uh, and went downstairs and checked out, but then. And the agent who'd given it to me was, taking me to the airport and, the cleaning staff ran downstairs with the, the cat and, uh, and said, I'm sorry, sir, you've left this in the room. I said, oh, so sorry. Oh, how could I have forgotten your, your lovely gift and I'm definitely not leaving it at the airport. Yeah. Um, which I did. I did. I work with an agent in London and I love this agent because whenever we were there and university representatives come. They give them a huge gateau, I mean of like wedding cake proportion, and it's the look on the face of the reps of thinking, one I'm on a diet, but two, how am I going to get this gateau on the London Underground without getting it all over me? So John, the next section of the podcast is called, uh, What is it called? It's called, What's the Purpose of Your Visit? So, why do you do what you do? well, that's a good question. I think, I've always wanted to be a teacher. but, I I always wanted to travel, and I always wanted to see the world. I grew up on the edge of the United States, in the coast of New Jersey, and every morning I could watch the sun come out over the ocean, and I always wondered what else was out there. And I had a really great stamp collection. I was introduced to that early. So, The communist country at the time had these huge stamps and I was fascinated by that. It must be a great place that they're able to produce so many stamps for my book. so, I was curious. I tried to dive into what those stamps were telling me. And, there's one story that when I was a study abroad student at the University of Regensburg, the person who would be me, the senior international person at the University of Regensburg, he would come to the tea that students had every Friday. he was in and out and he would be gone. And I just remember saying, wow, he's got a great job because he just came from someplace in Asia and he was going to someplace in South America. And he took an interest in me, probably because I was hearing impaired, and my language skills probably weren't as good as others. And he would speak to me in BBC special German. And he would, you know, Herr Stauff, please place your bag in the armoire. You know, but he would say it really slow, in German, obviously. So he took a liking to me, and he would tell me about his work, and He just enjoyed bringing people together, and I left saying, Wow, it would be a really cool experience one time in my career to do that, to be able to bring people together. And it's one thing to do that on a study tour as a study abroad program leader, or as a study abroad office person, but, the more I got into this type of work, the more pleasure I got from helping others put these types of programs together, you said to me on the briefing call that you think you can learn more in a bar overseas than you can in a classroom. Well, when you think about my 1985 study abroad experience, and this is still West Germany, I would go to a beer garden and there would be someone from the SS, an old guy, a codger, at a beer garden, babbling on about what was wrong with what was happening in West German society and talking about the good old days. And that was jarring because we all thought, everyone has been rehabilitated in some way and thinking different ways. So I learned a lot from not everyone was a Nazi, but. Um, in the bars, but I see much of the study abroad experience as what's happening outside the classroom. The classroom can certainly prepare you to appreciate what's going on outside, but that outside of the classroom experience, that experiential component is key. Andy, all of a sudden I'm acutely aware that the hats we're wearing. Looked like Nazi regalia. No, I never thought that. No, you never thought that. Handsome pilot. Last time it was strippers, so... Yeah, okay. More easy than West Germany, but... Okay. And, you obviously had this transformative experience at the time with Germany, and that led you on this academic career around that part of history and fascism and so on. How's that playing into American culture at the moment? Everybody in South Dakota, close your ears. But, um, no, I think that, um, We live in a moment of great change and great transition and, I, I would say a certain amount of frustration because, I think we thought in the 80s and 90s when we were teaching the Holocaust and teaching the Nazi German episode in European history that we were sensitizing the next generation of people to steer clear of language and behaviors and political positions that, got Germany into a mess of trouble in the 1930s and 40s. And, Today, we see a resurgence of some of that thought and some of that language, not just in the United States, but in other countries of the world. And furthermore, when we get into our international recruitment work, we see some of our students positively relating to some of these political leaders that we may not think about as being models of representing American society. And they think it's funny and they think it's entertaining. And I'm saying some of the things that you're complaining about, getting a visa and being accepted in the United States, some of those challenges are due to that, that individual that you're lionizing. So um, I feel like I have to be very judicious in how I give out that information at times, but I'm still teaching. I'm still trying to teach you must have seen some very positive impacts from sending students overseas and a few changes that students have gone through because of that. You see students becoming professionals and ascending the ranks of their companies and becoming educators themselves and getting married and having kids and being positive contributors to civil society wherever they happen to be. And that's certainly. And you mentioned South Dakota and you said to me that there was a British student who came to South Dakota who suddenly found themselves in a very unusual role. South Dakota is a small place, there's only about 900, 000 people and we're not teaming with people from outside of the United States. and The Queen died, you must remember her, Elizabeth, and so, the Queen died and they couldn't find everybody in Sioux Falls to do interviews with a British person locally. And so they called us up 45 minutes away in Brookings, South Dakota, and, okay, well, I've got one exchange student, can we find him, and, you know, he's 19, from Manchester. And he became the representative of the British monarchy in discussing the Queen's death in South Dakota. And the communications person on our campus said, He just knocked it out of the park and he was in no way, shape, or form ready for this. But he just slid right into the role. And, and did a really great job, and so, you know, and I've had those moments too when I've been interviewed on Italian TV when I was a Statue of Liberty National Park Ranger, and you're representing your country, you know, it's a big, big thing. so in an act of desperation we changed this fellow's life and, and gave him a really great moment. And he became a royal correspondent. He became a foreign correspondent, absolutely. The next section of the podcast is called Anything to Declare. It's really a free space, John, for you to talk about whatever you want. It could be South Dakota State University or anything else you think is important. Well, South Dakota State University is a wonderful place. I encourage you all to think about it in your futures. But, it's always energizing to be, this is a live broadcast of, of this, of the pod. And, uh, the energy we get from our colleagues in international education and the ideas and the, The affirmation, the challenge, and sometimes, you know, the opportunity to do something different. it's a great place to work, it's a great sector, it's a great conference at the Pi Live, and, I thank everyone for being here at the live broadcast, and I encourage you to keep doing this good work and sharing our stories with others. Keep listening. and, John, I think the words you said to me was, we could all be classed as human traffickers if you looked at things in a different way. Tell us a little bit more about this view. Judging a book by its cover. Or not. Or not. I can't remember what made you say that. By the way, it was I'll give you. It was 5am. No, 4am I think we did the call together, didn't we? I think it was No, um, I can, I can, okay, I'm a historian of, of 20th century Germany and I'm giving a presentation at the Hungarian Embassy last week on climate smart agricultural practices and precision agriculture. I'm sure all of you are ready to talk about that extemporaneously. and so I'm doing my thing and I'm following Purdue University, and anyone who knows Purdue University, huge land grant institution, South Dakota State, much more modest. And for whatever reason, the other presenters gave me gifts from their countries. And there was this one book from Poland. And this woman from Poland said, I wanted to bring you a cheesecake, but I just couldn't get it into the bag. And so your, your gateau story could have fit in well with that. But the book is this woman with blonde hair and all these flowers. And I'm saying, what the heck is this? Because it's all in Polish. I said, oh God, I've got to lug this home. and I didn't open it up, and I got home, and it was an absolutely beautiful cookbook in English with all sorts of wonderful recipes from her country, and I'm glad I didn't toss it out in the, in the garbage, in the hotel room, and you just have to, you have to give things a chance. And for that student who calls up and say, I'm going home, I'm in Amsterdam and I'm miserable. And you're saying to myself, my God, you're in Amsterdam, a really great place. Give it a couple more days, give it a chance. And so, having that message ready for the students. And remembering that you have to follow that advice yourself at times. And I think that's why. I say that I can't remember what I said at 5 a. m., but I'm not the same story perhaps, but, be open minded and you'll be surprised in a good way. Perfect. Awesome. Thanks so much, John, for coming on the podcast. It's been great having you on. We're live here in Boston, so if everyone could join me in giving John a big round of applause. Thank you. Well done, John. This was, uh, this was Tales from Departureland, live from the USA. Happy travels, everyone. Thanks for listening. Thank you. Thank you, John. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. As always. If you are a fan of the show. Please leave a review or emailers at sick bag, a tales from the departure lounge.com. Tales from the Departure Lounge is a type nine production for the pie.

Intro to the episode
Final boarding call for Jon
Any laptops, liquids or sharp objects?
What's the purpose of your visit?
Anything to declare?