Southeastern student briefs soldiers on Middle East culture
Contact: Elise Doster
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University communication major Ann O’Conner, who lived and worked in the Middle East for 10 years, recently shared her expertise on Middle Eastern culture and communication with Hammond area Army Reserve soldiers.
O’Conner recently spoke to the medical reserve soldiers preparing for deployment on cross-cultural communication and Middle Eastern hospital law.
A resident of Hammond, O’Conner returned home to pursue a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication at Southeastern. She initially met Army personnel during a non-credit Arabic language course at Southeastern.
As a hospital administrator in Saudi Arabia, O’Conner developed not only fluency in Arabic, but also an understanding of Middle Eastern hospital laws and protocol.
“Many people have misunderstandings about Middle Eastern culture,” said O’Conner. “Informing our soldiers about social expectations makes them feel more comfortable and better prepared to serve. Healthcare is an important area of concentration for American soldiers and it is imperative that they have a clear understanding of Arabic religion, culture and law.”
O’Conner said she hopes to ease some of the soldiers’ apprehension about cultural differences through interactive training and open discussion. She has also been asked by the Army National Guard to lead a week-long training session on diversity communication at the national headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.
“The opportunities I have received from my contacts at Southeastern have been great,” said O’Conner. “Helping the soldiers makes me feel like I’m making a difference and it shows support for our country and community.”