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October 25, 2014

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15 minutes with the guy who lives above Common Grounds

Ryan Radebaugh

15 minutes with Ryan Radebaugh

From what high school and what year did you graduate from high school?
Riverdale High School- 2004

How about college?
Bluffton University

Where do you live now?
I live right above the Common Grounds.

So that means we'll see you outside Common Grounds in the summer?
Definitely. Especially on Saturday mornings!

How do you like your coffee?
Interesting question. It depends on exactly what I need in the morning. On a regular day I just drink a cup of the highlander grogg. There are those days, you know, the ones where it is a struggle to get out of bed and I need to be zapped in a friendly mood where I splurge on a caramel macchiato. The daily high fives from Phil are always a good jump start to my day as well.

What's your position at ONU?
At ONU I work as an International Services Coordinator. My job responsibilities include, but are not limited to: Getting students prepared for the arrival to Northwest Ohio, welcoming the students at Ohio Northern University, and develop a support system for any other problems they may face while they are here.

The ultimate goal is to facilitate a positive experience both academically and socially for the students so they may achieve all of their university goals while they are here.

How many international students do you come into contact with?
At ONU we have approximately 120 International students. I am fairly positive that I can recite all of their first names, last names, and even their favorite colors.

Since I have also worked at the University of Findlay in International Admissions and their TESOL program and I was also very involved with International Connection, I enjoy maintaining international contacts from all three schools.

Tell us about your work.
My work is very rewarding yet challenging. There is never a day where a new surprise does not surface. It takes a lot of patience, understanding, and problem solving skills. Imagine being an older brother/parent figure to 120 students in another country, now imagine all of the interesting issues the 120 students can encounter during their college years. There are a lot of rewarding moments, and also a lot of stressful late night calls.

What have you learned about your own perspective on life from working with international students?
I could really write a book about this topic, I'll spare the readers some time. As a white, Mt. Blanchardan who lived on a farm, raised pigs, and played soccer, I never even knew jobs like mine existed. Every time I meet a person from a different corner of the world and a deep conversation begins my belief system of what I know is challenged and expanded.

I have come to view cultures and life experiences as a smorgasbord. One can learn something from everybody, you find the good, put it on your plate of life experiences, internalize it and move on. Working with international students has enriched my life. I have also been able to see Northwest Ohio from a different perspective.

The excitement in the student's eyes when they see tractors, barns, cornfields, statements such as, "this is just like the movies" are uttered. Seeing Ohio from a different perspective often gives me a deeper appreciation of things that I have always taken for granted.

What attracted you to Bluffton?
Many people in town still recognize me as the white guy who worked at Tu Pueblo, one of my best college jobs ever, but at least I get a nod and sometimes jokes about bringing people a taco.

Even though I grew up in the community of Mt. Blanchard, I feel like Bluffton is really my first home.

Tell us about the worst movie you ever saw - one where you'd like your money back.
Surprisingly, I am not so much of a movie buff. I don't have an answer for the worst move I have ever seen; however, I do have an honest answer of the only movie I own (mainly because it is the best movie ever made) and that would be The Goonies.

How many music tunes are on your ipad?
Over 1,000. I have to be honest, one of the perks of my job is that I get access to good music around the globe. When I am on a run, biking, or relaxing in my apartment one can expect that I am jamming out to hindi, latin, irish, west african, or carribean hits.

What's the most frequent way you communicate with friends (texts, Twitter, what?)
I am old fashioned on this one. I prefer to communicate face-to face. There is nothing quite like an authentic, non-digital conversation. Unfortunately, the majority of my best friends are not in the states anymore. Luckily, Skype has been there to save the day.

How often a day?
I generally have at least 1 or two skype calls a day. The only problem is the timing. Since many of my friends are back in India, it is not uncommon to receive a call at 8:00 and get an hour exchange with some of my closest friends

What authors are you reading these days? Actual books or Kindles?
Oh the day when I can read for fun again, I can't wait. Currently I am reading Paulo Freire, Paulo Freire and Paulo Freire, with a hint of Liberation theology and other rockstars in the critical pedagogic world. I am in the painful process of finishing my thesis. If I look like I am drowning in books and words outside of Common Grounds some encouragement is always needed.

If I was not reading Freire, my goal is to read all of Carlos Fuentes's novels (one of the best Mexican writers ever, I highly recommend La frontera de cristal)

What's your favorite website and why?
My all time favorite website is Couchsurfing.org it is a website that connects adventurous people of all ages who love to travel. The title is somewhat explanatory, you say that you have a couch people can stay on and then you can stay on other peoples couches worldwide.

Yes, it sounds a bit risky, it sounds a bit dangerous and it isn't for everybody, but I have had a wonderful experience and have met some really awesome people through my travels and I get a place to crash for free!