Acclimating to America: International Student Orientation Fun

He’s from Tokyo. She’s from Indonesia.

He will study bio statistics. She will study emergency preparedness.

Following graduation, he plans to stay here. She plans to return home.

Masayuki Takizawa and Dewi Ningsih are both new students in the College of Public Health. They couldn’t be more different. And yet alike at the same time.

They were here on Monday and Tuesday for the International Student Orientation, an inaugural event at UNMC that brings together new students from the countries of China, India, Egypt and Tajikistan to name a few. It included presentations from ITS, the DMV and the GOYP (Greater Omaha Young Professionals). (Nothing like a few acronyms to get you used to campus.) Other topics were immigration, security, banking, housing and worship.

He found the ice breaker helpful. She got the most out of the academic integrity session on plagiarism. They both liked the UNMC scavenger hunt. The students divided into teams and were given clues to find campus landmarks like Hope Tower, the Student Life Center, and the Graduate Studies Office.

Together, Takizawa and Ningsih dubbed themselves “Team Lazy.” The garnered signatures from volunteers at 10 of the 14 campus landmarks, but were ditched early in the competition by a more ambitious teammate.

“Why is she running?” questioned Takizawa.

Team Lazy doesn’t run.

But other teams did. The Find Outers.

And the Pizza Chasers. Some of the teams also reverted to their first languages in the chaos of the contest.

That wasn’t possible for Team Lazy.

“Tell me about Tokyo,” said Ningsih

“Big. Crowded. Expensive. But convenient,” responded Takizawa.

He came here two years ago for an MBA, but after three semesters decided it was “too boring” and switched paths to public health.

“Connection is everything,” he said. “I want to use the exchange of knowledge to think globally, and act locally.”

She came here five months ago to further her emergency care education.

And maybe find a soulmate, she added.

(Cue the lump in my throat.)

As for campus, he’s been impressed with the cleanliness and safety. She’s noticed the kindness of others.

Team Lazy ran into their former teammate on their way back to Sorrell from the McGoogan Library, one of the scavenger hunt landmarks.

They tried to point her in the right direction without giving her the answer.

“Where are all the books?” they quizzed.

“The bookstore?” she responded.

Cue laughter, the language everybody speaks.

Welcome to UNMC.


Dr. Cornish: "Up your nose with a rubber hose"

Kurtis Cornish, Ph.D., sat at the front of a classroom in Wittson Hall wearing the expression of a man who knows what’s coming.

Still, he insists it is no big deal to have a nasogastric (NG) tube snaked up his nose, down his throat and into his stomach. That – showing how little a deal it really is – was the whole point of this exercise.

“He swallows about 40 NG tubes in three days,” said Patti Carstens, program manager for the Clinical Skills Center in the UNMC College of Medicine.

Dr. Cornish helps Heather Spain prepare to snake a nasogastric tube through the nose of fellow student, Megan Goeser. 


Dr. Cornish, professor of cellular and integrative physiology, has won the Golden Apple, UNMC’s teaching award, so many times they stopped counting. And during June Term, this is what he does.

His session on NG is the highlight, the showstopper, the event everyone seems to talk about, over the three-day skills brush-up sessions for med students heading into their clinical years.

In June Term, students will do an NG intubation and have it done to them. But not before Dr. Cornish demonstrates first.

They used to demonstrate on a student, he said. But the student would gag, flinch, fight, and then, “The whole class was terrified.”

Won’t they still be terrified?

“Yeah, they will,” Dr. Cornish said. “But not as bad.”

“Some of you who have a deviated septum may have an advantage,” he said, before he took the tube.

Afterward, a student said, “That did not look comfortable.” Then, to his partner: “You go first.”

Around the room, tubers and tube-ees took nervous breaths. In chests and stomachs, butterflies danced.

Dr. Cornish

“When you push the tube down, don’t be shy,” Dr. Cornish had said. But easier said than done, at least the first time.

Ever-changing, manic facial expressions (this was made for YouTube) marked the tubes’ progress, or lack thereof.

One woman did “the vapors” flaps like a Southern belle.

But, eventually, they got it down. And then out.

“HOOOOOAAAAAAHHH!” one woman said, as her tube made its escape.

“I’m soooo sorry,” she said. But she needn’t have been. It was just a sound effect.

So now they’d done it. And they basked in the giddiness and confidence that comes with relief.

Except for one tuber. And one tube-ee. Time after time, they kept trying.

At last Dr. Cornish stepped in, and sat down. For the second time in 20 minutes, he was going to show how this was done.

John's Real Stories of UNMC Security

John Ingraham has been a UNMC security officer since 1978. Yes, there’s a lot of routine and repetition involved. But he’s also had his life threatened over parking tickets. He’s seen some pretty crazy things.

And he’s exercised with Richard Simmons (that guy has crazy energy). He snuck Robert Redford in the back door (OK, the man is handsome; but, come on, he’s not THAT handsome). And he visited sick kids with Mr. T (I pity the fool who doesn’t think Mr. T has a heart of gold).

John Ingraham


We see them as friendly faces around campus. But UNMC security does more than make rounds and check locks.

“A lot of people that have gotten experience here have gone on to other police forces,” Ingraham said. “State patrol. Douglas County, Sarpy County. Omaha police. The sheriff. Pottawattamie County. One went into the FBI.”

But others are lifers here. How can you tell a guy is going to stick?

“After 30 years they’re still here!” Ingraham said.

A typical atypical day

And, often, they see, experience and handle more than the rest of us will ever know.

“So far this morning,” Ingraham said one recent day at 10 a.m., “we had a car accident in Lot 1. We had a person down in the intersection of 40th and Emile Street that the rescue squad took to the emergency room.

“We’ve had six or seven (calls) in since 8 o’clock this morning. One was a suicidal-homicidal. One was on an EPC, an emergency protective custody. We had a Code 99 come in, and several other less critical.

“Code 99 is a cardiac arrest,” Ingraham said.

Join us next time

In order to share some of these adventures – from the funny to the harrowing – UNMC Today and A Day in the Life of UNMC are partnering with Ingraham to tell some of the best stories from his 34 years on the job.

Look for periodic installments of Ingraham’s Real Stories of UNMC Security.