GC highlight: Bruce Truitt

“I live my life like a dog,” says Bruce Truitt.  “I sniff all the corners for something new.” This was the amazing quote from our interview, and it describes exactly how brave he is. Gutsy, enthusiastic, dynamic and bright in everything he does. He is a multi-lingual auditor, analyst, consultant and educator. We dare to say he is also an excellent musician and a curious person thirsty for knowledge, who has spent his life working hard, studying, and learning around the globe. He seems always to be “brainstorming” with himself, looking for new combinations of ideas and perspectives. He speaks three languages fluently and is learning a new one. He seems non-stop.

Bruce Truitt is from Houston, TX, but spent most of his life in Austin, where he really developed his connection with the music industry. “To make a living playing music required doing a whole bunch of different things to make ends meet. So, I was head of the Musicians Union, playing music, doing sound reinforcement, sound design, music for plays, booking bands, writing jingles, and producing music for myself and other players.”

After somehow finding time to earn a BA in Honors English and MA in Foreign Language Education, with minors in foreign languages and computer-assisted instruction, respectively, Bruce went back into music by working in a recording studio as manager, engineer, and session musician which then led to developing skills in media production and media/public relations. “It was also a time when public information was moving from paper to electronic media, especially in government agencies.  So, I became the head of Public Information and Health Education for the Austin Travis County Health Department and then moved on tobe Public Information and International Protocol Officer and head of the Sister Cities Program for the City of Austin.”

After realizing that media and public relations were somewhat self-limiting, he returned to school to earn a master’s degree in Public Administration, during which time he specialized in Soviet and Russian Economics, operations research, and applied statistics.  He then went to work for the Texas State Auditor’s Office and later for the State of Texas Office of Inspector General where he became a health care auditor and resident statistics expert. He has been in business for himself for the last 12 years as an expert witness, consultant, and instructor in healthcare fraud, auditing standards, internal control, and applied statistics.

Bruce also studied, lived, and worked in the USSR and Russia. “I studied Russian for two years as an undergraduate. I just could not believe that all Russians wanted to kill Americans.  So, after graduation, I sold pretty much everything I owned and studied in Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev. I then worked in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia off and on for about five years and, ultimately, returned to college and took a master’s in Russian and East European Studies.  He adds, “My wife has forbidden me from returning to the university, but anything is possible!”

What does Bruce enjoy most?  Without hesitation, he said, “Playing music, spending time with my family, learning new things, and being able to enter another culture by learning its language. Knowing another language is a passport to another world.”

He adds, “Learning a new language is a courageous act and one that can silenceus when we don’t know how to say something – an experience I call ‘stubbing your brain.’ When you hit your toe on a door or something, it stops you dead in your tracks, right? The same thing happens when you mess up with grammar or vocabulary–you stub your brain, and you stop. But, that’s exactly what you should not do. Push on. Talk yourself out of the corner. It is just like playing music.  Both music and language are improvisation. We shine and learn when we make mistakes.  Even when things don’t go right, everyone on the planet is beautiful in their own way, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and all that other stuff.”

Bruce and his family came to Pennsylvania five years ago, mostly to be closer to his wife’s (Kate) family. “Kate’s mom is 89 – still driving, still living on her own, still going to the gym, but someday she will need some help.  We’ll be here.”

Bruce’s involvement with Global Connections (GC) began three-and-a-half years ago. “Somehow, Board Member Susan Steinberg found out about me. When we met, she told me Global Connections was looking for a new Treasurer.  Since what GC was doing was a direct extension of my background in International Protocol, I could hardly refuse.”

When we asked about how GC has helped him, he noted that, “It gives me a meaningful way to connect with other people and  other cultures, continue my background in international relations and keep my language skills alive. I have really enjoyed trading Russian-English lessons with a couple of other members of Global Connections.  Global Connections also creates a forum in which the spouses and children of Penn State’s international cohort can learn about and interact with the State College community.

The best part of being a GC  member is that Global Connections is an organization that is trying to facilitate and develop an international presence in a largely monocultural environment.” Regarding why he decided to be a volunteer, he observes that he is at a point in his life in which giving is more important than getting. “I don’t really need to be paid for something. I feel like I have more control over my time and, as a result, am more free to contribute to the community.

We then asked him about the meaning of life. He quickly noted“Community!”Adding that you can’t have community without communication. “Better communications would solve the great majority of the world’s problems.” He continued,“ that’s what GC is trying to do by creating a community beyond Penn State, an effort which I wholeheartedly celebrate.”

A month full of events for GC members

On Sep 18th, Global Connections celebrated our annual membership picnic at Tudek Park with a catered luau. We had the chance to interact with long-term members and newcomers, both international and American residents, we usually do not have the opportunity to see in person. Attendees shared their backgrounds, interests and inspiring visions of our world.

The luau also provided an opportunity to recruit new members. It was an amazing time we spent together eating, talking, and having fun. One of the two cakes was decorated with a picture of our members. Tudek Park was an ideal venue for the picnic, with its splendid natural surroundings. It was an occasion to say good-bye to our warm summer time and say hello to the upcoming fall season.

September also provided various opportunities to publicize Global Connections. We set up a display table at the annual State College Lion Bash on Sep 8th, joining scores of other community organizations in promoting their programs to the thousands of visitors.

Similarly, we were present on Sep 17th at the Municipal Building for the Multicultural Unity Fair. Heartful thanks to those GC members who volunteered for several hours at both events. We are working closely with the State College Area School District offering help – especially interpretation – to families in need of assistance.

GC highlight: Kiyomi Masamune uses the education as a way to transform the world 

This gentle yet influential woman has found in education the opportunity to contribute to society and transform the world we live in. We recently spoke with Kiyomi Masamune, a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State University, about her long experience living abroad.

Kiyomi is from Tokyo, Japan. Before coming to the United States, she lived for a few years in England and Italy. Living in Europe, she could understand personally the challenges of living abroad. It also brought her knowledge about the diversity of cultures due to her contact with different communities in the West.

Kiyomi and her family arrived in the United States 17 years ago. Her first home was in Worcester, MA, because of her husband who got a position as a visiting professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). We asked about her first impression here in the US, and she said, “I made a lot of mistakes when I first came to the United States because I didn’t speak English so much. And the first impression, the first morning I went to a supermarket and I got a box of donuts and they were so tasty. I thought, oh, I think I can survive here. It has such good food.” She laughed and continued saying, “Also, there are a lot of green spaces in big cities, which reminded me of Tokyo. So, that first impression was good.”

We asked if she ever felt sad or lonely living in the US, but due to her previous experience abroad she did not find it so difficult. She said, “I had already experienced being away from home. So, when I first came to the United States, I didn’t feel so sad because America can offer a feeling of welcome. Meanwhile, Europe for me is like Japan with a long history, which for me makes them similar in some aspects.”

Even after living so many years abroad, what still makes her feel homesick “definitely food.” She said, “So, I started to feel it when I got older. I left my country when I was 24, and until recently, I didn’t miss Japanese food so much. However, nowadays maybe my body system is getting older and I would like to go back to my original, I think. Yeah, so I do not want to eat out because what US restaurants can offer cannot satisfy me anymore. So, today, I prefer to cook a simple Japanese meal for myself.” Also, in order to avoid and reduce homesickness, she talks with her family in Japan at least once a month by video call.

Three years after having arrived in the USA, she moved to Altoona. She expressed with a smile that she fell in love with that place, and she decided to specialize in early childhood education. Her desire to work and start her research in the education field emerged from the experiences that she faced raising her daughters in the US. These experiences came from the challenges to raise bilingual children, which not just involve the relation between home and community but also the relations in the school that demand daily effort for foreigners.

Her involvement with Global Connections is recent; actually, she started nine months ago when she felt the need to enhance her writing skills due to some issues that she faced on her academic journey. Besides that, she had the opportunity to meet Bob Persiko, who encouraged and helped her with her academic writing.

Regarding Global Connections, she mentioned being very grateful and appreciative for the opportunity that the program gave to her to deliver a presentation about herself and her cultural experiences at the GC general membership meeting in April. In addition, she recalls one moment when delivering the presentation where a woman from the audience told her, “I’m really glad you presented today because my experience is very similar. And I didn’t have any chance to recognize it.”

Until that moment, Kiyomi was not sure if the audience was listening to her presentation. When she heard that comment, she felt honored and emotional because her story could be valued and encourage other people. She also felt pride in motivating other Asians to break out of a stereotype. She says, “That’s one of the reasons I wrote my paper to encourage others, especially East Asian women who tend to be very quiet and have the reputation to be very obedient and quiet in class. We can go out of that stereotype. So, if I can inspire at least one person, it is wonderful. So that is the thing I appreciate a lot about Global Connections.”

To conclude the interview, we asked her about the best part of being a Global Connections member, and she said, “The best part is that I can connect with people around the globe, and also to get to know people from other countries personally, not just through the media.”

2022 Multicultural Unity Fair

After taking a break from activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cultural Corner’s Committee will be back. The sub-Committee of the Community Diversity Group, and the Borough of State College will hold the fair this year on September 17, from 12pm to 4pm at the State College Municipal Building (243 S Allen Street)It will be a day of performances, food, games, information booths, and a chance to connect with our diverse community members. This is a free community-wide event. All are welcome.After taking a break from activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cultural Corner’s Committee will be back. The sub-Committee of the Community Diversity Group, and the Borough of State College will hold the fair this year on September 17, from 12pm to 4pm at the State College Municipal Building (243 S Allen Street). It will be a day of performances, food, games, information booths, and a chance to connect with our diverse community members. This is a free community-wide event. All are welcome.

Meet friends and neighbors at LION Bash

Join us for LION (Living In One Neighborhood) Bash on September 8th, from 5pm to 8pm, for the annual block party that strives to create a community for both long-term and short-term residents in the Borough of State College. This event provides an educational opportunity for new and returning Penn State students along with current Borough residents. There will be food, music, and fun for residents of all ages.

Everyone is welcome and everyone plays a role in engaging, welcoming, recruiting members to our organization! Stop by our table, and volunteer if you can, to meet some old friends and new during LION Bash ( on Allen Street in State College)

Global Connections volunteers are needed to help staff our GC Welcome table. Sign up for a 1-1/2 hour timeslot by signing up here: https://signup.com/go/anByJjC

Or by emailing Rita at [email protected] 

Summer Welcome Back Hawaiian Luau Family Picnic

Our next in-person meeting is just around the corner. You are our special guest for the Global Connections Summer Welcome Back Hawaiian Luau Family Picnic. The celebration will happen at Tudek Park, from 5 pm to 7 pm, on Sunday, September 18th. The Luau is free to all GC members. The registration link will be sent to your emails soon. Non-members are also welcome. They will pay $10 for the annual membership. 

You will meet other GC members and find Hawaiin decorations throughout the pavilion and table settings. Festive colors will prevail… Remember the school classes are back but it’s still Summer!!!!

The Luau is a celebration of an individual.  A celebration of family.  It celebrates the culture and its connections to the community.


– Huli- Huli Teriyaki Grilled Chicken with brown sugar soy glaze

– Kalua Roasted Pulled Pork slow roasted under banana leaves

– Lomi Lomi Cured Salmon cured and served with cucumber and tomato

– Grilled Pineapple Rice

– Sweet Bread Rolls

– Luau Cake with Coconut, Pineapple, Walnuts, Rum Glaze


We look forward to seeing you there!

Global Connections International Women’s Book Group returns to in person meetings

We welcome new members to join GC International Women’s Book Group. The meetings this fall will be in-person. We look forward to making new friends and engaging in lively discussions!

The group members are active participants in discussions and in book selections. We read a wide variety of books appropriate for intermediate/advanced English readers. The books promote discussion and make for some lively interaction. While exchanging our views, members have the opportunity to practice their English speaking skills in a relaxed environment in which all opinions are valued. 

Global Connections also offers a beginner’s level book group. If you enjoy reading and a good discussion, and you are interested in improving your English speaking skills join us. Email Susan at [email protected] or contact Global Connections at [email protected]   

From midwife to a professional artist: know Andrea Silva Urzua Global Connections member

In this life we should not be limited to other people’s expectations. We should always have the right to expand. The chance to be better, and bigger. To be whoever we want and, especially, someone who makes the difference wherever we go. Andrea Silva is exactly like this. Is she an immigrant from Chile in the USA? Yes. She is also an amazing artist. She is a midwife, a mother, and a strong woman. An example that human being is multifaceted, intelligent and capable of many things.

Andrea moved to State College in 2016. She came with her husband Thomas, who was a PhD student at Penn State. Living abroad, in the beginning, was hard. Andrea barely could speak English. She felt lonely and sad for not being able to make new friends. She also missed her work as midwife and started losing her confidence. It was when she started learning English at Mid State Literacy School.

Researching on the internet she found Global Connections. She became enchanted by the possibility of trying different meetings, like craft activities, and English classes. She wanted to be able to speak English as fast as she could. “I tried to get evolved because I thought it would be fun and they would have more activities that I could do by myself. For example, it was fun to do a craft activity while learning to speak English.” At that point Andrea didn´t dream about the possibility of one day being an artist.

In these classes, Andrea met her best friend in the USA. “When you are living abroad, the connections you have, like friendships, are different from the ones you used to have in your home country. You have to work hard in order to meet people, to expose yourself. Sometimes, when your English is not that good, you feel ashamed that you are not talking or people will not understand you. Because we were in the same condition (international people at Global Connections) it was easier for us to understand each other. We knew it was difficult for us to express ourselves in English”, says Andrea.

“Global Connections was important for me not only to learn English. It was important for the people I have been meeting this whole time, and also because my husband had his connections at the University. Finally I could have my own connections, find a place where I can feel secure, where I can express myself.”

In 2018 Andrea was feeling homesick. At that moment she decided to take part in an internet challenge. She painted and won that challenge. That was the beginning of her passion for painting with watercolors. “It gave me some kind of relief. I started painting a little bit every day.” In 2019 she went to Chile to work as a midwife. While there, she decided to have painting classes. “I feel that watercolor saved me. I found some purpose in my life. My heart is full now.”   

She remembers her path. “In the beginning I couldn’t see painting as a gift. I was trying to fill some spaces. My work (as midwife) was very important, it was all my life. Here I was not having this same feeling. I really liked to help people. I didn’t have that same purpose and it was hard. And, at some point, the watercolor came to me and saved me.” She spent eight months in Chile.

 After returning to the USA, Andrea started painting more regularly. In 2021, during the pandemic, she was pregnant. At that point, she started to think about her art more professionally. Also, she started meeting other artists and people who enjoyed her work. She started to build new connections in this art area. “I´m glad that this community (State College area) has space for local artists. There are so many great artists here. Everyone has different paths and you can show to people what you are doing.”  

Now, Andrea is the proud and lovely mother of two beautiful kids: her son Ernesto and her amazing art. “Ernesto is a gift. He changed me. I am not the same person I was before. I think now he gives the energy to do things. I want to prove to him that I can do it and he also can be whoever he wants. Even though I discovered I want to paint later in my life. He knows that his mother can do whatever. I can be a midwife. I can be a painter. If you really try you can do whatever you want in your life. Now he is my muse.” 

About Global Connections, Andrea tells how important the organization became to her life. “Global Connections has always been by my side. It is like a second family. It is something that you don´t think that you will have in a place so far from your home country. It’s a very good resource for international people. I’m very happy to have found them. I’m very happy with the friends and family I met there. I’m especially glad for the teachers. Bob (Persiko), for example, was always so supportive. He believed in me before I could do it. I´m very grateful for that. I couldn’t see myself without this organization in my life.” 

Thank you for making the difference

Thanks to everyone who contributed to Global Connections during the Centre Gives campaign. This was our first involvement in this activity of the Centre Foundation. In the two days of this big giving event, 22 people made donations totaling $845. In addition, GC qualified for a Last Chance prize of $250. The actual final amount of the award will be announced in June. The funds will help us expand our outreach, provide a welcoming environment for international visitors, and foster mutual understanding and respect.

Message from the President – Giving Back

In the spirit of Centre Gives, we in Global Connections should develop programs that give back to the community. Not having a paid staff, the initiative for such actions falls on the members. We need people to think creatively about projects that could be developed and to be willing to turn an idea into a reality. Are there people in the community who need help? Do we have talents we could offer in support of others?

As an example, the State College Area School District approached us seeking an Arabic speaker to provide a translation of a school form to use with Arabic-speaking parents. We were able to help. An international visitor needs to build her confidence in English. We are helping her. A local service organization asked if GC could find out what an Iranian senior citizen’s needs were. We responded.

What if an international visitor needs temporary accommodation? Do we have the resources in our membership to be of assistance? Is there a newcomer in our area who is seeking to break out of her isolation and meet people? I encourage our members to not only bring to our attention individual in need but also help us develop solutions that enhance GC’s community outreach.

Bob Persiko 

President of Global Connections


Cultural luncheon shows Brazil

Good food, good music, and good conversation. This was the recipe for the successful Brazilian luncheon. The event promoted by Global Connections got around 30 people from different nationalities together, on May 5th, at Saint Andrews Church. The cultural luncheons are an initiative to enrich cultural understanding.

Feijoada, a traditional (and delicious) dish from the Brazilian cuisine made with beans, was served by the Brazilian Munchies. They also served rice, farofa and, for dessert, a brigadeiro. Bruce Truitt, Global Connections member, played and sang Brazilian music during the event.

Marco Damasceno, Brazilian Global Connections member, did a beautiful presentation introducing how big and amazing Brazil is. He showed the differences between all the five regions of the country and cultural aspects of each one.  

The event couldn’t be the same without all volunteers who helped plan, prepare the place, serve the meals and clean everything. Our special appreciation to all of you who made this cultural luncheon become true. We are also thankful to to Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church for opening its doors for us.

Check photos on our Facebook page.