It's not every day a piece of art works as a bridge between two worlds especially if the art is four acres long.
But the Haskell Indian Junior College's Medicine Wheel Earthwork brought together Ronda Tsadi, a Haskell student, and Anne Guimet De La Martyniere, a Kansas University student.
Both are members of a 27-student exchange program between the two colleges that includes informal discussion sessions, campus tours and a Haskell powwow scheduled for Saturday.
The Haskell students are enrolled in an introductory speech communications class. The KU contingent consists of international students who volunteered for the program.
On Tuesday, the students visited the Earthwork, which is just south of Haskell.
Tsadi is from McAlester, Okla., and Guimet De La Martyniere is from Lyon, France.
"I think meeting like this is a great idea," said Guimet De La Martyniere. "Before I came to campus I had a bit of a John Wayne image of Indians. I was pleased to be able to meet with people not on a reservation."
MEETING during class was an easier, more comfortable exchange, she said. Tsadi agreed and said meeting new people is hard, but the class made it easier.
"There is no formal introduction," Tsadi said. "We were able to just sit down and talk to each other."
Reeze Hanson, speech instructor at Haskell, wants to keep the program informal and fun.
"Lawrence is such a cultural oasis," Hanson said. "There are so many different native people here. This program taps the diversity of our students and KU students."
Haskell has students from 142 tribes and 32 states. The KU students in the program are from France, Japan, Germany, Mozambique, Taiwan and Venezuela.
"This provides an opportunity for the students to just talk to each other," Hanson said. "They can find out what their differences are and what their simularities are. Hands-on learning is better than lectures."
BARBARA HERMANN, language specialist with Applied English Center at KU, works with the international students in the exchange.
"I hope (this program) dispels a lot of myths," she said. "At each meeting we have a set of questions they ask each other. They have to talk to one another."
She said although there have been exchanges by KU students to Haskell, this is the first time there has been more than one exchange.
Last spring, KU and Haskell officials met to work on the relationship between the two colleges. This spring, plans have been made for a faculty exchange.