The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Astronaut offers students global view of experience

Leroy+Chiao
Leroy Chiao

By Aisha Banafe and Jim Birmingham

Students from four TCC campuses heard about issues of multiculturalism in space exploration from a former astronaut March 24-25.

Leroy Chiao

Leroy Chiao, an entrepreneur, consultant and public speaker, detailed his experience as an astronaut and spoke about the importance of acquiring a “global view” of living.

Chiao speaks Mandarin Chinese and Russian and has flown missions to space with fellow Russian, Japanese and European astronauts.

Working closely with these individuals, Chiao put in more than 229 days in space and more than 36 hours in spacewalks.

Chiao works abroad today in his entrepreneurial ventures with the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

In Multiculturalism in Space, Chiao detailed the importance of traveling abroad, which he said helped broaden the mind and give one a fuller view of what is going on around the world.

Chiao described his “enriching and rewarding” experience where he stayed in Russia for long periods during a three-year time span, immersing himself in Russian culture while doing his work with NASA.

During this time, he had to learn Russian at a fluent level for his flight to space because he co-piloted a Russian spacecraft.

Chiao spoke of the different cultural etiquettes he came across while traveling, including the differences of hand shaking in Russia.

“You would never shake hands over a threshold” as it is bad luck, he said.

He also spoke of different cultures and their ways of wishing someone “good luck.” Some cultures view the saying as bad luck and substitute other words, such as wishing one success instead.

Understanding cultural etiquette is a key to interacting effectively with customers, clients and people elsewhere in the world and really gives one an edge, Chiao said.

The earth is shrinking due to technology. In the 21st century, more so than ever before, people will need to become more culturally aware of other places because technology is rapidly closing the distance between cultures.

People have to be careful with details of information, numbers, data and equipment used to build space shuttles because one mistake can be millions lost, Chiao said.

To be an astronaut, he said someone can have a bachelor’s degree, but taking math, science and engineering courses is a must as is a recommendation from a professor or boss to get selected for the NASA program.

Health issues are also important because being in good condition is a must. An astronaut cannot have heart or respiratory problems, Chiao said.

While in space, Chiao took numerous photographs that he has posted on his website: http://leroychiao.com.

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