Cultural Conversations, organized as a part of the US Business & Culture class for students in their first semester at SKEMA Raleigh, is the signature Cultural Exchange Network event on campus. Between February 25 and March 18, ten of these peer-led workshops on navigating cultural differences impacted 330 SKEMA students and 160 NC State students. The GTI Leadership Council, a group of trained student facilitators, presented difficult cultural scenarios to multi-cultural groups of up to 6 people to promote critical thinking about cultural interactions in the modern world.
Using the work of Erin Meyer, author of The Culture Map, students work together to address effective methods for navigating difficult cultural situations. Mrs. Chen, the mother of one of Erin Meyer’s Chinese colleagues, is referenced in the Introduction of the book. His mother’s words of wisdom have influenced her son’s behavior to the point that he’s not willing to speak up during a meeting: “You have two eyes, two ears, but only one mouth. You should use them accordingly.” Bo Chen, in an attempt to demonstrate good listening skills, is misunderstood as incompetent for remaining silent. Using similar scenarios, students are able to address reasons behind cultural conflicts and discuss methods for interacting more effectively in our increasingly globalizing world.
For more information about Cultural Conversations, please contact Becky Cibulskis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nagoya Green Leadership Program was an intensive two-week training program for doctoral students from Nagoya University in Japan that provides exposure to research and industry in various bio-science fields in North Carolina. Students also enjoyed an immersive American culture experience in and around NC State University.
In addition to training workshops on leadership, presentation skills and poster presentation development, participants visited various companies in the Research Triangle Park related to biological research and development. Company visits included Syngenta, Monsanto, Bayer, and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
The participants also got to experience authentic line dancing with the Cultural Exchange Network (CENet) at NC State and visited neighboring college campuses. They even spent time in an American family home during their stay.
They traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with a technology transfer specialist at the National Institute of Health, and while they were there, took a little time to take in the sights.
It was a busy but extremely successful two-week program. The students experienced so much during their short stay. We hated to see them go but can’t wait to see all that they accomplish in the future!
I have been in Costa Rica two weeks now. Time is flying and so much has happened already. I was fortunate enough to spend my first two days with some family friends from North Carolina who are now retired in San José. As soon as they dropped me off in my new Costa Rican home, I was embraced by my host family with hugs and warm welcomes. Before I could even unpack, I spent two hours talking to and getting to know my host mom. She loves to talk, and very fast at that. The first day I could only grasp about 25% of what she was saying, but as time goes by I can feel my Spanish developing more and more. I love my new room. I wake up every morning to clear skies and a clear view of the mountains. I spend evenings watching a beautiful sunset and then little lights spark up along the side of the mountain.
The weather here is phenomenal as are the people. No matter how poor, how much trash, and how many problems there may be, somehow the people seem to maintain an optimistic outlook on life and always look for solutions rather than harp on problems. Every thank you is met with the words “con gusto” (“with pleasure”) or “pura vida” (which means a lot of things but in this case “no problem” or “good luck”). It is amazing to think about how much word choice can affect a human being’s outlook on life. I feel their positivity reflected in myself and find myself to feel much more calm and relaxed even in very stressful situations (like when international students are told to forget about any amount effort they put into their visa process because the one in Costa Rica is completely different, or that classes they signed up for do not exist, etc.) While no place in the world is perfect, not even this one, Costa Rica is still by far the happiest and most relaxed country I have ever been in.
I have met many interesting, fun, and unique personalities since orientation and look forward to spending more time with other students. There are about 80 international students at UCR, all from places like Chile, Germany, Brazil, France, China, Venezuela, South Korea, the Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, Spain (…the list goes on). I have taken two trips with some friends so far – to Jacó, a beach town on the Pacific Coast where many Americans and surfers travel to, and Volcán Irazu, a volcano about 1.5 hours away from San José. What is so great about living in San José, located in the center of the very small Costa Rica, is that you can get to either coast within 1.5 – 3 hours. Therefore, both trips I have taken were completed within a day. In general buses here are very cheap. They are the main method of transportation within and outside of the city. Classes start tomorrow, so as soon as I tackle those and my orientation of things progresses, I look forward to many more adventures!