2011 Georgia International Leadership Conference Recap
I worked as the assistant for the 2011 Georgia Tech East Asia Study Abroad program, and as the founding public relations director for the Georgia Tech Chinese Friendship Association. Because of my work, I was selected by Georgia Tech to be a delegate to the 2011 Annual Georgia International Leadership Conference (GILC). This is a reflection of my experience attending the GILC conference.
Georgia International Leadership Conference Overview
The Georgia International Leadership Conference is an annual 3-day leadership conference for students focusing on global, peer-to-peer team-building, deconstructing stereotypes and promoting friendships which transcend political, cultural and national boundaries. Georgia Tech each year selects about 10 students as representatives to the conference. School sponsorship is determined based upon a student’s level of interest in internationalization and multi-culturalism, leadership history, and involvement in student organizations. Participating students have the opportunity to submit conference proposals to the GILC planning committee. Students whose proposals are selected present the session at the conference for other GILC participants.
2011 Georgia International Leadership Conference Agenda
The 2011 Georgia International Leadership Conference conference was held in February at the Rock Eagle 4H Center, Eatonton, GA. Altogether 202 participants from 23 colleges or universities across Georgia attended the conference. The weekend-long conference consisted of an outdoor service project, presentations, an international talent show and fashion show, and various social activities. We arrived at the beautiful conference center on Friday, and first took part in a four-hour service project Friday afternoon at the Oliver Worley Environmental Education Center. Then, in the next two days we attended various sessions on leadership styles from around the world, collaboration & conflict management, cross-cultural communication, team building skills, and integration of international students in U.S. education. Anu Parvatiyar, a GILC alumna from 2006, who is now a successful pharmaceutical engineer, was the keynote speaker.
My Panel at Georgia International Leadership Conference
When I was applying to the conference, I had teamed up with another Georgia Tech delegate, Abhishek Chhikara (M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering) who hailed from India to submit a session proposal “Business Etiquette with a Cultural Twist” to the conference committee. Luckily our proposal was accepted. During the session, the two of us first did an ice-breaker, allowing everyone in the room to introduce themselves and their respective cultural origins. Then we did our individual presentations on the business culture and business etiquette of our own cultures (East Asia and India). I focused my brief presentation on the Do’s and Don’ts of doing business in China (for instance, it’s never appropriate to send a clock to a Chinese person as present, as “sending clock” has the same pronunciation in Chinese as “farewell to the death”). Students were very interested and many took notes.
Then we led a group discussion on the commonalities and differences of different business cultures, business etiquette of “home visit”, general tips of “breaking the silence” in cross-cultural interaction, avoiding stereotyping, and etiquette for communication in non-person scenarios (phone, E-mail, online). It was a well-received session and many students gave us positive feedback.
Overall, the intensive weekend was an incredible experience of learning about leadership and cross-cultural communication, presenting on my own interested topic, and forging new friendships with fellow students and colleagues interested in international leadership across Georgia. I gained a deeper understanding of the rich diversity and at the same time the common humanity among people from different cultures and groups.