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October 19, 2014

Giving Back to the Community

SUNY Buffalo SignWhen I was in college, I always thought it was so cool how alumni used to come back to share their experiences with students. I never thought I would be on the sharing end of that equation! Recently, on a trip to the US, I had the humbling opportunity to present in my college mentor's class. When I had emailed him to ask him if we could meet, I never would have imagined he would ask me to talk to his class. This was the very same class I sat in way back in 1998. What an honor!

Presenting in a class entitled 'Asian Media,' my mentor, Dr. Jun Hao Hong and I decided for me to focus on cross-cultural communication and etiquette differences Westerners experience in Asian offices and corporate culture through specifically talking about India. At the end of the talk I could mention something about Indian media to tie in to their recent lesson on Indian culture and media.

It was a great day entering the State University of New York Campus (SUNY) Buffalo knowing what I was about to embark on. I felt so honored that I was given this opportunity. The current class, not unlike the one I took back in 1998, was a small class with about 15-20 students in attendance. The smaller class size allowed for a closer relationship with the teacher and a more intense passion about the subject, as it was also typically a class for juniors or seniors. And, they did not let me down! Their interest and passion in the topics discussed throughout the talk and their interest in continuing the discussion after the session through discussion and question and answer was inspiring. Their interest was and is so contagious. Any teacher would love to come to work everyday to teach such an interested and interesting group of students!

This talk at SUNY Buffalo was one of four talks/workshops I presented during our September 2014 visit to the United States. On behalf of Authentic Journeys, I presented four workshops to about 100 students. All workshops (titles and locations) were as follows:
Going to the University at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo)
  1. SUNY Buffalo, Applying Cross-Cultural Concepts to Real-Life... in India!, Class: Media in Asia
  2. Nazareth College: Working in a Multi-Cultural and Global Office, Class: Marketing Communications
  3. Monroe Community College (MCC): Ethics in the Workplace and in Small Business, Class: Entrepreneurship Studies
  4. MCC: Creating Products and Services for Target Markets, Class: Business Studies
The slide show below chronicles my college tour in photos. In addition to the colleges above, two other colleges are also introduced, Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Enjoy!

Final Observations
From my point of view the most interesting part of the presentations was seeing the student's faces light up with interest and fascination when talking about real-life cross-cultural experiences. I remember when I was going to college and how I looked at mentors, teachers and guest speakers with the same twinkle of respect, admiration, and awe in my eye. It's an experience that words fail to describe when that happened to me!

Creating these presentations and being able to share real life experiences that are not found in a text book was the other element of these presentations that made it more interesting for me as well as the students in attendance. I was not there to share mere concepts but practical applications of those concepts which often differ widely from how those concepts appear to be applied while reading the books.

Last, but never least, thank you to both of my mentors, Dr. Jun Hao Hong (SUNY Buffalo) and Prof. Dick Petitte for allowing me time to share relevant topics to your classes. I hope to come back again soon to make this a regular endeavor!

A final side note, because of everyone's support in helping my dream become a reality, this post marks the 400th post on this blog which started back in 2010. A big THANK YOU to everyone!

Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director of Authentic Journeys, based in Kochi, India works with team members in multi-site virtual global software teams to manage the cross-cultural aspects of business and communication to collaborate better, form more inspiring professional relationships and to bridge the cultural gaps while working remotely. Contact her today to improve the collaborative efforts of your dispersed team today!

Related Posts:
An American's Experience of Facilitating Training to Indian MBA Students
Group vs. Individual - An Interesting Observation in Debrief in an American Classroom 

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Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.