HBS International Week 2004

As Class of 2006 finished their mid-term exams and Boston was getting ready for World Series, the HBS community enjoyed the International Week 2004 to celebrate the international diversity at school.
The week of October 18 started with International Film Festival, where seven award winning films from Canada, Israel, Argentina, France, Iran, Africa and Korea were screened, followed by panels and forums to understand different cultures.

Five EC students (thank you Fungayi Kapungu (OB), Andy Mulkerin (OJ), France Perrier (OF), Rick Buhrman (OB), and Cristina Berta(OB)!) shared their summer internship experiences in South Africa, Japan, New York, Kenya and Norway in a Career Panel. The key to successful internship is to identify what you want to get out of your summer, and this seems even more true if you are looking for international experience. Although all the panelists had been uncertain with what to expect in different countries, they were equally satisfied because they knew exactly what their goals for the summer were.

For the Faculty Panel, Professors Wells, Scott, Raman, and Collis shared their perspective on “best management practices.” The discussion ranged from successful Costa Rican policy that attracted Intel to build a facility there, to how a HK based trading company built its truly global network. When thinking in global context, the professors stressed that there are so many dimensions you need to take into consideration – economic policies, shareholders, supply chains, and international strategy. However, despite the challenges, we as managers can succeed with global mindset and integrating the different cultures within ourselves.

Next was an open forum on Understanding Islam. This was one of those rare opportunities you know you can only ever have at business school. The discussion, facilitated by Faruk Abdullah (OI), Sarah Rahman and Mohamed Vaid (OC), was split between a presentation explaining the history, structure and central beliefs of the religion, and an open discussion which focused on dispelling common myths and honestly confronting internal and external challenges to the religion. The open discussion was marked by enthusiastic participation from both Muslims and non-Muslims in the audience. There were questions on the ‘fairness’ of laws in Islamic countries, the treatment of women, fundamentalism, the relationship between state and religion, and rules governing Islamic marriage. The forum was an honest, timely and incredibly rich learning experience-highly recommended for anyone who takes seriously the obligation to understand our world beyond that portrayed by Fox News.

To end the week, Friday, October 22 was the International Festival Day. Many international students dressed up in their national dresses to show their beautiful cultural traditions. At 3pm, the Williams Room turned into a world expo. With TGIF in international style, 17 countries represented their culture through displays and performances.

The most fun was the “Taste the World!!” event that began at 6 pm in both
the common rooms of SFP and OWA. Twenty-two countries showed off their favorite foods and drinks from home. Immediately packed with more than 600 people, both rooms were filled with rich aromas arising from the full variety of food – including sushi and spancho pita to hummus and Korean Barbeque. Happy faces, curiosity and excitement occupied the rooms throughout the cultural exchange. Even after the food ran out, people stayed to talk about culture, singing and dancing. Certainly, the tequila shots, caipirinha, and the maple whiskeys may have fueled the enthusiasm! It was a wonderful night for the HBS community to experience the power and energy of cultural diversity.

Now you need to wait another year for International Week 2005. But you know what? You can take initiative to experience more of other cultures. Ask your fellow classmates to cook for you, have them nominate must-see films, and discuss what you have always wanted to know about their cultures. I am sure you will find a whole new world right next to you.

Lastly, we would like to thank everyone for their enthusiasm toward the events, all the countries and clubs for their effort in participation, Spangler operation teams, Don Lippincott, and fellow International Week organizers (Claudia Wyss (OB), Isa Wegner (OG) and Alia Zaharudin (NJ)) for making this great week successful!