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Teaching global networking

Monday, April 10, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:17 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

MU is providing selected students an opportunity to develop cross-cultural communications skills meant to help them become globally competent leaders.

The Impact Mizzou: International Leadership Fellows Program, offered through the MU International Center and other partners on campus, is a yearlong development program that seeks to help students gain international leadership-development skills and emphasizes the importance of service learning through volunteerism.

“Shaping lives, building networks and working together to contribute to the campus and community are what Impact Mizzou is about,” said Christine Chan, coordinator of the program and a senior majoring in journalism. “Fellows learn to appreciate diversity and are given the opportunity to share their intercultural experiences.”

A group of 10 to 12 fellows is accepted into the program each spring through a competitive selection process. Based on their interests, backgrounds and experiences, the fellows are given the chance to be involved in activities and events such as the New International Student Orientation, International Education Week and other community outreach programs.

“Impact’s promise of providing intercultural and diverse experiences is what really attracted me to the program,” said Litah Miller, an MU sophomore majoring in business and Spanish. “When I found out that I was accepted in the program, I was ecstatic. I knew that I had a fun and exciting year of leading, learning and meeting new people ahead of me.”

The 12 students participating in the program this academic year represent six countries and territories, including Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

Carine Tannous of Lebanon said trust leads the students to work together.

“People come with different expectations for themselves in the program and, many times, you just have to trust others, even when you don’t see what you want to see,” said Tannous, a doctoral student in the molecular-nutrition program. “You need to be in control of things to a certain extent, because that is leadership, but you still need to remind yourself that there are things that you don’t understand and that you need to respect.”

Miller said it is the people she has met and worked with that make the program most interesting — a key factor, she said, considering the importance of networking in order to lead in a globalized setting.

Fellows in the program have put their international-leadership skills to use, planning events and programs such as Kaleidoscope, in which MU international students go to community schools to speak about their homelands.

“The program helps to break down cultural barriers,” Chan said. “Through our outreach events on campus and in the community, we are able to raise awareness about the importance of internationalization for MU and Columbia.”


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