Internships in Asia Presents at Conference on Diversity and Leadership
- October 04 2015
Internships in Asia (formerly JMG Asia) was proud to participate last week in Passing the Torch, the annual Diversity and Leadership Conference at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia.
As part of the conference, my co-founder Mike Fenton and I gave a presentation called Internationalizing Your Mindset. This informal talk with students and faculty focused on how people can seize opportunities in a rapidly changing world by immersing themselves in a foreign culture.
During the presentation we broadly discussed global trends in technology, urbanization and the economy and how these changes present opportunities to those who are tuned to what is going on around the world. The talk also focused on how young people today can prepare themselves for a future in which robotics and artificial intelligence will eliminate many of today’s jobs.
Mike and I are big believers in the idea that world travel, especially long-term trips of three months or longer, can have a profound impact that develops skills and memories to last someone their entire life. In simplest terms, these kinds of experiences teach people to look at the world through different eyes. And in the process, they develop habits that help them adapt to changing environments.
For example, when you are forced to learn a new language just to be able to achieve basic daily tasks, this gives you an appreciation for visitors and immigrants in your own country, as well as a higher capacity to work effectively with them. And practically speaking, learning a second language makes you more employable in a diverse, globally connected world.
Moreover, when you spend significant time abroad, you have to make decisions from which action (and often positive results) naturally follows. You see new sights, meet new people, eat new foods, etc. Learning local customs will give you an opportunity to better know and relate to people from that culture whenever you meet them in the future. Opening yourself up to new ideas means accepting more possible answers to any given problem.
And putting yourself out there, in turn, means exchanging perspectives between locations and cultures. This creates mutual understanding and shared responsibilities among nations and people. It also offers fresh thinking on long standing challenges.
But perhaps most importantly, foreign immersion reminds you of the innate skills that will always separate man from machine: the ability to relate to other human beings. Learning to communicate, get around town and make simple transactions across cultural and linguistic barriers forces you to open your mind, submit yourself to powers outside your control and do whatever it takes to work with other people to get the job done. As my old Spanish language professor always told me, it doesn’t matter if you said the words completely right…it matters if the other person understood your meaning.
This is what internationalizing yourself is all about. It’s opening yourself up to a different culture. Once you take that first step, you give yourself the ability to do more, to accomplish more. It’s a message Mike and I believe is worth spreading, and one of the foundational ideas underpinning everything we do at Internships in Asia.