In the School of Public Health, we place an emphasis on eight different career readiness skills that students should leave school feeling competent in.
While most of these skills can be gained in the classroom, you may have to step outside of your comfort zone to earn some of these proficiencies such as the global fluency concept. What is global fluency? It can be defined as a value and respect for diverse cultures, races, religions, genders, and other differences. You demonstrate respectfulness, inclusiveness, and are willing to learn from these differences.
You don’t have to go abroad to have a sense of intercultural fluency. An internship is a great place to apply this concept. I stepped outside of my comfort zone by applying to the Disney College Program, a program in which you work at Walt Disney World for four months up to a year. Walt Disney World employs over 62,000 individuals, which is more than seven times the amount of people that live in my hometown. Needless to say, moving to Disney really helped me grow as a person in a variety of ways.
As a cast member at Disney, I got to interact with guests from all around the world. Coming from a small town in Indiana that is only full of others from Indiana, I had never before interacted with people from so many different places in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t overwhelming; it was exciting. My first question to a guest was always “Where are you visiting from?” People are usually so proud of where they come from and excited to talk about it, that even at the 200th guest I was still eager to find out and learn from this guest. Being open to talking to people from all over the world and wanting to learn from them is what this global fluency competency is about. You can’t shut yourself off from respecting others and learning from them. It isn’t a good business practice, and it isn’t a good human practice.
On the internal side of things, the 62,000+ cast members are from all over the world as well. Some of my best friends from my time there were from China, Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, Haiti…. the list could go on. I don’t know if anything has been more valuable to me than the friends I made while I was on my program. I can’t imagine how different my life would be today without them. I’ve learned more from them than I ever could have studying a book. Having this intercultural fluency, this understanding and appreciation of differences, was vital to my internship.
Coming up tonight (November 7th) in the IMU Georgian Room from 7:00-8:00pm is our Global Etiquette and Intercultural Competency panel and discussion, as a part of International Education Week! Hope to see you there!
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