Students across all three schools at Concordia jumped into cultural negotiations during the college’s first International Bootcamp. This bootcamp spanned the whole academic day and introduced students to aspects of cultural competence, negotiations, and understanding through a variety of activities.
The creation of the International Bootcamp was a combined effort of the international business program and the world languages and cultures department, with support from the study away office and global studies program. It was open to all Concordia students.
“One of the ideas was to help business students and students in world languages see the connections and collaborations between the two disciplines,” said Dr. Odile Streed, professor of marketing and director of international business. “These artificial silos do not exist in the ‘real world,’ and we wanted to connect the dots. The international business major, cross-disciplinary by nature, bridges those gaps.”
The day began with guest speakers including the director of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Rural Export Center, Heather Ranck, and a Concordia alumna, nursing major Miquette McMahon ’06, who went on to found a nonprofit in Haiti called TeacHaiti. Through these speakers, students learned about aspects of business, entrepreneurship, and international activism.
“We felt that it was important to open students’ horizons and have them discover global opportunities,” Streed said.
During lunch, an international career discussion was facilitated by Ntwali A. Cyusa ’14, a Cobber who majored in Spanish and communication studies and now works in international business development for the Fargo Jet Center. Mark Melby ’17, another Spanish and communication studies major, also shared information with students about global learning opportunities to help prepare them for their futures.
“We wanted to demystify international business careers and to reduce the fear of the unknown that some students may have,” Streed said. “We wanted to show the array of opportunities that could emerge even at the local level.”
After lunch, students were divided into different teams to work on cross-cultural business negotiation simulations led by Dr. Gay Rawson, chair of the world languages and cultures department. Students were given various roles in companies from different cultures. They had to work with their team to make and execute a plan to get what they wanted from their business negotiations with the other companies.
Students then came together for a debrief to share what they had learned through the exercise. Some major takeaways included approaching things with an open mind, being ready to listen, and being willing to compromise with others.
Cassandra Sternitzky, a Chinese and international business student, was excited for the opportunity to learn real-life skills in communication, strategy, and negotiation. She found the experience extremely beneficial.
“I believe that you could not do this simulation too many times,” Sternitzky said. “There is always something to learn.”