When the Global Village for Future Leaders of Business and Industry program hosted its opening dinner on June 28, it was as if all the pageantry, pride and enthusiasm of the World Cup had landed on Lehigh’s campus.
Colorful flags, native attire and even a vuvuzela straight from South Africa helped the 109 new villagers, who represent 48 countries, kick off the program in true international style.
The Global Village is an annual program that prepares promising young business leaders from around the globe to succeed in the international market. The villagers, or interns, will spend six weeks at Lehigh immersed in lectures and courses, business trips, consulting projects and cultural experiences designed to give them a foundation in business and industry leadership that has a global perspective.
The interns will also take part in activities and events throughout the Lehigh Valley. Weekly cultural nights give interns the chance to share the foods and traditions unique to their home country. The goal is to learn how business, cultural and international understanding go hand-in-hand.
The opening dinner brought villagers together with Global Village alumni, parents, Lehigh faculty and staff as well as community and business leaders—many of whom will help guide and mentor the participants through the program. For a quarter of the interns, their arrival at Global Village marked their first visit to the United States.
“I was so impressed with the energy in the room at the opening dinner where the interns met many of the people who will support them,” said Dick Brandt, director of the Iacocca Institute, which runs the program. “While the interns range from 18 to 41 years old, they have come together as one group in just a couple days.”
An ear for the cultures and insights of others
Lee Iacocca ’45, the former president of Chrysler Corp., established the program with the aim of uniting people and sharing distinct experiences from around the world. In his 2007 book Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, Iacocca cites a great need for global leadership.
“Leadership involves not just lending a hand, but also lending an ear—respecting the cultures and insights of other nations,” Iacocca writes. “There is a lot of enthusiasm for the idea of globalization, but the reality was that people tended to stay in their own corners.”
Global Village has drawn people from nearly every corner of the world in attempt to spark discussion and debate on how to be competitive in a global marketplace. Now in its 14th year, the program has 1,155 alumni from 110 countries.
“Lehigh subscribes to the notion that as an institution we are agents of change working on global issues that everyone around the world is dealing with today,” said Mohamed El-Aasser, vice president for international affairs, who welcomed the villagers at the opening dinner.
This year’s Global Village contingent is the largest yet. Interns hail from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin and South America and North America. Five new countries are represented: Madagascar, Bangladesh, Taiwan, the West Bank and Vietnam.