January 25-29, 2021 marked the annual Global Week at Fuqua. However, the biggest difference this year is that everything went virtual! This is a week-long event celebrating Fuqua’s international diversity and inclusivity, and typically it’s a great opportunity for Fuqua students to showcase their home cultures and interact with alumni with international backgrounds. Although the virtual setting deprived us of face-to-face interaction, we saw it as a chance to plan with larger flexibility and work on a type of event we had never attempted previously.
On day one, to start off the week, we featured our very first virtual Cultural Fair. Six diversity clubs (Asian Business Club, Business in Africa, European Club, Greater China Club, the South Asian Business Club (INDUS) and the Latin American Student Association, (LASA) leveraged all kinds of interactive ways to capture the attention of our audience.
INDUS, as usual, surprised us with all kinds of diverse food, an India tourism and culture film and our classmate even sang a song demonstrating the Indian culture. The European Club introduced different types of dance and drinks from the European continent. Each club engaged the audience differently too. Some invited their learning teams for a traditional homemade dinner as a small group and some provided special gifts for the most correct answers to the pop quiz. These sessions successfully built up the hype for the rest of the week!
In addition, since Fuqua has such a strong culinary culture, we actually learned how to make two international dishes virtually! Our African classmates volunteered to show us how jollof rice was made in front of the camera. Peers from Kazakhstan demonstrated how to make Kazakh plov with an engaging cultural presentation during the process.
It’s tedious for the audience to just sit and watch, so some Fuqua students and staff even cooked along with the host! We were not able to taste each other’s dishes in person, but from the photos shared afterwards, the meals all looked really delicious! During the week, the Wine Club also brought us “Wine Around the World,” where we purchased beverages in advance and then tasted and learned about wine culture virtually.
During Global Week, we also benefited from collaboration with the MBA Association’s Diversity and Inclusion team in hosting a Daring Dialogue on bi-cultural experiences here at Fuqua. Daring Dialogues are community conversations where a variety of topics are discussed, diversity is celebrated, and empathy is reinforced. We have many international groups that act as safe spaces for peers to find community, express culture, and share experiences. Additionally, within these groups, there are students who straddle layers of multi-cultural experiences.
Our panelists shared their multi-faceted identities within the domestic/international space and how Fuqua could continue to create an inclusive space for all. This conversation resonated with many community members as it had not been fully explored previously and was especially beneficial for many international students who will be planting roots in the U.S. moving forward. Overall, the discussion was well received and aligned with Fuqua’s emphasis on inclusive leadership.
Every year, we enjoy inviting alumni back to Fuqua to speak with us during Global Week. During COVID, although we were not able to meet with alumni in person, the situation allowed us to invite overseas Fuquans to share their experiences. We were honored to have Tom Zhu (MBA ‘12), VP of Tesla Greater China, share his experience in the localization of a global business and the rapid development of the electric vehicle industry in China. This was a perfect combination of topics to learn about from an industry leader, especially since we have had many related case discussions in our courses.
Additionally, we heard from more alumni on our Life After Fuqua panel, where they discussed career development. Three alumni, all with international backgrounds and experiences, joined our then MBA Association VP of International Affairs, Giovanni Lu, to discuss their post-MBA experiences and the challenges they have faced as well in their careers. This panel was especially valuable since students are currently facing unprecedented difficulties as we enter the post-pandemic workforce. The discussion truly benefited us as we prepare ourselves for more challenges after our graduation.
Global Week would not have been the same without the large turnout of the student body to all of the events. On the final day, we gathered students and staff to celebrate what we had been through during the week and we also split into teams for a global trivia challenge. Ten teams participated and all enjoyed the process, no matter who won or lost.
Although this marked the end of Global Week, it also symbolized a further step in the process of Fuqua becoming more inclusive and more willing to embrace diverse cultures. We are grateful for all the participants, contributors and the school administration’s support throughout the entire week. The events demonstrated how supportive Team Fuqua is while making me proud to be a part of the community.