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Young Leaders Program-Global Business Management and Intercultural Communication at the University of Sydney

This new short-term study abroad spring program starting February 2015 will send Keio students to the University of Sydney. Founded in 1850, the University of Sydney is the oldest in Australia with a solid international reputation for outstanding teaching and academic excellence. This is the third such spring program to become available at Keio; the spring program at Sciences Po in Paris is geared toward political science and the spring program at Yonsei University in South Korea focuses on Korean language, politics, history, and culture. A product of a highly successful and longstanding partnership between the University of Sydney and Keio University, the three-week-long Young Leaders Program which focuses on Global Business Management and Intercultural Communication is designed by the University of Sydney especially for Keio students in any field of study at the undergraduate and graduate level.

The defining characteristic of the program is that students are able to learn how business is conducted in Australia's multicultural society from various perspectives, while learning important elements of leadership and intercultural awareness, as well as developing cross-cultural communication skills in an increasingly globalized business environment. It offers a wide range of academic and cultural activities--English communication classes and activities, lectures, workshops, discussions, and educational field trips--covering a wide range of topics including Australian history and society, law and politics, environment and sustainability, and multiculturalism.

An off-campus lecture in the Centennial Parklands on the importance of nature in urban environments to inspire creativity, a visit to the NSW Parliament House, guided bushwalks in nature to learn about diverse ecosystems, visits to local Japanese companies, and tours by aboriginal guides to learn about Aboriginal history and culture are just a few examples of the activities planned.
Students will also be able to audit lectures so that they can immerse themselves in Australian learning styles and meet the local students. Furthermore, it is the only short-term program offered at Keio that includes a homestay. For the first week the students will stay at a guest house near the University so that they become familiar with the university environment and acquainted with each other. From the second week, they will stay with a local family, which will give them further exposure to not only English but also to a new environment and rich cultural learning opportunities. It is a program that aims to give students the chance to see and experience the best of what both Australia and the University of Sydney have to offer.

Ms. Rebecca Whitcomb from the University of Sydney, who coordinates the program, was an exchange student at Keio University while studying at the University of Queensland. Through her experiences at Keio and her close acquaintance with the Sydney Mita-kai (Keio Alumni Association), she has a unique perspective on what Keio students would truly benefit from. The program incorporates a lot of her ideas and insights from her personal experiences. We asked Ms. Whitcomb about the program and what it has to offer the Keio students.

1. How did you come about proposing a short program to Keio University?

Keio University is one of the Top Global Universities and The University of Sydney's long standing partner, with strong links through student exchanges as well as joint research. The International Leaders Program has always been keen to engage further with Keio University students and support this next generation of leaders to achieve their potential.

2. What are some of the unique aspects of this program?

This program has been custom-made for the students from Keio University in order to give them a well-rounded experience which incorporates academic learning with practical experiences in a different cultural and environmental setting. It will encourage participants to challenge their current way of thinking and teach them essential skills to be successful global business leaders of the future, such as creative thinking, teambuilding, intercultural understanding and of course, leadership. Students will improve their English skills, participate in workshops and discussions, and mix with local and international students to exchange ideas.

They will also see the unique aspects of Australia such as the wildlife, culture and lifestyle as well as experience a Southern Hemisphere summer.

3. We understand that you were an exchange student at Keio. What did you learn from your experience of studying at Keio? What do you expect Keio students to learn by joining this short program at the University of Sydney?

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to be an exchange student at Keio for a year during my university studies. I learned not only Japanese language but also about the culture, history and society, which gave me a deeper understanding into how to do business with Japanese people and organizations. I realized that in order to successfully work globally with people from different nationalities, it was essential that I had strong intercultural understanding and communication skills.

On a personal level, going on a study program enabled me to step outside of my comfort zone and become much more independent. I also came to see things from a different point of view and became more accepting of different opinions and beliefs.

I hope the students from Keio University will learn more about Australia's history, lifestyle and our multicultural society. I believe this program will expose them to many different ideas and concepts, expand their knowledge and challenge their way of thinking. That is my hope for the students during their time here at The University of Sydney.

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