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    MARCH 23, 2006
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Fox students travel to Dubai for Women’s Leadership Conference

Photo courtesy Priya Patel
In February, business Honors students (left-right) Erin Crist, Priya Patel and Corrie Buff joined students from 24 countries around the world at the Insight Dubai conference, where they discussed topics ranging from domestic abuse to politics. The goal of the weeklong conference was to promote student dialogue and understanding of other cultures.

Three Fox School of Business students ventured last month into the Big Apple of the Middle East, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, to participate in a five-day international leadership conference with young women from all over the world.

The event, Insight Dubai, which took place Feb. 16–21, was sponsored by Dubai Women’s College and Civic Concepts International, an international organization that facilitates student dialogue and understanding of other cultures.

“The motivation for creating such a program was to enhance mutual understanding between our students and students in the Middle East,” said Arvind Phatak, Carnell Professor of Management and International Relations at The Fox School and executive director of Temple’s Institute of Global Management Studies (IGMS), and the Center for Education and Research (CIBER).

The trip was funded through CIBER’s $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. One of the CIBER’s main thrusts is promoting global perspectives, in particular, better understanding of the Middle East, North Africa and India.

At the conference, 50 students from the Dubai Women’s College were partnered with 50 students from 24 different countries around the world including Kenya, Australia, Italy, Portugal, Afghanistan, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Spain, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, South Africa, Palestine and Pakistan.

“The Emirati girls were extremely hospitable to the international participants and made us feel very comfortable,” said Erin Crist, a senior majoring in international business administration and marketing. “I made excellent friends with two of the local girls from Dubai who I plan to remain in contact with.”

The students shared their perspectives on topics ranging from domestic abuse to politics, and the women engaged in interactive discussions including a Shariah (Islamic law) court simulation and a United Nations simulation. The goal was to create greater awareness and cultural understanding.

“It was very interesting to see the different perspective each woman had depending on the country which she came from,” said Priya Patel, a junior Honors student majoring in marketing and international business.

“There is a lot of misunderstanding amongst our people about the Arab world and vice versa,” Phatak said. “We are trying to help undergraduate students at Temple understand the culture in the Middle East, and we want them to understand us.”

Corrie Buff, a junior Honors student majoring in economics and political science, said, “I have gained so much respect for their culture and the role that the family plays. My opinion of the Muslim world has been completely reshaped.”

Additional collaborations with Dubai Women’s College are in the works. The college, together with Temple’s IGMS and CIBER, is creating three cross-national, cross-cultural teams to participate in a senior business policy class in which 10 students from The Fox School will work with nine students at the Dubai Women’s College through Blackboard. The class will analyze the environment, economics and markets in the United Arab Emirates to determine if and how Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company can successfully enter the UAE market. On May 2, the women from Dubai will come to The Fox School to present their projects with their Temple teammates.

- By Julia Straka