Back in 2000, when I began working toward my MBA, I sat in Professor Phil Tyler’s Marketing Concepts course as my classmates each spent a few minutes introducing themselves. After completing the rounds, Professor Tyler made a point of highlighting something I had already noticed, which was the remarkable diversity we collectively represented. Many of the students hailed from foreign countries, such as India, China and Turkey. “Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know these people,” Professor Tyler implored us. The reason, of course, was to help us develop valuable insights into cultures and perspectives unlike our own.
One could argue a lack of insight is fueling the debate over whether a company owned by the United Arab Emirates should assume management resposibilities for a half-dozen major U.S. ports. In an attempt to broaden the perspective of local readers, the editorial page editor of the Democrat and Chronicle contacted me in hopes of tracking down a student from the UAE to share an opinion on the controversy for the paper’s Speaking Out section. Sound like a tall order? Not necessarily, especially when you work within a diverse community like RIT.
In addition to my role as director of University News, I teach a class in Public Relations at RIT. Always mindful of Professor Tyler’s wise advice, I revel in the opportunity to learn what I can about the backgrounds of my students. Shahab Al-Awadhi is a former student of mine, and I enjoyed hearing about life in his native Dubai. Since graduating last spring, Shahab has returned to the UAE. Knowing he is never at a loss for words (trust me on that one!), I could think of no better candidate for the task at hand. The result was a thoughtful article that appeared in the Democrat and Chronicle’s Feb. 23 issue:
It is with great pride that I and the other members of University News connect the expertise of the RIT community– its 15,000 students, 3,000 employees and 95,000 alumni– with the community at large. The media, in its many forms, is the vehicle through which we do that. Opening ourselves to the varied cultures and perspectives that surround us will, hopefully, make us all a bit more insightful.
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