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UB Undergraduates Travel to Singapore to Study Student Leadership in Other Cultures

Release Date: December 31, 2009

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UB students are gaining an awareness of themselves as global citizens and preparing for an increasingly global labor market through studies in Singapore.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Seven University at Buffalo undergraduates interested in learning more about student leadership in other cultures are studying in the Far East through Jan. 8 as part of UB's SLIDE (Student Leadership International Dialogue and Exchange) Program.

An initiative of the UB Office of Student Affairs, the aim of the program is to give students an opportunity to interact firsthand with counterparts in Singapore and to learn about models of student leadership in other cultures. The UB Office of Student Affairs expects to offer such opportunities on a regular basis, with another program planned for July in Beijing.

UB worked with two international partners, the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), to organize program activities and local arrangements. UB students attending SIM also will participate.

"The current challenge that faces UB is the need to educate its domestic students to help them both engage and, ultimately, thrive in the global community," says Paul Yong, vice provost for international education. "This program lets the students experience the world in a way that will provide them with meaningful exposure to learning and leadership in a global context. SLIDE offers students that opportunity to put their leadership skills into practice and to learn about leadership from another culture's perspective."

While in Singapore, the UB students will give a presentation on American leadership models to their counterparts at SIM and NTU. Other events include lectures on Asian management and leadership styles, cultural intelligence theory and a visit to the NTU Entrepreneurship Center and Heritage Center.

UB students participating in SLIDE Program are Pamela Chau, Erica Johnson, Chris Llop, Jennifer Smith, Jennifer Veras, Jenny Wong and Amy Ziemba. They are being accompanied in Singapore by Yong and Amy Wilson, associate director of the UB Center for Student Leadership.

"The participants in this program are second- and third-year UB students who are recognized leaders in student government, student activities and campus clubs and organizations," said Yong. "They are working with and learning from their international student leader counterparts to experience both the similarities and differences of the leadership challenges facing them and how they respond to those challenges. These students will learn about leadership paradigms within the context of different social, political, cultural and economic systems in Singapore."

Students from UB and Singapore are participating in a variety of field assignments and exercises designed to explore cultural differences and similarities, as well as team-building exercises.

"I can tell you from the few days we have been here that the program has been extremely beneficial in transforming the ways in which students think about Asian culture overall, and inspiring in terms of looking at a country that has undergone a transformation based on visionary leadership," said Wilson. "The program has and will continue to open students' eyes to thinking creatively and differently about ways in which people lead, as well as the process of leadership.

"Singapore is a shining example of how a shared vision, creativity and inspirational leadership can transform a nation. The students in the program, both from the U.S. and Singapore, have been actively engaging in dialogue about social, political and economic issues that will inform both their academic and professional aspirations."

In addition to their field assignments, students will explore topics that include "Swamps to Slumps to Skyscrapers: Building Singapore," "What is Leadership," "One City, Multi Cultures -- Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasians, Peranakan," "From Coolies to Construction to Creatives: Reinventing the Workforce" and "Our Place, Our People, Our Past, Present and Possibilities." Other presentations will look at ethnic and racial harmony, education and human capital development, entrepreneurship and reinventing the economy.

They also will visit Singapore's URA City Gallery, the Central Community Development Council, the National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Stephen Dunnett, vice provost for international education, also voiced his enthusiastic support for the new program.

"Our office is delighted to partner with Student Affairs, the Singapore Institute of Management and Nanyang Technological University in conducting UB's inaugural student leadership program in Singapore," he says. "Student leaders will greatly benefit from an intensive engagement with leadership models and practices in Singapore, and from working with their Singaporean counterparts."

UB students will earn two credits for their participation in the program, which also includes a project and presentation to be completed back at UB during the spring semester.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact Information

Christine Vidal
Director of News Content
Community Engagement, International Education
Tel: 716-645-4607
vidal@buffalo.edu