Course: International and Multicultural Issues in Organizations

As part of my role as a Graduate Research Assistant at GW, I had the privilege of being the teaching assistant for a course called International and Multicultural Issues in Organizations. This course, led by Dr. Maria Cseh, revolved around the European Human Resource Development conference at University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland.

IMG_8682Ireland’s Cork City is a beautiful, quaint town. I love these types of towns – large enough to to be full of twists and turns but small enough to get acquainted with it in a week’s time. Here’s the view of Cork from my hostel room:

Cork, IrelandI flew into Belfast, Northern Ireland and made my way to Cork through Dublin. The journey took three different buses but I used the time to catch up on reading and sleep. Once in Cork, we spent two days visiting organizations, learning about the history of the area, and observing Irish culture. One of the organizations we visited was the Jameson Distillery where I was fully converted to the Jameson way. We did a comparative whiskey tasting session after the tour and spent time talking with three executives, each giving mini-presentations about the organization.

In Kinsale, a small town 30 kilometers south of Cork City, we learned about the history of this important harbor town with famous tour guide Don Herlihy. It was quite a special tour. It was raining heavily at the time of our tour so Don proposed we do the tour in his living room! He proceeded to shuttle us to his house nearby. We sat comfortably in his living room with tea looking out into the harbor through massive windows while he shared the history of the area. It was quite an experience!

Kinsale, IrelandWe spent the next three days at the UFHRD 2015 Conference. The conference had about 350 people from around the world with hundreds of presentations and keynote addresses. I enjoyed every minute of it. I especially relished the opportunity to meet some of the top scholars in the field of human resource development. Dr. Cseh was fantastic at introducing our class to various people. It was a very social three days full of meaningful interactions.

I appreciated this sign on UCC’s campus:

UCC Great Minds Don't Think Alike

After the conference I went to London for a day to visit my dear friend, Amelia, who is currently a Ph.D. student at Harvard. I’ve always wanted to go to London and she did a marvelous job showing me around in our short time. She even took me to a small party in Wimbledon with all her Oxford friends – a true cultural experience! And I saw the home where she grew up. It was a memorable time indeed. I hope to return to England, if not work in that area at some point in my career.

As a side note, the public transportation in that region was fantastic! All in all I was in three countries and four different airports, and never once did I call for a taxi. I was on subways, trains, and buses. Most of the time I would walk from place to place if I could. Another observation I would make about Cork was the work-life balance. Everything but pubs closed at 5-6 PM. I couldn’t believe it. At first, I thought it was rather annoying and reflected economic weakness. But I grew to respect it as a reflection of their way of life – a way of life that I have become estranged from or perhaps never knew.

I cannot wait to return. Until then, I trust that I will carry at least some piece of the culture and people with me.

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