Networking: The cross-cultural communication side

This seems to be the ‘Era of Networking.’ Whether the purpose is job hunting, recruiting, or exploring shared interests, networking is often the key to to finding a good connection. Over the past couple of years, I have been placing more focus on my network. Not just adding names, but developing relationships with those whom I add to my network. With the launching of our new Cross-Cultural Communication concentration and graduate certificate, I have also become more aware of the influence cross-cultural communication has in networking.

In a previous posting, I noted the importance of participating in conferences for self-development and networking. Upon reflection, I would like to also share how employing cross-cultural communication can generate amazing networking opportunities. First, what do I mean by the term ‘cross-cultural communication’? Being open to conversations with people who might be different from oneself, and being genuinely curious about other’s cultures. The following three examples highlight the benefits of building a global network.

In 2014, while I was participating at the International Transformational Learning Conference at Columbia University, there was a partnering activity during the opening session. I happened to be sitting in the back row with one other person, whom I’ll refer to as KL. Despite our cultural differences, we had a wonderful conversation about our current career and research paths. Since KL lives in Hong Kong, and I reside in Greater Boston, we didn’t think our paths would cross, but we decided to stay in touch anyway. As it turned out, I had the opportunity to teach in a Northeastern program in Vietnam in 2015 and was able to visit KL in Hong Kong. The outcome of our cross-cultural networking was an intergenerational research project in collaboration with a business owner in Vietnam — a project we jointly presented at the International Transformational Learning Conference in 2016.

This pattern repeated itself at a conference last year. While attending the June 2016 International Communication Association in Japan, I engaged in conversation with another attendee, ABR, who happened to be sitting alone during a lunch break. I learned that ABR was working on an academic integrity project with her university in Australia — a topic I’m also interested in. As newcomers to Japan, we enjoyed investigating the local sights and discussing shared research interests. As fate would have it, I visited Australia in September and ended up connecting with ABR in her hometown. As a result, we’re considering several areas for future collaboration.

Over time, I’ve become more intentional in the networking process. For example, while participating in a June 2017 Global Studies Conference in Singapore, I listened to a global mobility presentation by MC. After her presentation, I introduced myself and found that we had much in common. When I mentioned that I’d be traveling to India in August, MC invited me to be a guest lecturer at her university while visiting her in Jodhpur. Another connection, another cross-cultural relationship, another opportunity to collaborate.

In closing, I recognize that my personality is open to adventure. Yet, I will disclose that I am an introvert by nature and pseudo-extrovert by practice.  Hence, I would suggest that the examples I provided are more about an interest in communicating with others through a cross-cultural lens, rather than a function of personality. The strategy I employed was one being open to sharing with people from very different cultural backgrounds. There can be a risk in this kind of networking; not all conversations will end up with a strong connection. But remember the old adage: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Posted by Patty Goodman, Ed.D., Faculty


Husky Travels to China

In June, I flew to China with Northeastern University’s mascot, the Husky, to represent our program at the Beijing Northeastern University (NU) Alumni Community Speaker Event. I presented on my global citizenship research and shared the contributing cultural artifact, the Traveling Global Citizenship Canvas.  This canvas is approximately 40 feet in length covered front and back with NU student and alumni descriptions about the values of global citizenship.   With Husky by my side, we sought to absorb some local culture and gain a broader perspective on our alumnus home in Beijing and Chengdu, China.

My first impression of Beijing was the dichotomy of the space. The roads seemed so wide, yet the traffic was so heavy. However, an efficient public transportation system led into the heart of the city, Tiananmen Square. Immediately to the right when rising from the underground system, we found a boulevard filled with shops and restaurants. The magnificent city gates set the tone for grandeur and Asian antiquity. Husky wasn’t in Boston anymore. We entered Tiananmen Square through a security check point, and were surprised by the vastness of the square. The China National Museum sat strikingly on one side of the square opposite government buildings and the 14th century Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, seemingly filled the opposite end of the square. Within this square, there was a variety of architectural designs from across the ages.

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Despite the heat, the gorgeous flowers and landscape tricked the mind to continue onward to discover more. Husky and I forged toward the Forbidden City, the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing Dynasties until 1911. No matter the day, thousands of people wait in line to visit it. One truly needs days to see the over 8,000 rooms in the Forbidden City, but we only had time for a glimpse of the guard quarters near the entrance.  As I reflect, I can only imagine how our alumni must have felt moving to Boston for their educational pursuits; Boston is a very compact city compared to this spacious city.

After appreciating Beijing’s ancient splendor, it was time for Husky and me to talk with the young Northeastern University alumni.

Northeastern University Beijing Alumni Community

These alumni were forming a new, local community with graduates from across Northeastern University.  We shared ideas about the concept of global citizenship and how we might consider ourselves as developing layers of cultures in the midst of our global society.  Many alumni voiced how they grew to love the culture in Boston. Although they may have experienced some challenges with culture shock, they valued learning about how to live in America.

Husky and I headed on another adventure in China to visit our own alumni and my past student, Mingming Xu ’17. Mingming was living in Chengdu in the Sichuan Province, a region noted for pandas and spicy hot pot food. Husky and I experienced wonderful hospitality, amazing food, and fascinating cultural sights. Click on the video link to share some of our marvelous adventures.

Mingming was excited about her new role in a start-up and contributed her confidence and professional knowledge for the role to completing her MS COC.

Even though it was just a glimpse of China, traveling outside of our Western city increased my understanding of my students and their Eastern metropolis. Although Husky lightheartedly offered an amusing perspective on my experience, I was most grateful for the generosity I received from our alumni.  From a global citizenship view, I was impressed with how our alumni were able to recognize the cultural differences between the East and West, yet value those differences and make a home in both cities.

Posted by Patty Goodman, Ed.D., Faculty

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Teeraporn Johsuntorn ’17

My friend, Teeraporn Johsuntorn (TJ), asked me one day, “Michelle, what would you do if you were not afraid?” I could not answer the question immediately. There were so many things I wanted to do but never did. TJ told me that she was inspired by the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Sandberg, S. 2013). She asked herself this question and decided to do something brave. In November 2016, TJ and her friends Zirui Yan and Dasom Jung founded a social circle on campus at Northeastern University called “Lean In Circle” for gathering people to learn and grow together. After I read this book, I wanted to gain more understanding about her initiative, the ‘circle’ and what made her take a stand.

In May 2017, TJ and I graduated from Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies Corporate and Organizational Communications program. TJ is from Thailand, me from China. I was curious to hear more about how the Lean In Circle worked and her plan for the future. In fact, the three co-founders of the Lean In Circle are all international students. Each had a hard time when they first came to the U.S. “I was very excited to come here, but after I had come, I realized that I was far away from home, my culture, my friends, and everything I used to have. I felt lonely, helpless and confused,” TJ shared.

TJ had been living in the U.S. for four years. She was very familiar with American culture and has many nice friends around her. From the interactions with other international students, there was a realization that international female students may meet many challenges and it would be great if there could be an open space for them to share and grow together. The founders decided to help the people who were also suffering from loneliness and helpless feelings. TJ recalled, “When Zirui (Linda) mentioned starting the Lean In To Grow Circle, I wanted to be a part of it immediately. Organizing my own event is another accomplishment that I really want to achieve.”  TJ loved how Sheryl Sandberg encouraged women in her book, “It is time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table (Sandberg, S., 2013, p.202).”

“We would like to create the spiritual support among peers to encourage and help each other,” TJ told me during the interview. The book Lean In was trying to encourage women to lead in their own lives. The Lean In Circle welcomes female students to communicate with each other, get inspired and grow personally and professionally, with a focus on the international population. According to TJ, “In this circle, people will build their self-confidence and raise awareness about their personal and professional advancement. We hope the group will provide the opportunity for sharing dilemmas and solutions together. It happened just as Sandberg’s quote advocates.


Lean In Circle has launched four events since January 2017. These events, organized monthly, invite guest speakers to share their own stories and difficulties. The guest speakers include alumni, current students, and one of our professors from Northeastern University. The co-founders also believe that the support from peers will be more practical and helpful for their audience. The Lean In Circle is also a perfect platform for young international female professionals to communicate and share their experience. The next sessions will start in Fall 2017. TJ said, “ If we never try, we never know.”

Source: April 2017 Retrieved from

With TJ and Dasom now being alumni and returning to their home country, Zirui (Linda) will take charge to manage and organize the events. Prior to TJ’s return to Thailand, she offered, “Lean In To Grow started from nowhere. Right now we have a clear destination. We hope that new people will absolutely build up this circle to grow it stronger. All new ideas and criticisms will be considered. Furthermore, we are still looking for more volunteers to be part of our team. We just created the social media channel, and we intend to expand more channels to be connected with others. So, we need more people who are interested in being involved.” Feel free to check out our Facebook page, if interested.

Linda will keep working on their dreams in Boston, and TJ will continue her dreams in Thailand. The Lean In Circle will never be dismissed by distance because the fear of the unknown is now gone. Lean In wants everyone who has the same dream to join this circle, to listen, to share, to speak up and to move forward. It is never too late to make a dream come true.


Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. Random House.

Posted by Meihaba Simayi CPS’17