The Global Mind Conference is an activity that can be held after an experience abroad, such as a study trip, a study exchange or an internship. The big idea is that students come back from their stay loaded with stories and meaningful experiences. Often they are asked to write a report, discuss this with their supervisor and then they return to the next class. In this way, the opportunities of sharing experiences, peer learning, and linking their experience to intercultural or global learning are not taken. Hence the organization of an event where this can be done.
The academy sees the development of students’ intercultural competences as a focal area of the curriculum. The hotel sector is ultimately an international branche, where dealing with (cultural) diversity involves both guests, colleagues and management. Intercultural competences are a mix of personal traits (such as empathy, open mindedness, flexibility, pro-activeness) and knowledge, attitude and behaviour in a multicultural context).
The operational internship is the perfect time for students to experience cultural diversity and develop their competence. When the interns return to school, it is beneficial to re-iterate the importance of a Global Mindset once more before they enter their third year. That is why we organise this Global Mind Conference.
A second reason to organize this event is that students’ enthusiasm for a hotel career often wanes a little after the internship. The focus on operational duties and lack of insight into what steps to take to further a hotel career, makes students wary of a career in hotel management .That is why attention is also paid to the possibilities on the road towards General Manager and the importance of Global Mobility.
- The student has been able to link their experience abroad to the development of intercultural competence
- The student has learned from the experience of peers in different cultures
- The student is motivated to develop their global competence further
In this particular case, Hotel Management students (second year) have just spent an operational internship of five months abroad in different countries.
- Opening with a photographic student journey ( a video). Students have provided pictures of themselves on the workfloor and in their leisure activities. This immediately takes the students back to their time abroad, sets the agenda and offerts them a look at what their peers have experienced.
- A brief talk from a staff member (internship manager or otherwise) about the agenda and objectives of the event.
- An inspiring speaker who provides a lived experience of the global mindset. This can be somebody from the work field (in our case hotel management), but also a journalist, diplomat, international manager. On several occasions, we have also invited speakers who are the embodiment of global mind qualities, such as empathy or resilience. For instance internationally famous breakdancer Redouan Aitt Chitt, who provides an inspiring talk (and dance) of the impact his physical disability had on his life.
- Breakout sessions. In the breakout sessions, students from different internship countries are deliberately put together to ensure that different global perspectives are addressed. The students work with the story circle method (see Story Circles) to ensure psychological safety and equal speaking time. The breakout session is moderated and evaluated by a teacher/intership coach.
- Lunch or tea break
- Finale: return to the main room, where a wrap up of the breakout session is done. There are several ways to do this. E.g. short interviews, an online poll, etc. After this, an invited hotel manager hands out the ‘Global Mind Award’. This award is offered to the student who distinguished themselves the most in their reflection on intercultural development. In the case of the Hotel Management School, students write reflective blogs (see Reflective Blogging). The award is sponsored and usually consists of a voucher for an overnight stay and/or ‘a day in the manager’s shoes’ experience.