IPI workshop aids cross-cultural understanding


With more than 7,000 international scholars and students on Penn’s campus, actions and words can literally be lost in translation, or misunderstood because of cultural differences and norms.

University administrators and staff can learn the “do’s” and “don’ts” of working with and providing services for students and scholars from across the world at the 1st Annual International Programs Institute (IPI) on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Presented by Penn’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), the professional training and development workshop will be held at 9 a.m. at the Sheraton Philadelphia University City Hotel. Attendance is limited to the first 60 individuals to register at the IPI website.

ISSS Director Rodolfo Altamirano says the workshop’s primary goal is to enhance attendees’ cross-cultural knowledge. Sessions will be held on immigration, technology in international education, and improving cross-cultural competencies.

“Sometimes a conflict can start over something as simple as a cultural misunderstanding,” he says. “For example, each morning a [male, non-American] principal investigator asked a [female American] co-worker, ‘Hey, can you go to Wawa and get coffee?’ It raised a red flag. It was okay in [his] country, but not here.”

The one-day conference will offer professional development for Penn staff and administrators who work in international student admissions, advise international students, bring international scholars to campus, hire foreign nationals, and engage with international constituents in various intercultural contexts.

There is a $30 registration fee and a Penn budget code is required. The fee covers the cost of all meals, refreshments, and workshop training materials.

For further information about the workshop, contact Altamirano at rudiea@upenn.edu.

Originally published on January 26, 2012