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Intercultural Leadership Seminar

The Intercultural Leadership Seminar (ILS) is designed for international and U.S. students who want to learn how to be more effective in a global environment. ILS includes brief lectures, discussion, experiential activities, and small group work. While at ILS you will:

  • Increase your awareness of your own and others’ cultures and communication styles
  • Gain skills necessary for effective intercultural communication
  • Discover your own leadership potential and enhance your intercultural competence
  • Develop friendships and help each other have a successful U-M experience.

ILS Photo

Date, Time and Location

ILS will be held during Winter Recess (also known as spring break) in Anderson ABCD, Michigan Union (1st floor). The program curriculum has been designed with the expectation that participants will attend the entire program (Monday, March 2, 9am-5pm AND Tuesday, March 3, 9am-12pm). This is not an overnight program and attendance is free.

Application Process and Deadline

Current students enrolled at U-M are eligible to apply.  International scholars and alumni who have already graduated are not eligible to apply. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and acceptance priority will be given to students who have not attended ILS previously. Submit your application by Wednesday, February 25 at 5pm.

Questions? Contact the International Center at


ILS Participants' Reflections

ILS Participant Charlotte Buckly

“ILS is a unique platform that brings together University of Michigan students from across the world to connect and share their knowledge of intercultural communication. Participating in this seminar provided me with a number of tools to facilitate successful communication and made me aware of the values required to excel on a global level. Through group based activities we were able to establish and apply a number of skills that will surely be useful for anyone looking to incorporate global awareness into their future, whether that be through a career path or for personal travel purposes. I highly recommend this program to anybody looking to build a strong foundation in intercultural awareness, networking opportunities and effective communication.” – Charlotte Buckley, College of Pharmacy (Doctor of Pharmacy). 2014 fall participant.

ILS Participant Meg Daupan

“Studying in a foreign country can be exciting and challenging at the same time. As an international student, it is important to properly deal with and adapt well with the new environment, education system, federal and state laws, weather and cultural differences. This fall break of 2014, I was privileged to take part in ILS, which helped me advance my adjustment period in my new environment. It was one and a half day of learning and teaching experience with other students from different cultural and academic backgrounds along with staff from the International Center. Because of ILS, I gained insights on how I could improve my personal leadership skills, which is necessary when dealing with people having different sets of ideas and beliefs. My interactions with other participants during the course of the seminar also broadened my ideas about various fields of studies.” – Meg Daupan, School of Natural Resources and Environment (Master of Science). 2014 fall participant.

ILS Participant Aliza Kazmi

“Attending ILS was valuable in many ways: first of all, I was able to meet a group of friendly students from various disciplines and levels of study, who inspired me with their infectious enthusiasm and commitment to engaging across difference. The entire experience affirmed my ongoing personal desire to work with fellow students, faculty and staff to mobilize our collective privilege and address sometimes-uncomfortable (but universally crucial) gaps in individual and collective intercultural practice. Participating in the seminar showed me that it I can critique my own ways of thinking, speaking and acting through mindfulness of communication norms (including directness and assertiveness) that I should evaluate according to the particular context. Further, and perhaps above all, I re-prioritized the need to practice and model active and concerned listening in order to enable genuine, inclusive dialogue in my encounters. I was also inspired to persevere in my own leadership in dismantling problematic categorizations and imposition of ideas on different cultures. I think that this seminar is applicable to any student who seeks to expand personal and communal leadership.” – Aliza Kazmi, Ford School of Public Policy (Master of Public Policy). 2014 fall participant.

ILS Participant Beiming Liu

“ILS provided me an excellent chance to increase my awareness of different cultures, to gain practical skills for effective intercultural communications and improve my personal leadership in international dialogues. By interesting and thorough discussions with the organizers and fellow participants, we were trained to break the barriers for intercultural communication and find common grounds of interests. ILS not only provides a practical set of tools for effective communication but also helps us to understand and appreciate the differences among us. Nowhere is better than ILS for you to meet friends from different schools of UM and different parts of the world, to start genuine and truly open dialogues. “ – Beiming Liu, Law School (The Master of Laws). 2014 fall participant.

ILS Participant Ripudaman Singh

“I am grateful to be a part of the Intercultural Leadership Seminar, firstly it helped me understand that the first step to be inter-culturally effective is to know your own identity which may uprise from ethnicity, culture, age, gender, religion, beliefs etc. then you can identify what barriers you may face to intercultural communication based upon your beliefs, assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices for cultural groups. Also I believe the most important take-back lesson for me was that whenever in a different cultural environment be patient and humble. It was a great experience as our facilitators adopted experience and learn policy, which enabled us to relate what the presenters were presenting to real life scenario. It provided a platform to interact and mix with people from different cultures, backgrounds, field of study; it was a valuable share of experiences and knowledge. Most importantly I earned some great friendships and that too from different spheres, which I look forward to further aid my inter-culturally effectiveness.” - Ripudaman Singh, College of Engineering (Master of Science in Engineering). 2014 fall participant.

ILS Participant Christopher Wang

“ILS is a stimulating experience that brings together a group of passionate students from different backgrounds to learn about the importance of intercultural leadership and competence. ILS fosters an inclusive and supportive environment for students to share personal and meaningful intercultural experiences with each other. As an individual, ILS challenged me to be more mindful of my own tendencies when engaging with different cultures and how to react to differences with other people’s beliefs and perspectives. Throughout the seminar, I found the meaningful conversations with my peers and self-reflection on my own aspirations to have the biggest impact on my growth as an intercultural leader. Above all, ILS taught me that developing personal leadership is a continuous process that requires patience and a willingness to learn from others. Even after ILS, I look to continue raising these important questions in my daily conversations with my friends and family and to encourage curiosity and compassion towards others. The lessons I learned in ILS can be applied to any international experience and it has given me a foundation to build upon as a leader in a global setting. I think everyone has something to gain from this seminar and from the strong international community here at the University of Michigan.” – Christopher Wang, College of Engineering (Bachelor of Science in Engineering). 2014 fall participant.


Last reviewed: 02/15