University of Michigan
International Center

home | events & workshops | intercultural communication & personal leadership

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 the impact of culture on communication styles;
  • Gain skills necessary for effective intercultural communication;
  • Discover your own leadership potential; and
  • Develop and enhance your intercultural competence.

ILS Photo

Date, Time and Location

ILS will be held during Fall Study 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, Oct. 19, 9am-5pm AND Tuesday, Oct 20, 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 Friday, October 9 at 5pm.

Questions? Contact the International Center at


ILS Participants' Reflections

ILS Participant Jana Wilbricht

“The Intercultural Leadership Seminar was a wonderful, very valuable experience! As a PhD student in Communication Studies, I think a lot about the ways in which we communicate across different cultures, and for various purposes. ILS did not only provide the theoretical background for the understanding of these dynamics, but what really made it so helpful for me were the many activities and exercises we completed by ourselves and in groups during the intensive 1.5-day seminar. Especially the topics on personal leadership and conflict management were eye-opening for me. I found myself surprised and impressed by how much I learned about myself through the exercises, reflection, and the open exchange and discussion with other attendees. In knowing my personal strengths and leadership style, I have become more confident and effective in group settings. Everyone at ILS has such a positive, supportive, and intellectually curious attitude that it is the perfect environment for mutual learning, honest reflection, and for building new friendships. ILS is one of my best experiences in graduate school so far. I highly recommend ILS to undergraduates and graduate/professional students alike!” – Jana Wilbricht, LS&A Communication Studies (Ph.D.). 2015 winter participant.

ILS Participant Naoyuki Tohda

“Experiences in ILS were really helpful for me to do self-reflection and develop my global leadership. I applied what I had learned about leadership at Ross business school for group works in ILS, which gave me extra action learning opportunities. Interaction with students coming from diverse majors and cultures enabled me to develop my knowledge of intercultural communication as well as my global friendship. At first, I was not sure “what intercultural competency and intercultural leadership are” and “how I can bring out members’ skills in a diverse cultural group.” Then, activities in ILS helped me figure out them. I could realize the importance of “being externally-open,” “being other-centered,” and “appreciation for the differences,” which are now the essence of my fundamental state of global leadership. Among various activities in ILS, “crafting a vision statement” was especially excellent! By digging my life statement more deeply, I developed my enthusiasm and confidence about intercultural leadership. I strongly recommend ILS for students who are eager to make positive impact on our culturally-diverse society more effectively.” – Naoyuki Tohda, Ross School of Business (Global MBA). 2015 winter participant.

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 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 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: 09/15