So what’s “Strang Intercultural Solutions” all about?

I have created “Strang Intercultural Solutions” on the premise of four key points that I believe strongly in:
  • developing relationships across cultures will enrich our lives and make our world better
  • using creativity and insight to explore new ideas and build something useful
  • committing to following through on objectives and plans to achieve positive solutions
  • evoking my passion for doing what I love to do and believe in
Thus this is topic for my first blog on the Strang Intercultural Solutions web site. As I said I believe in developing relationships, and how can you do that without knowing something about the other. In this regard, through the evolution of my blog, I’ll be telling you a bit about my last two decades of working with people from various cultures. Over the past 20 years I’ve worked in what we call “international education” in various positions at two universities. The first was Wilfrid Laurier University, located in Waterloo, ON for 18 years, 8 of which were specifically in the office of Laurier International. This is where I learned so much about building effective intercultural relations as I established many partnerships for purposes of exchanging students, scholarship and other collaborative activities. I was fortunate to be part of a cooperative learning group of international educators from the southern Ontario universities called WSAnet. We shared concepts, policies, templates, programming ideas for both incoming international students as well as outbound students who would go abroad to study for one or two semesters, as well as develop strategies to internationalize our campuses at home. I thank this group of pioneers whom I’ve had the privilege to work with over these past twenty years for their insight, wisdom and friendship. More recently I held the position of Director of International Initiatives at Nipissing University for close to 12 years. Again, I utilized the relations I had built abroad in my first eight years in international education to establish several new international partnerships for my new employer. In both universities we committed to a membership with World University Services of Canada (WUSC) to help local students better understand issues of people in developing countries, and some had the opportunity to live abroad and work side by side with students in developing countries such as Ghana, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, etc. We also engaged in the very successful WUSC Student Refugee Sponsorship Program, whereby four students were supported over the past 10 years at Nipissing University. This program is near and dear to my heart, as I know first hand the relationships that were created and endured over time, between these sponsored students (originally from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo) and various Canadian students, as well as myself. Now, three of the four students have graduated and I’m so proud of their perseverance, tenacity, commitment and passion to achieve their academic goals. They have effectively integrated into our Canadian culture and achieved the status of permanent residents or in some cases have become citizens of Canada. The fourth student has just completed his first year of study and worked this past summer in North Bay. With their permission I’ll be sharing more of their stories in future blogs. I was always passionate about my work in international education … establishing the relationships with people near and far, creating new programs, collaborating with multicultural teams, traveling the world and presenting at national and international conferences, all the while proudly representing the institutions for whom I worked. And I did my best to serve as the best ambassador I could be for my beloved country, Canada. My focus is on helping people understand and appreciate people from other cultures, because I believe that this awareness will make for a better and more peaceful world and we all grow in the process. I guess a few people took note of what I was doing and thought I should be recognized for my work. As such I received outstanding achievement awards from both Wilfrid Laurier University and Nipissing University. These are described in the “About Us” section on this web site. I’m sharing this information, not to be boastful, but rather to demonstrate that my work has been valued, and I would like to meet with you and your colleagues to explore how my skills and experiences might align with your efforts to create a welcoming workplace, integrate new immigrants or Indigenous peoples, or develop new business relations with companies abroad.