From 55 countries to one Global Village

Ika Septihnandayani arrived on Lehigh’s campus Sunday afternoon after logging 25 hours on a plane that traversed much of the world from Jakarta to Singapore to Istanbul to New York City, where she boarded a bus for the final leg on her journey to Bethlehem.

Septihnandayani may have traveled alone from her native Indonesia, but her arrival at Lehigh brought her into a warm, welcoming worldwide network known as Lehigh’s Global Village for Future Leaders of Business and Industry.

Septihnandayani is one of 119 participants in the Global Village program who will spend the next six weeks immersed in a leadership and cross-cultural training program that will help prepare them to work in a globalized society. These students—recent graduates, young professionals and business leaders, all referred to as interns—hail from 55 countries. They range in age from 19 to 54. This year’s cohort is the largest in the program’s history and includes representatives from four new countries: Luxembourg, Gabon, Cambodia and Costa Rica.

“The growth in population is a reflection of Lehigh’s commitment to this kind of experiential and hands-on learning,” said Lehigh President Alice P. Gast, as she welcomed the interns during the annual opening dinner at Iacocca Hall on the Mountaintop Campus. “This is a truly exceptional and unique learning experience.” 

During the program, interns will attend lectures and courses, take business trips, and participate in consulting projects and cultural experiences. The program offers experiences that encourage growth to the highest potential, global thinking, ideation, teaming skills and successful entrepreneurial practices.

Lee Iacocca ’45, the former president of Chrysler Corp., established the program in 1997 with the aim of uniting diverse students and sharing distinct experiences from around the world. Now, 16 years later, the Global Village staff continues that vision by offering unparalleled opportunities in an interconnected and competitive world.

“In a world of social media and technology, this program offers the power of personal interaction that can’t be duplicated,” Eric Evans, president of the Bethlehem City Council, told the international arrivals in his welcoming remarks.

With the newest cohort, the program now boasts more than 1,500 alumni from 129 countries who create a worldwide family—many of whom maintain both professional and personal relationships that often cross the cultural, political and religious divide.

“Lee Iacocca champions cross-cultural learning experiences and was ahead of his time in creating this program,” said Gast, noting that while Global Village is taking place on Lehigh’s campus, 14 Lehigh students are working in global internships this summer sponsored by Iacocca. “Global Village interns and the Global Village relationships helped secure these internships for Lehigh students. We’re pleased to have these partners who help U.S. students go abroad.”

Only 24 hours into the program, the interns already appeared to be old friends. They joined city and state officials, project mentors, and members of the Lehigh community for dinner, dancing and photographs.

For Septihnandayani, the journey from Indonesia is only beginning.

Photos by Christa Neu