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Event Recap: Working Across Countries and Cultures

Posted By IRC, 16 hours ago
Updated: Friday, November 16, 2018

Every now and then a panel comes along that manages to balance being inspirational with being substantive. Last week’s "Working Across Countries and Cultures: What It Means for Entrepreneurs »" was one of these panels.

Held November 14 at the Westport Plexpod as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week and in collaboration with KCSourceLink, the panel convened amazing people working in diverse entrepreneurial fields.

One panelist, Katie Petty, started her own business at the age of 12, an age when most of her peers’ entrepreneurial aspirations were barely graduated from lemonade stands and strategic lunch swaps. While still in middle school, she was meeting with representatives of large global businesses to build her product, a dog paw-washing tube, which would eventually grow to have overseas factories. She inspired the audience not just with how much she accomplished at such a young age, but also by her stories of overcoming adversity, such as when her warehouse flooded, causing her to lose $90,000 worth of product, which her insurance would not cover. In true entrepreneurial spirit, Katie continued undeterred, and is now in the process of expanding her brand (Wild Heart, LLC ») to include other animal-care products.

Another panelist, Ximena Pacheco, while having tremendous entrepreneurial experience of her own, humbly spoke of Unbound », the 501(c)(3) nonprofit where she currently works as a regional accountant. At Unbound, she works to finance projects around the world to help others realize their entrepreneurial capacities. Ximena spoke of how the support of people here in Kansas City and around the U.S. can directly influence the lives of families in some of the poorest countries in the world by removing barriers that would otherwise thwart economic growth and entrepreneurial activity.

The third panelist, Conner Hazelrigg, like Ximena, was also passionate about using entrepreneurship to meet global needs. Conner’s business, 1773 Innovation Company », creates “Sunshine Boxes,” which are solar-paneled phone chargers. The levels of entrepreneurship don’t stop with Conner – Conner then works with nonprofits in lower-income countries to get these Sunshine Boxes to local entrepreneurs who can take the box, traveling from village to village, to allow people to charge their cell phones for a small fee. The person transporting the boxes makes up to $1,000 a year from their business, and then the people in the villages are well-positioned to connect to the global and local economy through the servicing of their phones.

Moderated by Gary Logan, a seasoned cultural trainer with entrepreneurial experience of his own, the panel engaged in open and casual dialogue with the audience. From helping attendees to navigate the obstacles of choosing overseas partners, to explaining the nuts and bolts of getting started in international business, the information they provided was invaluable and left many people feeling excited and better-equipped to tackle the formidable task of initiating and sustaining a global enterprise.


About the Author
April Diaz is the program coordinator at the International Relations Council.


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Book Review: Tropic of Chaos

Posted By IRC, Monday, November 12, 2018

Christian Parenti’s Tropic of Chaos examines the political, social, and economic effects of climate change around the world. Fossil fuels have long been an ubiquitous part of every day life. In fact, in a recent study done in the U.S., it was found that fossil fuel comprises 81% of the U.S. fuel. Parenti argues that the solution to this is to “decarbonize our economy.” He adds that, “the best way to address the effects of climate change is to tackle the political and economical crisis that have rendered us vulnerable to climate-induced chaos.”


This is an issue that concerns me, as I have learned about the "carbon footprint" that each person inevitably has. This "footprint" represents how much of the earth’s pollution you as a human being are contributing. While each person contributes a small amount, there are over seven billion people in the world, which adds up to contribute to a crisis in the over reliance on fossil fuels. 


In less affluent regions of the world, the effects of this crisis are heightened. For example, many regions experience severe drought as a result of the greenhouse gas emissions that come with the use of fossil fuels. The drought has several local effects on populations, especially those who primarily farm for a living. As the drought continues to hit, people may start to look for new places to farm, and when they find a place that is already occupied by someone else, it can lead to conflict. If they are unable to migrate, this can force families to have lower incomes, which can then ramify into other continued complications to their livelihoods and well-being.


This book was thought-provoking and made me more aware of how my actions as an individual may influence not just my community, but the world at large. I would recommend it to anyone interested in environment and climate.



About the Author
Remy Jacobs is a student at Benedictine College studying biology.


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Member Spotlight: Missouri Western State University

Posted By IRC, Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Missouri Western State University is located in St. Joseph, Missouri, 45 minutes north of Kansas City. The university has over 5,000 students with approximately 100 international students who are recruited by the university through college fairs, U.S. commercial services, high school counselors, Education USA, and other outreach opportunities.

The International Center provides support services to Missouri Western State University’s international students and provides cultural engagement opportunities for the entire campus and broader community. The Center prepares students for their future careers, while at the same time allowing international students a platform to actively facilitate discussion and promote world understanding. The students' participation in internships and other applied-learning opportunities also greatly benefits both the students and the businesses and community members with whom they work. 

The International Center, within the Division of Student Affairs, puts on many events throughout the year, including the free International Fair, which occurs as a part of International Education Week. Last year, the International Fair hosted nearly 600 visitors during the 3-hour event. This year, the week will consist of an International Center Open House on November 12, a movie screening of Crazy Rich Asians on November 13, the International Fair on November 14 (3-6 p.m. in the Fulkerson Center), and the World Harvest Dinner on November 15. All of these events are free and open to the public.

Another upcoming event of the International Center is its annual Alternative Thanksgiving Break, funded largely by the student government association. Last year, students (both domestic and international) went to Chicago, and this year, they will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to learn more about the history of the United States and American culture as well as learning about the various cultures of its participants.

To learn more about the Missouri Western International Center, you can visit their website (, email them at », or call (816) 271-5981. For more information on Missouri Western State University you can visit their website (www.missouriwestern.eduor call (816) 271- 4200.

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: ».

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Globe-Trotting Career

Posted By IRC, Monday, October 22, 2018

As I come to the end of my six-month stay in Hanoi, I contemplate what led me to embark on my global-trotting career path. Over the past three years since graduation, I’ve lived in five countries. It began with a summer internship with the Naval Heritage Command (National Museum of U.S. Navy) in Washington, D.C. It was July 2013, and this was my first work experience in another country, let alone another continent! Whilst there, I was lucky to meet a number of inspiring young people from across the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Several years later, the achievements of these individuals are truly exceptional; one became a consultant in a top UK firm, another was recently the Assistant Attorney General of Chuuk state, Micronesia.

I’m sharing my experiences now because I don’t think that there has ever been a more important time to promote international ties through exchanges, study abroad programmes, and internships. It sometimes seems as though countries are more intent on closing borders and drawing lines, instead of fostering connections between the individuals in different locations, who together, form international communities. For a British citizen abroad, updates on Brexit and ongoing news of the migrant crisis in Europe remind me that we’re living through both a divisive and decisive time in international relations. As a historian, however, I am reminded that this has often seemed to be case, and previous centuries sought their own solutions to issues which still pose a global risk today.

Cross-cultural exchange exposes us to different mindsets and allows us to develop a sense of world-views which exist beyond the place we consider home. This encounter with the unfamiliar enriches our personal lives in the form of unexpected aspirations, a passion for new things, or even the chance to do activities and make connections which may never have otherwise become available. It also appears that these kinds of exchanges may be particularly beneficial for social mobility, something which both the UK (see Steven Hutt's article from the British Council in China) and the U.S. (the non-profit Project Rosseau is a great example) are striving to increase.

As a microcosm, I’ll illustrate how another internship, in the summer of 2014 - a year after coming to the U.S. for the first time - changed my life. I spent just over two weeks at the Zhuhai campus of Beijing Normal University (on the south coast of the Chinese mainland, just opposite Hong Kong) and worked on a short research project with Chinese students. I became interested in Chinese characters and how different they were from the Roman alphabet. I also started to really think about what it was like to live in a culture which was informed by a history and literature which was completely unknown to me, namely the historic influences of Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

Fast-forward four years and the effects of these couple of weeks is astounding. My internship in Zhuhai was the first time that I had ever been to Asia, and it gave me the courage to become a teaching assistant with the British Council in Greater Noida, near New Delhi. Whilst there, I realised just how useful it would be for me to learn a foreign language myself, and why not Mandarin Chinese?

This became a reality when I applied for, and was accepted into a British Council scholarship at Shandong Normal University, Jinan (the “normal” here simply emphasises that this university focuses on training teachers). I enjoyed the experience so much that I’ve endeavoured to keep up with my language learning, and have since undertaken Chinese lessons in Bangladesh and Vietnam (where a knowledge of Chinese characters has been useful in understanding Vietnamese history and modern day ancestor-worship).

In short, the effects of my initial international work experience, the confidence gained from subsequent trips, and the skills gained from studying in China have changed the direction of my career. Ultimately, during my time abroad, I developed as a person in ways that academic study at university could only partially achieve. My hope now is to encourage more organisations - and educational institutions especially - to develop international ties and to encourage more people to go beyond what they know in order to realise more clearly what they could be. Ultimately, languages barriers are surmountable, and cultural differences serve only to educate individuals on the values of tolerance, plurality, and strength in diversity.

Studying Mandarin Chinese with my Korean classmates in June 2016.

Has your interest in internationally focused internships increased as a result of Nikita's post? Consider applying for an International Relations Council internship for the spring 2019 semester. Application information is available on the IRC website », and the deadline to apply is Friday, October 26.

About the Author

Nikita Hayward graduated from the University of Oxford where her studies focused on the relationship between history and English literature. She has taught in India with the British Council, and spent a semester learning Mandarin Chinese in Jinan, China. Last year she worked for a semester at the Asian University for Women, in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and has since moved to Hanoi, Vietnam.

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German Immigration

Posted By IRC, Monday, October 8, 2018

As many as 58 million U.S. residents have German heritage, and a lot of immigrants from Deutschland settled in the Midwest. As recently as 1980, German was the third most-spoken language and could still be heard in many small communities in Kansas and Missouri. Up to 5 million arrived between 1840 and 1910, mostly in three large waves: the first from 1840-1857, the second from 1864-1873, and the last from 1880-1893.


Most left the northern harbors of Bremen and Hamburg, never to see their homeland again. Many believe that a majority of those who emigrated from Germany were poor laborers, but research suggests that’s not likely. At the time, average fares from Bremen to New York City, the most affordable rates during the first wave, averaged around 33 to 35 Thalers ($23) for adults. By comparison, a farm laborer would average around 24 Thalers a year, making it very tough for a person of that standing to afford one ticket, let alone as much as 100 Thalers for a family of five or six. The journey would be between 14 days for a steamship, which was far less common, or via sail ship for around a total of 45 days. Families came in groups to preserve familial links. It was incredibly common for multiple generations and entire family trees to settle close together, many having land that bordered one another.


The motivations to leave were varied, but most had to do with the changing economy and land ownership. Due to poor economic conditions in modern-day northeast Germany (then East Prussia), a surplus of farm laborers moved into the North Rhine Westphalia and Bavaria regions, and new technological advances, like the threshing machine, were making some jobs obsolete. To make matters worse, the agrarian economy in these regions was shifting into one that was far more industrial. Land in these areas was becoming more scarce because farms were becoming smaller when the custom of splitting the land amongst heirs happened generation after generation. By the third wave of immigration, those leaving agrarian life were highly unlikely to remain on the farm. Many Germans hoped to move to an American city and earn enough money to buy a farm and settle there, but the reality was that, by this time, the American economy had become far too industrialized. After this third and final large wave, German immigration to the U.S. declined steeply.


For those seeking information about their German ancestors, there are many good resources. In addition to many pay sites,  numerous free resources exist, such as ship manifest information at The National Archives and The Library of Congress. The Kansas City area also has a fantastic resource, the Midwest Genealogy Center, which is part of the Mid-Continent Public Library system. The MGC offers over 50,000 square feet of resources, access to vast online databases, and connections with researchers that are available for hire, should the task prove overwhelming.


About the Author
Jason Rose is a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Business Administration and Spanish and is the community intern at the IRC for Fall 2018.


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Member Spotlight: Lowell Jacobsen

Posted By IRC, Monday, October 1, 2018

Lowell Jacobsen is the Elizabeth Harvey Rhodes Professor of International Business at Baker University. Jacobsen spends the majority of his time teaching classes on international business and economics. He is proud to be teaching at Baker University, as it is one of the oldest universities in Kansas. His involvement with the IRC began in 1986 when he was approached by Dr. Eliot Berkley, the founder and long-time executive director of the organization. Lowell remains involved with the IRC and has served 12 years on the board including on the board's finance and education committees.


In 2012, Lowell received the Mike Wood Presidential Merit of Citation for the “wise stewardship of endowment funds resulting in continued stability of the IRC.” In addition to this, he more recently received the Kopke Award for Distinguished Teaching at Baker.


Outside of the IRC and teaching at Baker, he has many global experiences. Jacobsen’s research and teaching has taken him to both Asia and Europe over previous years. He has a variety of visiting professorships include the Chinese University of Hong Kong, La Universidad de Cordoba, and St. Andrews University. In 2002, he had a Fulbright fellowship that supported his research of European Union enlargement. Through this fellowship, he was able to study in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. He has extended this research to a current focus on extending the intellectual roots of business strategy with archival work in the Universities of Cambridge, London, and Oxford.


To find out more information about the internationally focused programs at Baker, visit


The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: ».

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Book Review: Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies

Posted By IRC, Monday, September 24, 2018

Using his background in medicine and anthropology, Seth M. Holmes creates a vivid description of the struggles of the Triqui, an indigenous group from Oaxaca, Mexico, living and working in the United States. Throughout the reading, Holmes follows a group of Triqui migrants, from Mexico to the farms in Washington and then to California. Holmes touches on many themes throughout the book; most prominent is how hierarchical structures affect the health and healthcare of many migrants. He uses fieldwork and first-hand experiences to give life to issues some might not see. He describes the aching pain from bending over in the hot sun for hours picking fruit and the exhaustion that comes from days of travel to reach the border.


Many migrants are unable to make enough by farming in their home state, so they cross the border to work on berry farms. In the United States, they face anti-immigrant sentiments, damage to the body from hard labor, and lack of healthcare. Many of the Triqui speak their own indigenous language and little Spanish or English, making it difficult to find translators. On top of this, many of the migrants move around every few months, making it difficult for records on their health and injuries to be kept. The United States relies on migrants for cheap labor, but Holmes argues the country doesn’t do enough in terms of protection for them.


Holmes acknowledges the difficulty in this. For example, he talks about the farm owners and their attempt to keep their business afloat and provide for the migrants that work for them at the same time. This book would be a good read for those interested in migrants in the United States, healthcare, and the impact of trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The book is easy to follow, as it is not full of jargon, and new terms are explained fully.


About the Author
Gianna Cado is the digital resources intern for the International Relations Council. She is currently a sophomore at University of Missouri-Kansas City, majoring in Mathematics and Statistics with a minor in Anthropology.


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Event Recap: Sarah Margon, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch

Posted By IRC, Monday, September 17, 2018

On Thursday, September 13, the event hosted by the International Relations Council, “An Evening with Sarah Margon,” took place in the heart of Kansas City at Stinson Leonard Street Law Firm. As the Washington director of Human Watch Rights, Ms Margon serves as the organization’s main point of contact with the U.S. government and provides strategic and advocacy guidance, including legislative and policy development. Interviewed by Christina Arnone, a lawyer from Stinson, Ms Margon responded to diverse questions regarding foreign policy and international relations.

After enjoying some food and refreshments during the reception, the audience was ready to listen to the speaker to gain insight on what is going on around the world in a relaxed and informative atmosphere. She addressed issues ranging from Iran and the global refugee crisis to human rights in Africa.

In addition to providing an overview of human rights issues in 2018, she also elucidated the operations of Human Rights Watch, an organization that has a presence in 90 countries, including the U.S. In order to decide the countries to focus most strongly on, Human Rights Watch researches the places where the most atrocious human violations happen and raises awareness. Ms Margon also touched on the subject of funding for Human Rights Watch and said that they do not receive any funds from governments and are supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide.

After the interview, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions, which Ms Margon answered impartially and with expert knowledge. Various topics from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Puerto Rican natural disaster were explored.

The "Evening with Sarah Margon" was a great moment that encouraged people from our community to understand international issues, while bringing awareness on other parts of the world to people of Kansas City.

About the Author
Grace Komoe is the Fall 2018 events intern for the IRC and is a junior at Park University studying Political Science and Legal Studies.

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Book Review: Should We Fear Russia?

Posted By IRC, Monday, September 10, 2018
Updated: Friday, September 7, 2018

The book Should We Fear Russia? by Dmitri Trenin focuses on the prospective threat Russia poses to other countries. The author takes the reader through Russia's past and present and addresses the root causes for other countries' widespread fear of Russia. This book stands out from other books about Russia because Trenin is from Russia and writes from his point of view, and it is important to include Russian voices in the discussion to create a better understanding of the country many people fear. In the end, Trenin believes that the fears many hold about Russia's place in the world are well-rooted in the country's history, albeit unnecessary and detached from the actual threat Russia poses.

Trenin breaks the book into four sections: the first section discusses fears of Russia and a brief history of Russia’s past after the cold war; the next section addresses goals of Russia and how those goals impact other countries; the third section discusses ways other countries keep Russia "in check"; and lastly, the fourth section offers comments on modern Russia and how other countries currently relate to Russia. Throughout the book, Trenin offers a thorough explanation of Russia’s past and how it connects to present realities and perceptions.

Overall, I found this to be a thought-provoking book that makes a complex situation more accessible for the average reader and world citizen. My recommendation to the author would be to release a new edition in light of the news attention Russia has received over the past year for its alleged influences on the last U.S. presidential election.

About the Author

Emily Hattan is a student at Florida Southern College studying Criminology and Psychology.





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Member Spotlight: Fred Baehner

Posted By IRC, Monday, September 3, 2018
Updated: Friday, August 31, 2018

Fred Baehner is the publisher of IBNewsmag », a monthly magazine that covers 15 states and provides small- to medium-sized enterprises with practical information to stimulate international trade. Other international endeavors of Baehner have included working in international business with his company, InterMark3, Inc.; serving as the president for the International Trade Council twice; and receiving security clearance to be an advisor for the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as serving on its industry trade advisory committee (a position and clearance only held by 30 other people in the U.S.). Baehner also has been a member of the International Relations Council since 1994 and still remembers receiving phone calls from Eliot Berkley, founder and long-time president of the IRC. 

Baehner currently serves as a board member of the Pan-American Association of Kansas City, which works to educate people about the importance of the Americas and the intertwining of its countries. He is also working to develop support for the International Fashion Exchange of Kansas City. In the past year, one of his major accomplishments includes co-hosting the Discover Global Markets event in Kansas City, which attracted more than 300 participants and 26 companies from 16 countries. On the horizon, he is looking forward to expanding IBNewsmag to other countries.


The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: ».

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