When life gives you lemons, make lemonade: Cultural connections without borders

Ms Annette Wheatley1

1University Of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

Global IQ Connect, launched in 2017, is an extracurricular program to increase cross-cultural communication skills for all students at the University of Adelaide. This was reached through face-to-face workshops and events.

Participants are offered fundamental Cultural Intelligence (CQ) concepts and opportunities to develop essential skills to manage cultural diversity successfully, such as reflection, self-awareness, open-mindedness, empathy, observation and questioning one’s biases.

During normal times, the program encourages local and international students to engage on a more personal level with each other outside the classroom, deepen intercultural skills, increase their employability, have an international experience on campus, and prepare for an overseas study experience.

But 2020 is not a normal year due to the pandemic and the challenges it brings. The Global IQ Connect face-to-face program was cancelled, and hence an online version was created within weeks to provide practical tools and connect students dispersed across the globe.

Workshops were redesigned to enable effective online teaching, support, and group discussions. The core element of multicultural teams moreover enables participants to exchange cultural experiences and keep building connections – something even more important during the uncertainty of lockdown.

The aim was to particularly support international students who felt isolated due to the travel ban, and at the same time to offer an alternative international experience. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, as this student quote indicates: “Definitely made me feel more connected! I really loved just getting to meet new people which is something that’s a little hard to do during isolation.”


Annette manages and delivers the Global IQ Connect program at the University of Adelaide – a strategic program for students to develop Cultural Intelligence (CQ). She lived in Europe, Latin America and Greater China, working in the tertiary education, corporate and government sectors and developing a keen interest in cross-cultural communication and working in multi-cultural environments.

Annette joined the University of Adelaide in 2009, where she developed and delivered China-specific intercultural programs.

She is a certified Cultural Intelligence (CQ) Trainer, completed a Master in Oriental Studies (KU Leuven, Belgium) and an MBA. She speaks six European languages and
Mandarin Chinese.

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