When international business consultant Brian Szepkouski ’79, president of Szepko International Inc., led a workshop in Portland, Ore., at the annual conference of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research, he had no idea it would lead to an invitation to speak at Redlands’ “sister college” in Japan.
The invitation came from Miki Yamashita, one of the conference attendees, who is also an economics professor at Reitaku University near Tokyo, with whom Redlands has a long established exchange program.
“It really turned out to be a great experience,” says Szepkouski. “The students in the cross-cultural communication classes were eager to hear from an actual U.S. American interculturalist who heads up his own global consulting firm.”
Not only that, Szepkouski had spent six years living in Japan, teaching as well as attending three Japanese universities, including one year at Waseda University in Tokyo as part of a University of Redlands study abroad program.
Szepkouski’s topic in both classes was Developing a Global Mindset and Communicating in Corporate America, which he delivered mostly in English, with some explanations and anecdotes in Japanese.
“What was most surprising,” says Szepkouski, “is that I discovered their close connection with Redlands during the campus tour! Later I was shown the full color two-page spread of Redlands in their literature and heard that some Reitaku students are currently at Redlands—and vice versa! When Miki Yamashita and Eriko Machi, who had invited me to be a guest lecturer in their classes, learned that I was a Redlands alumnus, we couldn’t help but laugh uproariously!”