To Krishna Desai, keeping an open mind to the perspectives and customs of other cultures is key to success as an international business major. In her time at Drexel, she’s pursued new cultural viewpoints as an exchange student abroad in Singapore, and most recently as a Clinton Scholar in Dubai. “I’ve learned that it’s important to question biases and misconceptions we may have about other religions and cultures,” she says.
Desai traveled to the American University in Dubai (AUD) as one of 10 students nationally awarded the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship. The award seeks to provide students the opportunity to expand their educational and cultural horizons by studying and exploring the Middle East. Through AUD, Desai enrolled in courses in international business, media and politics of Middle Eastern conflicts, religion and art. The Clinton Scholarship provided funding for tuition and accommodations at AUD and cultural trips and experiences. Additional funding for the trip came through LeBow’s R. John Chapel Award and Drexel’s Office of International Programs International Experience Funding.
The scholars are enrolled in full-time coursework at AUD, but also have opportunities beyond the classroom. On one of the planned educational trips, they traveled to The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding where they were served a traditional Emirati meal, tried on local clothing and explored cultural customs from the region.
In an especially fortunate coincidence of timing, Desai and her classmates met the king of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on a trip to the Bloomberg Media headquarters in Dubai.
Desai’s strong impulse to explore led her to book side trips to both Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Her roommate, a native Emirati, invited Desai to her home and brought her on a family trip to the desert. The family’s hospitality reinforced Desai’s love for experiencing new cultures with an open mind.
Upon returning to Drexel, Desai continued her research on the Middle East through independent study with adjunct faculty member Bradford Sodowick. Her work focused on Islamic finance, entrepreneurship, investment strategy and startups in the Gulf region. Upon completion, she presented on the topic of Islamic finance to Sodowick’s Intermediate Corporate Finance course.
After graduation, Desai hopes to pursue a career in the field of international business. She considers the cultural exploration made possible by Drexel and the Clinton Scholarship to be vital to her future career. “In order to be successful in international business and government, you have to be willing to accept differences and diversity. You have to be able to figure out a solution that accommodates both cultures and be aware of cultural differences when you’re interacting with different people around the world.”