Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Inside Insight Dubai: A Huntsman Student's Experience

Four ambitious USU students recently traveled to Dubai to further develop their global vision and leadership skills. The students (Andi Barlow, Wendy Bosshardt, Victoria Rasmussen and Susana Pantigoso) participated in an all-women's conference called Insight Dubai. The purpose of the conference is to bring 80 young women from around the world together to help them increase their global awareness and intercultural understanding through a series of guest speakers, panelists, field trips, role plays and simulations. The women study a variety of topics during the conference including "inheritance under Sharia law, Arabic governance, promoting peace and combating human trafficking."

Andi Barlow kept a travel log of her thoughts and experiences at the conference. She agreed to let the Huntsman School of Business share a portion of her log to help others understand the opportunities for global learning available to Huntsman students.
Andi Barlow

Day 1:

I am in Dubai! Who knew I would ever be in the Middle East? It has been a long road, but well worth it. It took us 24 hours of travel and months of stress, but we did it.

One of the most shocking experiences came right after exiting the airport. We were trying to find our hotel van but unfortunately no one came. We waited for a bit and then noticed we were waiting underneath a sign that said “waiting area for men” and there was another sign that said “waiting area for women” on the other side. After finding customer service and calling the hotel, they sent the van and we were driven to the hotel. It’s going to be a great week.

Day 2:

I have had absolutely no rest. We only got about three hours of sleep and then spent the rest of the night talking. Had I been sleeping, I would have been woken up by the prayer calls.

Day 3:

Today we met all the girls and began the conference. I feel as if there are those days in your life that change you forever and today was one of those days.
Victoria Rasmussen and Wendy Bosshardt

There are about 80 girls from around the world attending the conference.

It has surprised me how similar the Muslim religion is to Christians and, more specifically, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Principles of eating healthy, paying tithing, the importance of families, praying daily, sexual purity, fasting, the afterlife, and God are all the same, but there are small differences in which we go about it. Personally, this reassures me of the underlying principles in which all people try to better themselves and strive for good.

Day 4:

We started the day with a speaker who spoke about Sharia Law, which is a Muslim principle. Men are very dominant in this culture and the decision of which parent should have custody of a child in a divorcement is very debatable in this culture.

We did a simulation, like a court trial, on the subject in our small groups, and from what I understand based on the local Muslim law, Fathers usually always win custody of the children.

Day 5:

What an exciting and exhausting day! My buddy Mira taught me the Arabic alphabet and how to say a few more words. It is very complicated, and even after I had a list in front of me, I still could not read which letter was which because they're all combined together.

After the parliament, we bussed to the mosque. It was amazing and beautiful! We were required to wear the abaya (long black dress) and shayla (the head scarf or veil). People have tried to argue they are not hot, but that is a flat out lie. It was the warmest I have ever been and then added another black layer and headpiece. I literally felt claustrophobic and sweat was dripping down my back (that hasn’t happened since I lived in Kiribati).

Day 6:

Today we discussed human trafficking as a group. I was very surprised to learn how common it is, especially here in Dubai. There is a principle here believing it is OK to engage in these acts due to the idea Muslims are better than non-religious people.

For our night activity we drove 30 land rovers out into the desert and went dune bashing. It was insane! The desert is beautiful with mountains in the background. It reminds me a lot of Southern Utah.

Day 7:

It is the last day of the conference. It has been so insightful to get to know all these women. They are all so different in their ways, but we all share similar desires and goals. This has been an experience I will never forget. Learning about the Muslim culture and religion is fascinating, and it has really helped me humanize the Arab people.

After lunch, people shared their insights about the conference. Most of the speeches were serious and even tearful, but us good ol’ USU students got up and did the Scotsman to show our school pride.


I am very grateful to all of those who helped make this experience possible. I could not have done it with out a few key individuals. It was obviously a fun experience, but also very educational. I will forever remember the things I have learned about other cultures and myself through this experience.

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