Introduction to cultural intelligence (CQ)

Shireen Chua1

1Director of Third Culture Solutions Ltd.

The term cultural intelligence is the new buzzword used across all sectors to mean intercultural competency.  Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is defined as the ability to interact effectively in culturally diverse settings.  It has been scientifically shown to predict readiness and effectiveness to work with people from different cultural backgrounds.  Within the International Student Sector, the development of this capability is critical in all facets of industry.  From marketing, recruitment, pastoral care and the provision of international education, cultural intelligence not only can equip staff but students to increase their performance, relationships and contribution to our globalised world.   Come along to this short workshop that looks at the CQ Tool, and the evidence of how it predicts effectiveness and ultimately performance for individuals and organisations.

Learning Outcome:  To define CQ, and to apply it to the International Student Education and Services Context and to provide a brief introduction to the CQ Tool.


Shireen Chua is the Director of Third Culture Solutions Ltd.  Through her background in research and management of multicultural themes, she completed a research project in her MBA in looking at organisational intercultural competency and specifically culturally intelligent solutions.  She has a training and consulting business that looks to address the diversity with fit-for-purpose solutions.  She is a certified Advanced Cultural Intelligence (CQ) trainer.  She has facilitated workshops for small and large organisations in the area of intercultural competency and cultural intelligence.

The ‘one and onlies’ – developing our knowledge of Chinese culture to best support Chinese international students in our institutions

Kelly Atherton1 & Crystal Li2

1 Victoria International, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
2 Victoria International, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Chinese students make up the largest group of internationals at Victoria University of Wellington (Victoria), as they do in many New Zealand educational institutions. It is well known that students from China grow up with academic, social and cultural backgrounds that are vastly different from New Zealand students; and adjusting to life in New Zealand brings many challenges for them. Developing our knowledge and understanding of Chinese culture, student concerns and challenges is essential to ensure we are providing the best support and services. With this in mind, staff at Victoria International have been facilitating a training session for professional staff who work with Chinese students within the university. The session is based on Crystal Li’s story as a former international student, her experiences growing up in China, and the many challenges she faced moving to New Zealand to study. Crystal’s story is eminently transferable across many Chinese students’ experiences. This workshop will use Crystal’s story as a basis to discuss the issues Chinese students may have adjusting to life in New Zealand and how we can best support them before and after they arrive. We will also review what is currently being done in this space to improve services and support, using international research and current staff and student experiences. This ISANA workshop is open to anyone who works with Chinese students and has an interest in learning more about their culture, and how we can better support them within our institutions.

Biography Kelly Atherton

Kelly Atherton (BHSc (OT); PGDip Clinical Research) is the Team Leader, International Student Support at Victoria University of Wellington. Kelly is fascinated by the cultural challenges international students face and enjoys the face to face aspect of working with students in her role. She is about to begin her Masters looking at the mental health of international students utilising her experience from her previous role as Mental Health Coordinator at Victoria’s Student Counselling Service.

Biography Crystal Li

Crystal Li (BCOM and PG in Commerce) came to New Zealand as an international student from China in 2003 to study at Victoria University of Wellington. Since completing her degree, she has worked directly with international students at Victoria for over 10 years and is currently the International Student Advisor (Insurance). Crystal has a wealth of knowledge from her work with international students and many personal experiences of studying and living in New Zealand.

The efficacy of on the spot evaluation practice in counselling sessions

Maria Victoria McCarthy1

1 International Students Services Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434 Brisbane Qld. 4001 Australia

“The efficacy of on the spot evaluation practice in counselling sessions” is a workshop that aims to demonstrate how a counsellor can utilise the time in counselling and advice session so that students become their team and partner in evaluating the session.

Examples  of students’ issues and concerns will be presented  through brief  role plays  in order  to re-enact the efficacy  of  “on the spot technique” in seeking students’ feedback in each and every instance.  This workshop will demonstrate how simple feedback questioning technique can highlight students’ awareness and abilities in self navigating their way to problem solutions.

This workshop will also demonstrate how an “action plan  review”  can be utilised in  a typical counselling session to clarify  matters for both the counsellor and the student thereby avoiding potential misunderstanding that can happen in counselling.

All the workshop participants will be requested to team up in role plays and discussions.  Interested  workshop participants will be encouraged to write their reflections  and   brief  summary of  this workshop’s  experience.  The facilitator will then consolidate the write ups and invite interested members for further deliberation of a potential working manual showcasing  “the efficacy of on the spot counselling/advising evaluation for advisers and counsellors”.


Maria Victoria MCarthy has worked as an International Student Counsellor at QUT for 22 years. Maria’s profession includes Social Work and Counselling. Maria likes seeking students’ feedback beyond counselling. She co-founded various students’ support groups; they are: East West in 2005, Post Graduate Research Students Network in 2009 and iStage (intercultural group) in 2012. In 2014, Maria also co-founded DANS Community Association Incorporated with QUT students. Maria is also a professional reflexologist and she likes incorporating her reflexology skills, and dance-theatre interests in her work as a counsellor. In her spare time, Maria enjoys gardening, social dancing, yoga and meditation.

‘Cultures of learning’ and international student success in professional programmes

Mary Furnari1

1 University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, 9023,

International students enrolled in professional programmes face unique challenges in acculturating to and being successful in the professional education environment. Students must not only gain command of a body of knowledge, they must also negotiate interactions with clients. This requires a nuanced understanding of profession specific language and appropriate interpersonal skills to effectively interact and communicate with both clients and staff. In this workshop, I draw on research conducted at the University of Otago which revealed factors that helped or hindered international medical students’ learning. I begin the workshop by inviting participants to explore their own ‘culture of learning’, and how it influences their expectations of the academic environment. We will discuss the implications for international students of the ‘cultures of learning’ they may bring to the New Zealand context. Then, after reviewing some key findings from the Otago study and the broader literature on international students’ academic journeys, we will together, brainstorm some practical ways to support international students in overcoming barriers, and achieving academic success in professional programmes.


Mary has worked in international education for over 20 years in the U.S., New Zealand, and China. Mary’s core activities have been in international student support and intercultural education of staff and students. Mary is currently completing a PhD examining the relationship between reflective thinking and the development of intercultural competence in 2nd year medical students at the University of Otago.

UTASLife supporting students to succeed through cultural conversations

Dona Leach1

1 University of Tasmania, Churchill Avenue, Sandy  Bay, Tasmania, 7005,

Building networks and strengthening social connections are the key aims of the UTASLife team. This program supports students throughout the student lifecycle, from the transition stage on to graduation and beyond. UTASLife does this by offering students the opportunity to take advantage of the wide range of social activities. Students have the opportunity to have a break from their studies and get to know students from around the world and discover other people’s cultures. These activities have also been established for students to explore Tasmania, engage in cultural immersion, interact with people in the local community and experience a variety of volunteering activities. All of these activities are facilitated by the Student Engagement Leaders who are employed by the university which leave students more career ready at the completion of their degree.

One of the highlighted events is the UTAS Human Library program which is designed to widen students’ cultural perspective, a valuable benefit that offers students an opportunity to interact with others socially. This is a chance for them to share their unique set of life experiences, stories, and knowledge to enhance better understanding of social cohesion and diversity at all levels at UTAS.  Students communicate their stories both verbally and visually, as many choose to wear the traditional dress of their country of birth. The Human Library made appearances at UTAS events, including the annual UTAS Open Day.

This program is becoming known to the wider community, regular visits to school and aged care services have been organised for the entire year. Since 2013, there have been 548 student participations from over 45 nationalities visit 17 schools and 21 engagement at Aged Care facilities and 15 presentations to various community organisations.

The students’ feedback to this initiative have been very positive. An evaluation of this program is ongoing which will allow for review and development of the program and the delivery.


Dona Leach works as a Student Engagement Coordinator at University of Tasmania and has been in this role for four years managing multiple events which are diverse –  catering to international students. She has created numerous strategies and made the program an award winning initiative – Vice Chancellor’s Most Outstanding Contribution to Enhancement of the Student Experience 2015.

Creating a robust support plan for International students

Dr. Stephanie Rummel1,

1 University of Auckland, 85 Park Road, Grafton, Auckland NZ

One of the challenges of creating a support plan for international students is understanding what they need.  This interactive workshop will report on the type of support students at the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland said they required and will allow those supporting international students the chance to work together to brainstorm the support  they feel would be most valuable to their students under the following domains: academic, personal well-being, and social.  By sharing experiences and ideas, it is hoped that attendees will leave with new ideas that can enrich the experiences of international students regardless of their age or institution.


Dr. Stephanie Rummel earned a PhD in Applied Linguistics from AUT in 2014.  She is interested in the impact student beliefs about learning have on the way they actually learn and feels that beliefs should be taken into account when designing support plans.

Improving student sexual wellbeing – a workshop on having conversations around sexual health

Priyadi Prihaswan1, Semra Tastan

1 HIV/AIDS and Related Programs Unit, SESLHD, 301 Forbes St, Darlinghurst, 2010, Australia

The majority of students are young adults and as such are at a key developmental stage in relation to personal identity and relationships. Issues related to sexual wellbeing will have a significant negative effect on the physical and emotional wellbeing of a proportion of students. If not resolved promptly and sensitively, these issues can affect both their success as learners and their participation in the broader campus life.

Specific issues which can negatively affect student wellbeing and success include:

  • prevention of unwanted pregnancy;
  • prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), including HIV;
  • prevention of and coping with sexual assault;
  • forming and navigating relationships; and
  • exploration of sexuality and identity, including same-sex attraction.

Sexual wellbeing can be a complex topic to address in a campus context, particularly given the high proportion of people transitioning into young adulthood and independence, the diversity of life experience, cultural background and sexual orientation that exists within the student population, and the varying role-relationships which exist between staff and students.

This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to explore strategies to engage with students around sexual health. At the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Understand sexual health issues affecting students.
  • Refer students to appropriate sexual health information.
  • Identify personal and organisational capacity to respond to sexual health needs of students.
  • Apply communication processes to engage students in conversations around sexual health.


Mr Priyadi Prihaswan brings over 23 years of experience in HIV and STI health promotion in Australia and Indonesia. He works at the HIV/AIDS and Related Programs Unit, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Australia. His professional experience includes: developing, implementing and evaluating HIV and STIs prevention programs reaching diverse communities utilising health promotion, behaviour change communication and community development frameworks as well as capacity building projects targeting the workforce. Priyadi has planned, facilitated and evaluated workshops with a range of topics and target audiences relating to HIV and STI health promotion in Sydney, Australia and Indonesia.

Post academic transition including re-entry

Sylvia Hooker1, Terry McGrath2

1 Massey University, PB, Palmerston North,
2 PO Box 6082, Palmerston North 4445,

This workshop focusses on how we can prepare our international students for the post academic transition including re-entry to home countries and/or the study to work to settlement in the country of study.    The international student support framework proposed by the Ministry of Education International Unit has clearly identified the need for education providers focussing some time and effort in preparing international students for their post academic transition whether it be to stay on and move to employment and settlement or return home to also seek employment and reengage with the home context, culture and community.  To prepare international students is not easy particularly when one considers the diversity within the ranks of our students and the complexities of contexts and employment and settlement opportunities they will transition into.  One size of preparation programme does not fit all consequently this workshop will draw from a range of understandings and experiences and will provide a clear overview of the areas of attention for preparing international students for their post academic transition . In addition a set of tried and proven tools will be provided that will be useful for use by student support services in any programmes they develop to prepare international students for the post academic transition.  The workshop facilitators will draw from research, the experience of others and their own experience of working with international students and seeking to provide post academic preparation.  This workshop will be practical in nature and will provide resources and stimulation to designing and implementing or even adjusting your own programme of support in this area.  The long term outcome of this workshop should mean enhanced satisfaction and connection amongst international alumni.

Workshop Facilitators: Sylvia Hooker Manager International Student Support Massey University and Terry McGrath Senior Consultant ISMNZ and Massey University Chaplain plus some involvement from their staff teams.

Sylvia in her role with international student support has extensive experience with and continuing contact with international graduates. This has led to an interest in their experiences of transition and research into and development of programmes to better prepare them.  Sylvia currently manages the international student support work for Massey University , is a past president of ISANA NZ and is frequently consulted on and involved in developments for benefitting international students

Life beyond the PhD: pathways, persistence and possibilities (a workshop for doctoral students and recent doctoral graduates)

Dr Vivienne Anderson1, Dr Catherine Gomes2

1 Higher Education Development Centre, PO Box 56, University of Otago, 65-75 Union Place West, Dunedin, New Zealand,
2 School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, GPO Box 2476, Melbourne, VIC, 3001, Australia,

As in many countries, doctoral graduates in Australia and New Zealand face an increasingly competitive and confusing employment environment. Traditionally, doctoral education was seen as providing a pathway to tenured academic work that involved both teaching and research. However, increasingly, the academic workforce is made up of people on casual, fixed-term contracts, or in teaching-only positions, who have limited job security, employment benefits, and/or prospects for advancement. Pathways to secure academic work are often lengthy and circuitous. Finding such work is especially challenging for those with family commitments, who are unable to move, or whose area of expertise is not ‘in demand’. However, doctoral education can be seen as much more than ‘academic internship’ since students learn a wide variety of skills that can be applied to a range of employment contexts. They also develop a way of thinking that is sorely needed in a complex world marked by environmental, social and economic uncertainty. How can doctoral students prepare for and pre-empt post-study employment challenges? And how can new graduates in less-than-ideal positions keep their spirits up and their options open?

In this interactive workshop intended for doctoral students and recent doctoral graduates, we map our own, very different, post-doctoral journeys to academic employment in international education related fields. We chart the highs and lows we have experienced, noting factors that have helped (and made it hard for) us to survive and thrive so far. We also discuss alternative post-doctoral pathways, drawing on our own and others’ research. We then invite workshop participants to reflect on their own academic journeys and possible employment trajectories, including the skills and attributes they have gained from their doctoral studies (and employment experiences) so far; their preferred post-doctoral pathways; the challenges they are likely to face (or are already facing) en route; and how these might be addressed in both the short and long term.


Dr Vivienne Anderson and Dr Catherine Gomes are senior lecturers and social science researchers at the University of Otago (Vivienne) and RMIT (Catherine). They research questions relating to international student mobility (among other things). Alongside their research, Vivienne and Catherine teach and supervise a richly diverse group of students.