Following from our first member focus on Felipe Guzman, we are pleased to present you our second focus on Damien Lerouge from IESEG’s International Relations Service
In what ways do intercultural engagement impact you at a professional and a personal level?
I am student services coordinator at Ieseg. It means that I deal with international students every day. They are coming from all over the world, and although my mother tongue is French, I rarely use it at work. I tend to communicate in English and Spanish with them. As time goes by, you realise that understanding a foreign language does not mean that you understand a different culture. This is a gradual but challenging process especially with Eastern cultures. I also organise departure meetings for our outgoing students. I try and prepare them for the possible culture shock when they go abroad. I am in charge of Europe (including Russia and Turkey), Latin America, The Middle East and Africa.
At a personal level, I am French with Polish and Flemish origins. My wife is Mexican, and we only speak Spanish at home with our children. We want to give them an insight into Mexican culture from the very beginning, so they can enjoy the best of both worlds.
How when did you become interested in the subject of intercultural communication/management/engagement
I have always been a lover of languages and travels. I used to speak Polish with my grandfathers as a child and then I used to be an English teacher. Language is the first tool to communicate with people. It opens the door to different cultures, and when I travel, I always try to speak at least some words in the native language of the country which I am visiting. I’ve always been attracted to different cultures, but I think I really became more involved into intercultural communication when I joined Ieseg in 2015 and when I started attending the Dealing Daily with Diversity sessions, as part of the intercultural training provided by our institution.
What incited you to become a member of ICIE and what do you hope to get out of being part of the center and what do you hope to be able to contribute?
I joined ICIE as I am not in the academic field of research. I wanted to acquire some theoretical knowledge of my intercultural practices. I might have done things unconsciously until now, or given bad answers to culturally related issues which I face every day. I hope that my own experience can be useful to ICIE, and I am acquiring a better perception, knowledge and understanding of different cultures around me. My objective is to increase my cultural knowledge and skills and develop metacognition to have a truly cultural intelligence.