The University of Iowa

UI Students Learn International Etiquette

February 18th, 2011

By Kendall McCabe, The Daily Iowan
Photo by Naqeeb Stevens

See the original article and a video feature here.

A large group of University of Iowa students clinked their lemonade-filled champagne flutes together Thursday night.

“Cin cin,” the crowd said, repeating an Italian toast.

The Consortium Institute of Management and Business Analysis held an international etiquette dinner at hotelVetro Thursday to help teach students business manners with an Italian flair.

“The economy and business keep expanding globally,” said University of Iowa sophomore Luke Schneider, who helped organize the dinner. “A lot of students aren’t informed about international dinner etiquette, and some aren’t even informed about American dinner etiquette.”

Students learned they shouldn’t wear white socks, should keep their forks in their left hands instead of switching hands, and should never bring chrysanthemums to dinner (they are only used for funerals).

Though etiquette dinners are held annually through the UI Tippie College of Business, those events typically focus on American business and dining etiquette.

UI business lecturer Joseph Sulentic, who worked with Porsche and Ferrari in Italy, was Thursday night’s keynote speaker. He said he couldn’t have been successful without his knowledge of Italian culture.

“Anywhere just getting that first experience of cultural interaction can spur people to dive in and get excited about it and go wherever they really want to see.”

“It shaped who I became as a person, not just as a businessman,” Sulentic said.

Sulentic, who was once a Formula 3 driver in Europe, is working on a project with Porsche to create small wind turbines that could power an individual house.

The consortium institute, an organization that sends UI students in a variety of majors to study in Italy, is located in one of the most entrepreneurial regions of the country, said UI senior Wesley Rondinelli, who headed the event’s planning committee.

“Italy is a popular place for people to go nowadays,” he said. Rondinellie, who studied in Paderno del Grappa, Italy, last year, said he helped organize the event to bring his interest in other cultures to UI students.

Approximately 25 percent of undergraduate business majors study abroad, said Janis Perkins, the head of the Office for Study Abroad. In 2009-10, 306 business majors studied abroad, which made up about 23 percent of total Study Abroad participants.

Students in other majors attended the event, too.

“You never know who you’ll encounter in the business world or engineering,” UI freshman Hillary Neff said.

The electrical-engineering student said she was interested in the international-business aspect of the event and she said she hopes to study abroad in China or Japan someday.

“Anywhere just getting that first experience of cultural interaction can spur people to dive in and get excited about it and go wherever they really want to see,” Rondinelli said.