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Creating Sustainable Relationship for On-Line Global Education Programming

Meaningful partnerships may take time to establish but are critical to establish to create a better future.

One of the most important goals in the work that we do in creating Global Virtual Exchange opportunities for both high school and university participants is creating meaningful and long-lasting partnerships. This goal can be challenging in elements as simple as time differences and as complex as cultural differences and expectations. From experience I have learned several important lessons in this regard.  Below are some ideas:

Partner Recruitment

At the outset use your existing connections to source and select partners for projects. Building off these trust networks can mean the world of difference. Ask for introductions or relationship brokering. This ensures a level of confidence and legitimacy that “cold” or “warm” calling cannot often provide.

Cold or Warm Calling Partnership Recruitment

If you are using the cold or warm calling strategy, know that the process may take a significant amount of time even up to a year to create a meaningful relationship with a clear understanding of shared values and project goals.

Find Meaningful Projects for Both Sides

Please make sure to find meaningful projects that have clear benefit to both sides and be able to articulate that benefit to your partners. It is important that any projects you design have the relevant and meaningful impact for your partner. Remembering that we are culturally and organizationally different. Make sure to examine both the programmatic and financial elements carefully.

Build Good Communication

Whether you’re developing or executing programming, please make sure to understand communication patterns that are appropriate. It can be as simple as deciding to use email or WhatsApp. What does the reporting structure and the hierarchy look like? Who should be the single point of contact and what is their status in the organization. These need to be agreed upon at the outset to ensure an accurate flow of communication to all the relevant parties.

Who Likes to Talk About Money?

Some of the relationship we build will have financial and contractual obligations that need to be negotiated and fulfilled. This can be challenging when the rules of engagement in this regard are different than our own. For those of us in the US, money and contracts are the facts of doing business, while other cultures may have different timing and practices for these discussions. 

Building Partnerships Virtually

COVID-19 has challenged us to build partnerships through technology mediated communication. Even two years ago perhaps we would have initial meet and greets in host countries – face to face. With the global pandemic, digital communication is our go-to for building relationships. Several things including connectivity and time differences may challenge the ease in which we bond. Make sure to be patient with the process and know that we are all learning to create bonds through a new medium.

Building strong and sustainable partnerships is key to creating a successful body of work that will transcend the pandemic and cement on-line global learning as an effective learning tool.