This past Spring break the Men's Business Association at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi went on a study abroad trip to Japan. Ten of the founding members of the Association, myself (the supervisor of the Club) and David (awesome instructor in College of Social Sciences and only Westerner I know who speaks local Arabic!) went on a ten day adventure to Tokyo - this is what we did, but more important how it all came together through the amazing support of so many people at ADNOC Distribution (forever grateful), Mr. Hasan (the most Emirati, Japanese person I have ever met), the UAE Embassy in Japan (will never be able to thank you enough) and ZU (many individuals put a rush on things that are not normally rushed J).
The whole adventure started in September when the Association was founded – what should we do was a question the members raised many times – a trip abroad was a popular choice – after much debate they settled on Japan. Now, contrary to the belief of many female students who think I spoil the guys (you know who you are) – I did not organize a thing – nothing. I sent them a copy of a proposal I had written for a trip to Brussels that never happened (which I had organized myself) and waited for their first draft – and waited.
When the first draft was ready we had a meeting to flesh it out – and decide who would go (members active with all the fundraising efforts they had done from the beginning of the year), and what we would do there. Second draft completed – kind of. Then I edited it and told them to make a meeting with Dr. Christopher the Assistant Dean of the International Program – and he helped them develop their ideas into a coherent proposal – and it got sent off for approval.
We got the approval in record time and were told it would be hard for us to find a sponsor – it had never happened in so short of time. Of course, the guys took this as a challenge rather than an ill wish (I won’t say how I took it!) – and they got to work.
A sponsorship proposal was drafted (OK, I might have helped with this) and the boys went to work (yes, we got permission from ZU).
I got frantic texts to wait by the phone for a call – no calls came L A few weeks past, I finally had to set a deadline – “go or no-go” time was upon us. Then I got a call from a marketing manager in ADNOC Distribution – they had funded such trips in the past to Japan and were interested! Happy day J So email were written, details given, formal letters outlining benefits was drafted… and it got approved!!!!! We had sponsorship!
|The trip was sponsored by ADNOC Distribution as part of their CSR activities|
Oops, but where would we stay, what flights, visas (not for me J), details of official visits, letters to write, people to contact, awk! Of course, my skill is letter writing, but I couldn’t write a letter unless I knew who to, to say what and for what purpose.
All ten guys came together and got everything done! There were hour long meetings with assembly line visa application, with dates and details being shouted out – passport photos were laughed at and compared – it was a very, very hectic time, and yet a lot of fun.
Then the money came in – and we needed help to get it released in time – and we got the help! We needed forms filled out (but the forms were written for females, so I had to modify them to make sure that the guys weren’t asked if they could be pregnant!). We needed official letters to be written to the Embassy in Japan and Dr. Sulaiman Al Jassim (the Vice-President of Zayed University) and his office did everything possible to help us (even though the WAGL Conference was going on and they were super busy) to ensure that things went smoothly and professionally.
It seemed that help – and the exact help needed from the key person in the key position – came out of the sand dunes (not much woodwork here!). We had a schedule of official visits to key places and assurances of transportation from the Embassy, a meeting with the Ambassador arranged, a team of local student guides (thank you Mr. Nasser and Mr. Hasan), and it all came together. Many people said it was going to be impossible or at least very improbable for the guys to organize the trip, but those people so do not understand Emiratis, when you tell them it is impossible you give them fuel to prove you wrong!
|The gang and Mr. Hasan on day 1 (I am in the red jacket)|
There were a few last minute (e.g. the morning of our departure) panics from an evil eye – but again the boys and Dr. Sulaiman’s office came to the rescue and told us don’t worry and enjoy yourselves! And we did, but that story will be presented in part 2.