By Lisa Tang (FEMBA ’18), Forté Fellow
My career path started in ethnic-specific nonprofit theater, where I had the privilege of working in diversity and cultural advocacy with activist-artists (the very heroes I had learned about as an undergraduate). Now I work in international film translation, connecting films and stories with people around the world.
So it may be no surprise that I was drawn to the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation immersion course in South Africa because of its global perspective on social justice and human rights. What I got out of it was the embodiment of what I hoped my MBA experience would be. The course empowered me with frameworks in social enterprise, then boldly challenged me with them in the immersion experience. It was nothing short of a profound de-layering of preconceptions of and possibilities for social enterprise and the South African context.
In the continuing evolution of my career, this experience has blown open the scope of where I will look for sustainable positive change. I saw in Professor Northrop’s frameworks that it is not a binary question of either/or — but how. I took from the journey to South Africa what I hope everyone does from an immersive experience: a visceral broadening of perspective coupled with the humble realization that we’ve peeled away only one layer — and that this is a pivotal step to becoming a leader in any field.
The most profound moments came in meeting local South Africans while exploring on my own. These were marked by connection but also disconnection, in which a stranger was trying to tell me, another stranger, about the depth of his or her experience. But there was so much more to be said than our much-too-short encounters would allow. In these moments, I was thankful to have been traveling with UCLA in this immersion program. The frameworks this course provided became windows through which I could glimpse with more clarity another human experience.
Read more about the UCLA Anderson Center for Global Management’s global immersion course to South Africa, where the focus was social entrepreneurship.