Breaking Stereotypes and Discovering Little Rock

written by Liliia Kurii, Spring 2019 Fellow from Ukraine

Four weeks in Arkansas was a mosaic of vivid places, events and important meetings. Toni Carr and Global Ties Arkansas made this experience really unforgettable doing their best to show us every corner of this amazing state with abundant nature and wildlife. I was especially lucky to have her as a host mother, as her house is always open for people from all over the world.

Arkansas Capital Corporation – a place of my fellowship amazed me by it’s supportive corporate culture and by multiple opportunities they offer for businesses. People here are recognized and contribution of everyone is appreciated. Nobody concentrates on mistakes but are supportive enough to concentrate on people’s successes. It is believed that a small word of encouragement can make a world better.

CEOs want to know all the ideas which their staff have. They accept all the ideas. No opinion is denied. During my fellowship some of the most common stereotypes I used to know about Americans were broken:

Many American families are traditional. Number of family members are engaged with church activities. Church communities are really strong in the US, they organize festivals, raise money for charities, help homeless, do a lot of volunteering work. Americans really care about their grandchildren, they spend time with them, try not to miss their baseball games and graduation parties. They celebrate holidays and spend vacations together. Some even pay for their grandchildren school and college education.

American Art and museums by no aspects concede to European ones. The art in museums and orchestra performances I was lucky to view is the high-level art.

People who want to try themselves in business have their right for failure. They learn from failures. Common value is: ”Nobody is perfect. You can try, then try again, then fail, and then succeed.”

UA Liliia Kurii

During my Professional Fellows Program, I learned much about leaders who are not heroes but hosts. In Arkansas I had a chance to meet three humble and inclusive leaders who became the best examples of contemporary leadership for me. The first is Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson whom I was lucky to accompany to the Rural Development Conference in Hot Springs. It was an amazing  experience watching how a head of the state was preparing his speech to make it really impactful. He put every small farmer in it and voiced their every urgent need. He was very close to people and it was in his art to make every community member so important. Governor’s staff told me that they enjoy so much working with him, that they put themselves wholly into their everyday job.

The second leader I was honored to shadow is CEO of Arkansas Capital Corporation – Rush Deacon. He is a strong visionary convincing his staff that their success is not about how competitive they are – it’s about how relevant they are meeting community needs. Rush Deacon is a high level professional, a unique personality who sees people, understands their needs, knows how to put them into teams for achieving the best results. He appreciates his colleagues opinion and takes it into account when making decisions. Rush is one of the leaders who cherish difference, embrace disruption, and foster a speak-up culture.

Toni Carr is another passionate leader who puts all her wisdom and patience into making Arkansas open and hospitable place for every traveler who passes by. She creates a place which is really inclusive for people of different backgrounds and nationalities. By maintaining the atmosphere of communication and support it is in her power to make this experience really unforgettable for us – the Arkansas Travelers.

UA Liliia and Mi Kyu with Toni and Jim Carr

No doubt, this time made a significant shift in my personality towards open-mindedness, new vision, and leadership.

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