Christopher Rodrigues (MBA 1976) is chair of the British Council, an international organization for arts, cultural relations, and educational opportunities operating on six continents and in more than 100 countries. In this video interview, he talks about the value of seeing how other people live and think as a way to foster understanding and cooperation between cultures, particularly in areas of societal conflict.
“The British Council’s primary role is to deliver arts, cultural, and societal programs that help people understand why a vibrant democracy is a good way for the world to work.
“We work in areas of conflict. We work in areas where there is a large number of disadvantaged people to try and persuade them that Daesh is not the answer to their lives. We work teaching English. We do extraordinary things, like, for example, extracting over 2,000 Syrian academics from Syria so that when the conflict is over they can go back and restart the educational system, as opposed to being just a diaspora.
“I think that the key thing about cultural relations is that they build bridges between people. When you see the way that other people live, when you’re exposed to their values and their thinking, you understand that your way might not be the only way; you understand how other people think, and you grow as a human being.
“We’re in somewhere between 110 and 115 countries. What is more remarkable about the British Council is we don’t leave when things go wrong. So, in the darker parts of Nigeria, when Boko Haram is around, you will find us teaching. We were in Argentina all the way through the Kirchner regime, which was fairly anti-British. So we tend to go to places which have issues, and we stay there even if the issues get quite difficult.”
(Published March 2017)
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