I have been observing the body language of business people whenever they are exchanging business cards and I have drawn a number of conclusions from my interactions in the corporate world. Though seen as an essential part of business etiquette in Japanese neo-culture, it is more a show of majoring on the minors in the African context. I say this with due respect to our super entrepreneurs who have put the much needed weight on the African side of the business scale. For starters, whenever I have exchanged business cards with an acquaintance, I have noticed how keen they are as to where I keep the card and some are somewhat offended if I do not seem to have glanced at it at all.
I will save you the details of how I expect my card to be treated, but let us just say, I would not take it kindly if I found the card weeks later on the same desk it was hurriedly placed on when we first met. In my perspective, it is helpful to think of my business card itself as being me in paper form in somewhat literal but, more accurately, a figurative sense in that the card contains vital information identifying me, and also that thus it demands the receiver treat it with the utmost respect, as if it were a physical extension of me.
If you think I am paranoid wait until you hear that in Japan, the practice of exchanging business cards has well outlined protocol that is never to be overlooked, and demands more care and attention to the process than is usually found in western countries or even in our African context. I will not bore you with the nitty-gritty but, within their boarders, it is definitely a good thing to refrain from folding them or writing on them unless you have the other person’s approval! Cards should be kept as immaculate as possible. Yes, I know what you are thinking-it is my card and I can do whatever I please to it before I hand it over to someone! Well, do not say I did not caution you on this when your deal is turned down.
Closer home,in our local business-sphere, the stink eye dished out when you put the card in your pocket rather than a more dignified place like your wallet has nothing to do with disrespect to the person but rather the five shillings he spent in printing the card. I guess we will find out sometime whether I have any Japanese links in the family tree judging by my attachment to business cards. Practically speaking, smartphones have all but made business cards obsolete for millennials, haven’t they? With business card apps and a high definition camera to simply take a snap of things you need to remember, smartphones are fast replacing business cards but I put it to you that the paper business card shall never entirely be replaced by an e-card or the smartest of phones.
The sanctity of academic processes is constantly under threat much like the business card. One university that has maintained focus and discipline and unmatched transparency whether in the process of transfer credits,validation of courses, or change of program is the Africa International University (AIU). We did review the transfer of credits so let us now delve into the other two aforementioned processes. A student wishing to be exempted from any course is required to complete the Course Validation Request Form and submit it to the Head of Department. The applicant must attach evidence of the credentials such as course syllabi, and official transcript which would support such a request. The Head of Department in consultation with the Dean then consider the request though the student may be required to sit for a validation test with the pass mark set at grade B. It should be noted that validation of a course does not reduce the student’s total credits requirement, but allows the student to substitute hours in the same department. The actual validated course shall be replaced on AIU transcript by an equivalent level course. As in credit transfers, course validation fee applies.
The other touchy subject loaded with a myriad of hurdles is changing from one course to the other. Many a university prefer status quo over fairness to students. Not so at AIU! As in the entrant of the smartphone to ease business, denying a requested changeover with baseless regulations amount to blaming the inventors of the smartphone for edging out business cards. At AIU, students may change programmes within the first two weeks of reporting, by submitting the Change of Programme Form to the Academic Registrar, who will process it through the new department of choice. If approved, the Academic Registrar notifies the student and both departments concerned in writing. Simple, isn’t it? However,change of programme is only permissible if the student meets the entry requirements for the course they are changing to. Simply put, you have to be a little tech-savvy to replace your business cards with a touchscreen technology phone. Have an easy weekend folks.