Gaining a Deeper Understanding Across Continents

World Learning Board Member Paul Muther’s career in international business and finance spans four continents and half a dozen countries. Muther credits his experience on the International Honors Program (IHP) with playing a major role in shaping his desire to live and work with people from other cultures, as well as his commitment to World Learning’s mission and programs.

“It further deepened my interest in seeing other parts of the world and being engaged in them,” Muther explained.

He heard about IHP, then called the International School of America, as junior at Harvard College and thought it was “a really exciting opportunity to go around the world.” On the program, Muther and 13 other students spent the 1965-66 academic year traveling to Tokyo, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Istanbul, Beirut, Rome, Berlin, Warsaw, and Stockholm, living with host families, and studying comparative economic and sociological systems, philosophy and religion.

According to Muther, IHP was an “amazing” experience that expanded his understanding of other people and “the struggles that they have to deal with in their daily lives.” He said living in Japan, Hong Kong, and New Delhi were the most impactful as, at the time, the living conditions in those places were so much different from the United States. Muther also saw firsthand serious issues those societies faced, including the influx of immigrants from mainland China to Hong Kong and poverty in India, and was fascinated to learn about the different approaches each country took to address the challenges of economic development.

After graduating from Harvard, he spent a summer interning in Prague and two and a half years in the Army stationed in Germany, before attending Stanford University where he obtained both JD and MBA degrees. Muther then took a job with The First National Bank of Chicago, where he worked for 30 years in Chicago, London, Sydney, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Toronto.

Muther joined the board of IHP, then an independent organization, in 2004 at the request of William Michaelcheck, then chairman of IHP and now a World Learning trustee. When IHP merged with World Learning in 2010, Muther became a member of the World Learning Board. During his time as a trustee he has served as chair of the Finance Committee, as a member of the Audit and Investment Committees, and participated in Advancement Committee activities. Muther said he enjoys working with the other trustees and contributing to World Learning.

“IHP offers students the real opportunity to see how different countries or different cultures deal with the core basic issues.” — Paul Muther

“I believe in the mission and perceive an opportunity to have some influence with achieving its objectives,” he said of his trusteeship. Muther said IHP has been a positive addition to SIT Study Abroad’s portfolio of programs because it provides students with options for their time overseas. He also thinks its “unique” comparative perspective helps students gain a more comprehensive understanding of the program’s themes, which now include global health, human rights, and climate change, among others.