Social Geographies enhance our potential as experts in Leadership and Global Perspectives. We are being led to understand and work in the global community and within the context of our most immediate communities; hence an understanding of the many spaces within which we live and work informs how we study and explore leadership. As Gill Valentine’s book, Social Geographies presents, social geographies do not exist by themselves. Each one intersects and interacts with other spaces around them.
Social Geographies were very real to us during our time in Hong Kong. For example, as Americans the body as a space prefers a behavior protocol that provides a buffer zone between itself and the body-as-space of the person standing next to us. Our experience in the social geography of streets, trains, and subways indicated that the Chinese culture has a different understanding and comfort level as to what violates personal space. In that geography we needed to adjust our expectations or find a different mode of transportation.
I can relate to the home as a social geography. I live in a 2500 sq ft house on six tenths of an acre, with 150 sq feet dedicated as my private study.
Sadly, the size of our home-as-space allows the development of isolationism within our own family relationships: it’s easy to find places to be alone. During my childhood, the dinner table at home was far more than a place for the consumption of food. It was family check-in time. The dinner table created social structure of close interaction. When my family built a new home in 2001 we did seek to use our home as a way to organize our family. Besides a formal living room and dining room, the “great room” contains family room (television), kitchen, and eating table. We chose to use space so that we could be in the place together through the cooking/eating/cleaning-up phases of the evening.
The point at which I engaged the most with Social Geographies is found in the statement: “Discourses can also be more invisibly imposed across space, influencing what assumptions, expectations and social behaviours are expected or deemed appropriate for particular spaces.” 
I connect to the idea of what social behaviors are expected in particular spaces because of two experiences I’ve had when/where I wasn’t sure of the appropriate behaviors and protocols in particular social geographies.
The first experience came some years ago when I had occasion to visit the Muslim Mosque in our town in order to meet the Imam. As I drove up to the building, parked and began to walk to the building my anxiety increased because it occurred to me that I had no idea what would be appropriate behavior on my part in the Muslims’ sacred spaces. Would it be alright for me to walk into the building? If I did enter, should I immediately take off my shoes? Could I speak? How would I know who the Imam was?
For the first time in my life I had an inkling of what a brand new visitor to the church might feel. Having grown up in the church from infancy, the place/space had been familiar from before I could think or walk.
The second experience occurred in Latvia in the winter of 2007. My daughter and I were with a group on a mission trip, and during our time in the Eastern part of the country my daughter became violently ill and needed to go to the hospital. I was a stranger in a strange land and had no idea where the appropriate medical space/place was, if they had an Emergency Room, how to find the right door, nor even how to ask for help.
The saving grace of the day was a British friend in our group who knew both the location of the hospital and the language. In that particular space, she knew the correct social interactions needed to get help. Perhaps now I could identify with a stranger to our town, perhaps a student, or even possibly someone who was in the country illegally. How frightening would such a medical emergency be for them?
This applies to my research because I am focusing my attentions on international students in the social geography of Corvallis, OR. It is reasonable to assume that they would have experiences of unfamiliarity similar to the two I have addressed in my own experience. I want to find out how they feel navigating unfamiliar social geographies.
I find practical application from this because one way to minister to international students and to build friendships with them is to be available to walk them through such times of high anxiety in the spaces we who live here take for granted.
 Valentine, Gill. Social Geographies. Harlow, England: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2001, p. 5