“Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
One of my major takeaways after working with thousands of international students, scholars, and visiting faculty, is that truth, although true for the beholder, is different for each person. Pending his or her cultural background and personal experiences, we speak truths from of own perspective. Thus, we often misunderstand the intentions of those who operate from alternative truths.
It turns out though, that if we take the time to learn accurate information about others’ cultural frameworks and perspectives, their truths make sense too. The trick is taking the time to learn and making sure the content aligns with the targeted demographic.
By doing this, we bridge invisible gaps and minimize barriers which keep us separated, ignorant, in fear or in competition with those we don’t understand. By knowing more about another person’s culture, we empower ourselves to communicate more effectively with them. We also begin to more easily navigate with people from diverse backgrounds. Our newly understood truths form mutual respect and lead to new ways to live peacefully together.
We see more bridging between differing cultures occur more and more in businesses that work across multiple countries, at universities with international education programs, with government and non-profit organizations. That’s why www.CulturallyConfident.com provides classes, workshop training, and camps to teach students, employees, and faculty the skills they need in our ever increasing global economy.
There are so many ways to apply the class content for academic or professional goals.
Here are increases that class participants reported from completing cultural bridge class:
Intercultural Adjustment and Integration
Self-Awareness and Critical Thinking Skills
Intercultural Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
International Leadership Skills
Academic and Workplace Readiness
Cross-cultural Communication Skills
Intercultural Team Collaboration
Self-Confidence and Overall Relocation Satisfaction
For more information about the classes, workshops, or orientations, contact me at email@example.com
A couple days ago I bumped into a previous international student in front of my office. After exchanging pleasantries, my next question startled her, “how much longer do you have before graduation and how are you liking your study abroad so far?” It must have been a sensitive issue based on her squeamish hesitation.
Sighing with exhaustion, she admitted to having another two years of college before returning to her home country. She described that she was enjoying her time in America but that it was a challenge coping with the academic and social adjustments. “I have a friend now who helps me practice speak English. There aren’t any school services that I know of to practice speaking English and American students don’t have time to help.”
I then asked if she had made many American friends. “Not really. Americans pretty much keep to themselves. It would be nice to connect with a group of friends who were patient with me. It would also be helpful if they corrected my language skills instead of letting my misunderstandings pass by. How are my communication skills going to improve if I don’t know when I’m saying something wrong?”
Of course I offered to help and reminded her that my office door (and email) were always open but this topic begs the question: “Are colleges and universities providing sufficient support services for international students and can cultural adjustment be made fun, educational, and affordable?”
I think so but it presupposes that a new investment is made in this student body and new campus services. As globalization continues to reshape higher education, we’ll all feel the impact of a new international society. Employers are hiring culturally competent applicants and educational leaders are responsible for fostering those cultural competencies. In order to generate a diverse, internationally prepared workforce, we must first address how we introduce cultural sensitivities and facilitate cross-cultural adaptation. What international student support services do you use, do you need, or would recommend trying?
Welcome to my blog.
I prepare international students, faculty, expatriates, and their families to successfully transition and adjust in the United States. My Ph.D. specializes in international education and this blog exists to help others relocating to the United States of America.