Greetings, Happy Midweek AND Happy New Year 2022!! May your year be one of fulfilled dreams and sustained Hope!
AS we start this new year together, I’d like to share my chosen theme for 2022:
“It takes a community to build a community”...and I’d like to share a very brief orientation on what that means to me and, I hope, comes to mean to us all in this Connect community.
I first stated this theme in my year end message to the community where I live and work here in central Pennsylvania. As the Community Facilitator, it is my job to help design and build a diverse, cohesive and sustainable community culture and dynamic among the residents, staff and administration. Every single day, I delight in using my Global SKILLs perspectives, models and techniques which easily adapt and apply to so many of the contexts here.*
When I think of community building, and orientation as a helpful first step, I think back over 40 years ago to my own orientation training when I arrived in West Africa as a young field linguist. I spent 3 months with other ‘newbies’ from the US and Europe learning how to live and work in African communities, in very different contexts among peoples of very different cultures from ones we all were used to. One experience in particular, concerning culture shock, stands out and speaks into this Connect message today.
One would expect, and we did encounter and process, “culture shock” as we learned about and integrated into local customs and ways, and then lived with a family in a rural community setting. However, my main challenge personally was the culture shock I experienced trying to get along with my European colleagues! We had to partner on various lifestyle exercises (like sharing a water filter) and various activities (like helping on a water containment project). I really had to examine and reflect on the confusion and conflicts that often arose.
My expectations had been that these Europeans were ‘like me’ - at least more like me than my new African acquaintances and contexts…and so, I did not anticipate issues. The reality was that every single person I encountered in that session carried with them unique cultural backgrounds, perspectives and practices - which impacted the way we interacted, and the community we built together. I am so glad my orientation helped me learn this basic principle about cross-cultural communications and community building. Let’s continue to explore it together this year!
How about you ~
What is one lesson from a cultural orientation you have found useful and been able to apply?
Share about that with a friend or note it here.
And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for more on orientation, community building and culture shock.
Thanks for being part of this Connect community.
Until next week,
* Through my business Global SKILLs and several partner subsidiaries I offer unique cross-cultural consulting and training including:
3 Dimensional Dynamics Model:
1st dimension = HOME ; 2nd dimension = HOST ; 3rd dimension = HARBOR)
PROACTive Learning Strategies: PRO = PROfile, PROcess, PROgram
ACT = Application, Collaboration and Transformation
~ check out this website (which desperately needs updating, I know!!) and contact me for more information on this model and these strategies and how you might use them in your current programming
Global SKILLs LINKs
~ a good reminder and some additional perspectives on the fact that ‘even here America’ (or where-ever you live), there are many different cultures: https://www.interexchange.org/handbooks/inside-the-usa/culture/
~ a few insights from a European perspective on culture shock in America (the reverse of what I experienced with my European colleagues in Africa!): https://howtoguide.org/culture-shock-in-the-united-states/
~ a professional domain article (for social workers) on cultural orientation - which again, can serve as helpful orientation material for pretty much any community and cultural context - be creative! https://www.yourceus.com/pages/eth5556-section-five-models-of-cultural-value-orientations
2022 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in
intercultural communications and global community building
“It takes a community to build a community”
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