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mid-week Connect: 9/27/23 ~ Jellyfish and cross cultural skills

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

Here we are at the end of September already! For many around the world this season is one of starting a new ‘school’ year - be that formal schooling, or perhaps a new job or some other context where the focus is learning. So today I thought we’d explore…jellyfish - and what cross-cultural learning insights they can give us! This fits into the Applications component of our Global SKILLs PROACTive Framework, since, as you’ll soon see, skills inspired by these primitive and yet multi-talented creatures can be adapted and applied in many contexts! (*)

Did you know, jellyfish can both learn and remember? I read some recent scientific evidence of this which really quite amazed me. It also reminded me of two personal jellyfish encounters I’ve had, which upon reflection can lead us all to several basic socio-cultural skill sets!

When I lived on the coast of West Africa, right beside the sea, a tiny variety of Portuguese Man o’ War jellyfish used to routinely wash up on the beach. Sometimes you could barely walk along the water line, it was so littered with them. Exquisite with vivid purple crowns and filmy tentacles, these beauties nevertheless taught us to avoid stepping on them or touching them in any way…even when they seemed harmless, deflated and partially covered with sand. I learned (happily by hearsay and not experience!) that the venom of these minuscule Men o’ War is toxic long after they expire, and its sting is still very painful. Ah ha! A culturally applicable red flag - it’s important to be very aware of what things really are, instead of just what they appear to be.

And then, one time while standing above a beach on a restaurant balcony and enjoying the view of cove and coast. I noticed a swimmer lying on his back and paddling lazily - OH MY - in the path of a huge, ghostly white jellyfish which was rapidly advancing right toward him. A yell could attract his attention and prevent his running into it - but, what was the word for jellyfish in French?! Luckily, a waiter stood nearby and as I quickly enlisted his help, he gave me the word (méduse) - and our swimmer, although startled by the sight of us waving and yelling at him, quickly understood, saw his dilemma and changed his course. The cross-cultural skill here, of diving into a challenge (pun intended!) through immediate action and collaboration with a local resource, diffused a potentially dangerous incident…and taught me a new word for my French repertoire which, as you see, I remember all these years later!

How about you ~ what’s a jellyfish insight you can take away today?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for more on all this…

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,



~ the jellyfish article which inspired this exploration:

(this site is also a very cool multi-national learning model!)


Related Connects: 7/22/20 - break out rooms; 2/24/21 - cultural awakening; 7/20/22 - cultural fixers; 4/5/23 - appearances (scroll down here to find these by date posted)

* 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 (which we explored this week) and Transformation

~ contact me for more information on this model and these strategies and how you might use them in your current programming

2022 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

Please Note: this is copyrighted content.

Please do not reproduce or share without my permission (

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