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midweek Connect: 9/22/21 ~ Puzzling...

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

It’s also the first day of Autumn here in the northern hemisphere. I find that changing seasons in the midst of life’s other complexities gives us a moment to reflect - on times past and times to come...putting together literal and figurative ‘pieces’ (experiences, accomplishments, insights…) into a picture which informs, clarifies and not infrequently delights!

So today I thought we would explore one cultural facet of puzzles. In our Global SKILLs training content, we look at ‘Transformations’ as part of our PROACTive learning strategies, and I think ‘puzzling’ (my use here for the act of putting together any kind of pieces in any context) is definitely a transformative activity - turning a bunch of disparate entities into a coherent unity. And then there is also the definition of “puzzling” as “causing one to be perplexed” - which of course fits perfectly into the global often do we truly find ourselves ‘puzzling’ over something when we interact cross-culturally?!

I have carried with me for many years one puzzling experience which formed part of my cross-cultural foundation. It took place in central Cameroun, during the village living phase of my orientation to life in Africa. One day, I noticed my village host, an elderly farmer, sitting quietly in front of the hut where we lived. He was totally focused on something he had placed on a stool in front of him. It was a cardboard, 6 piece ‘toy’ puzzle, a freebie from a package of Vache Qui Rit cheese spread. The thing which fascinated me was this grown man’s own fascination and total concentration on putting together this puzzle. In a different culture, child’s play perhaps...but for this man, in an isolated rural setting far from ‘western’ influences - it was something which clearly intrigued and challenged him, meriting his effort to transform these 6 separate pieces into something cohesive.

My take-away from that ‘puzzling’ moment has been over the years to take the time and make the effort to put together pieces in situations I encounter cross-culturally...transforming disconnected, perplexing input into a clear, and yes - often delightfully beautiful, picture!

How about for you ~

What is an example you’ve experienced of cross-cultural puzzling & its transformative impact?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for some more ‘puzzling’ content.

Thanks for being a part of this Connect community!

Until next week,


* PROACTive Learning Strategies: PRO = PROfile, PROcess, PROgram

ACT = Applications, Collaboration and Transformations (which we looked at today)

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


~ a fun exploration of western puzzles, historic and contemporary:

~ the “cultural puzzle”, a tool for cross-cultural training:

~ a selection of global puzzle makers - some culturally appropriate and some less so!

2021 ~ Celebrating 40 years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

Connecting, Collaborating, Cultivating Community

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