Gain Cross Cultural Awareness
Being a tourist is not the only way to travel. By getting involved with the locals you gain a lot more insight and different experiences. Add cross cultural experience and social skills to your CV. Join Thai-Experience.org to make a difference, find new friends and have your life changed by your new experiences.
What is cross cultural awareness?
Cultural Awareness is “developing sensitivity and understanding of another ethnic group. This usually involves internal changes in terms of attitudes and values. Awareness and sensitivity also refer to the qualities of openness and flexibility that people develop in relation to others. Cultural awareness must be supplemented with cultural knowledge …” (Diane L. Adams (Ed.), Health issues for women of color: A cultural diversity perspective, Thousand Oaks, SAGE Publications, 1995)
So what does it take to get cross cultural awareness?
First you have to understand yourself, your cultural background you are coming from. This is not so easy if you never spend time in a different culture. You take everything you grow up with, all the values, the stories, the history, the do’s and don’t for granted and normal. This is you frame of reference, your starting point when heading out to discover a different culture, try to identify your patterns of behaviour and beliefs.
Then you realize the differences. If you manage to keep an open mind, and not judge immediatly, you will be able to see the positive and negative sides on both concepts. This is what you should aim at. And then take the best part from both and try to integrate it into your life.
While abroad or dealing with people from a different culture keep the differences in mind and try to act accordingly. Not an easy task and it might take some practise, especially if some values are contradicting and your own ones very important to you.
Why is cultural awareness so important?
Let me just give you an example: You design an ad campain for eyeglasses and think that pictures showing cute animals wearing your eyeglasses would be a good idea as so many people in western countries are fond of animals and an animal always transports a good feeling. – Not so in Thailand, were this campain just failed, because for Thais animals are a lower life form and people will wear what they are wearing.
As a traveller cultural awareness is equally important if you want to discover a country and not only see the tourist spots where money matters and the locals are patient with you because you finance their income. It starts with knowing the most important do’s and don’ts, interest in the different culture and the locals around you. Watch and learn from them and try to stay open and cross cultural awareness will come.
Volunteering abroad gives you the great opportunity to learn and practise cross cultural awareness. You will get an introduction into the culture and have other volunteers from different countries around you. You are all in the same situation of being in a different culture. But once you start comparing your impressions with others and not just stop at stereotypes, you soon will learn much more about their cultures and your own as well. And you will no longer take what you grow up with for granted. You will have a lot of fun and gain valuable skills.
In a global economy cross cultural awareness becomes more and more important. Add this valuable skill to your CV by joining us as a volunteer.Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit | buzz