“We should never denigrate any other culture but rather help people to culture
understand the relationship between their own culture and the dominant culture. When you understand another culture or language, it does not mean that you have to lose your own culture.”

Edward T. Hall

Acknowledge from the outset that if you go abroad World_Hello_Day
there is a chance (or risk) that you might never return. If you eventually do go home you might experience that life has changed and it may never be like it was before.

I think the experience of working overseas allows you to see your own culture more clearly and put it into a larger context. It gets you away from local, immediate points of reference into more universal ones. You might be in the midst of explaining something about your home culture and all of a sudden it might strike you as a very odd custom because you are seeing it for the first time through the lens of your host culture. It affects who you are as a person, not just what you do!

Life may well feel more vivid, as if the sense of being alive is intensified. This is perhaps because you are having to pay attention to a lot of things you would normally take for granted in your home culture.

“Living life in technicolour, vividly ” is exactly why I love working cross-culturally. And I encourage people to be more open to that vividness, rather than just training them on “skills”.

Be mindful of the other culture; do not to go to the other country with any beliefs of superiority or inferiority. Be willing to learn. Suspend judgment. Instead of reacting negatively, ask WHY they are doing things that way?

The most important thing is to keep an open mind. This may sound banal, but it is not. When we keep an open mind, we also concomitantly accept that we are guests, and must do our best to identify, understand and, if possible, respect alternative, perhaps very different patterns of thinking and doing. Keeping an open mind does not mean we must tacitly accept all that we perceive. It does mean that we broaden our scope, that we learn about others (and ourselves), and, in some cases, adopt new behaviour patterns. When we keep an open mind, we let go to the power of inquiry, and we learn. Knowledge gained as such is unique, and, in the long run, extremely valuable.

Be ready to find out who you are, culturally, and to begin to understand where you are from. This is the first step to understanding where you are. 
This may sound trite, however living in a different cultural milieu brings out certain culturally influenced attitudes and behaviours that we don’t notice when we are “at home” because they fit into a norm.

Keep an open mind and develop a multi-perspective ability this will allow for the development of the necessary vision to develop your career and add value to any organisation. The experience of another culture is a boon for the international manager that adds immense value to the career and growth of the person so get ready to take their sight to the next level which can only happen with an open mind.

I would say foremost: develop and be mindful of the need to take in multiple perspectives before making decisions , making assumptions or taking actions in a multicultural environment.

Check out Edgar Schein’s definition of culture because it makes it clear that groups develop culture over a long period of time and that this is what helps them survive. Read more here.

For me, the most important part of any intercultural encounter is to go into it realising that a person’s or group’s culture meets certain needs for them (possibly consciously but in any case subconsciously) and therefore makes sense to them. “They” do things the way “they” do them because it works for “them”. If you want to get along with people from different cultures, you must work on that assumption and negotiate what might work for the two (or more) of you rather than imposing your ideas of what works. The disadvantages–lack of trust, de-motivation, and the absence of commitment–of not basing your actions on that assumption are otherwise too great.

In short :

  • Be enthusiastic, open and aware.
  • Do not assume anything and approach the new culture with respect; always to “ASK” if you don’t understand.
  • Keep a sense of humour and let down your guard go at times!
  • Be curious. Show you are really interested in finding out and understanding more about the other country/culture.
  • Expect the unexpected, and expect that the reasons behind the unexpected are different from any expectations you have ever had!

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim calendar ramadan-uk
and is considered especially holy for several reasons. Koran, the holy book, was first revealed to prophet Muhammed during the last ten days of this month.

According to the Koran, the gates of heaven are open, the gates of hell are closed, and the devils are chained up in hell during Ramadan. Since the devils are locked away, it’s easier to do good in this month, thus, dedicated Muslims are expected to donate to a charity or offer their time to help the poor, for example. Every year, the UK holds campaigns to promote safe ways of donating to charities in order to avoid scams and fake charities during Ramadan.

Most people know Ramadan best for the tradition of fasting. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars, or fundamental duties, of Islam. It is common to fast during the daylight hours, although there is sometimes confusion around the beginning and the end of each daily fast. For this year’s Ramadan, you can find an accurate time table for each UK city, here.

Invite a friend for coffee today and tell her how much you appreciate the time you spend together.

It’s the International Day of Friendship, a UN Friendship-Day
observance day that promotes the role friendship plays in promoting peace.

Friendship Day has been celebrated in many South American countries since the 50s, but it was proclaimed an international observance day in 2011 by the UN, with the idea that friendships help bridge communities and cross cultures. The UN resolution particularly emphasizes friendships between young people, our future leaders, and community activities that include different cultures.

A popular way to celebrate friendship is wearing friendship bracelets with your friend. In 1998, Nane Annan, the wife of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh the world’s Ambassador of Friendship. 

Today a part of the Muslim world celebrates Milad un Nabi (or Mawlid), the birthday of the Muslim prophet Muhammed.

This celebration, 4th of February, is slightly controversial because some Muslims don’t believe that celebrating birthdays is necessary, or even permissible. Despite the divided opinions, however, the majority of Muslims agree that the birth of Muhammed was the most significant event in Islamic history. Thus, those who celebrate it do so with great enthusiasm.

Saudi-Arabia is the only Muslim country where Milad un Nabi is not an official public holiday. In others, Milad un Nabi is sometimes celebrated in a carnival manner.  Streets and mosques are decorated, parents tell their children stories about different aspects of the prophet’s life, and many people donate money, clothes, and food to charity. Milad un Nabi is also celebrated in countries such as India, Indonesia, Russia,Canada, as well as here in the UK.

Makar Sankranti is one of the most important Hindu celebrations. It is perhaps the only Hindu festival which falls on the same date every year, on January 14th.

Makar Sankranti is a joyous occasion because it celebrates the sun god’s journey to the northern hemisphere. The sun and its journey represent spiritual light, knowledge, and virtue, but the day is also a harvest festival.

Makar Sankranti celebrations vary greatly across India, but one of the most popular activities during this time is to fly kites. Watch this video clip on to see how one Indian town celebrates Makar Sankranti:

Today is Christmas Day, one of the most important celebrations of the year for two billion Christian’s worldwide.

Christmas Day celebrations vary from place to place, but generally include activities such as going to church, gathering with the family, singing Christmas songs, and giving presents to family and friends. Food, of course, is also an essential part of Christmas, and in most families the high-light of Christmas Day is when everyone gets together to have a large meal.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Have a warm, cosy Christmas!

In the United Nations Millennium Declaration, 189 world leaders identified solidarity as one of the fundamental values essential to international relations in the 21st century.

International Human Solidarity Day promotes unity in diversity.

International Human Solidarity Day was proclaimed on December 22nd, in 2005, and first celebrated in 2006.

Today, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the benefits of inclusive cooperation, saying that strides made in reducing poverty and advancing democratic freedoms in recent years were proving that point. In his annual statement, Mr. Ban said “We can reach our shared goals if people are able to participate in the formulation and implementation of plans, policies and programmes to shape our common future.”

Activities on the International Human Solidarity Day may include campaigning for the following issues:

  • Banning land mines.
  • Making health and medication accessible to those in need.
  • Relief efforts to help those who suffered the effects of natural or human-made disasters.
  • Achieving universal education.
  • Fighting against poverty, corruption and terrorism.

Today is Human Rights Day! The day commemorates the date in 1948 when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, the declaration is available in 360 languages, with new translations still being added.

Human Rights Day

781 million adults across the globe cannot read or write.

This year’s theme for Human Rights Day is “My Voice Counts.” The United Nations has been hosting a series of Google+ hangouts since November 22nd, giving the public a chance to engage with senior UN officials and leading experts on the rights of minorities, persons with disabilities, to discuss the impact of business on human rights, and beyond.

Although there have been great advancements in gender and race equality since 1948, human rights violations still happen every day all around the world. According to the Amnesty International annual report, in 2006, 20,000 people were on death row. 69 countries still use the death penalty. Similarly, in 2006, 1 in 3 women had been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused.

Today is Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights.

Hanukkah

Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting one candle on the Hanukiah each day.

Hanukkah dates back two centuries before Christianity and literally means rededication. Hanukkah symbolizes how God looked after Jewish people in hard times.

The story goes that an ancient king in Syria tried to make Jewish people worship Greek gods. He built a statue of one Greek god in a big Jewish temple and ordered people to bow to it. The Ten Commandments forbid the worshipping of idols and the Jewish people refused. Three years of war and unrest followed these events. Eventually, lead by a small group called the Maccabees, Jewish people claimed back Jerusalem from the Syrians. Their temple, however, was destroyed. Jewish people then rebuilt the temple and purified it by burning ritual oil.

The purification of the temple marks one of the biggest miracles in Jewish history: only a small amount of oil was found (enough to last for a day) but the lamp in the temple burned a total of eight days.