Being an interculturalist is one of the most fascinating professions –
you learn something new everday. Interestingly, I was speaking to an anthropologist friend of mine recently and learned that in her professions anthroplogists aren’t considered true anthropologists until they spend five years in the community that they study. As an interculturalist I can quite understand why that is…

Cultures have many, many layers and levels. When you first vist or live in a different community you only get to scratch the surface of the place you are in. You SEE the social ettiquette but not WHAT drives it. There is more to a place and its people than meets the eye. Obviously, scientific researchers suggest that it takes five years to understand.

In today’s globalised world, many of us will be experiencing other cultures but few of us will spend five years in one. What we need to understand is that cultures have different values, that drive assumptions that drive our beliefs – which then go on to dictate how we behave and what we believe is normal. So, when someone from another culture does something that strikes you as unusual or even very different – you’ve probably suffered from a ‘culture shock’.

Now is your chance to ask yourself HOW what is usual for you is shaped by your culture. Far too often we look for the differences between ourselves and others and not for the similarities. By digging down into your own culture you will have a better understanding of your own drivers and values.

A lack of knowledge makes people afraid of what is different – when you know WHO you are you never need be afraid again. As Edward T. Hall states:

” We should never denigrate any other culture but rather help people to 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. “

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 8:47 pm and is filed under about cross-culture, cross-cultural differences, General, social practices . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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