I just returned from my trip to San Antonio Texas where I attended the yearly convention of the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). This was my first time attending the conference. I was totally amazed, awed struck and highly trained in cross cultural understanding. On my way back to Dallas I concluded that the article I was preparing on cross cultural training just became clear because of this trip and it should be put into writing.
Why cross cultural training?
Cross cultural training is without question the basics we as professionals need, to become global leaders. This training plus the ability to speak another language are the pre-requisites for understanding, learning, selling, doing business, getting better paying global jobs, and succeeding as professionals in our much globalized world.
Cross cultural training give us the understanding, appreciation, knowledge and a wide angle view of how our world works. It gives us an upper leg, a competitive advantage and an open mind to all things global and of this world.
Cross cultural understanding is learning about exactly the same things that we do in our own daily lives, in our own communities, places of work and places of enjoyment
As human inhabitants of this world we all like to have the basic necessities of life such as shelter, food, a fulfilling career, business or job and the time to enjoy it.
When we learn to appreciate other cultures, other languages, we learn that that culture’s basic needs are the same but with a different flavor.
Instead of brick houses, they prefer adobe or bamboo houses.
Instead of hamburgers and French fries, that culture prefers to eat sautéed vegetables with chocolate. Instead of listening to rock and roll music, that culture prefers to listen to folk music with a tint of melancholic rhythm.
Instead of having formal business meetings at the company conference room, they prefer to invite you to their house and share dinner and a glass of wine with their wife, children and family.
Instead of communicating via email and phone, they prefer to talk to you in person.
When we understand these small but so important differences, we are on our way to being cross cultural sensitive.
When we appreciate these differences we can create relationships that are truly global.
As a global professional you just need to train yourself and recognize which of the above are the preferences of your global customer, student, partner or friend.
Why is San Antonio a lesson?
San Antonio is already a blending of cultures, a city where White Americans, African Americans, Mexicans, Hispanics, military personnel, tourists and visitors share the streets and the city. You need only go to the river walk or attend a convention such as the one I attended.
You also need to keep your eyes, ears and mind open and see that there are many languages, many nationalities and many preferences represented in this amalgamated city.
Where else would I be able to speak English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese and even practice my limited Mandarin but here in San Antonio Texas.
A second lesson was clear when I visited a Vietnamese restaurant where I ordered Chinese rice, with an American made Coca Cola. The restaurant was visited by Mexican workers, American businesspeople, Middle Eastern families, African American tourists. We were all served buy a young lady from the Ukraine.
At the convention there were 6000 teachers together with exhibitors showing educational materials from almost all regions of the world, including Israel, the Middle East, The Far East, Europe, United States, Canada, Africa, North, Central and South America and even the Romans.
So if your interest was to learn Latin or Italian culture and language you could find an exhibitor that had all this plus a program to take you to Italy for a cultural immersion trip of 3 weeks.
I can definitely recommend that for your next on the job cross cultural training you visit San Antonio Texas and take a lesson or two.
About World Language Schools
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Our mission is to teach you a second or third language so you can communicate, understand and appreciate peoples and cultures of the world. We want for your career to advance and for you to have friends and business partners in many parts of the globe.