Upon reflecting on the first two weeks of this program, I believe we all have learned a lot so far and will continue to build on that knowledge up throughout the reminder of May. Out of all of the difficulties that come with communicating and working with individuals from other countries, I think that the language barriers present are the hardest obstacle to overcome. With everyone coming from different parts of the world and from very different cultures, simply just talking isn’t as easy as it would be for example with your neighbor. Although some may think of this as somewhat of an inconvenience, I actually find it pretty interesting. It’s so amazing to think how such a diverse group of people that are so far away from each other who for the majority speak different languages are able to connect, share their thoughts, and work together as a team and this can be perfectly exemplified through my group for the case competition, Global CBPU.
Initially, my team, Global CBPU, was pretty shy, however it didn’t take long for everyone to break out of their shell and become talkative. Right off the bat when everyone started converse about the program and created a plan, our team energy clicked and I knew that we would all work very well together on this project. As we are finishing up our second week, I feel as if that good energy has remained constant and I’ve been able to pick out a few reasons why I think that is with those being patience, understanding, and cooperation.
Regardless of the setting and the people within a group, having patience will always remain critical to success. In a group, it’s important to listen to the ideas of others and although you may think differently, waiting till they are finished expressing their thoughts is not only polite, but fully hearing them out may help you connect the ideas they are presenting and maybe even change those of your own. So far, I’ve found that with the language barriers present, sometimes it may take people longer to get their thoughts across and ultimately have to reword their sentence to make it easier for others to understand. Interestingly enough, this doesn’t only go for those who are speaking a second language, but for those who are speaking their native language as well which I found surprising.
Secondly, going along the same path as patience, understanding is key as in a team you want to work with each other’s ideas and feed off of each other to create an end product. Fully understanding one another and the ideas we are trying to portray over Zoom has been a little difficult in our team, however, nobody is afraid to ask for clarification when needed which really goes a long way. That clarification really comes in handy as certain phrases or words that are considered slang, have alternative definitions and usage in different cultures and countries so not being afraid to have someone rephrase or clarify what they are saying I have found to be very useful while working in this cross-cultural team setting. With that, we are constantly building upon the ideas of our teammates and often compromise to satisfy everyone’s desires so everyone in the team feels as if their opinion is treated equally and everything is fair.
Much like the previous two aspects, collaboration is probably one of the most important features of working in a team as the reason you are in a team in the first place is to collaborate and work with others. So far, I’ve found that proper collaboration and communication within a team is pretty foundational to the whole team’s dynamic. Everyone needs to share their ideas and communicate what they will be working on and the results afterwards because if one person starts to go off on their own, they might be working on something that’s irrelevant to the team’s objective, or possibly be a duplicate of something someone else has already done. To combat this, Global CBPU assigned different roles to each member as to what they should be working on. Every time we meet, we each discuss what we have been researching and what we plan to research in the coming days which really helps the flow of things stay constant. With this communication, we are able to easily find flaws in our processes and fix them before they either go unattended or become a larger problem in the future.
Overall I’m pretty proud of how well my team’s ability to communicate has been. I can’t think of any times where there has been a major miscommunication within our group that has caused issues, and so far we have stayed on track with our research which in the end will help us put together a final presentation, report, and flow chart. As I would consider communication with this group to be deemed a success, in the future while working in a cross-cultural team I plan to try and implement the same processes and aspects that we have put forth within Global CBPU as I now know what works effectively and what will help a team stay potent despite any communication barriers that may be present.
Previous to this program, I did not have much knowledge regarding global business, however, with only being two weeks into the program I feel as if I have gained a lot of knowledge in this area and am certainly excited to gain more. One thing that really struck me as interesting, which is somewhat related to global business, is how young people are that work in the professional field in other countries. After talking with a few of my teammates in Global CBPU, I was shocked to hear that they have what could be considered professional jobs which I feel is a little uncommon in the US for someone our age (a Freshman in college). For example, one of my teammates, whom I will keep anonymous, is a financial advisor which amazes how this individual is doing that while simultaneously going to college and taking business gen-ed courses very similar to the ones I’m taking. I’m not completely sure whether or not having a job in your desired field and going to university is common in other countries, however, from what I know in the United States that’s not very typical of Freshman, more-so of an upperclassman which upsets me a little as I think it’s great being able to gain experience in your field so young and hope to do the same in the near future.
Another area in which I gained a whole new perspective on after our guest speaker this past Wednesday is the coffee industry. I really enjoyed this talk and hearing all about how much coffee is a part of the culture not only in Brazil, but also virtually in every country each individual in this program resides in. It was awesome how everyone was able to bond over this drink and upon reflecting after this lecture, I realized how just one drink can connect thousands if not millions of people from different cultures around the world which is astonishing to me. Personally, I usually just go to Dunkin Donuts whenever I’m craving some coffee, but after learning the different ways it can be prepared, I definitely think I’m going to experiment and try some of them, especially the affogato which looked so good. The coffee industry is definitely an area I’ve wanted to learn more about for a while as Costa Rica was one of the locations in the original Plus3 programs I was interested in attending, so I’m very grateful that it was somehow incorporated into this Plus3 Global Projects even if it was just through a guest speaker who appeared to be an expert within this field!