If I have to be perfectly honest the most challenging thing about this whole experience has been working virtually. It is already hard enough working with someone from a different culture whose norms and way of communication are different from yours, but the virtual element adds a completely different challenge. Like I said previously in my earlier reflections when you are working virtually your communication from body language is all but eliminated because all you see is their face. Also since in working in a more high context culture like Brazil you need to be able to read that non-verbal communication and with online learning that is limited. Therefore it has been a challenge to understand what the clients want from us in our projects, our teammates want us to do and, sometimes even he plus 3 staff wants us to do. Even though I am well versed in zoom after spending a whole semester on zoom, and am good and trying to work on the platform. There is something that zoom just cannot provide that in-person communications and can not be replaced by a screen. Also when we’re working cross-culturally virtually there are lack of chances to go on cultural excursions to learn about the culture you are in and also just general bonding experience are limited because you can’t meet people face to face and go to dinner or go to different museums in the culture you are in which is how you can build trust and connections.
I will say though there are many negatives there are some few positives one big one is that we didn’t have to spend any money to work with people from a different culture. Usually when you’re doing a project with someone from another country you have to spend money on plane flights, hotels, excursions, and food. These can cost multiple thousands of dollars so when you are working virtually this expense is all but eliminated. Instead of having to deal with TSA, You can literally stay in bed and work on the project and learn about it right from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to deal with airlines driving traffic and a bunch of other annoyance that traveling
It is very hard to build trust with someone you have only known for two weeks if they are From your own country let alone a completely different country and virtual. So to say the least it’s been a hard thing to create in these last couple of weeks. However, I’m really working on trying to create that trust and connection with my International partners and client I’m trying to do this by making sure I actively participate in all group discussions and try to understand what the client is asking for us. For my partners who are international, I am trying to build trust by asking things about their culture and trying to spend more casual time with them so they can start to trust me more. Since in the US people trust each other more on their ability to do work on time and efficiently than other counties. Were other counties value trust by spending more time with someone going for coffee hanging out together. Of course in an online environment non of this is possible to happen so it has been a real challenge for me. Like I said before I am trying to build trust by using small talk and other non-work-related things to gain this trust but with the computers, it is just hard too and there is also just general less to talk about. For my American teammates, I am building trust the way I know-how by working and completing my work on time and efficiently as possible. This is the way I was brought up to build trust with people and this is the way I am building that same trust with my American teammates. I try to make sure I actively participate in all WhatsApp discussions we have making sure I do my work and contribute to our discussions. I make sure to complete all of the portions of my project on time and to the best of my ability. However like I said previously throughout the whole vlog and would like to reiterate that this study abroad being online has significantly hampered any forum of trust-building between the client and me and my foreign partners. It is just not the same as being able to talk to them face to face. I can ask just general questions in private without the threat of everyone hating me on zoom. The main problem is truly those one on one conversations are just all but eliminated.
Probably the most important and hardest part of any group project is trying to give you ideas in a civilized but strong manner so your thoughts are involved with the project, but you are not perceived as overbearing or aggressive. The way I am trying to make sure my ideas are heard in the advocacy portion of this project is by making sure I give my ideas when we are all working on the project as a team when we are all “brainstorming together” so when I give my ideas it is in a more collaborative environment so people do not think I am a kingpin or trying ot control the project. As I said before when online nonverbal communication is all but eliminated so your only communication is through the words you speak and write. You can’t show your level of seriousness of your idea through body language which can alter how people react or view you. If you did it in person it would be much easier for people to roll of an idea, but when your online and the only communication you have with people is through we chat its a lot harder as communication is done slowly. When you are in person brainstorming is easier is more easily flowed as the nonverbal communication is available.
Enough on how bad communication is online let’s talk about what I am going to do.
To make sure i have the best ideas and recommendations, I am going to spend multiple hours this weekend researching exactly what goes into my idea and how do we convert this idea into a deliverable. At this point, our group has tons of ideas for the projects, but we have not officially started working on these ideas and making them part of their projects. If I want to advocate for my idea. I should know how we are going to as a group complete this because it will provide more credibility to me as my group knows that I am reliable enough to do it because I put the work into researching it, and B it easier on them as they themselves do not need to put in much work figuring out how we need to finish the project. Also if I do need some of my partners to work on my portion I should help them learn how to do it by either teaching them myself or giving them the same tools that I learned from.