Read a student's account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.
Christianne Hardy Wohlforth, the Associate Director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth, concluded the series of MLDP’s eclectic management and leadership lectures with a very insightful discussion of cross-cultural experiences. Departing from the notion that technical competency in the workplace must be complemented with the awareness of intercultural differences, Wohlforth encouraged participants to actively reflect on and give voice to their past cross-cultural experiences. We set off identifying our personal contacts with cultures foreign to or different from our own and reflected briefly on the feelings and impressions during these encounters. Following our narratives, Wohlforth encouraged us to think about how those possibly uncomfortable situations impacted our behavior and whether they facilitated or inhibited our cultural immersion.
Tying our cross-cultural stories with those of past Dartmouth students - many of whom are international - we were given the opportunity to watch videos featuring first-hand accounts of cultural immersion into both American and international settings. Those short clips raised a number of salient points that were central to the discussion Wohlforth led shortly thereafter. She referred to a past conversation with her Russian colleague whose perception of personal space was diametrically opposed her own. I found this account particularly powerful, as it related to the perennial dilemma of how much one should adjust his or her behavior to suit the other culture. Wohlforth’s suggestion was to always draw the line between respect for the culture and feeling discomfort. Another take-home message was to differentiate between knowing about a culture and in fact being culturally sensitive. I found this idea very eye-opening, since many of us mistakenly consider ourselves culturally adapted after only reading or hearing about cultures and their customs. From a personal standpoint, this was one of the most riveting and insightful lectures of MLDP, as it bridged us with the global cultural forces that shape not only interpersonal but also professional understanding across cultures.
- Written by Ana Marija Pongrac '15