Cross-cultural & Intercultural Connections USDA Forest Service International Programs March 2006
Expectations • Visitor Expectations • Tell me about Americans • Give me a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” • Just tell me how to survive here • Tell me about the Forest Service’s organizational culture and expectations • “Culture-Specific” Orientation • Gives information about specific culture(s)
USDA Forest Service International Programs Expectations • Initial “Culture-General” Orientation → Specifics • One should gain an understanding and awareness of cultural dimensions and issues before attempting to analyze specific experiences and information. • Reduces stereotyping, inappropriate generalizations and the sharing of inaccurate information. The USA is VERY diverse. The US Forest Service is VERY diverse. • The “specifics” will come through interaction in the field and personal discovery. The tools provided in this orientation will give you a way to analyze and interpret interaction and events.
Cultural Perceptions An Experiment… Imagine you are a member of the “Blue Culture.” You see the world through blue lenses. You cannot remove them. They are your world view. Your friend is a member of the “Red Culture” and sees the world through red lenses. How do you perceive the following information? In your welcome packet you were provided some colored film. Please place either the blue or red film in front of your eyes before proceeding.
Blue Culture people Blue Culture People… HATE OTHER PEOPLE & CULTURES What do you understand about the culture?
Different Views And they love What do you understand about the culture?
Cultural Lenses THE S N O W IS C O L D What do you see? Do the red and blue cultures see things the same way?
Culture influences… Our viewsOur perceptionsOur attitudesAnd… Our choices and behaviors THE S NO W IS CO L D Do you see an old or young woman?
Culture is… …the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group from another. -Geert Hofstede
Culture is… The shared set of assumptions, values and beliefs of a group of people by which they organize their common life. -Gary Wederspahn
Similarities – to what degree? Universal Ways in which all people in all groups are the same Cultural What a particular group of people have in common with each other and how they differ from each other group Individual Ways in which each one of us is different from everyone else, including those in our group • Not everything in a different culture is different from your own. There are universal, culture-specific and individual characteristics, values and behaviors. • Not everything you learn about a new culture will apply to every individual. • It is important to avoid “stereotypes” as they can be inaccurate and perhaps even offensive.
Stereotypes are generalizations of characteristics that are applied to all members of a cultural group. A stereotype does not allow for exceptions or individual variation. We force everyone to fit our prescribed categories. Cultural Generalizations offer a way to simplify descriptions but can never apply to everyone in every situation. They offer good hypotheses as to why a person may behave as s/he does.
Americans are: Outgoing, Friendly Informal Loud, Rude, Boastful, Immature Hard Working Extravagant, Wasteful Confident they have all the answers Lacking in Class Consciousness Disrespectful of authority Disrespectful of authority Racially prejudiced Ignorant of other countries Wealthy Generous Always in a hurry Promiscuous Distant – not really close to others Over-analytical Are these stereotypes or generalizations? American Stereotypes
What happens when we go outside our own cultural boundaries to experience another? • History has shown us… • Fear of “Otherness”, Create Opinions about others, Conflicts, Domination, Elimination • Evolution & Development of Attitudes & Needs • Globalization, Open Markets, International Relations, International Education Opportunities • Evolution & Development of “Interculturalism”
New insights and “Interculturalism” emerged from evolving research in many fields. Sociology Education Psychiatry Anthropology Economics Political Science Psychology Communications Business Intercultural Relations & Communication
Culture is… Like an iceberg.
Features of Culture Music Facial Expressions Styles of Dress Holiday Customs General World View Concept of Fairness Notion of Modesty Religious Beliefs Visible Apparent Observable Invisible Suspected Imagined Intuited
Culture is…like an icebergMost apparent behaviors are supported by underlying values and beliefs. Visible Apparent Observable BEHAVIOR NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION THOUGHT PATTERNS BELIEFS VALUES THOUGHT PATTERNS Invisible Suspected Imagined Intuited
Apparent or Not? 19 Visible Apparent Observable • Foods • Eating habits • Understanding of the natural world • Concept of self • Work ethic • Concept of beauty • Concept of personal space • Rules of social etiquette • Holiday Customs • Religious beliefs • Importance of time • Paintings • Values • Religious rituals • Literature • Raising children • Concept of leadership • Gestures • Nature of Friendship Invisible Suspected Imagined Intuited Place these features of culture above or below the water line. Discuss your views and reasoning with others.
Why is this important? • Surface behaviors are influenced by beneath-the-surface values and assumptions. • When we look at behavior, we interpret what is happening through a filter of what our culture tells us is happening. • To be a successful “interculturalist,” one must attempt to understand deeper values. One should attempt to analyze one’s own cultural perceptions and understand their influence in the process of interpreting observations of other cultures.
Intercultural Communication & Interaction Provide opportunities for • Discovery • Learning • Conflict • Agreement • Confusion • Misunderstanding • CHANGE & DEVELOPMENT
Intercultural Interaction Intercultural interaction is somewhat like the meeting of icebergs. The meeting my produce synergy and harmonious interaction…or…
Intercultural Interaction The interaction may be more like a collision. When values and beliefs collide, conflicts can arise.
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 2 6 4 8 7 LOWCOMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH 1 3 5 Home Host Culture Home There are multiple stages of cultural adjustment when one steps outside his or her own culture. On the vertical axis, you will see the levels of comfort and satisfaction. The horizontal axis represents the passage of time and the stages of a sojourn. An individual experiences many feelings in each stage…
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH 1 Home Host Culture Home • Anticipating Departure – • Nervous and Excited
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 2 LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH Home Host Culture Home 2. Emotional Highpoint – Honeymoon Stage Excited with all things new & different.
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH 3 Home Host Culture Home 3. Critical Low Point – Culture Shock Things are no longer new. Difficulties & Frustrations. Loss of familiar cues.
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 4 LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH Home Host Culture Home 4. Initial Adjustment - Learning to navigate Things improving. Better language skills & understanding. Balance between “+” and “-”.
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH 5 Home Host Culture Home 5. Confronting Deeper Issues Increased Frustration. Confront deeper cultural and personal difficulties. More complex relationships. Isolation, boredom, no motivation.
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 6 LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH Home Host Culture Home 6. Adapting, Acculturating and Assimilating Increased comfort. Greater understanding of differences. Integrate &develop strong relationships with hosts OR NOT (some prefer to remain as distant “Visitors”).
Responses to X-Cultural Experiences There are three general responses to intercultural experiences: ACCULTURATE • Make certain cultural adjustments and modifications • Strengthen some existing beliefs. • Adopt what you value & like, reject what you don’t. REJECTION • Fight behavior-rebel • Flight behavior – withdraw Isolation ASSIMILATE • Adopt new ways of being and thinking. • Be accepted as an equal in the new culture
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 7 LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH Home Host Culture Home 7. Anticipating Return Thinking about return. Anxiety about leaving. Thoughts about how much one has changed. Thinking about reactions of friends & family.
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 8 LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH Home Host Culture Home 8. Re-entry Adjustment Adjust again. Cycle repeats itself. Familiar environment. Changed perspectives.
Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY ? LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTIONHIGH ? Home Host Culture Home Where are you now?
Culture Shock • Is it an “Occupational Illness” …a disease with psychological and physiological symptoms. • Perhaps it is more like thecommon cold…you can treat the symptoms but you can still get another cold. • It is a Identity Crisis – Loss of self & familiar signs • Result of Change – Change causes stress • Too many life changes at the same time can create stress & illness (new job, move, divorce, marriage, death)
What is Culture Shock? • Clashes of Values • Cognitive dissonance – Believe one thing, do another • Experiences which are not appropriate in your culture • Breakdown of Communication • Verbal communication may be limited • Non-Verbal Communication - Meanings have changed • Sense of Being out of Control • Feel childish, understanding of situations is limited, emotions are high, unable to manage simple things • Expectations are not met • Inputs & Outputs – Actions & Reactions differ
Culture Shock Culture Shock comes when expectations are not met. When routine inputs do not produce anticipated outputs, we experience culture shock. What happens when our expectations aren’t met? Reactions differ from one individual to the next, but one thing is certain. Most people do react in some way, either unconsciously or consciously. Reactions may be more or less severe depending on an individual’s tolerance to ambiguity and change. Imagine you are going to buy something from a vending machine. You put money into the machine and push a button. You expect to receive your favorite soda, bag of chips or candy bar in just a few seconds. You wait. Nothing happens. You press the button again, harder this time. What happens when your item still doesn’t come out? What do you do? Do you shake or kick the machine? Say a few choice words and call the machine names? You react because your expectations weren’t met. You may walk away frustrated and angry. You may see yourself as a victim. Over time, of course, you eventually learn that the machine requires $1 rather than 75 cents as posted. Everyone in the office seemed to know this but you. This is very similar to what happens when you live and work in a new culture. Systems, actions, reactions and outputs may no longer be what you expect. How will you react in these new situations?
Symptoms of Culture Shock Please take some time to write down some symptoms of culture shock. Compare your list to the following…
Lonely Irritable Depressed Angry Withdrawn - Isolated Paranoid Spaced out Stomach problems Skin Problems Financial Problems Poor Grades – Drop outs Poor job performance Criminal Behavior* Eating Disorders* Alcohol Abuse* Suicide* *Individuals are usually predisposed to more severe reactions & behaviors. Symptoms of Culture Shock
Culture Shock What determines its severity and duration? • Personality • Tolerance to ambiguity – Comfort with the unknown • Amount of difference between the cultures • The more different the cultures are, the more severe the culture shock can be • Level of similarity between the cultures • The more similar the cultures are, the greater the chances are for surprises. One is not prepared for misunderstandings
No Pain, No Gain Bad news… You will experience culture shock Good News!!! • You are normal – everyone experiences it! • 90% of those who experience culture shock say they are better off than before the experience (It hurts so good!) • Most people come back home with more confidence and self-esteem • People who journey beyond their own cultures are more aware of the world and experience profound personal and professional growth
Make new Friends Be Flexible Learn to live without familiar things – improvise Watch people Focus on Language Learning Read/Listen to Music Go out to a restaurant Find Common interest groups Go to the movies Exercise Talk to supervisors Keep in touch with old friends Keep a journal Learn new ways of doing things Go shopping Take Pictures Visit with colleagues and contact the IP Office Coping StrategiesHow do I cope with Culture Shock?
Coping StrategiesHow do I cope with Culture Shock? Remind yourself… • Things weren’t always perfect back home • This will pass • It is not the end of the world • I came here to experience these challenges • I’ve been through worse • I am not alone • NO PAIN, NO GAIN!!! (Is this a culture-specific value?)
Arrival of a new visitor…a story that may sound familiar The Airport Taxi Ride Settling In A Walk Across Campus Registration Lunch Meeting the Advisor
Understanding Dimensions of Culture and ourselves • Our learned values, expectations and behaviors shape our interpretations and adjustment • Getting to know ourselves and understand dimensions of culture is the 1st step in successfully crossing cultures.
Let’s get to know ourselves… Place yourself on the continuum then review the following cultural dimensions.
Dimensions of Culture An important question at a party is, “What do you do?” NOYES DISAGREEAGREE
Dimensions of Culture TO BE TO DO Gain status through hard work and individual achievement. One EARNS status. Value Competition I’m a “self-made” man. Just Do It! Rambo, The Marlboro Man Status is ascribed. It comes from one’s heritage, family, cultural group, and affiliations. Harmony, rather than competition is valued. Reliance and cooperation is important to maintain stability.
Dimensions of Culture I should call my supervisor “Doctor Jones” or “Mr. Jones.” Calling him “Bob” is not acceptable. NOYES DISAGREEAGREE