Cross-Cultural Collaboration

To better student’s education in the class, groups were assigned with the goal in mind of creating the most diversity possible. My team, or the Quack Pack as we called ourselves, had students from Korea, China, and the US. There were language barriers to overcome and our personal interests ranged across the spectrum; from International Business & Economics Club to fraternity life. These initial differences ended up being a huge asset to the way our group defined both the problem and solution that we proposed as well as how we problem solved throughout the term.

Throughout the term I acted as both the main note taker and discussion facilitator. I would typically start off a discussion by asking everyone for their input on the given topic, something along the lines of  “So what do we feel like is lacking in the business school?” If there was an especially large mental block occurring in the group and no one replied I would rephrase my question to try and get a more emotional and response from my teammates. A more emotional question would be like “The last time you were frustrated and wanted to quit the business school, what was the reason and the one thing you wanted more than anything to make life easier?” It was questions like these that really got our group talking, connecting and  understanding each-other’s point of view while working productively on the task at hand.

Also as note taker, it was imperative for my written notes to reflect the ideas my team had orally communicated. Often I had to ask follow up questions and clarify the intentions my teammate had when they came up with an idea. My teammates, especially those whose second language was English, appreciated my extra effort to make sure that their ideas were clearly understood and valued. On my midterm group feedback evaluation one member commented “well-written skill and note taking skill to make each member’s opinion in words” Taking just a short amount of time to really understand one another is what allowed the open communication in our group to thrive and remain positive throughout the term.

Finally, as just an example of how well our group got along, it was a silly off hand joke a teammate made that provided the introduction and conclusion for our project presentation. One of my teammates grew up in Korea, and as she put it, “There’s a joke in my country that old people like to make to young people, ‘cup your hands together and hold them up to your eye, no what do you see?’ the people looking into the darkness of their cupped hands would say ‘darkness’ or ‘nothing’ and so the elder would respond ‘that’s your future!'” Initially this was just a laugh for the benefit for our group but after thinking about it for awhile we realized that this was how many of our classmates felt and it was the personal, unique connection that our teammate had with this story that made it so relate-able and we had to use it.

Through this class I had the pleasurable experience of meeting several people at my school that I might never have had the opportunity otherwise to interact with. The collaborative efforts and communication that occurred within our team managed to provide us with great concepts and thinking in ways we couldn’t have come up with our selves. When first assigned to my team I was daunted by the task of having to work through our communication differences, but now I realize that there was nothing to be daunted by and that it was due to our diversity that we succeeded the way we did.




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