In today’s economy, the ability to effectively work across cultures has never been more important. Whether you’re working in a culturally diverse team here in Australia, planning on living and working in a new culture, or simply wish to be a better cross-cultural communicator, there are countless ways cross-cultural training can benefit you.
In the video below, Palms Australia’s Executive Director, Roger O’Halloran, shares some thoughts on why adequate preparation is so important for anyone thinking of working in a new culture.
Hi, I’m Roger O’Halloran, the Executive Director of Palms Australia, and I wanted to talk a little bit about the importance of preparation for moving across cultures, as our volunteers do, to work and live in communities that are quite different to the ones they come from.
We’ve built our preparation over the last 58 years I suppose. We started preparing people at Palms in 1961 and we’ve refined it since. It’s not as long as it used to be, but it still covers some important areas that were covered even then. And one of those is in particular on culture. We spend a fair bit of time helping people to understand their own culture and put that in perspective against the culture that they’d be going to work in. So, the importance of that is not only for you in that it helps the individual go the distance and be able to operate effectively, but it’s important in that it helps the host community that you go to live in manage you as a guest. They then have someone who’s a little bit more prepared, who isn’t trampling all over their culture or doing things that won’t be acceptable. And it’s a much smoother transition for you, and a much smoother transition for them.
The other thing we work in of course is international development, and we really do need preparation to understand how that works. We can’t afford to be patronising about what we’re going to teach others. They already do things that help their communities to develop and they have plans for doing more. And we need to work in with those plans and to acknowledge their strengths, etcetera, in order to work effectively alongside one another. And there’s a little bit of a development that happens for ourselves as well in that process. A little bit of personal development, a little bit of learning how people can be as resilient as they are in circumstances that are not as easy as we might have in our own communities here.
So, all of that needs some good preparation. We do it via a correspondence program, as well as by a one week orientation course. If you’re thinking of getting involved at all in a community that is of a culture different to your own, we welcome you to come along to our course or to enquire at least first of all about our correspondence program, and we’d be happy to work with you. Obviously if you want to go away as a volunteer we would love to see your application because there are many communities who could use your skills; use the skills of a well-prepared volunteer. Thanks.