By Kaï-Björn Klose, American University of Beirut
I am a business student at the American University of Beirut (AUB), and I can comfortably say that this course was by far the best course I have ever taken throughout my 3-year journey at AUB.
When I first registered for the Business & Culture course, I did not think much of it. I believed I was competent and that I already knew how to deal with cross-cultural situations, yet the more I progressed through the course, the more I was proved wrong. Now after completing the course, I am left with more questions than answers, and the only way I’ll be able to answer these questions is by practicing my newly acquired knowledge in cross-cultural situations. As a German student raised in a Lebanese household, I always knew that I had to acquire cross-cultural skills to be able to achieve success in my life, yet I never knew what skills mattered the most in such situations — until I started this course. At the beginning of the semester, American University in Cairo, American University of Beirut, University of Michigan, and BYTE students were put into groups; we didn’t know each other, nor did we understand each other’s cultures and felt huge communication barriers throughout while completing our first assignments. As the course went on, we learned about our peers’ cultures, ways to find similarities and build upon them, ultimately easing the communication barrier. Finally, as we completed our last assignment, what started as an obstacle became an added value, the culture barriers became different perspectives, we were able to think as a team and use our different cultures to give different opinions which in turn helped us create a final assignment that could not have been perfected if we didn’t have different cultures and backgrounds.
Throughout the course we learned the different factors that play a huge role in cross-cultural teams’ success, how companies could use cross-cultural environments to achieve better product offerings, the types of strategies a company should adopt when expanding to a different country, the different types of intelligence that come to play in different situations, how to make plans to tackle obstacles and many more skills. I was able to make connections, meet new people and learn about their cultures, which in turn helped with my motivation to learn and helped me with my individual growth.
My favorite part of the course was learning about cultural intelligence since I had believed that the only types of intelligence were emotional intelligence and IQ. Cultural intelligence is the essence of our world. Since globalization has been increasing and companies have begun outsourcing jobs, it is our duty to learn about different cultures to be able to interact in cross-cultural teams. Without cultural intelligence and an open mind, one is unable to learn and grow. If I had not learned about cultural intelligence I would not have been able to successfully interact with my team. I was able to learn through having an open mind and using these cross-cultural situations to acquire different perspectives which helped me tackle obstacles not only in the course but in my day-to-day life.
Finally, what I had believed to be just another required course actually helped me acquire a new passion – my thirst for knowledge. I have more questions coming up about cross-cultural teams and I am excited to be put in such situations in the future. I am honored to have taken this course, and I know for a fact that the course’s knowledge will follow me throughout my journey to achieve greatness. Starting as a student who believed he knew everything, I am leaving the course as a student who is eager to learn and I cannot wait to put into practice all the knowledge I have acquired throughout this experience.