By Janavi Krishnan, University of Michigan
Living in two countries, speaking four languages, and traveling worldwide has made me love learning about different cultures and opened my mind to different perspectives. Thus, when I saw the class description for BA 310, I was excited to learn about the MENA region and meet new people virtually. However, I also wondered whether I needed to learn more about culture given the cross-cultural experiences I have had already from living abroad as an ex-pat and attending international schools growing up. Taking this class has challenged me to think critically about the role that culture plays globally and reevaluate my understanding of its significance, meaning, and influence.
Culture shapes the way we think, act, and behave. This was evident through my interactions with my Lebanese and Egyptian teammates. When working on our internationalization consulting project, it was clear that our cultures strongly influenced how we tackled problems and communicated with each other. This turned out to be our greatest asset because our diverse skillset and differences in thought are what made our work genuinely great. This experience taught me how people of different cultures work and I became more aware of my own culture because of it and how it influences my actions. It made me more aware of my internal biases and challenged me to think differently about how I do things. What I loved most about this course was that we were taught about global perspectives and culture through lectures but were also given the opportunity to apply these learnings through our cross-cultural groups.
Additionally, the connected sessions between UM, AUC, AUB, and BYTE expanded my understanding of Egyptian, Lebanese, and Libyan culture. Listening to the My Culture presentations allowed me to learn more about food, traditions, and music from each of these cultures through the perspective of individuals living in that culture.
During these four months, I pushed myself to understand different cultures and at the same time question my preexisting beliefs. I am beyond grateful for this experience and the opportunity to form friendships with peers in the MENA region.