The Start of the Journey, Part II

As part of the lengthy application for AGENCY, I submitted the following background statement (accompanying the motivation statement) to substantiate my interest in joining the AGENCY.

Nam LaMore: Cross-Cultural Experience

As a first-generation immigrant, and having worked at large corporations, I have many examples of cross-cultural experience to draw upon. I can discuss my experience as a participant in an Education Abroad Program (1990-1991, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England); as a teaching aide of English as a Second Language to migrant workers (summer 1992); or as a "conversationalist" and residential assistance to groups of international students looking to improve their English language skills (summer 1989). However, I will relate my cross-cultural experience in the business environment working at multi-cultural, multi-national corporations.

"Active listening" is one of the most important skills I have developed through working at corporations with a diverse workforce. While managing, hosting or collaborating with team members in multiple locations, I learned early on that it was important to give everyone the opportunity to be heard. This is not simply announcing through the speaker-phone, "It's your turn," but, rather, it is also realizing that culture (and perhaps gender) plays a large part in who participates in the discussion. For example, I observed that "Debbie" (marketing manager in Japan) often hesitated sharing ideas in conference calls, but will send emails after or before the calls. After some email and phone conversations with Debbie, it was clear that she was not confident in speaking English, though she has perfect written English. My solution to this perception of barrier was to rotate hosting responsibility of the weekly meeting. Not only did this exercise helped to build up her confidence (in leadership skill & English language use), but also allowed each country representative to voice their issues and concerns, rather than just telling them what to do. In this same exercise, I learned that the foundation for a working relationship in some cultures is based on public facts; often, (Incidentally, this exercise also taught me to speak slowly (or repeat as required) when non-native English speakers were present.)

Non-verbal communication was an emphasis in several professional courses I took relating to business communication to an international audience. In one particular course, the focus was on the impact of body language. Taking this course helped me to better communicate with colleagues from other countries/cultures. For example, direct eye contact is encouraged in the West; it is a sign of strength and confidence. However, we had learned that in Asian cultures, direct eye contact is considered to be rude, or disrespectful, or intimidating. As the global village continues to shrink and cultures collide, I find it is essential for all of us to become more sensitive, more aware, and more observant to the flood of motions, gestures, and body language that surround us each day.

A requirement of my profession is traveling and coming in contact with people from different background. The adage "When in Rome ..." rings true when visiting other countries. On a recent trip to Asia Pacific, my host in Taipei took me to dinner at a traditional Taiwanese restaurant. Before dishes were ordered, my host said it would not offend her if I did not try some of the dishes. Up for the culinary adventure, I tried everything from steamed fern slaw to a version of stew (prepared with snake). My hosts were impressed that I did not show any dismay or object to the experience. From that point, my hosts knew that I was up for the 'non-tourist' areas of Taipei (such as going to the outdoor night markets).

I believe that my experience, education, and travel have prepared me to serve in the AGENCY. I am physically and emotionally ready to join the AGENCY, and the adjustments of re-entry upon completion of my assignment with the AGENCY.

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another point of view ...

Blogger Nightmare

My Lap top died and I think I lost all of my characters for Diablo II. I am bummed.

Blogger sojourning crow

Stop with all the prostletizing and go save the world already, will ya?? HA!! take care, nam. and good luck. be careful. wear your galoshes...

Blogger Lester T.

i wish you all the best on your new & exciting journey. i am glad that you happened upon my blog and left a comment. from that day, you opened doors into the blogging world for me. thank you.

Anonymous Scott Allan Wallick

Well, you're on your way. The whole recruitment process of the AGENCY is to see if you're patient enough to complete its lengthy application. Just wait until you being the medical stuff—but hang in there. Good luck and stay in touch.

speak up!

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