Blog #4: What We Learn is How We Learn

Communicating with people internationally isn’t easy, even socially. I’ve lost contact with a lot of friends that I’ve made in different countries because of time zones and cultural differences. This class is a little different, however. Because we have allotted times to talk, we do get lots of opportunities to talk. At the same time, my group struggles to find times to talk to each other outside of class. All five of us are very busy with classes, work, sports, or extracurricular activities, and that often means that our free times of the day don’t align with each other. The time difference doesn’t help this situation, as Barbara, Grace, or I may only be available in the afternoon, when it’s quite late in the Netherlands, or Caspar or Natasha might only be available in the morning, when it’s really early in the US. This gap makes live communication quite difficult, and I think it has had an effect on the quality of our projects, especially the Globalization Timeline. We have been able to somewhat bridge this gap with the use of WhatsApp, but the text communication is much less effective and simply not the same as live, face-to-face communication.

Additionally, our group has a couple strong personalities that tend to clash a little bit. Caspar, Barbara, and I all have quite strong personalities with strong ideas and strong feelings about them. Natasha and Grace are also very present, but, to put it in Grace’s words, they’re more of the peace keepers and the regulators of the group. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it has formed a couple conflicts within the group. Even though this aspect felt a little negative during this project, I think this aspect of our group’s personality can help us to produce better products and learn more in the future than we would if we didn’t have this diversity in personalities. As a group, we do produce a lot of ideas, and these ideas are good ones.

My personal experience has also greatly effected how I communicate with my group members, and there’s a lot of aspects to this. I wrote in my introduction that I’ve grown up in a small community lacking in cultural diversity, and this aspect greatly effects how I approach intercultural outreach such as this class. I’m very eager to learn the aspects of other cultures, and i make an effort to consider as many cultures as I can in projects such as the Globalization Timeline. I’m sure I’m a little bit known on the US side for my perspective on how westernized our view of globalization is, but it’s also difficult because I’m not as informed as I would like to be on non-western perspectives on globalization. (That fact has actually inspired me to take a tutorial on non-western perspectives on globalization for next semester.) In addition to this, I have also grown up being the person who ends up doing all of the work in a group project, and this has damaged my general faith in my peers to work with me on projects. Even at a research summer camp that I went to, where I was supposed to have a partner do an entire research project with me, I ended doing the presentation, the poster, and the paper all by myself. These experiences have always made it difficult for me to perform well in a group setting, but I am working to get past that and rely on my group to get their parts done.

All things said, I’m really satisfied with the outcome of our project. I do think that, if communication would have been more consistent, we could have distributed work a little better and gone into more depth about the concepts on the timeline. We did overlook a few aspects of the timeline; we should have gone a little more in depth about connections to Groningen and Arlington, and maybe referenced a few more sources a little better.

 

On somewhat of a tangent, I think technology can also be a hindrance to communication, even though it’s facilitating it. Connections can be faulty (this has been an issue at one or two of our Skype meetings), and understanding of how to use certain technologies can be difficult. For example, I could’ve sworn I posted this blog on time, but, when I logged on this morning, I discovered that there was no discussion posting #4 to my name.

Overall, intercultural/international communication can be frustrating and difficult, but I think everyone in my group is greatly benefiting from it.

One Comment on “Blog #4: What We Learn is How We Learn

  1. I hope that your team continues to work through any challenges that you encounter — and am quite confident that you will benefit as a result of your diverse views!

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