Transcultural leaders seek to understand culture and are aware of their own cultural backgrounds.
I’ve always had an affinity for being exposed to other cultures, wanting to learn the reason, method and conception behind international cultural practices. Personally and professionally I’ve had the privilege of being apart of the Mexican culture. In 2005, I studied abroad at one of the top university systems in the country and studied at El Tecnologico de Monterrey for the fall semester. I purposefully chose to live with a host family for a semester rather than staying on campus with the other international students because I knew that I would not get the full once-in-a-lifetime experience of true and authentic Mexican culture had I stayed in the dorms.
Staying with the Mexican family was one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences in my entire lifetime. I learned so much from the family and they learned a lot from me. The host parents that I stayed with were two of the most amazing people! The mother was a chef and the father owned his own telephone company that I’m still not sure how he ran it to this day. I took up salsa and guitar lessons and this brought me and the patriarch of the family closer together as he used to play guitarra clasica in his younger days. We would play traditional songs together and sing on my practice nights after I’d have my cooking lessons with my host mother.
I will never forget my first culture shock moment there. I flushed toilet paper in the bathroom and the commode started to flood. I panicked because I had only flushed a few sheets down the hole. The host mother came running in with the mop and explained to me that in their culture, they do not flush the toilet tissue after it is used because it clogs up the pipes and their sewage system works differently than ours in America. They throw the used toilet paper in the trash can. It took me quite a while to adjust to that practice because that was not my cultural norm. There’s so many other stories that I can share about my personal experience in Mexico but I don’t want to bore everyone.
Professionally, I had the honor of working in Monterrey during that fall semester for a small business by translating their website from Spanish to English as well as teaching an English class on Saturday mornings with fellow international students from Canada, Tokyo, Italy, Mexico (a different state), and Finland. Also, from June 2011 to July 2013 I worked as a bilingual office manager for a local roofing company here in North Carolina where the learning process continued on an even greater scale.
Throughout all of my personal and professional transcultural experiences, my love and desire to learn and experience other cultures has increased and as stated earlier in this post, I really hope that this DM journey and the one to follow graduation will afford me the opportunity to learn the reason, method and conception behind international cultural practices while experiencing them firsthand.