"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
Living in today’s world means understanding cultures, at least enough, as to be able to study, work and socialize in a society that is changing faster than most of us can keep up with.
My personal experience while in college in the USA taught me several lessons that truly opened my eyes to the global world.
Given that George Mason University is a very international school, my Freshman year as a volleyball student-athlete gave me confirmation I was setup to live a fully global experience. The starting-six was composed of: one American, one Brazilian, one Canadian, one Puerrtorican, one Scottish and me (one Argentinean).
As a volleyball team we were able to find common ground and put our differences to work for the good of the team not without many obstacles to overcome.
The most significant experience regarding understanding other cultures while at college, however, came during my senior year. The Senior Design project for my Systems Engineering class was a group project about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAS, and I was chosen to be one of 5 group leaders to chose a team to work with. Once again, my team ended up being quite diverse: all male except myself and all of them raised in the USA although Bret was the only 100% American and if my memory doesn’t abandon me right now, Jose had roots from Peru, and Chris also from somewhere in Central America while Amir was Muslim and respected deeply his religion.
It was such a surprise for me back then when, after winning two of the most important senior design competitions at UVA and West Point, our team got recognized with a price in front of the class and as I was going to shake hands with Amir he moved a step back and told me his religion wouldn’t allow for him to shake my hand since I was a woman.
Of course I was shocked for a while (and honestly I am still are) of how certain cultures differ so much from my own.
I believe, however, that these differences are what makes this world such an amazing place and I will never stop wondering what else is out there for me to go find out. As you open your horizons, remember to keep an open mind and prepare yourself for the global challenge.
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