Category Archives: Intercultural Communication

Global Perceptions Celebrates Multicultural Communication Month

April is here and that means it’s time for Multicultural Communication Month. What is multicultural communication? Why should we celebrate it? In our instant access world, we are constantly in contact with people from other cultures. Taking time to celebrate that interconnectedness is worthwhile because it reminds us how far we have come, but also points to how far we still have to go. This month’s posts by Global Perceptions relate to this unique, yet timely topic.

To begin, let’s take a step back in time. If we look way back to the Ancient Greeks, we discover the first formal studies of oratory and persuasion, which have become the foundation of today’s communication courses. As time goes on, communication grows to include written formats due to increased literacy rates. This is largely a result of the growth of religion during the Medieval times and the interest in transferring religious knowledge to non-literate groups.

Speeding ahead to the 1900s, politicians implement communication not only to win elections, but to garner support for war efforts. By the middle of the 1950s, the Foreign Service Institute begins working with the U.S. military and Peace Corps volunteers to look for ways to make U.S. ambassadors, military personnel, and community service workers more effective within their host countries. It is here that intercultural communication or multicultural communication is born.

Today, multicultural communication includes the study of verbal and nonverbal actions, the impact of religion on culture, how to conduct business across cultures, ethnic influences on our identity, prejudices, perception, context, challenges within education for multicultural people, health care, technology, ethics, listening, and so much more. This field of study has grown steadily with support from business, government, educational institutions, and non-profit groups alike. Now intercultural researchers and individuals have the ability to talk and write about their experiences and have those experiences listened to by others.

As we look forward, we will continue to see the importance of multicultural communication and its influence on our everyday lives. The ability to instantaneously impact hundreds of thousands of people with a single tweet, for instance, has already begun to change the way we live. We can now support causes thousands of miles away from the privacy of our own homes and affect change more permanently than we could if we stood in the middle of the town square crying out for change. This is just one of the reasons why celebrating Multicultural Communication Month is crucial for all of us.

Throughout April, Global Perceptions staff will post about intercultural communication topics to celebrate Multicultural Communication Month. We encourage comments about your experiences with these themes. To join the conversation, simply post your comments here or join us on Facebook or Twitter!

Importance of cultural adaptation training in Puerto Rico


window in old san juanThe day has come! Your big move to Puerto Rico is before you! Your entire family, including the family pet have landed on the Island of Enchantment with visions of days spent on the beach in your heads. Just beyond those wishful thoughts, it’s likely that there’s also some uncertainty, confusion, or even disbelief swimming around. Even though Puerto Rico falls under the government policies of the United States, it is not the United States. Things work differently here and if you want to understand how they work, one of the best ways is to participate in a cultural adaptation training program. Cultural trainers, like those at Global Perceptions, offer insight and experience that only those who have been through the adaptation process can really understand.

Take it from me, Dr. Julie Parenteau, President of Global Perceptions, living in Puerto Rico without any cultural or linguistic knowledge makes life very difficult. When I moved here in 2006 communicating with native Puerto Ricans was extremely challenging both because I had trouble understanding them, and because they didn’t understand the words I learned during 10 years of Spanish instruction. Not having a corporate sponsor also forced me to do everything on my own. If I had had a Global Perceptions cultural training program, I would have understood more and had fewer problems during my cultural transition.

Without such a program, I spent the first three years perpetually lost. It didn’t matter where I went, I would get turned around all because I didn’t understand where anything was in relation to anything else. I got in the wrong lines, wound up in areas where a single woman shouldn’t have been, spent much more than necessary for everyday services, and generally felt frustrated.

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This doesn’t have to be your experience! Don’t allow yourself to agonize and lose sleep over your relocation to Puerto Rico. Make the decision today to invest in yourself with our cultural adaptation training programs! Puerto Rico is an amazing country with so much to offer, so let us help you navigate your trip.

 

For more information about cultural adaptation training programs offered by Global Perceptions, your relocation authority in Puerto Rico, contact us at 787.455.7764 or visit our webpage: www.globalperceptions.net. We will happily prepare a proposal free of charge!

Top Five Tips for Learning Spanish in Puerto Rico

To make the most of your stay in Puerto Rico it is important that you make an effort to speak basic Spanish. To accomplish this, you can invest in any of the audio programs available or take classes designed to teach Spanish in a short time period. Many people learn basic terms and phrases this way, aiding their initial transition.

However, if you want to interact competently among Puerto Ricans, learning to speak Spanish like the locals is imperative. Those who already speak some Spanish upon arrival will likely discover that they are not understood and they don’t understand what others are saying either. Puerto Rican Spanish is not like other Spanish. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that you’ll have to work harder to communicate. But how do you learn to speak like the locals?

  1. Make the commitment: If you are going to learn anything in life, you have to make a commitment to learning it. Learning a language is no different. Consider how you learn best and go with that. If you are a visual learner, use flash cards. If you’re an auditory learner, get CDs that you can play in the car or download podcasts. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, try doing something active that allows you to immediately apply concepts.
  2. Get involved: Take classes, go to the gym, find a congregation, learn to salsa dance, or find another more suitable activity. Whatever your personal interest, feed it while getting involved in the local community. You can learn body parts during yoga class and watch what others do. Listening to the lead chef of a cooking class repeat words for stir, mix, or bake will amplify your vocabulary. Observe what’s going on around you. You’ll be amazed at how much you pick up after the first few weeks by getting involved.
  3. Make friends with the locals: Don’t be shy. Get to know your neighbors and others around you. They are a great source of information and you can practice your Spanish with them. Locals can keep you informed of upcoming events, tell you what’s new around town, and help you avoid unsafe places. It’s fine to make friends with non-locals as well, but try to balance between the two so that you get perspectives from both sides.
  4. Tour the island: Get out and see the island. Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with some priceless treasures. You can go surfing, play golf, ride a horse, and see ancient ruins all in the same day. The further away from San Juan you go, the less people speak English so this makes for a great way to practice and learn new words. Don’t stay holed up in your house. Go out and explore beyond the shore!
  5. Party: Yes, PARTY! Participating in the many festivities that take place year round is a terrific way to observe cultural customs and learn words for local foods and beverages. If you get invited, be sure to go. You may feel overwhelmed, but go anyway. Look for small opportunities to add to the conversation or simply listen to others and attempt to pick up a few words. It’s not easy, especially when music and seven simultaneous conversations drown out your immediate conversation, but keep at it. You’ll get the hang of it and have fun at the same time.

Overall, don’t give up! Learning Spanish will get easier. Take advantage of all possible opportunities to put yourself out there. You’ll be amazed at what you learn! Mistakes will be made, laughs will be had, but you’ll learn much more than vocabulary along the way. This is key to having the best possible experience you can on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.

Don’t forget that we are offering FREE CONSULTATIONS for Spanish lessons for both adults and children until September 15, 2012. Contact Global Perceptions TODAY for an appointment! Visit www.globalperceptions.net or call 787.455.7764.

 

Is Spanish Necessary in Puerto Rico?

Depending on who you ask, posing this question can land you smack in the middle of a highly contested political debate. Is English enough? Should English be spoken at all? Should Spanish be the official language of Puerto Rico? Each of these questions can be answered in different ways. With that in mind, the ensuing post should not be construed as a political statement. Rather, this post is representative of the personal and professional experiences of Global Perceptions’ President since moving to the island in 2006.

The simple answer to whether or not Spanish is necessary is “Yes!” The complicated answer is that the extent of Spanish necessary depends on where you live, what you do on a daily basis, your sense of adventure and interest in local culture. Many foreigners decide to live near other non-natives, forming an English-speaking enclave in which they can function. These English bubbles offer support and advice for newcomers and provide a sense of home away from home. Being a part of one of these groups is critical for most newcomers.

As helpful as these enclaves can be for establishing connections, they should not be the only connections that you make. Living in these spaces may be ideal in the beginning; however, you should work to branch out into the local community as well. This is where Spanish becomes increasingly important. Many people you meet have some English skills, but they much prefer to speak Spanish. To put gas in your car, answer the guards when they call your home with a delivery, make a bank deposit or get a haircut, you need to speak basic Spanish. If you have the time before your arrival to learn Spanish, do so. If not, make it a priority once you arrive. Look for an instructor or program with a positive track record that focuses on local conversation skills. You live in Puerto Rico, not Spain or Mexico. Learning to speak like Spaniards will only help you on your vacation there. It won’t help you much here.

Once you have basic skills learned in a classroom setting, put them into use. Make an effort to use your Spanish even if it’s not very good. Local people will appreciate the effort and will be more apt to help you as well. If you really want to practice, make sure you keep speaking Spanish even if they switch to English. They want to help you, but you can’t learn if you don’t practice so stick with it. If you truly have the desire to learn, you will. If you don’t make learning Spanish a priority, you will never make the leap and will miss out on a lot of the experiences you could have had.

If the idea of learning Spanish seems intimidating, consider private classes with Global Perceptions. We focus on teaching students to interact in the local community and function on a day-to-day basis whether as executives, students, military personnel, athletes, or accompanying partners. Our custom-designed materials are innovative and interactive for all ages.

 

FREE consultations for adult and youth Spanish tutoring sessions are being held until September 15, 2012. Contact us TODAY for your FREE appointment! Call us at 787.455.7764 or visit our webpage at www.globalperceptions.net.

 

Continued Need for Cultural Training

The end has come to another thrilling two weeks of spirited athletic competition at the 2012 London Olympic Games. During the past two weeks, the world gathered virtually to cheer for their home teams and witness great triumphs from around the world. Oscar Pistorius of South Africa become the first double amputee to take the track. Sarah Attar became the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the Olympics. American swimmer, Michael Phelps, became the most decorated Olympic athlete ever. These moments will forever be etched in history as moments when the world came together to celebrate no matter their cultural background. Sadly, thanks to Twitter, Greek triple jumper, Paraskevi Papachristou’s racist comments against the African immigration population of Greece will also live on in history.

As global citizens, we have come a long way from the days of boycotting Olympic Games due to political dissention and from the atrocities of the Munich games, but Papachristou’s comments demonstrate that we are still far from living in a culturally harmonious world. In the everyday world we have to interact with people from multiple cultures on a daily basis, making it crucial for us to understand basic intercultural communication principles.
However, most of us lack this knowledge. Cross-cultural communication training can go a long way toward resolving this issue.

Cross-cultural training can take many shapes and forms. Some companies offer information-rich, lecture style programs while others are more interactive. Some programs are theory driven and based on extensive research while others take a more practical, applied approach based on real world experience. Training professionals and company global mobility staff should carefully weigh the benefits of each style, always keeping in mind the style that best fits the culture of the organization. A group of educators, for instance, may prefer an interactive approach while a group of lab workers may consider lectures more appropriate.

If you are thinking that cross-cultural training is unnecessary in today’s corporate world, you may want to think again. The 2012 Brookfield Global Trends survey reports that 68% of respondents rated cross-cultural adjustment as “very critical” or of “high importance” in aiding their international transition. From helping expatriates and their families adjust to creating a more culturally sensitive workplace for all, cross-cultural training makes a difference.

Even on the small Caribbean island of Puerto Rico cross-cultural training has positive outcomes. Following their participation in cross-cultural training workshops, Global Perceptions’ clients have felt better prepared to interact and compete in the world market. Several participants have even gone on to work in other countries, applying their knowledge in new locations. In such cases, cross-cultural training is a win for the company and for the individual. That alone makes these programs worth the financial investment.

To schedule your FREE consultation regarding cultural training seminars in Puerto Rico and beyond, contact Global Perceptions TODAY by visiting www.globalperceptions.net or calling 787.455.7764. Hurry! This offer is good through October 31, 2012!

Back-to-school Spanish Tutoring from Global Perceptions

 

 

Help your child feel comfortable and confident with private Spanish tutoring from Global Perceptions!

 

 

It’s back to school time across Puerto Rico! It’s an exciting time for you and your child! If your child, however, has never attended a school in Puerto Rico, going back to school can be daunting. Your child may ask, “Will anyone be my friend? Where will I sit in the lunch room? What if I get lost? What if my teacher is mean?” These are normal responses. After a couple of weeks in the new school, your child will know how to navigate the system, where to sit, and will begin developing friendships with other students.

Once your child begins to adjust, you may still be wondering “How will my child communicate with classmates if s/he doesn’t speak Spanish?” This is an important issue and unfortunately requires much more adjustment time than your child’s other concerns. You may opt to avoid that issue altogether by registering your child in English-language schools. There students are welcomed by English speaking teachers, staff, and classmates. But even in those schools what happens between classes, at lunchtime or at recess? Many of native students in those schools grew up speaking Spanish at home and therefore, are accustomed to playing in Spanish. They speak English quite well in class, but when outside of class, they revert to Spanish or a combination of Spanish and English. In this crucially important social setting, how will my child fare? How will my child develop the friendships that s/he needs to adjust to this new school and culture?

The answer is simple! Enroll your student in private Spanish tutoring sessions with one of the bilingual education professionals at Global Perceptions. Our innovative curriculum can be custom-designed to fit the specific needs of your student no matter if s/he is 5 or 15. We offer age-appropriate study sessions, games, and crafts that help your student master basic Spanish skills needed to survive and thrive in everyday kid-friendly situations. Your child will have fun while learning about the language and culture of Puerto Rico!

 

Contact your Puerto Rico Relocation Specialist NOW to find out about back-to-school offers including FREE CONSULTATIONS until September 15, 2012. Visit www.globalperceptions.net or call 787.455.7764 TODAY!

Cross-cultural trainers in Puerto Rico

Is your company searching for cultural training programs in Puerto Rico? Look no further! Global Perceptions provides multinational corporations, universities, hospitals, military personnel, and non-profit volunteers with the information and skills to adapt effectively in the Isla del Encanto.

Relocating to Puerto Rico is not an easy task, even for those coming from the United States. People from all across the world experience adaptation highs and lows no matter where they move to, which can impact their professional and personal lives in both positive and negative ways. This is one reason why having competent, experienced intercultural trainers at the ready is so crucial.

At Global Perceptions we welcome all those making the move to Puerto Rico by providing them with intercultural training programs specific to their needs. Custom-designed programs developed with each client in mind include information to facilitate daily living, negotiate business deals, and generally acclimate to the host culture. Because we recognize the need for the whole family to be comfortable, pre and/or post-departure orientation programs, as well as on-going coaching services, are available for both adults and school age children. This approach stresses the challenges that each member of the family faces and helps them work through any difficulties with experienced professionals.

Global Perceptions staff have adjusted to life in a variety of cultures resulting in compassionate, understanding trainers who can address client needs in either English or Spanish. Staff have also received coaching from Dr. Julie Parenteau, the relocation specialist in Puerto Rico, making them uniquely qualified to serve as intercultural trainers. Perhaps most importantly, they have successfully adapted to living and working in Puerto Rico and are excited to share their experiences with newcomers.

At Global Perceptions we understand the relocation process and the toll it can take on people. That is why we make sure that we address the concerns of all family members, while helping them feel more comfortable in their new home. As a result, program participants develop the confidence needed to navigate their own adaptation process in Puerto Rico. Your company will most definitely benefit from working with our experienced intercultural trainers for your employee’s relocation needs.

To find out more about our intercultural training programs or to request a proposal, please contact our office at 787.455.7764 or visit www.globalperceptions.net.

 

 

 

 

 

Global Perceptions is the Authority on Puerto Rico Relocation

In 2006 I made the decision to leave the comforts of small town America and move to Puerto Rico. Prior to the move, I had visited the island to conduct interviews for my dissertation research about the experiences others had when resettling in Puerto Rico. Armed with a good understanding of the challenges I would find ahead and a college minor in Spanish, I thought I would adjust fairly quickly and painlessly. In reality, adapting to the ways of life, speaking patterns, cultural differences, climate and more were challenging even with my extensive background. I had no friends or family to turn to and no Human Resources contact person to ask for assistance. Since I had to do everything on my own, I experienced a lot of trial and error. I stood in the wrong lines for hours, was told I couldn’t have my request processed because I didn’t have the proper paperwork, and spent hours lost in the streets of San Juan. Making such mistakes taught me a lot and now makes me a Puerto Rico relocation authority.

Today I can confidently say that I am an AmeRican—American on the outside and Puerto Rican on the inside. I have learned to speak like the locals, can salsa dance circles around many island natives, and love to participate in the myriad of cultural activities available around the island. My time here has taught me about the culture, history, politics and social institutions of Puerto Rico, which sets me apart as a Puerto Rico Relocation Authority. It is my pleasure to educate non-Puerto Ricans about the beauty of this country and encourage them to explore beyond the shore to see why Puerto Rico does it better.

So why should you choose Global Perceptions services for your relocation needs?

  1. I have more than five years experience living in Puerto Rico without a company sponsor or family assistance.
  2. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the experiences of people moving to Puerto Rico and their relocation and adjustment issues.
  3. I have made the mistakes common among people moving here and can help your expatriates and their family members avoid them.
  4. I speak the language and understand local culture on a deeper level, making it easier to negotiate sales and services for your expatriates and their family members.
  5. I have vast experience working with corporate clients and their family members ranging from providing cultural training programs to language classes to coaching services.

To register for your FREE copy of the upcoming DVD “Getting Your Feet Wet: Top Ten Tips for Adjusting to Puerto Rico,” go right now to Global Perceptions on Facebook. 

Expatriate Life in Puerto Rico: Focusing on the Positive

“It’s so hot!” “It takes forever to do anything around here!” “They drive like maniacs!” “Why can’t they pick up their trash?”

After a month in Puerto Rico, these are common statements I hear from expatriates. Although common, they are disheartening. I am not a native Puerto Rican, but I have lived here long enough to be hurt by such comments. More disheartening is that the negative comments outweigh the positive comments. If you find yourself focusing on the negative during your stay in Puerto Rico, consider the following tips to concentrate on the positive.

  1. Go out! Sitting at home is not good for your physical or mental health. Leave the house. Plan to visit a local beach or explore further into the island. Caves, horseback riding trails, golf courses, coffee plantations, and more await you!
  2. Make new friends. Talk with your neighbors or other expatriates. They have information you need and can offer support. Make the effort to meet local people even if a language barrier exists. You’ll be amazed at how much you can communicate through a combination of verbal and nonverbal cues.
  3. Get involved. Find a group that supports causes similar to yours. Join a book club or a gym. Volunteer at the local humane society or Red Cross chapter. Try something you’ve never done before! Take tennis or golf lessons; learn to play an instrument. In Puerto Rico there’s something for everyone so get involved!
  4. Enroll in Spanish classes. Many Puerto Ricans understand English, but their verbal skills are less developed, making conversation difficult. Learn how to find what you’re looking for, how to handle emergency situations, and general vocabulary in Spanish. Doors will open for you and Puerto Ricans will appreciate the effort.
  5. Embrace new traditions. Because of the influence of the United States, many of the same holidays are celebrated in Puerto Rico. However, local traditions for these holidays prevail. On July Fourth you may or may not see a fireworks display depending on the political affiliation of your local mayor. Christmas is celebrated, but Three Kings Day (January 6th) is more important to locals. Work these new holidays into your traditions. Invite others to your home and ask them to bring their favorite holiday food to share. Establish new ways of celebrating time-honored customs.
  6. Search for learning opportunities. Watch what others do; listen to them. Talk to them and learn. Make each moment about what you can learn about the culture and people. Ask questions too. The knowledge you can obtain through observation is surprising and will help you understand the culture better.
  7. Maintain positive thoughts. Start by sleeping regularly, eating a balanced diet, and getting plenty of exercise. While out, notice the colorful orchids stretching out from the trees in your neighborhood. Enjoy the warm sunshine as it spreads across the golden sands. Find a special place that you and your family enjoy going to and make a habit of visiting regularly. Avoid generalizing and stereotyping. Instead, focus on all the good that is around you.

For additional information on relocating to Puerto Rico and to register for your FREE COPY of the upcoming DVD, “Getting Your Feet Wet: Top Ten Tips for Adjusting to Puerto Rico,” go now to Global Perceptions on Facebook. 

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