Tag Archives: cross-cultural trainer

Making independence possible

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Written by Dr. Julie L. Parenteau, President of Global Perceptions

 

July 4, 2006 marked a new chapter in my life. It was the first day that I woke up in Puerto Rico. I awoke with incredibly uncertainty. Had I made the right decision in coming? Would I figure out how to get around? How long would it take me to learn enough Spanish to communicate effectively?

 

The next two weeks were filled with challenges and doubts. It was so hot!! The power went out several times, which made me even more miserable. I tried going out once or twice, but got lost so badly and was so nervous about crashing the loaner car in the crazy traffic that Itemperature stayed put the rest of the time. That meant I did not speak with anyone either. I remember watching movies and working on scrapbook pages to fill the time.

 

In other words, I was bored out of my mind. I had moved to paradise, but felt paralyzed. This was not what I was expecting. Such an outgoing, ambitious woman should not have these feelings despite being in another country. Or so I thought…

 

Then I remembered what I had learned over the years about cultural adaptation. Even the most seasoned expatriates experienced culture shock symptoms to some degree. Now that it was no longer just theory, but rather actual lived experience, I realized that I was simply going through culture shock and needed to give myself some time. I would have my ups and disorienteddowns. I just needed to stay the course. I also realized that I could see the situation as a challenge or as an opportunity. I could continue to dwell on the things that were making me miserable or I could change my outlook. I chose the second option.

 

The past eight years have not been easy. I will be the first to admit that. However, taking on an “If you can’t beat them, join them” attitude made it possible for me to get through that first year and those that followed. My Spanish is now good enough that I teach Spanish to other expatriates. I know where I’m going and can maneuver through the traffic without fear. I avoid going back to Wisconsin in the winter because it’s so cold. I’m still not thrilled about power outages, but I know how to deal with them.

 

So if you ask me today if I made the right decision, I will tell you “Yes, I made the right P1030117decision.”  I am happy in Puerto Rico. I have become a successful entrepreneur. I have grown as an individual and have gained an incredible family of friends, students, and supporters. Because of them, I have the courage to continue living here and have the faith to believe that things will get better. Because of them, I am who I am–a free independent AmeRican. On this Fourth of July, I celebrate my independence and my extended family of boricuas who have made my independence possible! Cheers to you all!

 

For more information on relocating to or from Puerto Rico, contact Global Perceptions. We are your relocation specialists in Puerto Rico! From individuals to couples to entire families, we will help you all through the process with cultural orientation, coaching, language, and concierge services. Call us TODAY at 7874557764 or visit http://global-perceptions.com/.

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Personal Space in Intercultural Settings

Proxemics, or the study of space and how we use it, significantly impacts communication across cultures. People who grow up in the same region inherently understand the rules for how to use space even though they may have learned those rules unconsciously. Those rules only come into question when people break them. If you have ever had a conversation with someone and felt uncomfortable because the person was either too close or too far away for your tastes, you know what I’m talking about.

Anthropologist and renowned intercultural researcher Edward T. Hall is credited with establishing this field of study in the 1950s. He posited that North Americans had four space distances. They include: intimate, casual-personal, social, and public. Only people you know on an intimate level are allowed in the intimate space, while friends are allowed in the casual-personal region. Note that the casual-personal region affords enough space for the two people to avoid touching, but still is close enough for people to use their everyday voices. At 4-12 feet, the social region is used to conduct business. Beyond that is the public space, which is usually used for formal presentations.

If you will be traveling to another country or otherwise interacting with people from a specific region and want to know what their space expectations are, consider researching the way land is divided in their home country. In North America, for instance, suburban and rural houses are built with a sizable area of land around them. In small countries, there is limited space so homes are constructed much closer together. In places like Japan or Puerto Rico, people are accustomed to living in tight quarters so touching is expected. People who stand at a distance are considered cold or even rude. In North America, people expect their distance to be respected. Standing too close to them makes them very uncomfortable.

Even though you may have no conscious intention of offending others, the conversational distance that you choose may in fact be considered offensive. Before you get into these situations, do your homework. Discover what the cultural norms are for that culture and do your best to work within them. This may mean stepping out of your comfort zone, but it will help communication proceed more smoothly so that you can concentrate on what the person is saying and not on how close or far away the person is.

For more intercultural communication tips, join your Global Perceptions, your relocation authority, on Facebook and Twitter!

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!

Finding home away from home in Puerto Rico

By Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.

 

As another Super Bowl fast approaches, I am reminded of one of the main reasons that I continue to live in San Juan. I am a huge Green Bay Packers fan, as many people from Wisconsin are. I grew up watching the games with my dad. He taught me the basics, sharing stories of Bart Starr and Ray Nitschke along the way. Today I uphold the game-watching tradition in a different way. Now I have the unique opportunity to share my culture with the Puerto Rican community every Sunday from September through the first week of February. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always that way.

When I first moved here, I was clueless as to how I was going to watch the Packer games. Knowing that I was too big a fan to miss the games, I had to find a place to watch and soon. I went to the only local bar that I had ever been to and pulled up a stool only to find that I was the lone Packer fan in the place. My rants and cheers more than made up for that. People gave me weird looks, but I didn’t care. I was there to support my team. The season ended as it started for me, alone in the corner.

The following year I put on my gear and headed out, anticipating another lonely year in the corner. Much to my surprise, the bar was jam-packed when I arrived on the first Sunday of the season. People of all different teams filled the area, except for Green Bay. I found a TV with the Packers game on and decided that I would just have to suffice with that. At least I could see it, although I couldn’t hear a thing. Feeling let down, I looked around for a chair. In that move my life changed forever. I turned around and saw a couple walk through the door dressed from head to toe in green and gold. It was as if heaven’s gates had opened and Saint Vince had reached down to bless me! I walked over to them and asked if I could sit with them. They agreed and led me through the bar to a section that I didn’t even know existed. It was there that I first laid eyes upon what was to become the Puerto Rico Packer Nation. A sea of green and gold jerseys and caps was before me. I instantly felt at home.

Since that time, the Puerto Rico Packer Nation has grown to a much larger group who gets together to watch the games every week. We provide t-shirts, hats, and beads for those attendees who aren’t sporting green and gold. That gesture has helped the group become a family.

Today, we are all each other’s brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. We count on one another when things are bad and relish in the happiness of the good times. We are a shining IMG_0138example of what it means to be affiliated with the Green Bay Packers organization. No matter the distance, we are fans to the end.

Although we won’t be watching our team play in the Super Bowl this year, we will all join together to cheer on our extended family members whose teams are fighting it out for they, too, are our brothers and sisters. We are a football family.

 

 

This reflection is dedicated to the members of the Puerto Rico Packer Nation, the Packers friends that I have met over the years, and my parents who provide the supplies for our local family. Go Pack!

 

“Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com – See more at: http://www.smallplanetstudio.com/2014/01/31/link-up-jan/#sthash.8BseqTQV.dpuf

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!

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!

Cultural Training in Puerto Rico: Global Perceptions Offers the Whole Package

Are you new to Puerto Rico? Have you participated in a cultural training program yet? If so, your cultural training experience likely consisted of theoretical knowledge about one of the many cultural adaptation models, basic tourist information, and some highlights of the host country. When the adaptation program was over, did you feel any more comfortable or confident about living in Puerto Rico? Major corporations invest thousands of dollars in your adjustment process, yet most people walk away from those cultural training programs without the practical knowledge that they need to deal with the day-to-day life.                                      

What if there were a company that not only offered a more application-oriented cultural training program than that mentioned above, but also assisted you with establishing your phone, cable or electric service, getting your driver’s license or buying a car, finding service professionals like doctors, dentists, hair stylists or housekeepers, obtaining government documents, making appointments, and provided on-going coaching services? You’re in luck! Global Perceptions, your Puerto Rico Relocation Specialist, offers this and more. We don’t believe in leaving you high and dry post-cultural training. Instead, we are there to assist you through every step of the challenging adaptation process. Whether you need a little or a lot of help, our staff welcomes the opportunity to help you through this cultural transition.

Not a Spanish speaker? We can help with that too! Our innovative Spanish-language curriculum is custom-designed with the individual and his/her specific needs in mind. We help you get around town, make formal business presentations, and everything in between. You will learn at your pace from bilingual education professionals who are committed to your progress.

There you have it! Global Perceptions is your relocation solution in Puerto Rico because we offer the Whole Package. We will be there with you every step of the way!

If you have been through a cultural training program, but still feel lost in Puerto Rico, contact Global Perceptions today by calling 787.455.7764 or visiting www.globalperceptions.net

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.