Culture refers to a set of values and beliefs that are desirable and acceptable in a community of people. Cross-culture, therefore, implies that the beliefs and values of individuals do vary across any organization, and embracing these makes an organization exemplary. Diversity, on the other hand, refers to the incorporation of different races, color, religious affiliation and sexual orientation within an organizational setting.
At an individual level, my understanding of the existence of diverse values and beliefs helped me in appreciating people from diverse cultural backgrounds. My experience working as a peace ambassador with Red Crescent was met by language barrier. This was because my volunteer service involved working with people who communicated in a language different from mine, adapted to a different culture and religious background in comparison to mine. Though culture was a huge disadvantage, working amongst people of Asian and Arab descent enabled me to appreciate their culture, and improve on my level of emotional patience as most Arabs are easily provoked when challenged.
At the team level perspective, I came to appreciate the aspect of inclusivity in group activities. My volunteer ship in a different part of the world in relation to my home country resulted in me working in a team with people of diverse culture; Arabs and Asians included. This experience in a team with mixed cultures taught me never to think or act based on false assumptions of other individuals’ cultures.
At a group level, my knowledge of diversity helped me in finding ways of easing tension among the various groups working to restore peace in the conflict stricken country; Iraq. There were instances where we differed on the approach to undertake when addressing the locals during peace rallies. Peace volunteers from the native Iraq had a suggestion, an approach where the different clans could be addressed separately, while us who were not natives’ preferred an all inclusive approach. I had to intervene, sit each faction and seek to clarify the local volunteers’ logic as they knew their communities best. I also organized events that include working together; team retreats, work social events, and team sports, as they encouraged friendship, team spirit and understanding amongst us.
On a global scale, my volunteer experience with the Red Crescent helped improve my outlook as concerns diversity. I was able to categorize individuals from a social perspective, thereby resulting in my leadership skills and abilities being liked and appreciated.
Positive and negative behavior in Groups and Teams
A group comprises of individuals working together to achieve a common goal or objective. It is important that groups work in harmony so that they achieve the set goal or target within the duration of time allocated. There are positive and negative behaviors that affect groups or teams, and this has an effect on the ability to complete tasks on time and according to required standards.
One positive behavior of team or group work is the ability to share and check the information. Group work ensures that tasks are distributed equally among its members, who either brainstorm together or individually or later combine their different findings to form one completed goal. My volunteer work with the Forestry service on environmental protection could not have achieved its purpose were the roles not distributed amongst us the volunteer trainers. There are those who sensitized the community on the need for environmental protection; others on ways of preserving the environment, and another illustrated the damages brought as a result of neglecting the environment. Sharing the duties resulted in synergy; therefore we were able to achieve our overall objective of sensitizing the community on the benefits of caring for the environment. In addition, our sensitization initiative took a shorter duration since collaboration was high and no major disagreements took center stage in the course of our volunteer work.
Finally, group work has negative consequences; difficulty in scheduling time for collective discussions. I ought to admit that it was difficult for all volunteers to meet and discuss on our approach to the environmental sensitization drive. Owing to the huge number of individuals, not all members could make to meet during scheduled time thus, some group members ended up not participating consequently, we missed some valuable contribution from them in terms of opinion, a factor that hinders the basic logic of why groups are formed.