We finished orientations with the incoming exchange students two days ago, and now are in full motion in the orientation for the Chilean exchange students who will be embarking on their exchange program to the US. Both of the orientations tend to cover similar materials; rules and regulations, cultural differences, cultural emersion, goals for the year, group bonding activities ext. However, due to cultural differences between the incoming exchange students compared to the outgoing Chilean exchange students they are oriented very differently.
At first, when I was facilitating a discussion on cultural differences I tended to give the same speech to the Chileans and also the incoming exchange students. However, I noticed that I needed to adapt my speech in order to create humor. Since all the exchange students are teenagers, it is important to have activities and also humor involved in your presentation, in order to keep them activated and paying attention. The same jokes that made Chilean exchange students laugh, left the incoming exchange students with no reaction. Having to work in work environment with cultural differences was definitely a challenge. I found what worked best was creating a multilingual dialogue, by directing most of my main presentation in English with the, but then every once in a while focus on a certain group of students and speak in their native language.
It was also interesting observing the group of Chileans in an activity where they had to pick one trait that described them. The idea of this activity was to show that in different cultures traits are interpreted differently. For example wit, which is a positive trait in Chile and seen as being clever, is also interpreted as a negative quality in other cultures, because wit usually does not follow regulations and takes a round about rout to achieve goals.
The difference that each culture has creates misinterpretations when people from other cultures meet. Therefore, it is important to be aware of them in order to be tolerant and respect each culture for what they hold.
My first exposer to cultural differences at my internship was when I conducted an interview with my boss María Eugenia, for the internship program with the career center that Dickinson College offers. One of Marías points was, that one can be immersed in a culture, but in order to be able to obtain tolerance it is important to adapt to the culture that you are in, and not judge it as worse or better than yours; simply accept that they both are different.
Here is a picture of the group of Chilean exchange students, who will be embarking to the U.S!