This semester as a part of my international business class, I took part in a global business project known as X-Culture. Essentially, it is a program wherein participating students from various international business classes in universities around the world are randomly assigned into teams and given a challenge from one of several real-life businesses. Over a period of 8 weeks, each team conducts various market research for their given challenge and brings it all together in a final, pristine report. At the end of each week, there were certain deliverables due, as well as peer evaluations in order to keep each student on track and actively working toward the end goal.
The object of X-Culture is not only to write a report for a company, but more importantly, to teach students how to collaborate with colleagues from across languages and cultures. The final report is submitted in English, but most participants are not native English speakers.
Coordinating within an international team can be very challenging, for several reasons. The most noteworthy may be having to successfully communicate across time zones, but it is far more than that. People communicate and work differently depending on their home culture, for example, some cultures are very direct communicators, while others approach things from a more indirect angle. Some cultures are very time-oriented, while others do not adhere strictly to time. These, as well as other differences, are the real takeaways from such a project.
My international team consisted of five members, who came from the US (two of us were Americans), Colombia, France, and Malaysia. Our team chose a product called CaptiVoice, which is a comprehensive text-to-speech and reading support tool created by Charmtech Labs here in the US. CaptiVoice is a great product that can be incorporated by individuals as well as across institutions, and their challenge was to select a new market and develop an entry strategy.
I won’t go into our report, because it was tedious to write and a pretty boring final product (although it was quite good), because as I mentioned earlier, that wasn’t the most important part.
The best part of X culture is that I learned how to work in a legitimate international team. I had to manage my time around the time zones of my partners, and I had to wake up at ungodly hours to have skype meetings so we could all stay on track.
I helped people who were not confident in their English to see that they were actually very good at English, and I got to see their English improve in a very short period of time.
Best of all, I made new friends without ever meeting them in person. And I might never meet them in person, but I hope that some day, I get the opportunity.
X culture was something fantastic that I did this semester, and it was a ton of work, but it was all very worth it. I’m so glad my professor decided to include it in our class.