Contextualizing Cultural Diversity at the United Nations of UNYP

To those familiar with the make-up of classes at UNYP, the idea of teaching courses in intercultural or cross-cultural communication could seem to be a curious activity, since every single class is made up of students from quite often a surprisingly broad range of ethnic origins, and the interaction among students and faculty of a variety of cultures in several languages is a fact of daily life at the school. However, the inclusion of courses in the curriculum at institutions such as UNYP related to understanding cultural diversity offers a range of benefits.

For one, the study of cultures and cross-cultural interaction encourages us to look inside ourselves, and examine the sources of our own cultural stereotypes, prejudices, misconceptions and also the resulting stress factors related to these biases. It also allows us to examine diverse communication styles and patterns, which we can observe and thoroughly examine in order to obtain a better understanding of ourselves, and why we see things the way we do. Moreover, the opportunity to overcome our personal fears and learn to manage false expectations from stereotypes that we have been socialized to understand in our own cultures can help us become more comfortable in a variety of (not only) social settings.

For the majority of UNYP graduates, a promising professional futureawaits in multinational organizations, where multicultural teams have become the standard in the age of globalization. To thrive in such an environment, one needs to see beyond the positive and negative stereotypes we each hold. Taking part in a course in intercultural communication offers students a holistic view of such issues. Students are introduced to theoretical paradigms that can be tested during classroom discussions, projects and presentations.  The simulation of ‚"real life" scenarios of the working environment gives students the much needed space to manage their expectations and reduce uncertainty in professional situations. Competitive companies – not only those at the top of the Fortune 500 scale - invest a great deal in conducting such courses and seminars to adequately train their employees to get ready for intercultural interactions in global business. From Škoda Auto to Pilsner Urquell, intercultural communication training has become standard in a variety of levels of the modern corporation.

Finally, being exposed to intercultural communication provides a great opportunity for identifying, decoding and solving conflict situations that all too often arise when various cultures meet. Being aware of different strategies and approaches to solving conflicts, large and small, can be enriching for individuals, by providing them with the confidence to understand that cultural clashes can be approached positively,
are not to be afraid of, but rather embraced as a process which can result in taking cooperation to a higher level – and in the end benefiting, not harming, the individual, the team, and the organization.

UNYP graduates have a great deal going for them. Intensive, comprehensive, and comparatively rigorous study programs prepare them for a variety of work and academic environments after their studies. Immersion in a multi-cultural environment simulates many positions they will later have in their professional careers. Taking this a step further, and allowing students to analyze and reflect upon the diversity they are experiencing through courses such as intercultural communication and cross-cultural management not only assist with personal growth, but also provide future employers with skills that companies value more and more.

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