on The World Today: Fresh Challenges
The world today has expanded its boundaries to include the most far-away places in the sweeping whirlwind of changes. The places that formerly seemed remote and by far removed from one’s everyday life now look close and familiar, and one cannot say for sure that a business trip will not take one to a distant place on any continent of the world. We learn the most up-to-date news from all kinds of mass media at the speed even our parents could not imagine, and the population of all countries continues to mix up due to vast streams of immigration. Everybody can pick a place to live now regardless of where one was born.
The globalization processes, however, pose a challenge to many of us, a challenge young people should be best able to meet. There is a lot we have to master and learn, but this new world also opens exquisite opportunities to us, and it is only up to us how we will be able to meet the fresh challenge. Even the level of globalization we see now is not the end of it – more narrow ties are to come, travel will become even easier and more affordable than now, and we only have to get ready adjustment to constant changes.
Inside our country, we face a growing stream of immigrants from all parts of the world. Although they have to adjust to our culture and lifestyle, and bear most of the adaptation pains, we too have to accustom our behaviors and practices to them. We have to prepare ourselves for the situations, both in the workplace and in our spare time, when we come across a person who has not yet learned the language of our nation at an advanced level, and does not always know how to act in accordance with our cultural norms. We have to do our best to help such a person feel at ease in our society, and find a new home there. In the workplace, it is especially important to be able to deal with recent immigrants so as to help people bring out their best qualities and share with us all the skills and expertise they have.
In the workplace, we can longer rely on the old, time-tested methods. As businesses contemplate expansion, they usually choose to go beyond the borders of their own country, to places where markets are not so crowded and so competitive. In these places, they have to use caution asking themselves: What are business practices in this part of the world? Who are my customers? Do they react differently to the message I am going to send them about my product or service? Do I need to do something differently to make my product most helpful to the people? Businesses keep making mistakes in working on unfamiliar ground, but continue to learn in the process so as to get ahead of their competitors who may come too late to the same place.
We have to brace ourselves too for a possibility that we may have to carry out our mission in a strange part of the world, whether this is a business assignment or a charitable mission. Any person needs to master cross-cultural skills and gain a general understanding of foreign cultures so as to react properly to emerging discrepancies in cultural perceptions and values. To become a true “global citizen”, one needs to realize that every culture requires special treatment and actions that seem perfectly natural in one environment may be taken as offensive in a different one. One has to be really sensitive to many aspects of culture to avoid blunders that may spoil relationships with foreign partners forever. All of this cannot be taught in a classroom – I believe the key is seeing and learning for yourself. That is why international experience is so important as it gives one personal grasp of these issues. In my view, in dealing with people from different cultures, the first thing to do is to get rid of stereotypes, and this is where the challenge lies as we all are so closely tied to our cultures that we almost cannot sort out where our culture-conditioned stereotypes lie and where our true self begins. We have to abandon the view that our culture is in any way superior to others since we do things in the “right” way, though it is so difficult to fight prejudices, and open our hearts to the world letting people know we appreciate their values and beliefs.
We will also need to learn to function efficiently in this world where technology has become so state-of-the-art and so quick that human abilities almost look paltry in comparison to what computers and other devices can do. Yet we need to match the speed of their functioning and to learn to consider a vast scope of decisions as well as their repercussions throughout the globe. The speed of mass communications will soon bring us the news of what is going on in the world on a real-time basis, and we will have a tremendous bulk of information to help us with our decisions. The amount of information is not easy to process – to be able to cope with it, we need to develop advanced skills of dealing with huge amounts of data from which we need to separate the really necessary and viable information. As the world becomes more and more interwoven, one needs to keep in mind that an action taken in one place can reverberate in many countries. This means that we need to be especially cautious in our moves. For instance, an ecological disaster that happens in one country or region can take its toll on the climate and state of environment in all places on the earth, and people who are responsible for negligence will in fact be responsible to the whole world.
As I said before, the world has shrunk, and anybody can pick a place to live, as we are no longer restricted in our place of residence. This puts a heavier burden of responsibility on each of us. I think that every person ought to choose the place for living where he or she can contribute most, where one’s abilities and inclinations will bring best results for the surrounding community. We do not only owe our life to ourselves, but we are the citizens of the world, and have to take the world’ interests into account too.
But the most important challenge lies at the psychological level. Each of us will have to cope with the challenge of becoming a citizen of the world, not just our country. We need to realize that we as people are dependent on others, and are only a part of the whole that is called the global community. As ties with other places in our “global village” get stronger, we have to deal with new issues, but also have the opportunities for career growth and personal development that were unknown to the past generations.
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