|Essay: How my International Experience has affected my worldview
Name: Mr. Onyewuchi Obirieze
Academic Level: Graduate – Ph.D
My views of life are influenced by multiple experiences obtained at different stages, in diverse cultures in various places consisting of informal and formal learnings. Fortunately this is an ongoing activity linked to zeal to learn, improve and serve. In essence the ability to continue on the path of progress runs on sustaining my unique identity as well as avoiding stagnation of usefulness in every community. As important as international experience is espoused, it must be acknowledged that it rides on the benefits of local and domestic foundations derived from benevolence of homes and families. There is no doubt international experience has contributed tremendously to my world view in various ways summarized below.
Most knowledge and experience are obtained from local sources including casual meeting with individuals with international backgrounds. Travelling through countries with diverse peoples, languages, folklores, legends, histories and cultures have exposed me to uniqueness beyond narratives in publications and documentaries. Coming in contact with individuals rooted in their situational realities help demolish stereotypes, assumptions, conclusions and hypothesis. The power of language is the most potent when I confronted European diversity and introverted nationalism. It become clear that despite global network of English language, it is limited beyond the places where it serves as the official tongue placing an embracing burden each time one walks through airport immigrations.
On another level my assumption of Europe as a homogenous socio-political entity is challenged. Traveling and working in different parts exposed unique views peoples have of themselves shaped by histories of conflicts and sacrifices for national identities. People have scale-based allegiance first to their village, town, nation and then country without any conflict of interest. Different communities displayed level of maturity to explain their citizenship. First-hand observation of political investment by European governments toward prevention of conflicts provided an interesting interface towards understanding the impacts of the two world wars that cost approximately 40 million lives and unimaginable physical destruction. Most beguiling is confronting the fact that most of Europe possess extensive Christian tradition suggesting that practical observation of belief runs on the back of political expediency. There is no doubt that exposure in real time to these places and peoples dismantled my assumptions and created new realities to enrich my world view.
Interactions and Relationships
Residing in different nations offers opportunity of immersing oneself into variety of cultural milieu. This is enhanced through engagement with individuals, groups and communities in their own environment. Command of local language transforms these relationships by conferring one the privilege of participating in a sacred rendition of situated experience that could have been smoothing over by overarching national template. By sharing their joys, pains, tears and laughter you are bearing witness as well as accepting citizenship in an unimaginable manner. Essentially, there is collision of expectations and cultural mindsets.
In a positive manner, outcome of interactions include enriched relationships and englightment. Clarification and unfettered access to information presents better management of expectations, resources and investment. At local scale anonymity become secondary as one concerts effort with others in the maintenance and renewal of values to ensure progress. Lessons learnt through interactions in different communities become essential tools for navigating the wider world or locale.
Around the world, time has diverse interpretations. North Americans and Europeans have a linear view and thus react with sensitivity to deadlines. In many communities around the Middle East, time operates in different dimensions with regard to business and negotiation. It is counterproductive to impose so called western view while on business in these places because one’s host will be offended. There are subtle cultural and behavioral mores that set the ground for formal and informal engagements. While some of these subtleties may be frown upon in places where populations have been suffocated with negative information, open minded reception of different cultural realities is useful investment because human beings are learning beings. This makes the case for understanding how universal values apply locally in different ways.
Equipment and Skill
International experience extends curiosity and learning opportunities. Every community has something to offer formally and informally. Research activities, field work and working in applied environment brings clarity to complex problems especially where participants are drawn from different nationalities. Collaboration in the same physical space with individuals from all continents, different beliefs, political ideologies, religious faiths and cultural sensitivities is a positive challenge. For examples, geography as a subject can be observed with multi-dimensional prism replicating individual backgrounds of geographers which both shatters and recreate long held views. Numerous skills are picked up casually for making assumptions and generating empirical conclusions. One can pose important questions on a subject, explore data and information.
Recent past abuse of information by sections of electronic media is presenting questionable information on select subjects. By using standard methodologies and analytical skills, issues can be fully interrogated to obtained correct results and contexts. Despite enumerated positive outcomes on most issues, I remain skeptical to reasons for wars and conflicts. Having visited museums and sites associated with genocide around the world, it is painful to justify huge resources allocated to conflicts since World War 2. I have concluded that man is incapable of preventing self-destruction at the least opportunity.
International experience is an excellent part of human development and privilege. I have been exposed to different places, peoples and cultures by interacting with individuals and communities. By sharing their lives and experiences some views have given way to new ones thereby increasing my skills and knowledge. These skills and knowledge are welcome values which are seamlessly used to continuously engage at personal and professional levels. Views are made, changed and entrenched as a result.