Today, I am going to talk about my current journey in life. This journey is very unique and special, as the goal of this journey is not merely to reach the destination; it’s about what I learn along the way. Throughout this journey, what’s most critical for me is to evaluate whether I am on the right path to being global? While there can be a plethora of parameters that contribute towards evaluating an individual upon the criteria of being global, the first thought that comes to my mind when I hear the word “Global” is a well-traveled person who has a global perspective and mindset. So, am I going to be well-traveled and have a global mindset by the end of this journey?
Earlier this year on July 20, 2015, I boarded the IBEAR MBA ship. This ship is planned to travel across 5 continents, 16 countries, and plans to reach its destination in about 12 months. Yes, sounds incredible, doesn’t it?
Well, everything is achievable as long as you have programmed your mind to do so. I am 3 months into the IBEAR program, and here I am, on the flight to Indonesia surrounded with my classmates from over 16 countries. Do I speak the same language as the Korean sitting on my right, or do I think like the American sitting on my left? Do I know how the Japanese to my front would react to a certain situation? Do I understand the rationale behind the beverage selection of the Chinese sitting behind me? Maybe or maybe not. While at the immigration counter of the Hong Kong airport, I noticed that all the 7 classmates in the queue were carrying a different color of passports.
When I gave it some more thought, I realized that not only do most of us come from a different country, but the 57 of us come from 16 very different cultures, speak over 20 different languages; we have been raised differently, and we react differently in various situations. Would this difference in the cultural upbringing be a cause of concern for us or would we strike a chord of unity in our diversity and celebrate these cultural differences?
Well, in the last 3 months we have certainly started to celebrate each other’s uniqueness, and have adapted to each other’s Modus Operandi. Otherwise, how could we have functioned well in our Team presentations as effectively, enjoyed our daily car pool rides from Park La Brea to school and back, operated as roommates in the South East Asia Trip, or furthermore, contributed significantly in group studies that allowed us to achieve more as a team.
Does that mean, just because we come from different backgrounds, should we interact and enjoy the comfort of our own country students? Or should we look at it as a chance to learn about a new culture altogether, or even consider it as an opportunity to increase our global perspective in life? Most of us have heard the saying “The ship in the harbor is safe but that’s not what the ships are built for”. We all learn the most once we are out of our comfort zones as the ship in safe harbor never faces the roughness of the ocean. That’s exactly what IBEAR life is all about.
In every academic term of IBEAR, our ship is sent out in the rough harbor to explore a new world, a new person, a new culture and a new team. Our seats are rotated each term and we are placed in an order where no similar country folks sit next to each other. That has added immensely to each student’s curiosity to learn more about the person sitting next to us, and give us a flavor of each other’s culture. After sitting between Chilean and Chinese neighbors in Term 1, I know how my Chinese neighbor would react to seeing his grades, how he would encourage me to do well in the next quiz, how my Chilean neighbors are great at accounting and how I can gather all the best places to hang out whenever I am vacationing in Chile or China. Additionally, I learned how to open doors to evolve business ideas or expand existing businesses in new countries; and it is great to view the country’s economic, political and social state through a local lens.
Adaptability has been key and we have all changed whenever the situation demanded us to. We are gathering lifetime experiences and are stacking piles on piles of cherish-able memories in our global mindsets. The “normal” for all of my IBEAR classmates is evolving as we are moving out of our comfort zones and day after day, the global nature of the program is becoming our “new” normal. Each country contributes to the IBEAR Life of the students in its unique way, and that’s becoming our new normal. I am no longer just an Indian, for I am one step closer to becoming “Global”.
After a certain point in the program, the differences in the nationalities cease to exist. Instead, after experiential business trips abroad, various group projects, carpooling, group study sessions, birthday celebrations, watching Football games, and being with each other during thick and thin, we are developing a deep sense of intuition, empathy and relationship with our classmates. You start counting on each other for various things. For learning the knack of networking, I would consult my American classmates, for accounting theories, I would knock the door of my Chilean and Chinese classmates, and for Statistical analysis, I would count on my Indian classmates, and so on. I enjoy having deep conversations over Turkish coffee with music and am developing a taste for Australian sense of humor. We do Brazilian barbecues and have Egyptian feasts together.
When could there be a better moment on this planet, where I could find such a unique chance to start and end my day amidst such great classmates with such rich cultural uniqueness and insights? This feeling is very close to imagining as if I am travelling on a cruise which passes and stops through all the 16 countries and I get to learn about all these countries through the cultural lenses of my classmates. It is truly amazing to see how there exists such unity in our cultural diversity.
We laugh on similar jokes, empathize with each other, feel similar emotions in different areas of life, it is as though we are giving each other a piece of ourselves and our culture to experience in this one year. So as I get one step closer to embark on my journey to being global, who all are ready for this adventurous ride?