More than just a Computer Science Master’s

Benefits of Multi-Cultural Living

More than just a Computer Science Master’s: Benefits of Multi-Cultural Living

(This is a reprint of an article published July 24, 2017, by MUM Brazilian student Mauro Nogueira, PMP, in LinkedIn group: Computer Professionals at Maharishi University of Management.)

The experience we had goes beyond earning an advanced degree. We earned a “global-ready” stamp in our lives….

The World is Global. No way! Really?

I know, it sounds redundant, but it’s true. We live on a planet that should have no borders for knowledge and relationships. When you have a chance to share and know what is on the other side you will see that everybody shares the same dreams, fears, desires, and hopes.

I had a great opportunity being surrounded by a multi-cultural environment during the on-campus part of my Computer Professionals Master’s degree program at Maharishi University of Management.

For 8 months I studied full-time on campus at MUM. The student body was composed of approximately 70% international students. In my entry were 94 students coming from 20 countries around the world.

I had this incredible opportunity of being close to cultures that I never thought I would ever experience. While on campus I made friends from countries including: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Pakistan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, and others.

Wow, this is what I call “melting pot”!

Having an opportunity like that is unique, and you must enjoy as much as possible. And I did.

I learned a lot about other cultures, and I could see how many things are in common with my own culture, and also how many differences exist. Such an enriching experience in my life.

During that time I learned things like:

  • How many different languages exist. How rich and incredible they are.
  • What are the moral and ethical principles in their society.
  • How is the education system in their countries.
  • Familiarity with American/Western and other cultures.
  • About religion and politics.
  • Which sports are the favorite ones.
  • What they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Types of music existing in their countries.

 

While realizing the common things among the different cultures, it was the differences that enriched me more.

Some facts I discovered:

  • Most of the people from Nepal didn’t climb Mt. Everest.
  • Muslims are great joke tellers. They are very funny.
  • All Mongolians are Genghis Khan’s descendants.
  • In Iran, they don’t speak Arabic, but Persian–which is very different.
  • Many African countries use the same colors in their flags (green, yellow, red) because of the leading role taken by Ethiopia in the League of Nations. Those colors are in the Ethiopian national flag, and several other countries adopted these colors when becoming independent, as a source of inspiration.
  • Rice is present in all cultures as an important component in the meals.
  • Doesn’t matter what religion you have, the core principles are the same: respect your God, treat others in the same way you would like others treating you, there’s time for penitence and time for celebration, among other things.
  • Doesn’t matter what language you speak, everybody can be a friend.

My intention is not to discuss which culture is better or worse. What I want to show is that when you open your mind and heart to listen to the other side, even when you disagree with the other’s point of view and beliefs, you create in yourself a new experience, and maybe you can start seeing something from a perspective that differs from yours.

There’s no better or worse. What exists is the DIFFERENCES. And we must respect those differences. It’s the only way to build peace, brotherhood, and self-awareness.

You don’t grow when you see/act in the same way. You grow when you try different ways, and choose the best one to reach your goal.

My advice when experiencing a multi-cultural environment:

  • Listen: be an active listener. Don’t listen just to prepare your answer and defend yourself, but to understand what the other side is saying. Different cultures have different ways to behave in many situations.
  • Have empathy: sometimes we disagree with others just because they have a different opinion. Instead of just rejecting an idea, try putting yourself in the other’s shoes. Maybe the point of view is different just because the scenario looks different.
  • Respect: things that for us are acceptable, for others maybe are not.
  • Repeat: keep doing the three points above.

What about you? Have you had this experience of being surrounded by a multi-cultural environment? How was that? Let’s discuss it…. 🙂

Mauro Nogueira (author) and his family