One of the most influential creations in science fiction was Star Trek. Centering on the Starship Enterprise, Captain Kirk and his crew traversed the known universe in search of new life and knowledge. The show stimulated the minds of future science fiction writers and futurists who envisioned far-out worlds and alien civilizations. The deeper element attached to the show and designed by its creator, Gene Roddenberry, was his drive to illustrate the value of cultural immersion. He used the series as a platform to manifest diversity on television: he was one of the first creators to effectively build a multiracial cast. He also used the various extraterrestrial species and their interaction with the crew members as examples of interracial and intercultural models.
The year 2015 brings a multicultural paradigm strongly experienced all over the world. New York City alone boasts a melting pot of hundreds of cultures, tastes, and races. With this combination arrives a multitude of worldly perspectives, values and societal ambitions. Technology allows people in the most remote locations to access information, knowledge and absorb cultural nuances previously requiring travel.
Internet access and distance communication fueled a transformation in our society that allowed people to connect nearly everywhere, at any time. The student classroom, from elementary to university-level education became more culturally integrated. It is not difficult to find several cultural backgrounds within a classroom, each capable of contributing unique historical, artistic and moral views to overall discussion and learning. The college social environment is ripe with opportunities to learn from exposure to diversity. The workplace may also comprise of numerous cultures capable of influencing the tone, energy and direction of the organization. Clients connecting to the organization you work for also have their own cultural influences; the deeper your understanding and comprehensiveness, the greater your empathy connection, client service and ability to build relationships.
Rather than resist this globalized trend, professionals and learners of all ranks can benefit from embracing how technology can enhance one’s cultural experiences:
Language Software: Rosetta Stone is the premier software that provides not only training in learning languages, but also enhances the learner’s experience by offering activities and opportunities to engage native speakers. As you progress through the activities, you unlock more advanced practice methods. The company keeps you engaged by updating you on lectures, game nights and communication with people from your chosen language.
Video Learning: YouTube and Vimeo set the bar for all other video streaming channels and offer a useful medium for gaining cultural competence. Used effectively, viewers can search for documentaries, interviews and personal commentaries on their cultural topic of interest. If you want to share your own cultural tidbits, the option exists to post your own content so others may learn from you.
Distance Communication: Companies and individuals alike have access to reach beyond interstate and international borders. The conference call is a well-established tool for connecting during meetings and the common conversation. Freeconferencecalling.com is a resource that provides users with teleconference access from a distance at no cost. For the user interested in making a greater investment, you can use Gotomeeting.com or Adobe Connect to include visual and audio aids for communication.
Cultural Meets: Meetup.com remains a primary space for intercultural connection. Visitors can search for established interest groups or indulge the entrepreneurial spirit by creating one. You set the group name, purpose, activities, location and parameters for joining.
Online Forums: A subtle means of increasing cultural awareness, the forum is a longstanding avenue for people to learn from each other. Unlike professional articles that may undergo a number of revisions to sound “just right,” the forum is an open space where the common visitor can sign on, share personal perspectives and engage in exchange with others. As a supplement to formal learning in classrooms, online forums provide the raw element often existing in in-person cultural exchanges. Debates, heated discussion and plenty of persuasive talk take place in live groups. These experiences can beneficially transfer to asynchronous forums and allow for more contributors to voice their views.
Social networking pervades daily living to such an extent that we may share our activities at any given moment for the world to see. Facebook, Twitter and other networks give users instant international access; whether reaching out to friends or seeking to make new ones, mutual sharing without borders creates an environment ripe for cultural exchange. More recent is the trend towards using these channels for news. The traditional journalist now competes with the independent chronicler who uses the cell phone to capture live action on video and quickly posts for the world to see. This growing form of journalism offers a raw collection of experiences, contrary to the polished picture given by professional news stations, as seen from the recordings of the Middle East conflict.
Increasing cultural competence supports the development of an open mind and objective critical thinking capacity. Exposure to differing ways of life from around the world endows the learner with expanded perception, understanding in human affairs and a deeper respect for diversity. The impulse to criticize differences transforms into patience and curiosity to learn about the values behind those differences. With these capacities finely tuned, team work, professional and personal relationships are positively enhanced. With today’s technological access, these fruits of human character can be polished from the comfort of one’s own home.
The volume of information available on the Internet can be staggering for the mind struggling to concentrate. Imagine listening to music, playing a game (on the computer), playing a game (on the phone), talking to friends (in the flesh), talking to friends (on the computer) and trying to concentrate on completing a final paper for class: this may be today’s typical high school student. For the more focused Internet user who wants to establish a personal brand online, there is another challenge: how do you know which resources to use for the purposes you need?
What if you need to build a website? There are hundreds of those available.
What if you need business cards? Plenty of sites to buy from. Showing your artwork? Social networking? Selling your products? The list goes on, but the overall strategy you want to maintain is fluidity, ease of transition for your professional brand through all of the resources you use. Let’s work with a sample scenario with some options:
You need a personal website and choose Godaddy or Wix because they provide cost-effective .coms/.orgs/.nets and other dots. You can customize your site to multiple templates or use html to create your own from scratch. And you have 24/7 technical support who can actually build the site for you. Now that that’s covered, you decide you should have a social networking presence. LinkedIn provides you with access to connecting with professionals throughout the country. Upload your resume, share presentations and join professional groups designed for communicating all-things development. You’re careful about what you post because you know every word and action you share reflects upon all of your other online links. Enough said.
Products to sell…how do you do it? You realize you could use Godaddy’s shopping cart option but prefer a resource more focused on this aspect. So you choose Volusion because that’s their business and can maintain your online store with 24/7 support. E-Junkie and SendOwl can give you the ability to sell without a formal shopping cart. And if you wanted to sell your work without holding all of the inventory, you understand you could use Cafepress or The Printful because the sites allow you to put your art designs on products ranging from cups to hats to t-shirts to posters.
These sources should provide more convenience rather than further headache, allowing you manage your information and deal with people on all levels, efficiently.