General Recommendations

Below is a list of general recommendations we have developed for working with different countries and cultures.

Understanding

Know that ideas about engineering education might be different.  For example, possible motivations for teaching engineering in schools could vary from helping students to think more creatively to simply teaching them to become more adapt at using technology (like robotics or computers).  These motivations influence the type of engineering education that is desired.

Learning about the culture and a little of the language can go a long way in understanding the context, motivations, and approaches to achieve goals. It can also help build successful relationships.

Communication

Building relationships is key. It is especially important to have local partner who has a strong understanding of  your educational philosophy and offerings, the local culture, and how these two can be successfully integrated.

Take different communication styles into account.[1]  For example:

  • Dealing directly with conflict vs. quietly or indirectly
  • Individual decision-making vs consensus
  • Thoughtfully considering a question vs. answering immediately

Approach

Remember that there are different approaches to engineering education and those that work in the US might not be successful elsewhere.  Rely on your local partners to help guide you.

Sometimes merely providing encouragement in-person might be all that is needed.  Just show up, ask questions, and smile!  You are working to build a deeper relationship, which will allow you to more actively participate in program development in the future.

And remember, kids are kids everywhere!

References

  1. Working on Common Cross-cultural Communication Challenges