BASIC CULTURAL PRINCIPLES
You will be embarking on a typical cross-cultural experience in which you will be exposed to different ways of thinking, speaking, and interacting. There are certain principles that will help you to enjoy a positive experience and avoid some of the possible misunderstandings that can occur in cross-cultural settings.
CULTURE AND CULTURAL SHOCK
It is obvious that you are entering a new environment where very little is familiar. You will probably be disorientated at the start. Some people call this “culture shock”, experts have suggested that there are four stages of culture shock:
2. Irritability and hostility
3. Gradual adjustment
Almost everyone experiences culture shock to some degree. It can be frustrating, and confusing, But there are positive steps that can be taken to minimize the impact.
• Realize that this is normal and that you will live through it.
• Be open-minded and ready to learn. You will come to realize that there are different ways to do things and that’s okay.
• Research your new culture. You can begin today, reading as much as you can about the Ghanaian culture that you will be experiencing.
• Look for logical reasons for behaviors in the new culture that you may find strange. With a little analysis, you may find that these different behaviors don’t seem so strange at all.
Above all, flexibility, humility and open-mindedness will be your most valuable traits. These may have even been the key qualities that led you to volunteer in the first place, so it should not be difficult for you.