Cultural sensitivity awareness in a multicultural environment

By: Anteneh Tesfaye

Cultural awareness is making proper responses to behaviors and norms exhibited by people from outside of one’s own culture. It is foundation of communication and it involves the ability of standing back from ourselves and becoming aware of our cultural values, beliefs, and perceptions. Why do we do things they way we do? How do we see the world? Why do we interact this particular way?

Cultural awareness becomes essential when we have to interact with people from other cultures. People see, interpret and evaluate things in different ways. What is considered a right way of doing things in a culture is not usual in another one, and vice versa.

If we don’t have cultural sensitivity awareness we misinterpret and misunderstand other people’s different deed. A misinterpretation comes when we lack awareness of our own behavioral rules and project them on others. Becoming aware of our cultural dynamics is difficult task because culture is not conscious to us. Our experiences, our values and our culture background lead us to see and do things in certain way. We have to step up from our cultural boundaries and put ourselves in multicultural environment in order to see different cultures perspective and different ways of perceiving things. With the globalization of business, increased diversity in the workplace and multicultural emphasis, cultural awareness has become one of the most important wanted skills in almost every industry understanding the cultures around you will enhance communication, productivity and unity in work place, AIESEC opportunities abroad are best ways to expose yourself to multicultural environment and increase your cultural awareness. Our internship opportunities help you to develop the following 4 core parts of cultural awareness development.


Cultural knowledge

When you go abroad you through the AIESEC opportunities you will not only get to know about the culture of the country you settled, but you will also live with different people’s culture who come to volunteer or work like you from many parts of the world. Increased knowledge and better understanding of cultures is a basic thing towards development of your cultural awareness.



One of the challenges you will face when you go abroad to work is the communication problem. You will need to understand a local culture and perhaps learn some words to possibly communicate better with each other. Outstanding communication skills developed through multicultural work environments are valuable inputs to increase your cultural awareness.


Appreciating differences

There are differences in values, beliefs, interests, ethnicity, age, religion, gender, among people. The fact that accepting there are differences and valuing them is another thing you get when you are in a multicultural environment that will shape you to become someone with an advanced level of cultural awareness.


Self Awareness  

Even after developing all the other above core parts of Cultural Awareness it is hard to understand everything in our dynamic and vast multicultural working environment. At such times it is good to ask ourselves “Why I am feeling this way towards this situation?”, “Why I do I think this way?” And adjust responses and actions accordingly to these questions. To answer these questions, a good awareness of our own values, beliefs, and preferences is needed. Weakness and strengths can also be developed through volunteering or working abroad opportunities, provided by AIESEC.


Do you want to increase your cultural awareness through a 6-78 weeks internship abroad?

Click here to grab this chance. 

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