Cultural understanding in the workplace

Life in Delhi can often be overwhelming. But one point of stability has been my placement at Breakthrough. Going in I was nervous transitioning into a foreign workplace but the experience has been wonderful thus far. The staff are always a joy to work with and I’ve developed a great relationship with so many of my coworkers.

Since September, I’ve been handling media and communications work for the team. From editing the blog to social media strategy to various writing projects, most days have been busy. One of the most amusing projects handed over to me is a weekly teen advice column for a magazine in Bangalore. The sort of issues and concerns that come through my inbox remind me that teenagers are basically the same everywhere. It’s also been an experience in learning cultural differences. It’s true that many of the questions could have been written by a younger me or my peers, but at the same time, you get questions related to arranged marriage and Indian cultural norms that are sometimes difficult for me to answer. Then I normally turn to my coworkers for advice, and learn a bit about India myself.

I’m also very admiring of the openness of my coworkers. Being in a foreign country always inspires a stream of questions. And they’ve always engaged me and tried to encourage me to explore these curiosities for the sake of my understanding. At the same time, I’m often thrown off by the kinds of questions that I get asked. But I try to reciprocate that frankness in order to share some of my own culture with them.

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