So many cultures exist worldwide– but what happens when you put them to work altogether? 🤔💼

Get to know from our wonderful IFI staff the values of being a part of a multicultural team, plus some obstacles to be aware of!

And FYI– this isn’t just for people who work in multicultural spaces, as it’s relevant for all who live in today’s colorful, multiethnic world! 😉💃

What are the values of working on a multicultural team?

1) Cross-cultural Exchange 🌎 

This relates to the interaction and sharing of diverse views, customs, and information with somebody who might be totally different than you. When working in a multicultural team, you’ll be involved in cross-cultural exchanges every day!

Cross-cultural exchanges are an important part of our increasingly interconnected and globalized world. From it, we gain cultural understanding and sensitivity, swap knowledge and art, develop language skills, grow socially and personally, learn conflict resolution and collaboration, and become better global citizens.

“Immersing in each culture brings different perspectives”

Here’s what Viviane Kirezi, IFI’s National Training Assistant from Rwanda, had to say about this: “I enjoy being in a multicultural context. Immersing in each culture brings different perspectives… we can understand different cultures and how they behave.”

Who wouldn’t want all these amazing benefits?! 🤩

2) Cultural Intelligence 🤓

Ever heard of EQ, a.k.a. Emotional Intelligence? Well, this one’s similar, but rather than emotional, it’s cultural! As a result of having cross-cultural exchanges, you’ll learn to be culturally intelligent.

So what does that mean?

It means you’ll be more aware, knowledgeable, and understanding of different cultures, allowing you to gain insight into their customs, traditions, beliefs, and values. You’ll be able to recognize and respect their unique ways of life while avoiding stereotyping and preconceived notions.

As Estera, a past IFI staff member from Romania said: “There’s a process to get to thinking something isn’t good or bad; it’s just different.”

According to the Cultural Intelligence Center, Cultural Intelligence begins with CQ Drive, which involves the eagerness and determination to collaborate effectively with others. After that comes CQ Knowledge, which entails comprehending the variations that distinguish different groups without relying on stereotypes. Next is CQ Strategy, which focuses on acquiring the skills to plan and strategize effectively while considering cultural differences. Lastly is CQ Action, which involves the ability to adjust one’s behavior appropriately in response to different cultural contexts.

“We’re learning from each other; it’s cross-cultural training with real-life situations!”

We have several staff who choose to live together, including Viviane Kirezi (from Rwanda) and Xia Chen, Campus Minister from China at OSU. Here’s what they shared related to CQ: “We’re learning from each other; it’s cross-cultural training with real-life situations!”, said Viviane. “I ask my Chinese roommate [Xia] what I should do better, and this goes vice-versa.” Xia said, “Being in multicultural settings, such as having an African roommate and a bunch of different coworkers, helps me see how diverse and rich cultures are. My roommate [Viviane] walked into my Chinese world, while I walk into hers and others’ worlds.”

Let’s up our CQ, shall we? 🤩

3) Personal & Professional Growth 📈

Working in a multicultural environment ultimately leads you to grow both personally and professionally. If you’re committed to gaining a better CQ, you’re committed to lifelong learning and self-reflection; it’ll stretch you to experience new things and to go outside of your comfort zone. You’ll be on a journey of self-discovery and self-development, while also going beyond yourself, forming new friendships and connections that may just stick for life! “I already experienced many of the benefits,” Ramona Saftiuc, IFI’s HR Director from Romania said. “Personal growth, higher insight, gained a better appreciation for people of all nations, learned some polite habits of other cultures, and many innovative ideas came from the various backgrounds each brings to the table.”

“I’ve grown as a leader; I gained confidence and can now lead well.”

In addition, being a part of a multicultural team can help you develop your talents and skills. As you expose yourself to multinationals, it creates learning opportunities and might open your eyes to things you never thought of before! Estera shared how being a part of a multicultural workplace has radically benefited her leadership skills and sense of identity: “I’ve grown as a leader; I gained confidence and can now lead well. I found my gifts being valued, welcomed, and embraced. I could be myself as a Romanian; I was accepted and didn’t need to change. I also learned to listen more and to listen well, encouraging others to speak without judging.”

Who doesn’t love growing into their best selves?! 🤩

4) Dream Team 🏆

Along with personal and professional growth comes growing as a group, and what a dream group that is! 🌟

“Perspectives can clash and I sometimes catch myself having double standards, but despite all the differences and obstacles, it’s worth it.” 

Due to the overflow of diversity, there’s potential for greatness. This includes powerful decision-making because of the variety of perspectives present. It can also increase productivity with innovative ideas, leading to better results, ultimately benefiting the organization. Job satisfaction seems to go higher, too, as team members work on solving problems creatively, which may lead to higher levels of happiness. Related to decision-making comes an increased ability for conflict resolution, as team members must work toward consensus despite cultural barriers and differences. Although they’re hard to overcome, I believe the innovation and vision coming from the various backgrounds each member brings to the table is priceless!

At IFI, teamwork is key for executing our mission and vision, and having multicultural staff is huge. “Let’s say I’m planning a training”, Viviane said. “There’s always someone to ask. Perspectives can clash and I sometimes catch myself having double standards, but despite all the differences and obstacles, it’s worth it.” 

Looking at this from a Christian lens, another plus of having a multicultural team is you learn to be a part of “the body of Christ”, which for Christians, is a part of being in a dream team!

“People will look and say, ‘Wow, these people can have a dialogue?!’ Yes!”

One meaning of the body of Christ is as the representation of the Christian Church as a whole. The Bible, the holy book used by Christians, describes it as the unity and interconnectedness of Christians as members of the Church, with Christ as the head. Each member is counted as part of the body of Christ, which makes up a spiritual community when combined that strives to be a reflection of Christ in the world.

“Being a part of a multicultural team can be a demonstration of God’s transforming power for the nations”, Estera said. “People will look and say, ‘Wow, these people can have a dialogue?!’ Yes! There’s powerful decision-making, leadership, and maybe even healing of relationships! We come to realize that it’s not your culture or my culture, but Kingdom culture.”

And we’ll end this section with Mariana Ibarr, IFI’s National Training Team Assistant from Brazil: “I’ve learned a lot about how to be part of Christ’s body because I come from an academic environment where that doesn’t exist; people have to handle everything on their own. It’s interesting and at the same time beautiful to see each of us contributing our skills for a greater purpose.”

Go team, go! 🤩

5) Wanderlust & Awe 🌅

Another value of having a multicultural team is it boosts your desire for wanderlust and expands your feelings of awe.

What do these words even mean?, you might be asking.

Wanderlust is a strong and innate desire or urge to explore and travel, venture into new places, experience different cultures, and seek out adventures. People who have wanderlust are often drawn to travel and find great joy in exploring the world, constantly seeking new opportunities to broaden their horizons and create lasting memories through their journeys.

“Being a part of a multicultural environment makes me want to explore more.”

Awe is an intense and overwhelming feeling of wonder, admiration, and reverence triggered by something grand, extraordinary, or sublime. It’s a deeply emotional and often spiritual response that can inspire a sense of connection, appreciation, and a renewed perspective on life.

“I’m always so excited to meet people from different nations”, Viviane said, while Xia shared, “Being a part of a multicultural environment makes me want to explore more.” As these two roommates shared earlier, they’re a part of one another’s worlds, almost like they’re traveling each day to one another’s country! You can struggle, learn, and ultimately cultivate a deep curiosity for those different than you.

What a wonderful world we have, indeed! 🤩

6) More Community 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

“I’m able to know people that are different than me”, said Viviane. “I’m part of so many groups– Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese…you name it!”

As Viviane said, meeting people from all over and working with them increases your community, especially due to the fact that it’s multicultural. A lot of internationals share similar challenges, which usually creates a sense of camaraderie and solidarity between people. ‘Tis the power of hardship and vulnerability– it connects people! On the lighter side of things, there’s another powerhouse that brings people together– FOOD!

“The African interns organized an African night”, Xia said. “They gathered all the African students on campus and made a lot of food. Me and Viviane opened our kitchen for some of the interns to make food. They taught us how they made plantains and cakes and all kinds of African cuisine. That night, I felt like I was a part of that African community.”

Yay for having community (and sharing food)! 🤩

7) It’s Fun! 🥳

There’s never a dull moment when working with people from all over the world.

Every day is an adventure! You’ll have countless opportunities to learn something new. You’ll constantly be on your toes. You’ll be in dynamic and ever-changing settings. You’ll maybe gain new vocabulary in languages you didn’t know existed. You’ll maybe eat food you thought you’d never have the courage to try. And you’ll maybe have some new best friends you can call family.

“It’s especially fun to share jokes from your home with them!”

“It’s just a fun time!”, Estera shared. “When you work together, you spend a lot of time with one another building relationships. It’s especially fun to share jokes from your home with them!”

I don’t know about you, but I wanna have fun! 🤩

8) More Appreciation 🥰

And last but not least, a deeper thankfulness is formed, not just for other people and their cultures, but also for God.

“It helps me see how diverse and rich cultures are and I gained a better appreciation for peoples of all nations”

By working in a multicultural team, you come to appreciate your coworkers’ identities– where they come from and who they are as global citizens. You come to appreciate how their culture shapes them while also appreciating the environment you work in because, after all, it’s the people who make the place.

“It helps me see how diverse and rich cultures are and I gained a better appreciation for peoples of all nations”, Xia quoted. “I think I feel blessed to be a part of this team, this community, this family. I realized there are changes that are brought that are good for me. I feel like I’ve become a healthier Chinese since being here.”

In addition, IFI staff shared how it made them appreciate God more as Christians because it displays God’s creativity and majesty. It also connects with what was shared earlier about being a part of the body of Christ: multicultural teams can represent the Church the way God intended it to be, beautifully harmonious and strong as a unit. As Viviane said, “See them as a blessing, not an obstacle.”

Practicing gratitude looks good on you! 🤩

In conclusion, 

the values of working on a multicultural team are abundant and transformative!

  • Cross-cultural exchange fosters cultural understanding, empathy, and personal growth
  • Cultural intelligence enhances awareness and respect, making collaboration more effective
  • Personal/professional growth happens, pushing individuals beyond their comfort zones
  • The “dream team” aspect brings innovation, creativity, and increased job satisfaction
  • Wanderlust and awe flourish as team members explore the beauty and diversity of the world
  • Community grows stronger as internationals bond over shared challenges and celebrate each other’s traditions
  • Fun becomes an integral part of the experience, making every day an adventure
  • Profound appreciation emerges for the uniqueness of each team member and the creativity of God

Embracing the values of a multicultural team brings about a harmonious and enriching work environment, making the journey together truly rewarding. And even if you don’t work in this type of space, you’ll be able to use this information for daily life and learn to be a better global citizen! 🌏🤝✨