27th February 2012, the day i landed in Oman for another mission.
Once and educator always an educator.
I was posted at the newest Techical College of Oman, barely 6 years since its inception.
Barely no idea what the educational system is, how classes are conducted, how students behave, cultural orientation is almost nil, what are the resources do they have, how to interact with the students and to fellow staff were the major things that lingered on my mind.
The HOS (Head of Section) had shown me the entire campus (tour campus), introduced me to fellow staff. Quite apprehensive, i almost forgot that in this country shaking hands with opposite sex is a no-no (haram). I was about to gesture for shaking hands but immediately a small voice from my conscience whispered “not allowed”.
The people around were warm though barely smile. You can feel the sincerity. Most of the time there is lull, and a deafening silence on the corridors and at the offices. I am not used to it, i just came from the Philippines where i taught for almost 2 semesters, where students will almost recognize you whereever you are. At the campus everyone will greet you with joy, shaking hands, hugging and to some extent cheek to cheek or smack.
Cultural intelligence matters whereever you are. You have to act base on the principles of ethical standards. Know when it is immoral, amoral or moral. The issue of awareness, sensitivity, knowledge, respect to cultural diversity plays an integral and primal role in achieving the desired level of task performance and your level of kob satisfaction.
For almost a month i struggled learning the culture of the country and the students at the College. I believe and always believe on Juran’s Quality Roadmap which include: identifying your customers (in this case my students) and determine their needs, translate those needs to a language understandable by both end ( that is actually base on expectations), develop the product or service (needs/wants), the appropriate process (customize), make them realize that through your offering and process they will achieve the desired results, transfer the plans into operationable force.
Inclusivity or understanding the culture, respect individual differences base on various diversity issues had brought me to a level where i developed various strategies in learning that is sensitive to the culture of the students. I tried and tested varieties of strategies. At the onset of the semester, first day of class, i encourage them to speak, eliciting words on what they expect on the course, on the class and from the lecturer. I asks students to write what they feel and how they want the class to be conducted. I prepared video presentation, powerpoint presentation, images flash on LCD projectors, maze puzzle, word puzzles, quizz show, story telling and sharing my experiences from other countries. What the students really appreciated from the start of the class was the short film showing regarding their country and culture where i draw reactions and relate them to the course that i handle.
I know more to go and a lot more of preparations to be done. I am an educator and also a learner at the same time. I came here in Oman like in other countries where i came from as a student of life. And i want to be an accomplished student from the University of Life who will passed with flying colors the degree of Life Long Learning majoring in Diversity focusing ing Cultural Awareness and Exchange with a sense of Common Sense.