Having spent time living, working, studying and traveling in several places around the world, I have been able to see and experience how different people live and interact. My international experience has improved my ability to adapt somewhat quickly to cultural differences when they appear. Coming to Ghana, in my mind, would be no different in that I would be able to “hit the ground running” by quickly adapting to the local culture and communication style. I must admit that having never been to Africa prior to this project, I have found that the Ghanaian culture is unlike any other that I have experienced. It has been surprisingly difficult to gain a grasp of cultural communication norms, but that being said, I love a challenge and am having a great time.
The Ghanaians themselves are similar to South Americans in a lot of ways. They are extremely kind and accommodating and are always willing to help. One of the major differences however is the Ghanaian communication style, which is what myself and the rest of my team are struggling with the most. Ghanaians are very high context communicators, meaning they are the polar opposite of being direct or blunt. Even though we are speaking the same language it is sometimes difficult for our team to determine exactly what someone is trying to tell us.
I can vividly remember Professor Leclerc, Professor of the Cross Cultural Communication class at Thunderbird, teaching on the very subject of high context communication when you come from a low context communication culture. Asking lots of questions is key to pinpointing meaning and understanding what is being said. The questioning technique of triangulation is something that we are aggressively pursuing. I admire and greatly appreciate the patience of our hosts at PALMS for bearing with our incessant questions, which must be getting old!
PALMS has been extremely accommodating and helpful which has aided in our ability to make significant progress on our project despite our difficulties. Slowly but surely we are adapting and making life easier for our hosts and other locals. PALMS is an amazing organization that is actively working to make a difference in the lives of the locals here. We are all very happy about being here and being a part of the growth of this remarkable organization.