Culture is an important aspect of society as it plays a fundamental role in the formation of an individual’s mindset, mannerisms, preconceptions, and ethnocentric behaviors. As a result of globalization, companies that have managed to attain cultural agility have gained a competitive edge over their competitors. In order to achieve cultural agility, organizations strive to interpret the local context of diverse cultures and further suit their products or services to suit each of them. My classmates and I were recently assigned a task to learn and practice cultural agility based on virtual conversations and assessments held with either Haitian or Honduran students. Our group’s assigned task was an interaction with Honduran students from Zamorano University.
During the first day of our interaction, we met Leah, Baian, Josh, and Jake who would be our cross-cultural partners. The first thing I noticed was the setting of their classroom which was adorned with multiple colors. I liked the color setting as it displayed a vibrant mood contrasting the ongoing winter season in their country. They were all neatly dressed in a school uniform with a blue shirt tucked in their jeans. Judging from their faces, one could tell that the students were pleased to meet us hence it was easy to start a conversation with them. Prior to this meeting, my group mates and I had conducted an online research about the Honduran culture hence we had an idea of what topics we would use to initiate the conversation. The first conversation was mainly characterized by questions and answers. We started by asking them about cattle as we had learned that cattle keeping in their country once had the potential of becoming a key export component of their economy. The students informed us that over the years, cattle keeping had gradually decreased and when growing up, only one of their four families had kept cattle. They told us that cattle keeping for export purposes had long been replaced by coffee and bananas which are currently the lead exports in the country. We then proceeded to ask each one of them about their favorite food and drinks. They mentioned assorted ones with seafood, tequila, and beer being the most recurrent. The three male students confessed to smoking and regularly vaping lanyard cigarettes. As we tried to investigate their origin, one of the students revealed that he was from El Salvador whereas the remaining three were from Honduras. The four of them live with their immediate family members and they also worked on their school days in jobs that require a lot of manual effort. Their regular school days usually begin at 6 am and end approximately from 4 pm to 6 pm. From this conversation, I learned that Hondurans have a modern perspective of life due to their living arrangements. I also learned that their country is endowed with natural resources with bananas dominating the source of the country’s income. Additionally, their youths have also been affected by drug use and abuse due to the poor state of the country.
Our second meeting took place two weeks later and the Hondurans attributed their inaccessibility to the lack of free time as they usually attend classes even on Saturdays and they work on Sundays. I was struck by their commitment to school work and this represented the Hondurans’ effort to acquire education with an aim of changing their destitute living conditions. We proceeded with our interaction with an aim of gathering an in-depth account about their way of life. We discovered that the four were agricultural engineering majors whose typical day in school was 11hrs. The students attested to having a busy life which denied them a chance to indulge in extracurricular activities. Soccer stood out as their most preferred sport with others such as tennis, football, and basketball being mentioned. At their places of work, the four of them revealed that they worked voluntarily. The voluntary production of labor serves as an indicator that the cost of labor in Honduras is cheap thus prompting poor quality of labor. Nevertheless, the lack of payment at work did not translate to lack of basic necessities since they received free food from the school. Their school also provides numerous scholarships which are awarded either by the school or the government. The scholarship awards reveal that education is valued in the country and many people cannot afford the cost of school fees. The four confessed that they enjoyed Netflix shows with Narcos unanimously being their favorite show. As we concluded the session, they explained their mode of greetings for us specifying that handshakes are normally meant for formal greetings, fisting is usually or friends and kissing on the cheek is mainly for girls. From this session I learned that the Honduran government and schools have made significant efforts in ensuring that education is easily accessible to the students. This is evident through the scholarships and free food. I also learned that the Hondurans are hardworking as they choose to work voluntarily rather than engage in entertaining hobbies and extracurricular activities.
In the successive session, the students were seated outside and they looked lively as they narrated their escapades of the one week break they had enjoyed the previous week. Jake was absent from this session. They explained how they had rested, watched television and partied during the break. We also discussed the issue of class attendance and they revealed that it was not compulsory to attend classes but if one missed their classes for more than three times, they would be suspended from the school. This session indicates that the partying mentality has also affected Honduran youth. It also taught me that the school system is strict since class absenteeism can lead to expulsion.
The last session we had was the most interactive one since we had already established a sense of familiarity with each other. We discussed a variety of topics involving casinos, gas prices, political systems, and examinations. From this session, I learned that Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America with a significant percentage of people living below the poverty line. I also discovered that Spanish is the predominant language in the country and there are also minor languages such as Creole English and Amerindian dialects.
These sessions were beneficial in the assessment of the Honduran culture as they provided an insight of the factors that organizations should consider when dealing with Hondurans or serving the Honduran market. Organizations and Individuals relocating to Honduras should embrace its aspect of being a third world country and therefore adjust to the slow nature of services and low quality of utilities. Secondly, one should be conversant with the Spanish language as they interact with Hondurans. Thirdly, due to the high levels of poverty, Honduras is prone to high crime rates . Lastly, the cost of living in Honduras is low hence it is suitable.
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