Tête-à-tête with Kajsa Svensson

​​A few days back I had the opportunity to attend Intercultural Competence Workshop by Ms Kajsa Svensson in association with Chalmers Indian Association, RANG. Ms Kajsa Svensson is a trainer in intercultural communication and conflict management. 
As an international student here in Gothenburg, I feel that intercultural communication is the need of the hour. Growing globalization and urbanization make it all the more important for us, to step out of our cocoon of comfort. 
Here are few excerpts from my interview with Ms Kajsa on "CULTURAL DIVERSITY and GLOBALIZATION"

What do you think about the growing demand for globalization of higher education?
Globalization of higher education promotes interaction and integration among the students from varied backgrounds. I feel globalization gives a platform for the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Another important perspective from a country's point of view is that if a country wants to stand out in the global job market, it needs to be a part of the globalized system. As a Swede, I feel it is important for Swedish students to interact with the foreign students so that they are prepared for the competition lying ahead.

• What do students gain from being part of such a system?
Students definitely gain a lot from such a system. They will perform better at work once they are done with their studies. Also, it is enjoyable to be a part of such a setup. It is exciting to meet new people from around the world and to listen to them and learn from them. It helps student to come out of the box of stereotyping and helps in creating a diversified society.

• Do you think globalization is ideological?
Though I have never given it a thought, I feel globalization happens for both good and bad. It helps us to create a better world, and helps us in preventing conflicts and wars and helps in carrying out trade interactions efficiently across global markets.  At the same time globalization is creating a huge gap between rich and poor and is partially responsible for creating climate catastrophe.  I think both the positive and negative impacts of globalization go hand in hand. I personally enjoy the learning scope it brings to my life. It is not about whether we like or dislike globalization anymore. It is here and we are responsible to strengthen the good force in it.

• What do you think are the challenges of cultural difference for an international student?
The challenge is daring to understand yourself and being aware of your own values.
Another major challenge is to understand how your behavior effects your communication with others. And then of course there are general skills of being flexible, open and curious that helps one in doing well in a multi cultural setting. To sum it up the biggest challenge is to retain your identity and at the same time learn the best of the other world with a positive attitude.

• What do you think is the most challenging aspect of a diverse working environment?
Every time we interact with others is a challenge in itself. Though it is joyful working together, at times we tend to face some difficulties as well. Diversity is not always about cultural diversity even in a work place where people are of same origin there can be diversity because people have different personalities and needs. So, it is very important to stress that communication and cooperation can be a challenge in any diverse environment but if dealt positively, it can help one to succeed in a diverse working environment.

• Have you ever had to alter your work/communication style to fit in better in a diverse environment?
I think it's a part of my job and I love finding a communication style that is effective and appropriate for a situation depending on what group I have. It is fun and intriguing but I make sure I don't lose myself in the process. I think one need not change his/her values but they can change their behavior to adapt better in their surroundings.

• Any advice for international students to help them fit better in Sweden.
Adapt yourself as much as you are capable of doing without losing your identity.
You have to work on it at a pace, which you can handle.
Find somebody who can be your cultural guide somehow rather try looking for two mentors. Somebody who has been in your situation earlier or experienced same kind of challenges and the other one can be somebody from the host culture, whom you can trust and freely ask questions.

Compiled and edited by Mrinalini Raina

Page manager Published: Thu 10 Nov 2016.