American culture

According to a survey, some characteristics of U.S. American workers that have stood out for host nationals include that they:
  • Expect to accomplish more in the local environment than is reasonable.  
  • Are insensitive to local customs and norms.  
  • Resist working through normal administrative channels. 
  • Often take credit for joint efforts. 
  • Think they have all the right answers.  
  • Are abrupt and task-oriented, insensitive to the feelings of others. 
Adapted from L. Robert Kohls (1984) Survival Kit for Overseas Living 

Questions for Reflection

After reviewing the list of “characteristics of U.S. American workers,” think back to the iceberg. Can you identify the value beneath the behavior? 

Now, reflect on your own work style and your personal goals for the trip. Which behaviors on the list are you most likely to exhibit? 

What can you do to address misunderstandings that such behavior might cause with local counterparts whose worldview is different?

In this module, we covered:

  • Key cultural differences 
  • Language and communication 
  • Strategies for working effectively across cultures 
  • Cultural adjustment process

Looking forward - Module IV will cover how to

  • Find accurate and timely country-specific information 
  • Stay healthy when traveling abroad 
  • Protect your personal safety when traveling abroad  
  • Handle issues commonly faced during re-entry and suggestions for coping  
  • Make the most of your volunteer experience once you've returned