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[PBL-BioAfrica] Student Post: The importance of understanding each other’s culture in collaborative

After the first workshop with students from University of Zambia and Mulungushi University, various feelings have been shared. Feelings of joy, uncertainness, exhaustion and success.

By now, most of us have formed a solid bond with our team members and have come up with a premeditated plan that will hopefully lead to a successful outcome. The importance of getting to know each other and the culture in order to have a wished outcome couldn’t be emphasized more. Each team consists of 3-4 students from Zambia and of one student from Finland. Teams collaborate with Zambian companies to accelerate growth in their business. Together, the students are analysing the root cause of a problem. Personally, I did not find this easy in my team since we were lacking members. To understand and analyse the work and the problem of the project case, it is very much needed to know the cultural norms, working culture and the business environment in Zambia. There is no way to do this project without the students from Zambia.

Source: AbobeStock

With uncertainness in my group, but still feeling hopeful and excited for the project, I headed to the library. I find my hands wandering to a cover with bright appealing colours and a mosquito crawling through the word drift. The Old Drift is a novel by Namwali Serpell and it can’t be put into one category. It tells the story of Zambia through three generations of three families and how on the banks of the Zambezi River, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. Covering the history of nation, the novel also has a futuristic and sci-fi elements to it.

Reading can improve cultural awareness and it sure brings new perspective. But to be honest, one can read every book there is but still won’t get the full taste of the country and its culture. Working together is something that will connect us and make us all interpret each other’s culture better. This week we are starting our second workshop. We’ll be clarifying our solutions and formulating a business concept. All of us are eagerly waiting for April, when students from HAMK travel to Zambia and meet other students face to face.

Author Minnamari Kuusisto

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