Deirdre Mendez is trying to explain American cultural nuances to 47 students from nine different countries when a student from Austria pipes up and says that Americans seem disingenuous to strangers. To that, the entire room explodes in agreement.
“Let me clear the confusion,” Mendez responds. “Americans are pretty friendly. We ask acquaintances and strangers alike how they’re doing when we see them. And the answer is always, ‘Great, how are you?’ And that’s the end of it. We’re all great. It would be strange to say anything other than that. It’s not that we don’t care to have a conversation with you. It’s just that for us, friendly inquiry isn’t reserved exclusively for deep relationships.”
It’s just one of the small but illuminating lessons Mendez shares in her Studies in Intercultural Management course, which is part of the BBA Global program, a global adaptability initiative hosted by the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).