Lesson 1: On Cultural Gratitude

Let’s jump right in with this excellent video from Crash Course that digs even deeper into the sociological foundations and complexities of culture. Please view the following 9:39 video below.


Now, this video was very U.S.A. focused. I decided to retain it in the lesson because it fits the content of the sociological view for this course; and also, to make a point in real time of the challenges of working cross-culturally.

The cost of this choice is that the references and point-of-view are not cross-culturally competent for my non-Western students. This is a common difficulty when working cross-culturally; intellectual content is created in a cultural context and thus with cultural bias. What are we to do?

  1. Acknowledge the choice made and your thinking behind the choice.
  2. Mediate the bias in the choice by sharing a mediating choice and your thinking behind that choice.
  3. Acknowledge that the “perfect” choice with no culture behind it cannot exist.
  4. Listen to feedback from your audience (e.g., student, client, participant) with the promise to make your choices better the next time.

Now, to role model this behavior. I think I have completed step #1 above. For step #2 I offer the following about culture from an Asian perspective. Now, I made this choice for two reasons: 1) The East/ West cultural difference is one of the most common agreed upon ways that we talk about cultural differences although it still excludes many cultural groups (e.g., Middle East); 2) Asian career services professionals are my largest audience (or at least equal to that of the U.S.A.) of followers in the world.

The following video is my choice. Following #3 I will acknowledge that it is not a perfect choice. I use this video because it provides a platform for young people from different countries to express their own ideas of culture. Second, I am limited in that I only speak English and this course (for now at least) is an English language course therefore I needed English language videos or translations. Finally, the platform Third Culture is a great informal YouTube channel that explores cultures from all over the globe by interview young people from those cultures. I encourage you to view the video below and subscribe (NOTE: I just watched the Persian episode recently and learned a lot!).

View the video below.


How did I do? Please provide me with feedback by email (Step #4) to globalcareerguy@gmail.com to help me learn from you and improve my cross-cultural skills.

Let’s take a moment and shift from laying the intellectual foundation of this course, particularly culture itself, and begin to think about your own culture. Now, I want you to keep a journal throughout this course. This can be an existing journal you use, a document you keep on your computer desktop, or a sketchbook you choose to doodle in throughout this course. The important thing is that your journal works for you AND that you use it!

Many of the journal prompts will come from me as written text but for this first entry I am going to rely on our friends at the Teaching Tolerance to provide a handout that can be incorporated into your journaling assignment.  Find it here.     

You might either print the handout below OR draw a similar schema in your journal – you get to choose!!

  Please take 5 minutes and write your first entry by sketching out your multicultural self.

As a follow up to your first entry, let’s make a second entry to create a schema or model of thinking about your own culture moving forward. I want you to picture in your mind a recent client who was culturally different from you. Using the document from Teaching Tolerance in the link think through the different things that make up our frames and note the different things that make up your cultural differences.

For example, using the list provided you might note differences in Neighborhood, Religion, Age, Gender and so forth. You might have to “guess” about some of these differences. Write in your journal for 10 minutes about all of the aspects of FRAME difference between you and the client you are remembering for this exercise.

Take a mindful moment and check in with yourself. Do you feel a difference in your own emotional state after journaling? How do you feel about your understanding of your own culture?

Finally, I do want to note that using the F.R.A.M.E. model is useful as a personal “check-in” when working across cultures. It provides the essential questions to explore whether or not you are applying your own cultural assumptions in creating expectations of others that are unfair and therefore not useful.

Now, I would like to guide you through the first dialogue for the course. I use the term dialogue versus lecture or presentation because I hope to engage you in a dynamic process of personal exploration and learning. In this opening dialogue, I will use the above activity to demonstrate how gratitude for our own cultural identities helps us deepen our understanding of self and therefore prepares us to better understand others.

Please view the first dialogue at 2:50 below.


Now that you have finished with Lesson 1, answer questions 1-3 on your worksheet. Mark this lesson complete and move to Lesson 2.