Dr. Jessica Hirshorn Using the Intercultural Training Simulation “Rocket” to Build Intercultural Competency
Overview <ul><li>Rocket is an interactive simulation designed to help participants experience intercultural differences and misunderstandings and become sensitive to the complexity of the cultural, personal and corporate aspects of interaction. </li></ul>
Interactive Simulation <ul><li>Rocket simulates the real-life interactions and politics of four of the Space Station agencies (the US, Russia, Japan and Europe) and requires participants to work together to assemble a model rocket. </li></ul><ul><li>. </li></ul>It is based upon qualitative interviews that were conducted at NASA’s Johnson Space center with participants from the U.S., Russian, Japanese and European space agencies.
General Objectives <ul><li>Recognize some of the differences in intercultural communication styles among the four simulation teams. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the cultural misunderstandings that occurred during the simulation. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize the compromises that are needed to work together as a multinational team. </li></ul><ul><li>Gain a better understanding of intercultural group dynamics. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the difficulties of separating cultural differences from personality types. </li></ul>
Specific Objectives and Debrief Questions by Area of Specialization <ul><li>International Businesspeople, Nongovernmental Organizations or Mission Groups </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Student Service Professionals </li></ul><ul><li>Students Studying Outside of Home Country </li></ul><ul><li>Health Care Professionals </li></ul>
Simulation Description <ul><li>Participants are divided into four teams, each representing one of the four agencies. </li></ul><ul><li>Each team receives a set of cultural rules that its members must follow when interacting within their agencies and with the other agencies. </li></ul><ul><li>The rules include culture-specific information about the following cultural characteristics: </li></ul><ul><li>Language, Decision Making, Trust and Relationship Building, Pride, Face Saving and Communication Styles, Work Ethic and Time Orientation, Politics and Economics, Compromise and Negotiation </li></ul>
Simulation Description Cont. <ul><li>Participants must work together with the other space agencies to build a model rocket. Each agency is assigned a specific rocket part to build and asked to work together as a team and also to coordinate and negotiate with the other agencies to assemble the rocket. </li></ul><ul><li>Each agency has specific objectives and tasks that they must accomplish. These objectives are not in alignment with the other agencies. </li></ul><ul><li>The simulation includes optional role cards that help assist participants in understanding their specific job or role in the simulation. </li></ul>
Timing and Group Size <ul><li>The full simulation takes 2 hours, but the time can be shorted to an hour if premade rocket parts are used instead of recycling. </li></ul><ul><li>It is designed to be used with groups from 13-25 participants, but can be modified for groups as large as 30 or as small as 4. </li></ul>Dr. Jessica H. Hirshorn
Sample Debrief Questions <ul><li>Do you feel like your agency worked together as a team? How so? </li></ul><ul><li>During the simulation, what differences in intercultural communication styles were you able to recognize among the other agency teams? </li></ul><ul><li>If you found yourself slipping into stereotypes at any time during the simulation, can you give examples of those stereotypes? </li></ul><ul><li>What cultural misunderstandings or impasses occurred when you worked with the other agencies? </li></ul><ul><li>What types of compromises did your agency make in order to work together with the other agencies as a multinational team? How might these compromises help you in real-life situations? </li></ul><ul><li>What did you learn in general from this simulation that you can use when you work with diverse groups of people? </li></ul>
Supplemental Reading <ul><li>Rocket includes a supplemental reading that sheds additional insight into the intercultural communication process that takes place within the International Space Station Program. Trainers can choose to (1) provide participants with the reading prior to facilitating the training session or (2) hand it out to interested participants at the conclusion of the training. </li></ul>
Key to Intercultural Understanding <ul><li>According to the Partners the key to intercultural understanding is the ability to be flexible and open to new ideas. The more experience the partners have working together the greater the understanding, thus the better the communication. Bias and prejudice hinder communication. </li></ul>
How well do the partners understand each other’s norms, languages and cultures? <ul><ul><ul><li>Americans felt confident in their understanding of Russian, Japanese and European culture. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Russians and Europeans felt that Americans didn't understand Russian or European cultures as well as Americans thought that they did. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some Russians felt that they lack a good understanding of American culture. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Americans minimize cultural differences between Americans and Europeans. </li></ul></ul></ul>
Language Use <ul><li>Many American participants felt that all of the partners should make an effort to speak in English. A few of the Americans took English language proficiency for granted, thus failing to see the benefits of second language acquisition. </li></ul><ul><li>The Russians felt more comfortable using an interpreter, which in turn frustrated some American counterparts, who failed to recognize that interpreters were present as an aid for both parties. It may be postulated that Russians insist on using interpreters as a way to equalize power. </li></ul><ul><li>The Japanese , for their part, struggle to communicate in English, but have rejected the use of an interpreter due to problems translating technical terms. These efforts by the Japanese to speak in English were continually praised by American counterparts. </li></ul><ul><li>Europeans speak English fairly proficiently, and do so regularly within the ESA organization. Europeans are sometimes frustrated by the lack of American sensitivity to second language use. </li></ul>All of the non-English speaking partners felt that the use of the English Language occasionally puts them at a disadvantage, however the majority of Americans failed to recognize this inequality.
Politics and Economics <ul><li>On an interpersonal level politics had little effect on the shared culture. At the agency level, politics forces people to do things that don’t make sense to them and therefore obstructs communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Many felt that there is not a true partnership because the United States holds most of the power. They feel that, in reality, that the International Space Station is an American project with foreign participation. </li></ul><ul><li>Differences in budgeting and planning affect relationships. Each agency and each government has its own planning and budgeting process and these processes can sometimes be in conflict with that of the other agencies or governments. </li></ul>