A lesson from the beautiful tea gardens of Sirimongol, Bangladesh
Multicultural communication is complex but essential to function successfully in our present day world. This story is about a transformational week-long training retreat that taught the people from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sirilanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana to recognize and overcome their differences of professional and cultural diversities. See how they managed to discover their similarities as human beings.
The bowler was about to deliver the next ball. Loud advice was coming from his mates in this half grassy, half muddy, uneven ground. The batsman seemed fully focused on playing the next shot. The match was perhaps at a crucial stage. Even we, the incidental spectators, stopped talking to each other for a while to watch the next move in the game.
These eight or nine young villagers of Bangladesh were barely dressed and all of them were bare-footed. Their cricket equipment comprised of a bat, four improvised bamboo sticks used as wickets, and a soft ball. The pitch was a relatively dry few feet of exposed ground, surrounded by typical lush green grass of Bangladesh. The lack of equipment and facilities failed to dampen their enthusiasm and joy.
The two buses were somewhere half way in our road journey from Dhaka to Sirimongol, near Sylhut in Bangladesh. Our local host decided to stop at this coconut shop at the edge of the main road. Just behind this shop was a typical background of a small village depicting the prevailing poverty which is so common in Bangladesh. Between the coconut shop and mud houses of this village was this improvised cricket ground where this match was taking place.
All of us, a combination of surgeons and burn care professionals and our Bangladeshi hosts, were sipping delicious fresh coconut water with a straw going into the hollow of fresh coconuts in our hands. The heads of the coconuts were just guillotined mercilessly by a sharp machete. The shop keeper was still holding this in his hand. The smile on his face was broad as he was very happy with this unexpected sky rocket in sales. The juice was delicious and the cricket excitement was an added bonus.
We all were heading for our training retreat. The purpose of our week long training retreat in the tea gardens of Srimongol near Sylhut was a multinational and multicultural sharing of practices and ideas, mainly around the issues of burn care. The retreat was organized and hosted by Interburns in collaboration with our local partners in Bangladesh, Acid Survivors Foundation. The event turned out to be a great opportunity for multicultural and multiracial communication and exchange of ideas.
A week in one place meant the group gelled tremendously well. Sirimongol is a beautiful tea garden away from the hassle of a busy city life. This provided us an opportunity to reflect upon the current clinical practices and helped open up for new knowledge and change. The activities during this retreat included multiple sessions of scientific presentations, workshops, small group discussions, hands-on skills, learning opportunities and also, the time for networking and social and cultural exchanges.
The mood of the retreat was kept informal and friendly as usual. Our basic philosophy is to act as a bridge between the developed and the developing world and to facilitate the communication and collaboration towards improvement in global burn care. All participants demonstrated respect for the diversity of opinions, cultures and values while keeping the positive self-image of their own. It was so rewarding to see as the host that participants are fully utilizing a fearless environment to learn and to accept change in opinions and practices.
I believe that there is a real need to understand the importance of multicultural communication in order to function successfully in our present day world. The Sirimongol experience not only provided us an opportunity to recognize and overcome the differences of professional and cultural diversities, but also, we managed to discover our similarities as human beings. Many of us came to know, for the first time in our lives, that we can get along with people who apparently look so different from us. It eliminated the stereotypes that participants might have about different cultures.
Interburns and Valueversity believe in a respectful friendship between all cultures, races, religions, nations and social diversities that exists in our present day world!