Film and Media Blog

Basics of Intercultural Communication and telecollaboration

Oghenetega Okoro: “We were a balanced blend of people from different cultures.”

Oghenetega Okoro

My name is Oghenetega Okoro. I am a Nigerian, currently residing in Estonia and studying Communication Management. During the Basics of Intercultural Communication this semester, we had a telecollaboration with students from the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM), United States. Initially, I was not sure of what to expect. Our first meeting started with shy smiles and an introduction. We briefly talked about our individual backgrounds – work, study, family and country.communication management

My group consisted of two female students from ULM, Ashley and Jenna, who had lived all their lives in the United States. Alim, my classmate and group member from Tallinn University is originally from Bangladesh. We quickly got used to each other and asked a lot of questions as our interest in each other grew over time. There were often no boundaries to the kind of questions we asked. We spoke about any and everything, and it was an eye opening experience. I got to see the world of my group members through their introduction and responses to questions. The kind of foods they had in their communities and liked, the special occasions, dress styles, hobbies, weather conditions, and other interesting factors that made us unique.

I quickly noticed the cultural variations in the way we reacted or responded during our discussions. We all tried to be friendly and polite but I observed that some were more carefree and ‘happy-go’ kind of people. There were some interesting facts about my group members, some quite surprising. I was surprised to learn, for instance, that Ashley and Jenna had barely left Louisiana. They have not visited up to three states in America and have never been abroad. It was shocking. I had previously assumed that Americans travel anywhere and everywhere, especially considering the fact that their citizenship and passport is among the strongest in the world. Alim on the other hand did not know how to cook at all. He had always had family around him to cook and sometimes, purchased meals from nearby restaurants. Since coming to TLU however, he has been learning to cook.

Working with ULM students and my classmate in TLU was quite an experience. We had our highs and lows. There were times when the time difference was almost frustrating. We had to schedule and reschedule meetings to fit into our busy study schedules and realistic time of day (not too early or late for both countries). I became more tolerant and understanding of belated responses to emails. In future telecollaborations, which I am sincerely hoping we would have another opportunity at, I will be more patient, open and tolerant of our individual differences and schedules. I will be as friendly as I was in this telecollaboration but will encourage my group members to adhere more strictly to deadlines. We procrastinated most times in this group work and it affected our scores.

The telecollaboration has ended and I am having mixed emotions. I am happy that we have successfully completed our work but a bit sad that we may never get to see or speak with each other again. We did send nice appreciation emails after the final assignment and told each other to freely reach out if the need ever arises, but I am unsure if we will be speaking any time soon. The past few weeks have been life changing. The fact that I met two US students just from a course of study at Tallinn University is surreal. I am truly grateful to my Professor Anastassia Zabrodskaja and Professor Sara Kim in ULM who thought of this great idea. They have gone out of their way to create this beautiful and lifelong experience for us. The collaboration with ULM was a great addition to our semester work!