Reaching Across Difference

Ethan Zuckerman, founder of Global Voices, studies how the world uses new media to share information and moods across cultures, languages and platforms.  Here are two of his ideas that make sense in a culturally diverse work setting.

Bridge Figures – people who have their feet in 2 different cultures. They may be Third Culture Kids (TCK / 3CK) who have spent significant time in one or more cultures or bi-cultural kids who embrace both identities. An other example of bridge figures might be an Indian family that has moved to North America and are passionate about sharing their own culture with North Americans.

Zenophiles – people who actively reach out in order to make connections with other cultures. It is not about things or stuff such as liking sushi or reggae music. However, your love for sushi might lead you to discover and connect with people of Japanese ethnicity. Your love for reggae music might lead you to seek out people of Jamaican ancestry. With time the act of making connections could lead you to become comfortable seeing the world from a Japanese perspective or Caribbean perspective. Zenophiles are comfortable straddling cultures. They are able to see things through the lens of another culture.