Reflections of a Renegade

“Reality is merely an illusion… Imagination is everything…” Albert Einstein

 

Something sparked off in me in class. As the week meandered on, I found myself running from one training class to another; from 8am in the morning all the way to 10pm at night. It came to a point that in Ms Julia’s class I actually averted a simple discussion question directed at me: “Should women go for National Service?”  Without thinking twice, I just blurted out, “I’m feeling stoned now… so sorry.”

 

Personally, I felt at that moment that I wanted to run away and hide because I said something rather foolish. Yet in the midst of these moments of irrational thinking, I also realized that beyond my tiredness, there’s the responsibility of being a student, an accountability to reach out and glean something from my lecturers who have flown many miles just to teach us. With their level of passion and commitment, I should do what I was here to do and learn to be effective in communication and organization. So I decided to be a “renegade” and discard my old beliefs because I want to do something meaningful with my life.

 

Our group started out feeling stressed. We had communication and information overload. There were many terms and theories to read through and understand. Weber’s 3 ways of authority somehow didn’t mix with Schein’s (1969) modes of being an effective group.

 

My teammates Sung, Ying, Chelsea and Selva gathered and formed a “Group Think”, following Hirokawa’s (1992) conditions for an effective team. We motivated ourselves and each other by putting aside our immediate needs and decided to focus on the task at hand: Allocating the time and resources for the presentation and scheduling the things that each of us needed to do. Sung shares some of her creative ideas and suggested we do a skit to illustrate the lighter side of life and from there draw out the essence of cross-cultural communication.

 

In the initial stage, there were conflicting views of how we wanted to present. Some of us wanted to use regular PowerPoint to communicate our ideas, but the rest decided that it was not the best tool to maximize our presentation. There was a thought of having caricatures and illustrations, perhaps even a video presentation. Ultimately, we came up with the idea of acting out an interview session, similar to what we saw in one of the videos in class. In order to do this, there were many issues like lack of resources and so we tried to come up with creative solutions.

 

We analyzed the problems, objectives and choices available and evaluated the angles of the story we wanted to portray. We defined the key points within the topic of cross cultural communications: Communication processes, overcoming barriers, social values, language, nonverbal communication, time and most importantly – a diverse cultural factor where being culturally sensitive can enable us to cope with foreign or local scenarios where we can make provisions for cultural adjustments to avoid ethnic conflicts. By coming together and brainstorming, this also involved the subject communication among us. As we talked and discussed, there were many differing opinions but we managed to sort it out and decide on the final result.

 

I realize that life is full of illusions, thus, what we envision have to be an empowering one. This very act is a decision that creates a change in our group. There’s a collective mix of differences and similarities. But these can in turn work for our benefit in pursuing the same goals and in so doing, we hope to score well for our assignments.

 

There is no room for doubt and self-sabotage. Thus, we started to imagine. Imagination leads to the preview of life’s ‘coming attractions’.  We wanted elements of fun, balance of positive and negative conflicts and yet a holistic view and collaboration.

 

With these in mind, the imaginable became our goals, which in turn became our little presentation and these helped to reinforce a new self-identity within each of us. The real secret to this collaboration is that every one of us is making it up as we go along. The whole dynamics to it was flexibility.

 

Let’s do skit… scenario… job opportunities… fun job… funny clown… let’s try juggling… have different nationalities… an arrogant Indian professional, a Filipino maid, a Chinese student in search of a dream, a busy single mother, an ABC who believes in working hard; but plays harder… make it compelling… let’s create a twist… ABC falls for Chinese student…

 

A renegade’s illusion is something I have learnt to change the reality around me. It is far from delusional where it prevents me from seeing the reality. I still have a lot to learn about organizational communications; nevertheless, it doesn’t stop me from being a renegade in my own rights.

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