Description: A one-day cross-cultural training program provided to employees and their families preparing to leave for an extended international assignment. It is conducted by an ITAP-certified trainer along with a country specialist.
Objectives: To prepare the employee and family for the expected and unexpected issues related to living in a foreign country. The goal is to give the family information, choices, strategies and confidence for dealing with the stress, occasional loneliness and unfamiliarity of a society in which the cues are not always readable and the support structures often must be built from the ground up. This focus is especially important for the accompanying spouse or partner.
Components: The program usually consists of eight components. Participants may suggest the extent to which they wish emphasis given to each of these on the basis of their needs and goals. Information about the new city and country, such as its history, people, language and politics, is interspersed throughout the program.
1. Expectations: Identifying hopes, expectations and areas of concern.
2. Daily Life:
a) Discussion of the various practical aspects of living in a new and different culture, including managing the details of setting up a household, choosing schools, child care, health and security issues, banking, commuting, shopping, socializing and activities.
b) Developing a Lifestyle Plan: Strategies for creating a support structure for each family member and for fulfilling educational, cultural, social and recreational needs and interests. Maps of the city and country are used to help develop strategies.
3. Adjustment: Examination of the adaptation process. Strategies are developed for coping with the ups and downs over the life-cycle of the assignment.
4. Cultural Values: The participant identifies his/her values through an assessment exercise and compares them with those in the city/country of their assignment.
5. Communication: Language and communication problems and solutions.
6. Etiquette and Protocol: Explores customs and practices which are important in day-to-day activities, social interactions and entertaining.
7. Critical Incidents — Handling Cultural Differences: A series of situations is examined and evaluated to provide practice in handling cultural shocks and surprises.
8. Discussion: News stories covering current events and other relevant topics.