cultural horizons institute

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Culture Training Methodology & Curriculum

Historically, people growing up in a single time and place adopt the culture, language and beliefs of their peers as the universal standard. In every social interaction, they hold these unconscious assumptions as the baseline and organize their actions and reactions accordingly. The tendency is rational, in that there is little need to think about “other worlds” or to suspect that other people’s ways of being may be drastically different than their own. It is also functional in that MOST people in the course of history have spent the MOST time with people very similar themselves.

However, with globalization the world is becoming a smaller and smaller place. Today’s emerging leaders are significantly more likely to encounter people with different temperaments, talents and convictions than their own. They are more likely to engage in online chat with youth from other parts of the country and world. They are even more likely to travel abroad, or to spend time working in a country different than the one in which they were born. Yet they are still apt to look at others through the lens of the culture, language and belief system that they learned in their early years.

We believe that natural tendency is what gets in the way of successful cross boarders social and business interactions. Our unique methodology builds the foundation for a mastery of the ability to challenge one’s own assumptions, understand and expect cultural differences, and move across cultural boarders with greater grace and ease.

Research shows that an intense and multidisciplinary training program is most effecting in creating lasting change. Therefore we use a variety of approaches that are designed to impact individuals with different learning styles.

Our techniques include:

  • Reading & discussing expert opinions
  • Expert lecture and discussion
  • Rote Learning of Facts and 2nd Language Vocabulary
  • Role Plays
  • Simulation
  • Direct Social Experience
  • Group Brainstorm and Dialog
  • Culture and Personality Testing
  • Verbal and Visual Storytelling
  • Goal Setting and Building new Practices
  • Body Work (Learning through Physical Activities like Martial Arts, Dance)
  • Ropes Course Team Building Challenge
  • Music as Language Training
  • Caucus Group Dialog (single culture breakout sessions)
  • Leadership Training Activities (activities from top Leadership Development experts: LAL, NVC, Bill George, Arbinger)
  • Service Learning
  • Competition in Mixed (intercultural) Groups


Culture Tip:

The importance of Chinese guan-xi...

In the early phases of founding the Cultural Horizons Institute, I was describing the curriculum and business plan to a potential investor from Shanghai. With great care I went over in my best broken-Mandarin the carefully thought out details of our approach. Proud that I had gotten through the course description and decidedly ready to answer almost any question that came my way, I was unexpectedly caught off guard by her reply: “But how can I explain to the other investors the value of your program? How will you establish the value to them?” Confused, I struggled to re-explain the content, goal and financial viability of our work. After dancing around conversation in search of a satisfying for the next twenty minutes, I came to understand the nature of her underlying question.  What she wanted to know was: “Who are the publicly well-known endorsers? Who are the team members? With what prestigious university will you be affiliated?” In other words, tell me about your guan-xi – your relationships.


News Flash:

Wall Street Journal:
Personal Lives, Office Lives

Chinese draw the lines between personal and professional life differently than Americans do, and the idea of "colleagues" isn't the same in the two countries… READ MORE

By Li Yuan, published February 19, 2008

New York Times:

As American educators seek to emulate Asian pedagogy... Chinese educators are trying to blend a Western emphasis on critical thinking, versatility and leadership into their own traditions… READ MORE

By Ann Hulbert, published April 1, 2007.

New York Times:
Non Asians Show a Growing Interest in Chinese Courses

With its booming economy and aspirations to expand its global influence, China may have achieved a victory in American classrooms… READ MORE

By Natasha Degen and Winnie Hu, published November 29, 2006.


"I appreciated that the workshop allowed us to step back from our studies and reflect on life. I liked the critical thinking aspect of it and how there was not a black and white clear-cut answer. I also liked the environment that you tried to foster by understanding that people feel vulnerable in situations where they have to speak out in a large group." - University of Pacific Student, Fall 2007

Copyright © 2007 Cultural Horizons Institute, an ontogeny of Thalas, All rights reserved.