Meeting of cultures offers analyst personal and professional rewards
When Mei Selvage, Research Director, Gartner IT Leaders Data and Analytics, was offered a scholarship to participate in the VI Intercontinental Biennial of Indigenous and Millennial Arts Exhibition in Peru, she should have been ecstatic. Instead, she was disappointed about the timing of the 10-day event. “I had been with my group for only two months,” explained the former GTP analyst.
Mei’s new manager, Ian Bertram, Managing VP, as well as her mentor, Debra Logan, VP & Gartner Fellow, urged her to pursue the opportunity. So Mei set out to join more than 300 artists from 21 countries in the celebration of worldwide indigenous and millennial arts. The trip proved to be beneficial to Mei on both the personal and professional levels.
A meeting of cultures
The conference and exhibition brought Mei and other participating artists to several cities in Peru, such as Piura, Catacaos and Sechura. “Local people, schools and governance agencies offered heartwarming receptions,” noted Mei. Artists in turn provided free art workshops and academic activities to foster art and indigenous education.
Participating artists were not only diverse in terms of their countries of origin, but also in age, gender, culture, physical abilities and religion. Peruvians have great interest in and tolerance of other cultures, thanks to their own rich cultural heritages and diverse geographies.
Mei, who is located in Portland, Maine, USA, is the first Chinese artist to participate in Intercontinental Biennial. She initially hesitated to make the trip because she does not speak Spanish and doesn’t know anyone in Peru. However, the warmth of Peruvians quickly removed her hesitations once she arrived. “Putting myself in a completely different country without knowing the language teaches me to be resourceful and go with the flow.” Mei commented. By the end of the trip, she made many friends from different countries.
Personal and professional rewards
According to Mei, the trip was both rewarding and challenging. One big lesson she came to appreciate during the conference was the importance of cross-cultural communications. “I caught myself making unconscious assumptions that turned out to be only partly true,” she explained. She noted that these lessons will be very helpful to her work at Gartner because she works with people from different cultures.
“Just because we all speak English does not mean that we all have same assumptions and values,” Mei stressed. “It is always good to become aware of your own cultural bias.”
Mei expressed deep gratitude to her mentor, Debra Logan, for her dedication to diversity at Gartner. Debra’s current Gartner Fellows project investigates the implications of diversity in the digital workplace, and how it helps workplace programs and digital transformation to succeed. She is also grateful to Ian Bertram for being supportive of her personal and professional growth.
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