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Newsletter: 2019 October

"The falling leaves, drift by the window. The autumn leaves, of red and gold..."

- lyrics by J. Prévert (French), J. Mercer (English) - click to listen to the song.

October is the last month for those who wish to see the natural phenomenon known as the Great Migration in East Africa. As the watering holes dry up, close to two million wildebeest, antelopes, gazelles, and zebras gather their young and trek a perilous 3,000 kilometres from Tanzania to Kenya looking for greener pastures. It is estimated that in this annual mass migration, a quarter-million wildebeest perish from exhaustion, thirst, disease or predators.

While on the other side of the world, the beginning of October is the "Golden Week" holidays in China with its celebration of National Day on 1st. Millions of Chinese travel during this time of the year, nationally and internationally. In Europe, the merry rounds of "Oktoberfest" have already started in Munich. The festival is celebrated in cities around the world, with party-goers dressed up in "lederhosen," and "dirndls," enjoying their choices of beer.

Thus, is the month of October - eloquently evoked by leaves that start to change from green to gold in the northern hemisphere. It is life transitioning, in motion, chaotic, mind-numbing, exhilarating, frustrating, joyous, real, for all living beings on this planet!

The answer for September's Photo Contest is

The photo was taken by ST Teh, at Mogao Caves, a.k.a. Dunhuang Grottoes, Gansu Province, China. It is one of the most visited sites for travellers retracing the silk road journey. Other than its historical value and the prized Buddhist art, the ancient murals and sculptures found in the caves also provide us the scenes of cultural exchanges along the Silk Road.

The Mogao Grottoes were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Click the link below to learn more about Dunhuang Grottoes. (clip by Hello, China):
If you are planning for a trip there, try to watch this longer version (by CCTV Travelogue):

A Journey A Month...

Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.

by Su-Yin and Keng Keng.

This month, Su-Yin invites us to reflect on the topic: "Mentors in our lives."

October 5 is World Teachers’ Day. Where would we be without our teachers, role models, and mentors? For those of us fortunate to have had all three at some points in our lives, we must be thrice blessed.

In Greek mythology, whilst Odysseus was away in Troy fighting in the Trojan War, he entrusted his friend called Mentor to tutor his son Telemachus. Because of the strong bond between Mentor and Telemachus, Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom and War decided to disguise herself as Mentor when she wanted to counsel Telemachus to keep his faith and search for his father. Therefore, till present times, the word “Mentor” has been associated with trusted counsellor and teacher, a person who imparts wisdom as he or she guides younger charges on the right path.

Fast forward to today's world: The iconic Steve Jobs, who founded Apple, acknowledged how he managed to learn from different people at different times of his life. The impact his mentors have on him guided him to creating one of the greatest companies in corporate America. What some of them taught him he used for decades, it influenced his work ethos, styles, even his choice for the name of the company, and his philosophies on life.

Like Jobs, I am sure many of us have had mentors, and have benefited from them. For me, at a personal level, one of my cherished memories of mentors is an Irish nun who brought Shakespeare into my life during my student years. The Great Bard’s wisdom, particularly in iambic pentameter, eluded me then. But encouraged by her to memorise Shakespeare’s Sonnets, I persisted, and I am eternally grateful. Long after she has passed on, what I can retrieve from deep memory swirls like wonderfully aged wine as I savour Shakespeare’s genius time and time again. And I marvel at how it continues to resonate in so many aspects of our contemporary lives.

Often time, we will find some of the best advice were from the harshest critiques. Mentors who are most helpful to us may have been those taking the hardest stand on us. Sometimes mentor and mentee could be so different from each other, like chalk and cheese, in all ways, culture, gender, social, vocation, and etc. But fundamentally, there is always a connection, and a good pair will always manage to overcome their differences and ended up becoming firm friends in the process.

Thanks to Su-Yin, for the thoughtful reflection.

In today’s global world, besides being cross-generational, many mentor-mentee pairs may also be cross-cultural. How can each play it perfectly in order to have the best outcome?

Dialogues are very important if we wish to instigate powerful results from this symbiotic relationship. Understanding each other's preferred communication style, and focusing on a common goal will help when the parties are from different cultures. Being open and respectful in the exchanges, putting egos aside, and simply enjoy the experience is equally as critical, especially when it comes to "reverse-mentorship." This is when the senior executives receive "guidance" from their younger staffs, for example, on the fast-changing scenes of the new markets, and a world driven by advancing technologies.

Good luck, and enjoy the journey, as a mentor, or a mentee!

This month, allow me to pay tribute to one of my early mentors, Brother Harold Reynolds, an Australian Lasallian brother. He first became my godfather under the Chinese custom (yes, with a bottle of water, a bag of rice and a set of clothes), before becoming my religious godfather 15 years after. He "saw" the “talent” in me when I was a child, taught me English, shared Christmas mash-mallows with me so that I could learn about a world beyond mine. His guidance led me to the path that took me to England, the very beginning of my global life, and his kindness taught me to look at life with a bigger heart and a broader mind...To Bro Harold: Thank you, and Adieu!

We, at TransCultural Group (TCG), are determined to play our parts in making the world a better place, and we have teamed up with the Cultural Intelligence Centre, U.S.A to bring their well-researched and designed CQ assessment tools to our clients in the Asia Pacific.

We are passionate about building bridges and breaking down walls. Please join us in our journey,

Beyond Boundaries - Crossing Cultures

We have so much in common, we just don't always notice it...

Spread the words, share the vision, do our part:

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Keng Keng Tan
Founder & CEO
TransCultural Group