A ‘Foreign’ Culture

My name is Tharanee and I am currently taking a cross cultural management course at Western University’s business school. As part of the class’ requirements, we had a project wherein we were to immerse ourselves in a foreign culture. Whilst it is common to choose a national culture, I thought that it would be more interesting to enter a woman-driven culture. It was certainly my first time in any sort of feminist environment, and I was pleased that Pamela Coray, Development Manager for Women's Community House (WCH), granted me the opportunity to spend some time at the WCH. While I certainly expected to learn something new, I did not expect this experience to be so informative, and even transformative. My time at Women’s Community House opened my eyes to the challenges victims of domestic abuse and violence face. I can only imagine the courage these women must have to leave their homes to enter the shelter. It is something I still have difficulty fathoming. However, it was pleasing to see how WCH decreases the barriers to entry for these women. This was very much aligned with the organization’s feminist attitudes of bringing together women to help other women in the community. This was further espoused by the organization via the generous work structures (e.g., time off when needed, meaningful part-time work, good pay, etc.) offered to the WCH staff. It was inspiring how the organization strives to support not only the women in shelter (perhaps analogous to “customers” at a traditional business), but also its own employees. I believe that there may be invaluable managerial lessons learned here. Whilst I have long-been a critic of substance abuse, my time at Women’s Community House gave me new perspectives on why some individuals turn to things such as drugs. Sometimes such substances are the only things readily available that can help individuals cope with the stress and trauma they are forced to endure. Spending time at WCH helped me better empathize with these individuals, and made me re-evaluate my long-standing beliefs on the issue of substance abuse. Women’s Community House was absolutely a foreign culture to me. However, I am quite pleased that I was allowed to spend time to learn about this organization, and to learn about how feminist cultures operate. It was an experience that I will continue to reflect on, and I thank WCH for being such a welcoming host to me. Kind regards, Tharanee Dhanayarajan