Level up Your Intercultural Awareness


(Part 1)


Making a Modern Project Manager


By Yasmina Khelifi

Paris, France

Overcome culture shock

In the April episode of my podcast, my guest Kaori Nishiyama talked about experiencing a culture shock when she worked in Africa.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a culture shock is a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.

That is what happened to me when I did a 6-month internship in Japan during my engineering studies. My university had a partnership with an international research center near Nara, in the heart of historical Japan. It was my first time in Asia. I had been studying Japanese for a year and saw an opportunity to improve it at the same time. I didn’t do much research on Japanese culture. I was confident that knowing the language would help me. When I landed, I didn’t understand a word. I decided to spend as much time as possible with Japanese people and to take Japanese classes to accelerate my learning. After 3 months, I could separate the words and look them up in an electronic dictionary.

There were challenging times and shameful moments. However, I was lucky: I wrote my observations in a journal. And, people in the foreign support office in the international center explained to me some of the behaviors that I observed. Thanks to this experience, I also became more aware of my own culture, France.

I’d like to share some strategies with you for elevating your intercultural awareness.

You can also learn more in my published ebook (Bookbookn Learningà) How to Become a Culturally-Aware Project Manager The Essential Toolkit to Survive and Thrive.

Do your homework

Basic Facts

Look for some basic information about the country: capital, main economic cities, some important historical facts, language(s) spoken, main bank holidays, and other relevant information that can help you. In this investigation phase, you can reach out to friends, and colleagues, visit a cultural center in your country or check on the internet.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by a project manager for Gen X, Y and Z project professionals.  The author Yasmina Khelifi is a project manager with a large multinational telecom in France while also an active PM professional, authoring articles, interviews and a popular LinkedIn blog as well as a podcast with a global audience.  Also active in PMI France for many years, she has been an international correspondent for the PMWJ since 2021. We are delighted that she has agreed to author a series of articles based on her personal experiences over the last decade.

How to cite this paper: Khelifi, Y. (2023). Level up Your Intercultural Awareness (Part 1), Making a Modern Project Manager, series article, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue V, May. Available online at: https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/pmwj129-May2023-Khelifi-Level-up-Your-Intercultural-Awareness-part-1.pdf

About the Author

Yasmina Khelifi

Paris, France


Yasmina Khelifi, PMP, PMI- ACP, PMI-PBA is an experienced project manager in the telecom industry. Along with her 20-year career at Orange S.A. (the large French multinational telecommunications corporation), she sharpened her global leadership skills, delivering projects with major manufacturers and SIM makers. Yasmina strives for building collaborative bridges between people to make international projects successful. She relies on three pillars: project management skills, the languages she speaks, and a passion for sharing knowledge.

She is a PMP certification holder since 2013, a PMI- ACP and PMI-PBA certification holder since 2020. She is an active volunteer member at PMI France and PMI UAE, and a member of PMI Germany Chapter. French-native, she can speak German, English, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and she is learning Arabic. Yasmina loves sharing her knowledge and experiences at work, in her volunteers’ activities at PMI, and in projectmanagement.com as a regular blogger. She is also the host and co-founder of the podcast Global Leaders Talk with Yasmina Khelifi to help people in becoming better international leaders.

Yasmina can be contacted at https://yasminakhelifi.com/ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yasminakhelifi-pmp-telecom/

Visit her correspondent profile at https://pmworldlibrary.net/yasmina-khelifi/

To view other works by Yasmina Kehelifi, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/yasmina-khelifi/