For those of you struggling with INSEAD’s cultural diversity question [Essay 3. Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way. (300 words max.) and the INSEAD EMBA choice of questions for Essay 5. Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? OR Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (500 words max.)], Pamela Druckerman has provided an interesting starting point in her New York Times Op Ed piece “Decoding the Rules of Conversation”.
Druckerman is an American expatriate in France and typically writes about the cultural differences she notices in French child rearing. On the other hand, “Decoding” explores not only how her de facto French children speak and interact, but also how French adults do, with added insight into UK culture thanks to her husband’s British background.
While Druckerman’s mention of British self-deprecation is well known, her description of the French emphasis on one-upping and even humiliating others will certainly come as a culture shock to many. Non-French INSEAD applicants exposed to these behaviors could discuss their own experiences navigating the team environment in France where, according to Druckerman, it is de rigueur to emphasize one’s intelligence at the expense of his or her peers’. Conversely, a French professional working in a global environment could share his experience adapting to a culture that places more emphasis on teamwork and gaining support from others – where he could no longer employ the French strategy of putting everyone else down.
Druckerman demonstrates the cultural astuteness that INSEAD is seeking in its students. Sharing an example of your own cultural insight and response to cultural challenges is essential to any applicant to this renowned international business school.
By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!