X-Culture: Better Late Than Never

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Guest Blogger: Michael Gomez

I remember sitting there in class. Professor Muth had just let the class know that a major portion of our grade was based on a group project. I tried to get a feel for how the class felt about this, and for the most part we were all in agreement.  This project would likely be one that requires more much attention and work than any other project we have completed thus far.

Group projects are already a hassle when you have to deal with schedules and the motivation of your classmates. The added variables such as language barriers, time zone conflicts, and just overall different way of thinking made this project a liable source of anxiety attacks.

The same questions were asked over and over again, but one stood out most. What if we could not get into contact with our teammates? I did not ask the question, because I already knew the answer to it. The year is 2014, and it would be a safe bet to assume that every one of my classmates had a smart phone. Most probably also had access to at least one social media account.

I started to think on how far we have come. A couple of years ago this project could not be completed. No way. I sat there with the realization that talking to people across the world is as easy as talking to someone across campus. I have done numerous group projects were I actually never met the group. We all assigned a part for each other, and we would do it. No actual face to face activity was done. There would be no difference in this project – just farther I.P addresses.

I was right. The “hassle” of communication was absent. I got a response after the first email was sent. I was actually late on emailing my team and when I finally got to send the email. All the responses were very welcoming and reassuring. We all exchanged information about ourselves and set up communication avenues.
Here is where I should have picked up were my group would see issues in the future. Everyone was getting along and we all agreed that the project could be done with no stress if we worked together. However, I felt that this was a project I could easily lead the team through. I could tell personality wise that nobody else on my team had that rare ‘take charge’ attitude. I did not want my teammates to feel that the “American football player “ was imposing his will on the group, and everything has to be what I want. So I held back and let us go forward as a collective group.

Problems began arising when we would get those surveys and goal emails from our professors mid-week. We had not set a leader. With no leader there was no organization. With no organization, when we got to those midweek emails, we had to scramble to figure out what we had to do before Friday. It began to turn into “lets turn this in now, and catch up next week.”

The anxiety was starting to get to me when there was about 4 weeks left and all communication had broken off with my teammates. I could not take it anymore. I went on Facebook and one by one assigned each person a different part of the project. We all agreed on what we wanted to do for our company, but we never got to who was going to do what.

I hoped that my teammates just didn’t quit on the course and leave my English teammate (who I still keep in contact with) and I alone to do everything. My prayers were answered and they all took the orders with no retorts. I had intended to assign myself the hardest parts, but one of my teammates from Mexico volunteered to do them. He was a brilliant kid who really contributed heavily to the project.

When we all sent in our parts for the draft I saw that our project had done a complete 180. All my teammates took their roles and did what I believed was a good job. Then we started to help each other out and that’s when I knew that all the prior difficulties were behind us.

We turned in our project and we all have gone our separate ways. I have only kept into contact with one of my teammates. I have yet to see what my grade on the project was, but a word to those that might take this course: Please make your leader known early. Save yourself and the group its time and hardship of playing catch-up. If you feel you can make a difference in the group, input your opinion.

If the group grade is something that I am not pleased about I will have nobody to be upset with but myself. Nobody participating in this project wants to fail the course. Most of us are actually really close to graduating. All it takes is proper leadership and a good team. I had a real good team. Leadership missed the first bus but eventually got there. Better late than never, right?

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