As international collaborations become a part of everyday life, cultural awareness
becomes crucial for our ability to work with people from other countries. People see,
evaluate, and interpret things differently depending on their cultural background
and cultural awareness. This includes aspects such as appreciation of different communication
patterns, the awareness of different value systems and, not least, to become aware
of our own cultural values, beliefs and perceptions. This paper addresses the value
of cultural awareness in general through describing how it was introduced in two computer
science courses with a joint collaboration between students from the US and Sweden.
The cultural seminars provided to the students are presented, as well as a discussion
of the students' reflections and the teachers' experiences. The cultural awareness
seminars provided students with a new understanding of cultural differences which
greatly improved the international collaboration. Cultural awareness may be especially
important for small countries like New Zealand and Sweden, since it could provide
an essential edge in collaborations with representatives from more 'powerful' countries.