Intercultural Experience

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Freshman (College 1st year) ・Communication Strategies ・MLA

My encounter happened when I visited my friend’s home. I previously geared up with a friend of mine who is African American that as part of my study, I would go to him and stay over at his home with his household for at least a day just to understand what was once unique in their culture that was once evident in most of the White Americans’ homes. He was comfortable with it, they welcomed me humbly, at least, and he guaranteed me that nothing would be different in that house simply because they have a guest. Unlike in regular instances where people would be informed to have manners because they had a visitor, they maintained the same ambiance that they usually have in the house. I arrived at his home in the evening, and by 8 pm everyone was in the house. As the dinner time drew near, my friend invited me to their kitchen where he was helping his mother in preparing supper, and once everything was ready, they all prayed together before we continued. Again, before people retired to bed, we gathered in the sitting room where people traded stories of their day and shared laughter while children played around together. As we prepared to go to sleep, we all knelt and prayed to end the day. The following morning, everyone was at the breakfast table, where we all ate, and then people dispersed to start their days differently. According to my friend, this is how every day of their lives was designed.

Some of the barriers that I encountered when interacting with this family included body language, the level of context and emotions and feelings. Body language played a significant role in the family, and it was essential in how the children carried themselves in front of the parent or any other adults. For example, it was inappropriate to wear clothes that are extremely revealing when in the presence of others; and one talking to adults one had to refrain from using too many gestures. When it comes to emotions and feelings, respect and faith played a crucial role in this family, and it was believed that everyone is supposed to watch how they are reacting to things especially that would trigger negative feelings. This is mainly they believed in the idea of a happy and harmonious family or gatherings. One of the strategies that I embraced to improve my intercultural communication competence was by paying close attention to the content of their messages beyond their accent. It was easy to tell that they chose their words carefully and to only use respectful words around each other. Additionally, I mastered their cultural, pragmatic rules which help in learning appropriate communication.

One of the things that I learned while interacting with this family is that masculinity is still high. Despite the fact that it was not explicitly expressed, you could see that people carry themselves differently when they were talking to the father than when they were talking to the mother. There was a sense of high respect given to the dad, and the mom plus there were specific duties that the boys in the house neglected to the girls, particularly in matters relating to the kitchen. Besides this, they had a high level of indulgence whereby, they always worked on things together as a way of practicing unity. There was no point where a single person was performing a duty on their own, and whenever this happened, you would see someone joining in to help. Lastly, there was low uncertainty avoidance index as titles in this family were less critical and the parents even served the children as well as interacted with them freely.  

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