The objective of today’s activity was to find the website of a company that is based on the region that I come from and analyze its content management. The company I chose is C Town, which is a supermarket/grocery store chain that is based in White Plains, New York. The chain is mostly based in the Northeast of the United States, and has a couple hundred locations in total. On the website, I see linguistic and cultural communication designs that are prominent and relate to the local and cultural values of the Northeast. New York City in particular is heavily focused on. Because the chain is very small, the website stresses that it is a family market focused on creating and maintaining a close knit community, and the prices are affordable. The website has many images of family and community. There are also many community outreach initiatives and events listed on the website, with the aim of bringing people together and sharing culture and values. For example, on the website, a Cinco de Mayo celebration is listed that took place in Flushing, Queens, New York, as well as another Hispanic celebration that takes place every year. There was also a Family Health Festival in Union City, New Jersey. All of these events are sponsored by C Town and targeted towards communities and people in the New York City metropolitan area, the largest population center within its areas of operation by far. The promotion of the events and the events themselves are a great way for C Town to show its commitment to the communities it serves.
For the class activity, I was paired with Buke, who is from Turkey. We tried to find an artifact she had with her that was representative of her culture but she did not have anything that was representative of Turkey. In terms of observational notes, I noted Buke’s appearance: curly hair tied back into a bun; small, circular silver earrings; a grey shirt from Zara; black capri pants also from Zara; and shiny silver shoes from … So these items were from all over the place and not really representative of her culture in particular. But I noted that everything matched together very well. She was dressed very stylishly. Buke and I didn’t really do the interview portion of the activity the way we were supposed to. It was more unstructured, with each of us asking questions and sharing answers the entire time. It was more a discussion than an interview. We talked about American and New York culture, and life and culture in Turkey. In terms of artifacts, her entire appearance was representative of the way women dress in Turkey. They prefer European brands, and her shirt, pants, and shoes were all from Spanish and Italian brands. She revealed that in Turkey, people like to buy well known, popular brands in order to show their status and wealth. Wealthy people like to buy nice things to show that they have a lot of money, and even people who are not wealthy like to spend their money on nice brands to appear as if they have money. The same also goes for jewelry; jewelry is very important in Turkey. Buke’s earrings were small today but she said that in Turkey, women usually wear bigger, more flashy earrings. She just decided to take it easy since it’s only Monday!
As a communicator across cultures and languages, I feel both challenged and privileged when it comes to languages. I am a native English speaker, and this is a privilege because English is known as the unofficial language of business, and a dominant global language. So it is definitely an advantage to have a strong grasp on the English language because so many other people also speak English, whether they are also native speakers like me, or non-native speakers. At the same time, I feel I am at a disadvantage because English is the only language I speak. I have found myself in situations where I do not have the privilege of communication with people who also speak English and they are very difficult to navigate. When I have traveled to other countries and found myself immersed in foreign cultures, I felt very out of my comfort zone because I could not adapt and speak the host language, which I feel helps build a stronger rapport when communicating interculturally. I feel that not knowing other languages limits people from gaining the most accurate insight on a culture possible. I think it is very useful to know more than one language. Even if English is your native language and many other people are likely to speak it, it does not hurt to expand your own language capabilities, which can also give you a different perspective on verbal communication and on other cultures. Communicating across cultures also makes me feel both privileged and challenged. Living in the United States, I was raised in a biracial family, which exposed me to several cultures. I feel that this exposure and these experiences provided me with a strong capacity to appreciate and understand other cultures and how to communicate with members of other cultures. But I would say I feel disadvantaged communicating across cultures when language is the only barrier standing in the way of successful understanding and interactions.
Based on the readings this week, regarding communicating across borders, I find cultural relativism to be the most useful and supportive strategy when communicating with people across borders, as it promotes keeping and open-mind, understanding and recognizing differences, and working to overcome those differences in order to achieve mutual goals.