Marlee and Emily
Emily and I were the group leaders for this week’s discussion on globalization. While the rest of the class discussed our prompt in groups, we decided to also discuss it for ourselves.
With a limited time to figure out how to approach a business deal with a potential partner from another culture that is not very proficient in English, we discussed meeting someone from the same culture as the potential business partner in order to gain an accurate perspective on their culture in a social context. Also, this social connection could help you create a stronger and longer lasting relationship with the future business partner. It is important to use every possible network that you have. It is also very important to understand the country’s culture that you will be communicating with. For example, your business will fail if you try to start it in a new country that has a different culture and lacks interest or demand for your business, services, etc. We both agreed that it would be a good thing to make your best effort to learn the potential business partner’s language and culture, to show them an effort so that you can build their trust. If all else fails, it would be smart to hire an interpreter to help translate everything that could not be understood.
Marlee and Jason
For this exercise, we are discussing cultural and language stereotypes/assumptions that we see as prevalent in the workplace, or have experienced personally. Jason said that a language stereotype me experienced was when he rented a ZipCar. There was a technical issue and the car would not start so Jason called customer service. Upon hearing his accent, the representative knew he was a foreigner and assumed that he was not following the proper procedure to start the car. The representative talked to Jason very slow, as if he were a child and could not understand her or the instructions. In reality, there was an issue with the car, but the representative assumed that Jason did not know how to follow instructions and that is why the car wouldn’t start. Another example Jason gave was when he was at the USF International Students Office. One of the supervisors there would slow down her speech and give him very detailed instructions, but did not do the same for other people, assuming that Jason needed to comprehend her words slowly and needed more detail in order to understand basic tasks. An example I experienced in the workplace was back in New York when I would work as a caddie, some golf players would assume I didn’t know about golf. I believe this is because of my appearance. Also, some of the stereotypes came up in conversation where they would ask me my favorite sports and assume football and basketball, and ask how I got into golf. They would also ask me if I knew how to read greens or assume I didn’t know, despite my experience. I did not see them ask other caddies of different races these questions.
For this class discussion on Feminist movements across cultures, I was paired with Jason. As the only two boys in the class, we tried our best to discuss the feminist movement. We both agreed that the feminist movement differs across cultures, with various factors impacting and defining each movement. The factors we discussed were cultural, religion, location, economical, and race. We discussed how different cultures view women and feminism differently. In places with a good economy, we see women as usually having more opportunity although that is not always the case. For example, in the Middle East, there are very wealthy places where women do not have rights like Saudi Arabia, but in Western countries, women tend to have more basic rights and privileges. Religion definitely can come into play. For example in the American South, in places that follow strict Christianity, the role of women in society is very different than in places that are less conservative in other parts of America. In countries that strictly follow Islam, women can be oppressed with religion used as an excuse. Jason had a great example for location. In locations are more rural and isolated, opportunities are not as abundant for both men and women. Jason said that men in these types of places usually have to do manual labor jobs, so women are usually left to take care of the house, children, etc. because there are not many other opportunities. But in places like big cities, there are more education opportunities for men and women, so women in these areas are able to get an education and get better jobs due to their location.
For this week’s group discussion, I was paired with Buke and Jason I will be writing the blog post for our group. Our group was fortunate enough to have Buke and Jason, two non-native English speakers. Jason said that a strategy that would help him empower and assert his identity as a co-cultural speaker would be to have a mentor from his native country (China) that could relate to him and has been through the experiences and processes that he is about to go through. This mentor would serve as a good source of guidance for Jason and teach him how to succeed in classroom, professional, and social settings. Buke said that taking classes before she left Turkey helped her to learn how to speak and use English more formally because in Turkey, speaking and writing styles are more relaxed and not as formal. Also, in English there can be long and short sentences. But in Turkish, the language structure is different and there are usually only longer sentences. There are also no pronouns in Turkish, so Buke indicated that a strategy to help her better learn and understand pronouns would be visualization. Also collaborating with coworkers and fellow students who are native English speakers to read their material and get feedback about how to improver their own vocabulary and grammar.
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.
The Macdonald and Sundararajan article discusses how international students aim to learn new material in the same manner as domestic students. The instructors tend to adopt an assimilationist approach in order to level the playing field in terms of the students’ understanding of the course material and how it is presented to them.
Something very surprising from the article is that students are segmented and viewed as belonging to two different groups: international students and domestic (Canadian) students. However, this can be problematic because domestic students is not a homogenous group; it consists of many different sub-groups, based on differences in demographics and diversity markers within the larger group, such as race, religion, gender, etc. So it is very likely that all domestic students do not have the same experiences and view the world the same.
The expectation is that the students will all share aspects of their cultural heritages, but the reality is that international students are being persuaded to assimilate and adapt into the new culture.
I am Marlee Carayol, a first year student in the Master of Arts in Professional Communication program at the University of San Francisco. I was born and raised in New York and attended Baruch College in Manhattan, New York, where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communication.
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