All three readings: Stumbling Blocks In Intercultural Communication, An Open Way and The Development Model Of Intercultural Sensitivity are all interconnected and the points in each reading are completed by going through all three, hence the reader develops a greater understanding. When I only read the titles I assumed that all three readings revolved around the same topic and consisted of the same points/perspectives. However, I was happy to see that almost all readings talk about Intercultural Communication. Yet, each article has a different focus point.
Firstly, the Stumbling Blocks In Intercultural Communication article, written by Laray Barna was well-explained, due to the numerous examples that were stated regarding people who actually confronted intercultural difficulty. This article discusses the challenges of communicating with people from different cultures. I was able to identity to most of the points that were stated because I understand how easy it is to stereotype a different nation/culture, even if it is unintentional. Also, because being Egyptian and part of the Middle Eastern region, there has been numerous claims that Egypt is ‘underdeveloped, developing, unsafe, backwards, etc’. What really saddens me is that many Egyptians make these claims, while disregarding the opportunities they have in order to make their country better – even if it is a gradual process – Anyhow, Barna claims that there are six stumbling blocks of Intercultural Communication and explains how misunderstandings can occur. One of the factors that I highly agreed with was: Assumptions Of Similarities. Because as an Egyptian we’re very open in the way we interact with others. Whereas, others cultures – Americans for example – tend to be more formal, even if it is as simple as greeting someone. Therefore, when I make friends who have different cultural backgrounds, I’m always cautious with the way I treat others. For example, I would greet an American differently than the way I would greet an Indian, because Indians have a lot in come with Egyptian’s, and are less formal. Lastly, throughout this reading I was able to make a lot of connections while readings and can easily understand the struggles that occur when getting to know someone from a different culture.
Secondly, The Development Model For Intercultural Sensitivity was very helpful, because while reading the steps it helped raise unconscious thoughts that usually occur, but I often neglect. Therefore, while reading this article I was able to understand the process more clearly. For example, I took the opinion of my friend (He did a semester abroad) about this article and he told me that most of these steps actually occur, but can take more/less time depending on the bond you have with the other individual. He later went on by saying that his groups were mainly Mexicans, Lebanese and Indians and all three cultures share common values and traditions, one of which being the importance of family. Therefore, it was a lot easier for them to connect and share their similarities. On the contrary, he later explained that people who had no idea where Egypt was located on the map or basically anything about the Egyptian culture, made it harder to communicate with, particularly when they state remarks such as: ‘Do you go to school riding a camel?’. He said that stereotypical remarks are often and continuously said and it triggers your defense mechanism in one way or another – even if you’re not really patriotic – This point was stated through the model as ‘Defense’ when the individual is offended by other people’s mentalities or thoughts and cultures are organized into ‘Us and Them’. Finally, I’ve asked my friend about this because he went through this experience, whereas, all the people I’ve communicated with usually share a common friend, therefore, communication was made easier for both sides.
Finally, I found the Open Way document very helpful and beneficial particularly in Soliya’s context as it gives advice regarding interacting with people from different cultures. Therefore, while keeping these points in mind it will help me get my message across to people, meanwhile, not offending anyone and being respectful. What I really liked about this document, was that it stated the points clearly, hence making it easier for the reader and easier to remember. On the contrary, if the document was written in paragraph form, the reader would not easily understand or comprehend the do’s and don’ts. Lastly, while having my Soliya session, keeping this document open on a separate tab, just in case I face any difficulties, would be a helpful guide.