by Marlene Cohen, Coordinator, Communication Across the Curriculum
Yes, we knew the world was shrinking, figuratively, and that we needed intercultural listening and speaking skills to succeed as teachers at a diverse campus. But September 11 certainly shined a bright light on the issue. Since then many of our students have had many new worries, including whether they can feel safe outside their "group" and whether it will become harder for international students to study in the U.S. and still travel back and forth to their homes.
We've all found issues to arouse our defensiveness in the past months; perhaps now is a good time to ponder what it takes to model intercultural empathy for our students. Empathy in Cross-Cultural Communication, an article by Colleen Mullavey-O'Bryne, offers a list that is hard to perform, but highly applicable to the classroom. I've added questions for teachers to consider:
Ability to react appropriately, sensitively, and with reasonable accuracy to cross-cultural stimuli:
Capacity to project a genuine interest in others:
Acceptance of others:
Nonjudgmental and noncritical attitude:
Ability to suspend judgment:
Ability to discriminate and select appropriate strategies:
Flexibility to try different strategies as required:
Persistence to overcome setbacks:
Interest in and knowledge of intercultural communications:
In the uncertainties of the year 2002, we can offer to our students a safe haven in the classroom, a place to express, process, and understand our conflicting and challenging feelings.
The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 17, No. 2