International Communications Workshop
By Mara Kievit ’13
The Office of International Students and Scholars and the Study Abroad Office co-hosted an intercultural communications workshop on Friday, October 26. The event was attended by international students and students who have previously studied abroad.
The goal of the workshop was to allow for the students to learn how to communicate cross culturally and also give them some direction of how to share their international experiences with people at home.
The workshop also served as a good networking event. as well. Attendees worked in small groups, facilitated by counseling psychology doctoral student for the majority of the workshop, giving them a good opportunity to get to know each other and have a closer-knit communication experience.
Students attended the workshop for many different reasons. “I’m interested in cross culture issues,” Han Han, ’14, said. “I’m open-minded.”
Before the large group of attendees was split into subgroups, they spoke about the importance of knowing how to communicate across different cultures and the commonalities of running into discrepancies when first learning how to navigate intercultural situations. In the subgroups, they talked about a variety of things depending on what the students wanted to talk about and how the facilitator led the discussion. Many groups focused on the trouble the international students within the groups faced when they first came to Lehigh.
At the conclusion of the workshop, each group put on a skit acting out a potential intercultural misunderstanding. Each skit was followed by a discussion of how the situation could have been avoided or dealt with in a more appropriate manner. The skits included issues such as sharing food, greeting people, cutting people in line at an ATM, getting hit on in a bar while studying abroad and eating in class in a country where it is considered disrespectful. The skits portrayed real-life situations that likely happen to people when they are crossing cultures, whether through studying abroad or living in a new country. Before the skits, the students spoke in their small groups about different issues they have faced at Lehigh. They discussed positive and negative aspects of their experience, reflecting on different stereotypes about American, Asian and Asian American students. Students also distinguished between truths and myths regarding the stereotypes.
One student dispelled the stereotype of what it takes to befriend American students. “It’s not that hard to make friends with American students,” Gongdiging Zhang, ’15, said. “You don’t have to go to a party to do it.” About twenty different cultures were represented at the event between the native countries of the international students and the resided countries of attendees who had studied and/or lived abroad. This allowed many different cross-cultural topics and scenarios to be discussed during the workshop.
At the end of the workshop, the participants reflected on what they learned from the entire workshop, but specifically from working in their smaller subgroups. Students had an overall positive reaction to this portion of the workshop. “I think it’s good because people are divided into different groups and we can communicate better with the facilitators,” Gongdiging Zhang, ’15, said. “There’s a better connection.”
November 5, 2012