Maria Flora Mangano: Saturday Morning (Intercultural) School

Guest PostsSaturday Morning (Intercultural) School. Guest post by Maria Flora Mangano.

NOTE: Maria Flora Mangano has previously written about dialogue as a space of relationship (2020, 2018, 20172014) as long-term followers of this site will remember. 

Since the end of 2021, I have been involved in an after-school activity for 4 to 12-year-olds. This volunteer work supports pupils doing their homework once a week, on Saturday mornings. This activity was created by a teacher at the beginning of the current school term, in October 2021, and it takes place in a parish of the city center of my town, Viterbo, near Rome. The initial aim was to reach non-Italian children from the city center, which is mostly inhabited by non-native families. In a short time, additional children arrived from different zones of the town and the surroundings.

What the children experience at home, with relatives and friends of their parents’ culture, often coexists, interacts, and enriches – we may say “is in dialogue” – with what they experience at school, as well as in this after-school activity. At the same time, their daily sharing with Italian and non-Italian people (peers, teachers, or neighbors, for instance) feeds their knowledge, and it frequently provides precious input to their families. Some, in fact, help their parents in improving their understanding of the Italian language, in talking, reading, or writing; others assist Italian people (even us) to better understand their parents’ and family’s needs.

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Sabrina Sharma: Dialogue of Reflective Thought

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Dialogue of Reflective Thought. Guest post by Sabrina Sharma.

The “Dialogue of Reflective Thought” (DORT) approach is a type of dialogue allowing parties to engage without a mutual resolve or change per se.

DORT is a process whereby two or more parties engage in dialogue, each without the intention to transform the other’s thought process or to expect that the other party would be placed in a position of mandatory consideration of the other to birth a ‘perception changing’ view. Although a shift may ensue from the dialogue itself, the goal is rather to share experiences and thoughts. If a transition occurs, it appears in the natural course of the dialogue itself.

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Jinhyun Cho: Intercultural Communication in Interpreting

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Intercultural communication in interpreting: Power and choices. Guest post by Jinhyun Cho.

…by definition interpreter-mediated communication always involves speakers from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds in dialogue

What is intercultural communication? For many years, scholars have attempted to address this broad topic, yet little has been explored in the realm of interpreting. This is surprising, considering the fact that interpreting is intercultural communication in itself, for by definition interpreter-mediated communication always involves speakers from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds in dialogue. In my recent book, Intercultural communication in interpreting: power and choices (Routledge, 2021), I tried to address the gap by exploring interpersonal dimensions of intercultural communication in a variety of key interpreting contexts – business, education, law and healthcare – based on the unique perspectives of professional interpreters.

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Vivian Hsueh Hua Chen: A Video Game for Fostering Positive Intercultural Relationships

Guest PostsA video game for fostering positive intercultural relationships. Guest post by Vivian Hsueh Hua Chen.

On an overall level, playing the game resulted in significant attitude change towards outgroup members.

In a culturally and racially diverse world, it is important for people to be able to live together harmoniously. Being respectful of cultural differences and fostering a genuine curiosity to better understand how and why other people are different from ourselves is one way to bridge the gap between self and others. This was the underlying motivation to create the prosocial game, Icebreaker. Icebreaker is a short role-playing game where players take on the role of the protagonist, an ice gatekeeper whose family has been tasked with protecting the village from an annual disaster known as ‘The Freezing.’ The goal of the game is for players to discover the true cause for this annual occurrence and to stop the event for good. The game design is primarily driven by narrative design integrated with interactive play. Certain tasks in the game require the player to work together with a banished villager, whose race has been blamed for being the cause of the disaster.

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Fatemeh Kamali-Chirani: Cultural Diplomacy & ICD

Guest PostsCultural Diplomacy, Intercultural Dialogue, and Sustainable Development: A View of the Cultural Diplomacy Potential of the City of Islamabad. Guest post by Fatemeh Kamali-Chirani.

Cultural diplomacy based on intercultural dialogue creates trust by assuring the equality of all partners engaging in communication.

After concluding my PhD on intercultural dialogue between Muslim and Western countries (with a focus on the foreign cultural policies of Iran and Germany), I experienced one of the most attractive career opportunities of my life. Specifically, I started to work as a researcher (at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute) and a teacher (at the School of Politics and International Relations, Qauid-i-Azam University) in the fields of development and international relations in Pakistan.

Development as a discipline brought new light to my understanding about culture. I learned about the significance of “sustainable” development and its 17 goals (SDGs). In terms of a definition, I learned that it means development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, often called the Brundtland Report). Sustainable development thus requires change through culture. That piqued my curiosity as to why despite all attempts of the UN state members and international organizations like the World Bank still culture, which must be taken as a driving engine of integration of nations to serious change, is neglected and has not yet gotten the attention it deserves. Culture, even rhetorically, is just not a part of the SDGs’ list. Yet it needs to be.

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Janny Leung: COVID-Sensitive Kanji

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COVID-Sensitive Kanji. Guest post by Janny H. C. Leung.

 

New words or phrases, such as covidiot and Zoom fatigue, cropped up in the English language in the past year as a creative response to the pandemic. Yet, the most Covid-complaint neologism may be found in a non-alphabetical language. The winner of the 11th round of the Sousaku Kanji Contest is a redesigned character that separates the two persons (人) in a seat (座) to make sure that they comply with social distancing measures in 2020.

old and new kanji

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Maria Flora Mangano: Space of Relationship as a Space of Distance

Guest PostsSpace of relationship as a space of distance: A new proximity. Guest post by Maria Flora Mangano.

NOTE: Maria Flora Mangano has previously written about dialogue as a space of relationship (2018, 20172014) as long-term followers of this site will remember. She suggested this might be a good time to think about what is now being called “Social distancing” and how it relates to the space of relationship that is required for intercultural dialogue to occur.  

Among the measures for controlling the infection of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the need to avoid interaction among human beings, and, when that is not possible, to fix a distance of at least one meter, according to the World Health Organisation. In addition to the medical masks, in almost every part of the world, this measure implies a prohibition on shaking hands, or hugging and kissing. The warnings stress the need to interact with others without having any contact, especially of hands and face, the parts of the human body which, more than others, may transmit the infection. These two also are the parts of the body which, more than others, transmit the message, thus play a central role in communication.

During these last few days, the global news media have reported several alternatives to greetings and physical contacts created by many people around the world, involving touching elbows, or feet. Also, people have rediscovered the use of non-touching hand gestures, as with namaste, the Buddhist greeting, where hands are put together, or even blinking, as ways to respect a safe distance, yet still acknowledge another person.

The COVID-19 infection is introducing a new space of relationship among individuals, related to our interpersonal communication. This is affecting everyday life at the moment and will probably have effects in the future on human communication. A “new distance” is arising, which may be added to the original four proposed by the anthropologist Edward Hall in 1966 in The Hidden Dimension. He distinguished four levels of distance in spatial interrelationships among humans, which vary by such factors as culture, education, gender, and status. We might now add what has been popularized as “social distancing”) to the intimate, the personal, the social, and the public spaces proposed by Hall.

Despite Hall’s emphasis on cultural differences, as the new distance is required for global safety reasons, this relationship of distance between individuals is the same all over the world. Therefore, it cannot, and it is not supposed to be, different depending such factors as culture, age, education, gender, or status. What may change is the resilient capacity of human beings to find alternatives, to adapt themselves to (almost) every condition, and to try to find an answer, even when it seems hard, as during this time.

The challenge to us all will be to consider this necessary distance imposed on individuals as an opportunity to rethink the space of relationship as a space of proximity to the Other. Distance, as well as proximity, are terms generally related to a physical space of relationship among humans. What happens when this space is dramatically and unexpectedly avoided or altered, as it imposes another dimension, even a fixed measure of separation among individuals?

The opportunity which this social distancing offers is to consider distance, and consequently proximity, unbound from a physical space of relationship. Distance may become another term for proximity, if we will be able to look at the face of the Other even through a medical mask, and from one meter. We may still be touched by the Other’s call, even without touching her/him with our hands.

If we will be able to overcome a physical space of relationship – in the sense of going beyond it, rather than over it – we might also discover a new sense for proximity. It may sound like a paradox, and probably it is, as the challenges required to the human behaviour which affect our daily life. If we will be able to accept the paradox of distance and proximity as one, we may discover that the safe distance established by social distancing can be overcome, in a way, not because we violate the prohibitions, but as we are able to go beyond ourselves towards the Other.

The Latin term alter literally refers to “the other than two”; social distancing is offering us all the chance to alter our perspective of the Other, every Other than us: close or distant, with a medical mask or without, by touching her/him or without using our hands. This implies the opportunity to modify the distance at which we stand from the Other, in terms of prejudices rather than medical or safety prescriptions. It might be surprising to realise, when the COVID-19 epidemic will eventually end, that we have reduced our mental and heart distance from the Other, in addition to again being able to reduce our physical distance.

In these new and solitary days, in our creative country [Italy], a spontaneous proposal was born. It was soon shared among the people and became viral (in every sense!): find a way to encourage the others, with messages posted on the windows and the balconies. The sentence proposed was: “Andrà tutto bene,” or “Everything is going to be fine.” The idea was to write on white sheets, drawing the rainbow. It was soon made by children and families. I thought to draw it on paper and I posted the design on my window facing the road.

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Ruins by Steven Darian

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Ruins: A guest post by Steven Darian.

Darian writes: “If you really want to understand another culture, you must immerse yourself in it, especially if that other culture existed long long ago. You must feel yourself into the life, even if it is from a thousand years ago.

Here are a few places I’ve been to and have tried to feel my way into the soul of: the fabled city of Gaur, where the Ganges River joins the Brahmaputra, on its journey down to Calcutta, and the famous clay soldiers of Xi’an. I’ve called the piece RUINS.”

These pieces are from Darian’s forthcoming book The Wanderer: Travels & Adventures Beyond the Pale, appearing fall 2019 and published by Linus Learning.

Read the entire excerpt.

Lisa Childress: Increasing Faculty Engagement in ICC & Internationalization on Campus

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Increasing Faculty Engagement in Intercultural Communication and Internationalization on Campus by Lisa K. Childress.

How can faculty members promote intercultural dialogue on campus? That is what those of us who are advocates for intercultural communication (ICC) and internationalization seek to encourage on a daily basis. Many faculty members on campus may already see interdisciplinary dialogue as an avenue through which to gain a more holistic understanding of their subject matter. In other words, many of our colleagues already believe in the value of looking at research and teaching through more than one disciplinary lens as a way to provide a more complex, comprehensive point of view. The question thus becomes: How can we use the already held value of interdisciplinarity as a springboard to promote the value of ICC and internationalization?

Let’s look at this conundrum through a series of questions:

As faculty members, we seek to develop our students’ global competencies.

(1) What is the foundation for developing our students’ global competencies?
Answer: The internationalization of our curricula.

(2) What is at the heart of internationalizing our curricula?
Answer: Our faculty.

(3) With what do faculty primarily concern themselves?
Answer: Their department’s goals and values and their individual teaching and research agendas.

(4) How can we shift our university’s academic departments towards a more intercultural and international focus?
Answer: Customizing ICC and internationalization to unique disciplinary priorities.

So, how can we move the ball forward? Since faculty members live within their academic disciplines, that is where the conversations and the impetus for increasing faculty engagement in ICC and internationalization need to begin.

Read the full discussion in order to learn the next steps.

Johanna Maccioni: Overlanding from Brussels to Kuala Lumpur

Guest PostsOverlanding from Brussels to Kuala Lumpur: A few comments on interactions along the way, by Johanna Maccioni.

Johanna Maccioni and family

As a family with four children, we decided to travel for a year and a half from Brussels to Sydney with our own truck. Our first itinerary planned to cross Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, part of Russia, Mongolia, China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and finally Australia. However, we never managed to obtain Chinese visas, so we had to build a new itinerary. From Mongolia, we exited through Siberia again to reach Vladivostok where we took a ferry to South Korea and then to Japan. We then shipped our truck to Borneo planning to cross from Malaysia to Indonesia by land on that island, and then take ferries up to Dili in Timor for a last leg to Darwin. During the time our truck was being shipped from Japan to Borneo, we stopped in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. But plans changed again as we were running out of time and money. So, we finally decided to travel to peninsular Malaysia from Borneo, made a loop in Thailand and Laos and sent our truck back home from Kuala Lumpur to sell it. The trip continues for us as we have now settled for a projected two years in New Caledonia, a French island in the Pacific, giving us time to visit part of Oceania.

This road trip was a very exciting adventure and experience to learn from. While there are many possible subjects to describe, I would like to report here a few comments related to interactions during our trip, placing them into a personal perspective.

During this trip, there have been three main type of interactions with others: interactions with local inhabitants in each country, interactions with the expatriate community living abroad, and interactions with members of the overlanding community.

Read the full description to learn the details of these 3 types of interactions, and follow the family’s blog to learn more details of their experiences.

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