Embracing Otherness

Intercultural Pedagogy

Thandiwe Newton. (2011). Embracing otherness, embracing myself. TEDGlobal.

Thandiwe Newton describes her own multiple identities, given a white father from Cornwall (UK) and a black mother from Zimbabwe, and provides an overview of many ways in which she was repeatedly treated, and made to feel, as Other. She learned that “The self was not constant.” She eventually found her footing through dance and acting, and in college learned that:

Race is an illegitimate concept which ourselves have created, based on fear and ignorance.

Her presentation would be helpful to those teaching about multiple identities, and especially the concept of Otherness. See also KC39 Otherness and the Other(s), and KC22: Cultural Identity for related discussions.

Comics and Multiple Cultural Identities

Intercultural Pedagogy

Han, Dabin. (21 November 2022). COMIC: Korean American books inspired one artist to redefine her identity. National Public Radio.

In a story told entirely through comics, Davin Han describes her own identity journey she has followed, as a Korean American, moving between Korean, Korean-ish and American. She shows how important it was to her to find books by other Korean Americans. Among other insights:

What I’m learning is that I can’t choose between being Korean or American because they are not separable identities.

It is a relief to hear complicated answers to a question that has always been posed so casually.

This story would make a particularly accessible classroom resource for teaching about multiple identities. See also KC22: Cultural identityKC105: Acculturation, and KC62: Diaspora for related discussions.



A Comedian’s Take on Cultural Differences

Intercultural Pedagogy

Sundermann, Killian. (21 October 2021). Irish and German people offering things. Twitter.

I just ran across this very cute video where comedian Killian Sundermann demonstrates the difference between German and Irish ways of offering cake, and the confusion that ensues.

For further information about the video, which went viral and resulted in 10 million views, watch the 4-minute version, which includes an interview with Sundermann. He grew up in Ireland with German parents, and so obviously has a good sense of how cultural differences can be displayed through interaction. Apparently the incident with the cake is based on reality. He says “I’m really just stealing my family’s stories.”

Weekend Breakfast with Alison Curtis. (3 November 2021). Killian Sundermann chats to Alison Curtis. Today FM.

Either video would make a good classroom resource for teaching about intercultural communication. See also KC1: Intercultural dialogue, and KC5: Intercultural communication.



Theory in about 1 Minute: Dialogue


In the fourth episode of the series “Theory in about 1 minute,” the concept of dialogue is presented by Alistair Clark (audio only).

Theory in about 1 minute is a series of podcasts/videocasts recorded in three languages (Brazilian Portuguese, French, and English) presenting basic theoretical concepts for studies in language acquisition in accessible language. The texts cover topics such as bilingualism, subjectivity, alterity, language, speech genres, mother tongue, literacies, early literacy, and many others. The series is an initiative of the Research Group on Language Acquisition at Unesp/Araraquara (GEALin) in Brazil.

This podcast would make a good classroom resource for teaching about dialogue. See also KC14: Dialogue, and KC1: Intercultural Dialogue, as well as other Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue produced by this Center.


But Where Are You From From?

Intercultural Pedagogy

Sposato, Jonathan Ng, & Watt, Michelle. (2022, September 1). But where are you from from? JoySauce.

JoySauce invented a fantasy game show entitled “Where are you FROM from?” and asked photographer Michelle Watt to create images illustrating it, as a way of mocking the question Asian Americans are frequently asked:

Uber driver/server/Tinder date/otherwise stranger: “Where are you from?”
Asian American: “Seattle.”
Stranger: “No, like, where are you from from?”
Asian America: “I mean, I was born in Brooklyn, but then moved to Seattle.”
Stranger: “No no, where are you really from?”
And on and on…

“In line with the core values of JoySauce, this irreverent series portrays four scenes that cheekily critique common misperceptions of AA+PIs, and examine some of the ways our communities have adapted to survive (and thrive) in America. These photos also invite the viewer to contemplate how AA+PI identities intersect, sometimes humorously, with other cultures in their broader American context.”

This article, and/or these images, would make a good classroom resource for teaching about stereotypes, Othering, and xenophobia. See also KC55: Stereotypes, KC39: Otherness and the Other, and KC89: Xenophobia.


International Virtual Exchanges

Intercultural Pedagogy

D’Agostino, Susan. (2022, August 31). Virtual exchanges promote equity in global learning. Inside Higher Education.

This article describes a virtual exchange project between students in the USA coordinated with students from Iraq on the topic of the United Nations’ sustainability goals. They examined sustainability challenges in their respective communities, working together both synchronously and asynchronously. Then they worked together on solving a single applied problem.

The most common virtual exchange programs focus on intercultural dialogue and peace building; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and global or international affairs…

Study abroad programs often target students who have adequate financial support to cover the costs, and so are not as often accessible to students who do not. Virtual exchanges bypass that difficulty, while still providing much of the cultural exchange and learning. As study abroad programs were substantially curtailed due to the pandemic, this is also a good way to maintain international connections when travel is limited.

The program supporting this particular example is the Stevens Initiative, “a U.S. government–funded initiative administered by the Aspen Institute that works to expand virtual exchange options to regions of the world where U.S. students have not studied abroad in large numbers, including in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Backtalk: Artists on Native, African & African American Stereotypes

Intercultural Pedagogy

Backtalk: Artists on Native, African, and African American Stereotypes, Online exhibit, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.

Backtalk: Artists on Native, African, and African American Stereotypes is part of a collaborative, broad-reaching examination on the persistence of racial and cultural stereotypes. Following the vision of Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director emerita, National Museum of African Art (NMAfA), to examine stereotypes across cultures, this online exhibition explores how select visual artists interrogate and engage racial and cultural stereotypes in their creative practice. The curatorial team chose to focus on a diverse group of artists from various backgrounds, geographies, and contexts who are represented in Smithsonian Institution collections and have addressed intersecting themes and subjects relevant to the impact of cultural and racial stereotypes. Backtalk features works by nine 20th- and 21st-century artists who capture, reflect, and/or speak back to the stereotype.

The project began as an examination of the ways in which artists are rewriting historical narratives that reinforce racial, cultural, and gender stereotypes through appropriation and subversion of the images traditionally used to stigmatize them. The pieces chosen are each in a Smithsonian collection and represent a range of strategies, including satire, parody, humor, and masking, in response to colonialist depictions of “the Other.” Audiences are invited to view the portrayals of race, gender, and culture in canonical Western paintings through a different lens—one in which the spectacle becomes the spectator and the passive subject becomes the agent. In the process, the power of artists to unveil and respond to social and cultural norms that perpetuate stereotypes is brought to life.

Related materials: KC55: Stereotypes provides a basic introduction to the topic intended to be accessible to undergraduates. This online exhibit would be a great extension of the topic for students.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Equality vs. Equity Graphic

Intercultural Pedagogy

There’s a wonderful graphic image of the difference between equality and equity, created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

RWJF Equality vs. equity graphic

Their concern is with the context of health, but presumably the same image would be valuable in discussing equality vs. equity in a wide range of contexts, including discussions of intercultural differences. (They ask that people share this image.)

Tamara Makoni provides one example of using the RWJF design within the context of discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Understanding Race: Are We So Different?

Intercultural Pedagogy

Understanding Race: Are we so different?, originally designed as a traveling museum exhibition, has been updated and is now available online.

The exhibition RACE: Are we so different? was developed as a museum exhibit in 2007, by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota. RACE has been the first nationally traveling exhibition to tell the stories of race from the biological, cultural, and historical points of view. Combining these perspectives offers an unprecedented look at race and racism, with a focus  on the United States.

[Racism] is not about how you look, it is about how people assign meaning to how you look. – Robin D.G. Kelley, Historian

The exhibition brings together the everyday experience of living with race, its history as an idea, the role of science in that history, and the findings of contemporary science that are challenging its foundations. Interactive exhibit components, historical artifacts, iconic objects, compelling photographs, multimedia presentations, and attractive graphic displays offer visitors to RACE an eye-opening look at its important subject matter.

The online version includes additional resources that are not typically included in a museum exhibition: a bibliography of related publications, list of related websites, and a glossary. This should be a useful tool for anyone teaching about the concept of race.

Example of Multicultural Confusion: English-French Toast

Intercultural Pedagogy

This image is of “English-French toast,” also identified as American and German, marked with the Spanish flag and an image of (Italian) pizza, marketed to the Japanese, and made in China.

This astonishing photo showed up on my Twitter feed, and I was sure others would find it fascinating as well.

English-French toast
Intercultural incompetence and/or misappropriation (?)

The person who posted it, Dr. Duane Watson, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, used it as illustration of what a manuscript can look like after multiple rounds of reviews. But to me, this is a great example of the role of food in intercultural communication, as well as multiculturalism gone wild.  Dr. Byron Ahn, a professor of linguistics at Princeton, mentioned in a comment that, in addition to the English words “English,” “French,” and “American” that show up, the Japanese script translates to “German style.”  And there’s a Spanish flag, and an image of a pizza (presumably Italian), with the word “pizza” next to it. (Is the suggestion perhaps that   buyers might use French toast as the bread layer for a pizza?) So it’s American-Spanish-Italian-English-French-toast made in the German style, marketed to the Japanese, and made in China.

The image is posted here with thanks to both Watson and Ahn, and for anyone who needs a smile today, or who needs an example guaranteed to spark some class discussion.

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Director
Center for Intercultural Dialogue

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