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Cross-Cultural Engagement

CCE Reflection Exercise Resources

CCE Learning Objectives:

--to gain skills in cross-cultural communication

--to understand how the world might look from the standpoint of another community of interpretation and experience

--to learn how to discern and, where appropriate, adapt to the cultural expectations of the other

--to witness other cultural embodiments of faith, and thus to reflect on the substance and definition of one's own faith by comparison

Reflection Exercises help students PROCESS their cross-cultural experience for the purposes of:

  • critical reflection
  • clarification of issues
  • asking questions
  • expressing concerns
  • testing theories against experience
  • sharing insights

It can be done individually (e.g. in a journal) and as a group (group discussion). A mixture of the two is probably the most effective, because it gives students a chance to express their own ideas in a private as well as a public forum.

Some suggested ground rules for cross-cultural discussions are listed below to provide assist in providing an environment that is safe for all. These are useful for discussions in and out of class.

  • Engage people as individuals with thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences.
  • Be sensitive to the diversity in communication styles-understand some are linear conversationalists and some are storytellers. 
  • Keep an open mind to explore other ideas, values and opinions
  • Respect each other’s right to have an opinion other than you own.
  • Listen carefully to the ideas of others-one person talking at a time.
  • Listen actively-respect others while they are talking.
  • Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing (Use I statements).
  • Refrain from personal attacks or stereotyped statements about a group.
  • Ask for clarification instead of making assumptions.
  • Allow yourself to examine personal beliefs and attitudes.

Suggested Reflection Prompts

  • Reflect on what you anticipate your cross-cultural experience will be like? What will you learn, what are you afraid of, what are you excited about?
  • Reflect on required readings.  What emotional response do you have to the reading?
  • Reflect on cultural events (festivals, lectures, art exhibits, lectures, authentic restaurants, etc.).
  • Reflect on your first encounter with your cultural informant. Where there any surprises?
  • What are some of the first cultural differences that you have noticed? Similarities?
  • How is your cultural informant similar to you? How is she/he different?
  • Have you noticed the presence or absence of racial or ethnic tension within the community that your cultural informant calls home? In the community that you call home? Elaborate.
  • What international, national, or local news story occurred today that addresses the people group or country of your cultural informant?
  • What are some of the cultural embodiments of faith associated with the culture of your cultural informant?
  • What have you learned about yourself through this cross-cultural experience?
  • What have you learned about your own culture through this experience?
  • In what ways has your faith helped you to negotiate your cross-cultural experience? Explain.
  • Has your actual cross-cultural experience been similar to or different from your expectations or fears? Explain.
    What was the high point of your cross-cultural experience?
  • What are some of the traditions and cultural expectations in your host culture that surprised you? Give specific examples. (for international travel)
  • How might you experience ―reverse culture shock when you return to your home culture? How will you deal with that? (for international travel)
  • What are some of the aspects of the host culture that you would like to take back to N. American culture with you? Why? (for international travel)
  • If there was one thing you could change about your host culture, what would it be? (for international travel)
  •  If there was one thing you could change about your native culture, what would it be? (for international travel)

Suggested Criteria for Evaluation of Journals/Discussions

  • comprehensive and accurate description
  • ability to move beyond description to reflection on deeper meanings
  • evidence of openness to understand host culture and/ or culture of cultural informant  
  • ability to make connections between own culture and that of cultural informant
  • evidence of thoughtful responses to reflection prompts
  • evidence of meeting the 4 CCE objectives

Final Paper
Course Paper: faculty member’s discretion
Reflective Paper Suggestion (For IDIS-290):

(1500 – 2000 words)
a. How did you meet the CCE Objectives listed above?
b. What lessons in cross-cultural interactions from this experience will have a lasting     impact?
c. How is what you learned about the nature of race relations from the readings different     from and/or similar to what you learned about race relations from your cultural     informant?
d. In what ways does a faith perspective differ from a secular perspective in addressing     race relations? Is this helpful?
e. In what ways, if any, did your actual experience differ from what you thought this     experience would be like? Explain.
f. What steps will you take to further your cross-cultural experience and deepen your     cultural knowledge?