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Intercultural Interplay
an article by Meagan Miller

Last winter I participated in the Intercultural Communication Workshop, one of many cultural awareness programs put on by the University of California, San Diego. ICW highlighted contrasts in cultural values between international and American students from diverse backgrounds. In order to integrate the two groups of participants, the workshop divided students into small groups with a leader to facilitate discussion on topics including the influence of culture on perception and techniques to aid cultural adaptation.

Each week, individuals presented an aspect of their own culture in the small groups, usually an object that revealed information about their personality or heritage. The activity helped to boost my own cultural consciousness.

The Intercultural Communication Workshop also provided methods on how to effectively communicate cross-culturally. The "open forum" style established a positive, supportive environment for students to exchange ideas and ask questions about one another's cultures. During the "Albatrossian" simulation, an activity that involved both international and American students, workshop facilitators conveyed the customs and values of the imaginary "Albatrossian" culture to observing students. The exercise, part of one session that focused on transition shock and cultural adaptation, improved my ability to react objectively to complete cultural immersion.

While ICW expressed the complexity of intercultural communication, it also demonstrated the importance of embracing challenges, such as the one posed by the Albatross simulation, in order to further each participant's development as a global, open-minded citizen. Ultimately, it supports a peaceful form of interaction between human beings - a practice that is important to replicate around the world. With its strong emphasis on multiculturalism and tolerance, ICW equips individuals with the communication skills necessary to thrive in a world that integrates a wide variety of cultures.

For more information, please write to the Intercultural Communication Institute, 8835 SW Canyon Lane, Suite 238, Portland, OR 97225 or e-mail


Question(s) related to this article:

Learning opportunities to foster global community, What are the important components in their design?

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Latest reader comment:

Here are the Training Objectives and Expected Impact of the training described in the report, Young People's Retreat for Social Change.

Training Objectives

* To build understanding and trust among youth of diverse religions, spiritual expressions
and indigenous traditions;

* We work to bridge an active connection between youth participants and their communities and
to encourage youth participants to engage in meaningful service in their community.

* Strive to inspire and connect new generations of conscious, committed young leaders and to
provide them training and leadership opportunities to create a space for Peace.

*        We encourage young people to explore and rediscover their cultural traditions and to deepen
roots in their community and tradition.

Expected Impact of Training

1. To prepare enable the youth from all faiths in regard to create a peaceful atmosphere within
their communities.

2. To sensitize people about human values and dignity of man irrespective of religions/faiths and

3. To empower and skilled the participants to play their role as peace and interfaith harmony actors
for the restoration of human life/dignity.

4. The practical support to direct beneficiaries and trainee would boost up the confidence and self
respect among their respective communities.

5. Ultimately the individual will have a sense of their own personal potential to be an active peace
builder and strive for living an ethical life within diverse situations.

6. To develop on the ground local relevant humanitarian projects that further peace.

7. To link to a global network of like minded and like hearted youth who are standing aligned with
these values.

This report was posted on April 11, 2006.