By Jennie LewisSpecial to CSMS MagazineIn comparing and contrasting the experiences in becoming intercultural of Kim and Ma, I found the following:Young Yun Kim is more pro-active at becoming intercultural, in that he has a positive outlook of the intercultural process. He feels that it is the individual’s responsibility to acclimate themselves to the new culture without compromising their cultures’ framework. In other words, don’t expect the dominant culture to receive you with “open arms.” You should take it upon yourself to acculturate yourself and do it in a way that is transparent to your peers and your heritage. Kim’s intercultural analogy is best described below:“Our answers to the above questions have to be found, not in public policies but in the willingness and ability of each of us to get out of the conventional habit of solely defining ourselves in terms of a single cultural identity. In so doing, we may strive for a mental outlook that integrates, rather than separates, humanity. Cultural identity is not only an ascriptive entity; it is also subject to change through life experiences. I have theorized that prolonged and cumulative experiences of communication between individuals of differing cultural backgrounds bring about systemic, adaptive changes in the individual’s psyche. Stress-adaptation-growth helps us move in the direction of increased chances of success in meeting the demands of intercultural contacts.” Additionally, Kim states that: “Individualization of identity, which is a self-conception and a conception of others that transcends conventional social categories, is one of the long-term consequences of undergoing the intercultural transformation process. Universalization is a new consciousness, born out of an awareness of the relative nature of values and of the universal aspect of human nature. “To be willing to undergo personal transformation, in turn, meant that we recognize the necessity to be open to new experiences that may transform us.”Kim’s theory exemplifies the proactive approach to the intercultural process. His theory is best summarized by his remark: “ To be willing to undergo personal transformation, in turn, meant that we recognize the necessity to be open to new experiences that may transform us.” I agree with this theory, and it will transform us into one culture with diverse heritage.On the other hand, although Ringo Ma’s is pro-intercultural as well, he feels that the dominant culture should adapt to new cultures, and it should “roll out the red carpet to new cultures.”I can best describe Ringo Ma as having an inferiority complex. His perception of the native culture made him believe that his appearance, accent, and cultural inexperience made him inferior. One example is when he lived in Canada: At his place of employment people referred to him by his first name not by his title “doctor.” However, his colleagues were addressed correctly.In the intercultural process, Ringo Ma was plagued by his perception of the unequal inconsistent treatment by others. Perhaps Mr. Ma needed to be more proactive and inform his colleagues that although he was a foreigner, he too, had the title of doctor, and would appreciate it if they referred to him as such. Ma felt that other cultures do not appreciate a new culture. One positive aspect of Ma’s essay is when he says: “It is my hope and professional goal through teaching intercultural communication that a multicultural world can be create in which both-and is the dominant experience and people from all cultures appreciate the cultures of others.”I feel that you cannot make the native culture like you; address you appropriately; or interact with you. However, you can show them that your culture has taken the necessary steps to learn the ways of the native culture, appreciate the fact that it has opened its doors to new cultures, address people in the native culture appropriately and interact with them in a humane and healthy way.The implication for teaching ESOL students is that you should treat every student equally. Teachers should make it a point to learn the demographics of the classroom and prepare lesson plans that will help ESOL student, through their own cultural habits, learn how to interact with the native culture in a healthy un-biased way. The ultimate goal is to make the ESOL students aware that they should be open to new ideas that will, in the long run, make them well educated and exemplary people in our intercultural community.Note: Jennie Lewis is an education major at NSU. She wrote this piece exclusively for CSMS Magazine.Also see: Creating culture diversity
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