Intercultural encounters in Valencia, November 2011

I participated in Intercultural Competence training during my staff exchange week in Valencia.  Vigorous discussions enhanced the participants’ intercultural competence.

Jeanine GregersenHermans, Maastricht University, Netherlands,  gave a lecture about the stages of Intercultural Development Continuum:

Denial. Being comfortable with the familiar. Not anxious to complicate life with “cultural differences”. Not noticing much cultural difference around you. Maintaining separation from others who are different.

Polarization: Defense. A strong commitment to one’s own thoughts and feelings about culture and cultural difference. Aware of other cultures around you, but with a relatively incomplete understanding of them and probably fairly strong negative feelings or stereotypes about some of them. This may lead to some distrust of, and a tendency to be judgmental about, cultural behavior or ideas that differ from one’s own.

Polarization: Reversal is the opposite of Defense. The person feels that some other culture is better and tends to exhibit distrust of, and be judgmental of, their own culture.

Minimization. Aware that other cultures exist all around you, with some knowledge about differences in customs and celebrations. Not putting down other cultures. People from other cultures are pretty much like you, under the surface. Treating other people as you would like to be treated. A tendency to assume you understand the situation the same as a person from another culture.

Acceptance. Aware of your own culture(s). See your own culture as just one of many ways of experiencing the world. Understanding that people from other cultures are as complex as yourself. Their ideas, feelings, and behavior may seem unusual, but you realize that their experience is just as rich as your own. Being curious about other cultures. Seeking opportunities to learn more about them.

Adaptation. Recognizing the value of having more than one cultural perspective available to you. Able to “take the perspective” of another culture to understand or evaluate situations in either your own or another culture. Able to intentionally change your culturally based behavior to act in culturally appropriate ways outside your own culture.

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