After studying the Seward neighborhood for the entire semester, I have come to better understand what impact culture, status, social, and economics had on a particular neighborhood. This course has made me a better student and person for opening my eyes to the reality taking place around me.
To better understand communication between cultures, we should first define intercultural communication.
According to Buffalo State, intercultural communication is defined as, “communication, and the study of it, among peoples of different cultural, ethnic and tribal backgrounds. Because of the inherent differences between the message sender/encoder and the message receiver/decoder, the risk of misunderstanding is particularly high in intercultural situations.”
As I have continuously spoken about the communication between the community members of Seward being very positive, despite the variety of cultures, this allows me to understand intercultural communication in a much different way.
Growing up in a small town that was honestly 100% white, my views of other races and cultures were formed by television and movie portrayals, due to the lack of diversity in the town.
We spoke often about how we understood other races to be and why we formed these conclusions. Many others came from very similar situations and I, and contributed this to simply hearing stories or stereotypes and not actually socializing with different cultures.
Other venues, such as Disney movies plug inaccurate stereotypes into young children’s minds without knowing that this information is not true. This allows them to form their own views early on, possibly taking away their rights to make their own opinions by interacting with different races.
A video documentary we viewed in class provided many examples as to what videos are doing this. Another video I have watched is a YouTube video featuring different character portrayal and the voices used. Take a look for yourselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hCTI6JYtuo
The reason why I am saying this is because I want to attribute the back and forth views of culture to how we are raised and bringing the inaccuracy, in many cases, to the attention of readers.
Having said this, I feel that the vast variety of culture and race in Seward has allowed the community members to better understand each other, rather than forming stereotypes about their neighbors. But if members of surrounding neighborhoods or even people like me that live in the suburbs and have heard certain things without actually visiting the area, we often being to believe the things that we have formed. Because of this, we then begin to feel as though we have too many differences from one another and do not feel as though they can communication with each other.
How are we suppose to understand how to communicate with other cultures when we feel as though we cannot even relate to them?
History and Now
I think we can all agree that history very much shapes where we are today. This is very much true for neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, including Seward. Seward was built up from immigrants and is still being populated by many of those cultures. I believe the history of Seward to be the reason why it is viewed by other communities, because people understand that it may have areas that are low income or cultures that do not have the best of reputations, but because it has been like this for so long but continues to thrive and is a positive part of the cities, we see it in a much different way than we normally would.
Everyone is human and will make their assumptions about others different or even similar to them, and much of this is related to how others view them, what their interests are, where they came from, ect. We are creatures of habit and are attracted to those like ourselves, so when we view people that go against that, we believe to form that barrier that does not allow us to speak in normalcy to them.
I think we can all relate to this; when a friend tells us that a town is full of “ghetto” people (just an example!), that is instantly imprinted into our thoughts and we forever view it this way until we are thoroughly convinced differently.
We often find it hard to adapt to new and unfamiliar things, so for many people who are not familiar with a certain culture, we will hold on to that created stereotype often for a very long time.
My Take Away
From this course, I have learned that many of us have unfairly and inaccurately form stereotypes about other cultures and have not allowed ourselves to go out of our comfort and get to know the reality of different cultures. Talk to people, be open and understand, because even though they may be different in some aspects, much of the time, they are more like us than we even realize. I have found myself that I have done this and I now have the intention to spark conversations in unfamiliar territories.
(n.d.). Intercultural communication. Retrieved from http://faculty.buffalostate.edu/smithrd/UAE Communication/Unit5.pdf