As an international student, I was thinking “intercultural communication” refers to basically the oral communication, or non-verbal communication among people from different countries, with various cultural backgrounds. Now I realize this is to narrow, there is much broader meaning for “intercultural communication”. From the content of our textbook, “Intercultural communication in Context” finished by Judith N. Martin and Thomas K. Nakayama, intercultural communication is related to factors like identity, power, language, nonverbal codes, history, context. It’s far more complicated than I thought before, and I strong believe that it’s super necessary to know more about intercultural communication from a professional way, due to the increasing importance of being a globalized person, also the significance of intercultural communication in a rapidly changing world, I appreciated the chance I got to studying in USA, since I have been in America for three years, I realized the value of cultural practice, also helps me better understanding the practice of “intercultural communication”, as the example illustrated in the “Intercultural communication in Context”,
“Living in another country widens your horizon. It makes you appreciate the things you have, and it strengths the family unit. You look at your country from a different view. We have learned not to expect everything to be the same as “at home”
This is exactly what I feel recent years, also the reason I like New York City and San Francisco, diverse culture have relatively healthy environment to flourish here. People mostly agree that the place like NYC is a really cultural diversely; actually we also have lots of chance to get to know how intercultural communication works in Twin Cities Area. We got plenty neighborhood, which are really cultural diversely here, my partner and me are responsible for Phillips, one of the most cultural vibrant community that locate in the south of downtown Minneapolis, after the expansion of neighborhood, currently it’s a community consists of four neighborhood. For getting to know how intercultural communication works in Phillips, as well as how does it influence over the city, we did historical research, contemporary issue research, identity and power analysis, most importantly, the conversation with people live or work in Phillips, through the whole process, I got more knowledge about how these elements in community work together to influence intercultural communication in Phillips and Minneapolis.
Getting to know the history of the community is always the first step to establish everything, after doing all the steps, I realize the influence of history can be really powerful, it relates to the identity of the community, decides the power which impacts intercultural communication, also some contemporary issue that is continued through the history. In Phillips, the most significant change was about racial composition started in 1920’s, during the period of the Great Depression, before that time, Phillips was famous for its rapid economic growth, various business, and great transportation, it was the organized residence area mainly for wealthy people, whites, many of them are immigrants from Europe, like Sweden, the rich, comfortable life of residents in Phillips still can be seen in American Swedish Institution, a museum aims to preserve the cultural of European immigrants in Phillips, which was originally the home for the most famous family in Phillips, that operated newspaper. As our exploration in American Swedish Institution, the luxurious life situation of earlier residents in Phillips is uncovered, which has strong contradiction to the current residents. Nowadays, most people living in residents are Blacks or Latinos, the demographic in Phillips had a significant change, and this lead to the shift in identity, give rise to new social problems. In the early times, the main social issue in Phillips largely differs from now, for one reason, racial composition changed a lot, it’s hard to see whites in Phillips, also, the expansion in boundaries enlarge the range of Phillips, which brings new cultural to the area. Unlike previously, nowadays, the hottest issue in Phillips is safety problem, according to the Minneapolis city network, Phillips is one of the most dangerous areas in the city, and high crime rate impressed many people, from the online discussion, one of the citizens published
“All I know is that a teenage kid got shot there by someone who wanted his bike. I’d say the odds you are safe is pretty good, but still, if you check MPD crime maps, there are incidents going on week in and week out. Look at the crime map I’m linking to. 6 armed robberies and 5 aggravated assaults in one week. To me, that’s pretty bad.”
As we can see, safety issue is the major concern for people live in Phillips, people considered it as “dangerous area”, this is one of new identities associated to Phillips. The other problem relates to poverty such as unemployment, and education. There are still 13% unemployment rate in Phillips, declines 1.8% compare to 1990, currently, only 5.8% Phillips residents work in the Phillips area, 38.5% people work in other district in Minneapolis. Unemployment leads to poverty directly, even though the community keeps making impressive progress in economic development, poverty rate still stays much higher than the average rate in Minneapolis. See? Safety problem, poverty are new social issue as the change in demographics in Phillips, they bring the new identity to Phillips. To analyze what decides the development of Phillips, economics, race can be main power impact on Phillips, shift in racial composition lead to shift in culture directly. From the conversation we talk to people in Phillips, I found no matter the race, they have great loyalty to their own culture, therefore, the majority racial group has great power to influence the history. Judith Martin and Thomas Nakayama, writers of Intercultural Communication in Contexts, wrote:
“Power is the central dynamic in the writing of history. It influences the content of the history we know and the way it is delivered. Power dictates what is taught and what is silenced, what is available and what is erased.”
For instance, one of the old lady said: She strongly supports the expansion the protection of American Swedish Institution, she is the spring of European, and the museum is one of her favorite place.
To summarize, the intercultural communication is a pretty dynamic process, any change in one aspect can cause the other change, and they are interlocked. To know more about intercultural communication, we can better understand the city.
Marks, Wizard. Phillips neighborhood network. The Alley in May, 05 1990. Web. 26 May 2012. <http://www.pnn.org/History/Stories/railroads_and_industry.htm>.
“Phillips Community.” City of Minneapolis. N.p., 27 09 2011. Web. 26 May 2012. <http://www.minneapolismn.gov/neighborhoods/phillips/neighborhoods_phillips_profile_home>.
Martin, J., & Nakayama, T. (2010). Intercultural communication in contexts. New York: McGraw-Hill.