A Leadership Program for Duke Students with A Global Mindset

Intercultural Journal #4

A challenge that I have faced during this semester has come from sometimes having to act as a representative of American culture. I mean this in a way of having to make sweeping generalizations when explaining certain things to language partners or participants that come to English Conversation Club. The reason that I view this as such a challenge is that there is no national standard that everyone follows, so it can be hard to go beyond my experiences, especially as a minority. When it comes to things like pop culture references, it sometimes makes me feel as though I am undereducated because my interests lie elsewhere.

I feel that one way to address this challenge is to bargain with my identity more directly in terms of establishing and communicating a frame of reference. In line with developing a sense of the importance of cultural difference, I can try to explain that there is a nuance to understanding the United States as individuals being a product of the section of the country that they grew up in. When discussing such topics as why there is a tendency in the United States to be wary of getting the COVID vaccine, this perspective might allow me to give more of a vantage point of where people are more likely to feel that way rather than it being a national sentiment. Part of the issue is recognizing that there is a media portrayal that stereotypes other cultures within the United States that works the same against us in other countries. One of the steps to working through this might have a more open dialogue to evaluate different aspects of cultural differences so that everyone involved can leave with a better-informed level of understanding.


Journal #3


the hegemony of english: a thinkpiece

1 Comment

  1. Ling Jin

    Hi Isaiah, thanks for sharing that you noticed that when interacting with people from other countries, you sometimes had to “act as a representative of American culture” and that can be problematic and challenging. This is probably something you will continue to encounter beyond the program and beyond your life at Duke, so I’m glad that you are thinking about it now.

    I like your suggestion “to bargain with my identity more directly in terms of establishing and communicating a frame of reference.” I think to a certain extent it also depends on who you are talking to, under what context the communication happens, and why you are talking to this person. We will most likely need to adjust our strategies according to the situation while maintaining a certain level of authenticity to ourselves. It can be challenging and probably a lifelong process, but I think that’s also part of the fun with intercultural communication.

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