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Cara Summerfield
Denver, CO

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Questions & Answers

Watch the video below for a definition of culture. This video illustrates a conversation that took place on the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' social media sites. http// and http//

What is Culture? Video

Audio Transcript of Video

1. How is culture created?

According to Franz Boas, a great anthropologist, the values of any living culture help it survive the environment in which it lives. When the original immigrants came over to the U.S., an individual could disappear into the mountains for months and survive on the abundant wildlife. However, the people of China have always had to work together as a group in the rice fields in order to survive. Thus, the primary values for these countries are opposite of each other.

2. What is Intercultural Competence?

It is the ability to respond appropriately in diverse cultures. There are different types of training available in order to build competence which include, interactions with foreigners, eating ethnic foods, reading newspapers, and becoming familiar with a specific culture's values.

3. How effective is memorizing the country's culture when visiting for the first time?

It is effective only to the extent that you know your own values. The mind is only capable of holding so much information until it blanks out. There is an enormous amount of things to know about another culture. However, if you are familiar with your own set of values, you will be able to discern what values are evident.

4. Why is self-awareness important to this process?

Results from studies on intercultural competence points to the fact that without having knowledge about your own values, there is the danger of responding in appropriately when confronted by diverse values.

5. How is faulty communication expressed?

Through body language, tones of voice, eye contact or lack thereof, dining etiquette, meeting etiquette, and much, much more. If you are aware of your own actions, it will be that much easier to recognize different behaviors.

6. What happens when there is faulty communication?

There are a lot of things that can happen. If you are in another country attempting to negotiate a contract, at the least, you may create hurt feelings and you will have to apologize. At the most, you may lose their trust to the point that they do not wish to do business with you. If you are an instructor, you will risk creating additional insecurity in your student or destroying a student's motivation to learn.

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