Friday, December 16, 2011

Cultural Barriers Part II

UC Riverside
You will need to adapt, meaning change your behavior.  This isn't fun, but it’s life.  At some point you will want to quit, but you must work past this challenge.  Adaptation is a natural part of life.  In the world of work you will need to constantly adapt to changing market conditions and new ways of doing business. 

Your cultural challenges can become a serious market advantage if you integrate yourself into the dominant culture.  You will need to create support systems at college consisting of professors, friends, study groups, and counselors.  Your family will be the emotional support, but you need to realize that you are an alien in an alien land when you go off to college.  You will have to adapt to your new environment, and this is hard work for first generation college goers. 

You do not need to turn your back on your core principles; you just need to add to who you are.  I have noticed that when two native speakers are together they utilize Spanish, but if a friend walks up, who doesn’t speak Spanish, they will shift to English.  Why does this happen?  Because they are friends, and friends don’t exclude friends.  It is like whispering, it is generally bad manners to whisper because it makes people feel uncomfortable. 

UC Riverside

Manners are the way we show others that we are not rude, so when we break a rule of behavior that is seen as “normal” we can be labeled rude by others.  The problem is that “normal” behavior at college is different than the “normal” behavior of your home or neighborhood.  If you don’t care about what others think you will find yourself alone and often out of work.  You need to realize that in college, you must speak, act and write in a way that does not offend or hurt your chances of being taken seriously.  You must use formal American Standard English in your communication. 

Don’t give up your other dialects, just add formal English to your list of dialects that you utilize.  Yelling and interrupting during a discussion are common tactics utilized by those who are not taken seriously and the will make you seem less convincing.  In your mind’s eye focus on a person you have met who is cool and collected in an argument.  Have you met someone like this? Regardless of your feelings about presidents William Clinton and Barrack Obama, both are masterful in remaining calm under intense pressure.  That is how you should act; stay calm as if the result of the argument doesn’t matter.  If you feel anger rising, it is best to hold your tongue or measure carefully what you say.

Force yourself to listen in discussions and craft your replies to the unique situation of the conversation, rather than regurgitate the same, tired arguments each day.  The idea is to separate yourself from your passions to get across your point.  If you are sharing your faith, remember that truth is on your side, but acknowledge that your knowledge of the truth is limited. 

Don’t be afraid of “facts” that seem to fly in the face of your faith.  Use these as motivation to learn more about your faith.  Look for opportunities to see God at work in all of your studies and add them to your “proof” of God’s command and authorship of all knowledge (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).  Adapting to new cultures will also be expected in whatever career you end up doing.  It is proper to shift with the situation.  You are not being double-faced, you are being considerate.  You don’t have to go back on your values to accommodate a culture.  There are many other behavioral cues you will come to notice in college.  Learn these and adapt (1 Corinthians 9:21-23)