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Actual Intercultural Events

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Actual Intercultural Events
It was my very first time in Malaysia and a failed intercultural communication occurred when I joined my college here. By someone in the International office at my college where I was informed that I will be required to get my medical check-up done together with other three students who were waiting in the student lounge for the person who was going to take all of us to the clinic. Whilst waiting with the other three students, one of the male students looked at me with a smile on his face and very lightly said; “Hi, my name is Christ.’’ He then stretched out his hand and I replied, “My name is Asiya, I’m from India and I’m sorry but I do not shake hands with male friends.’’ As I spoke, I could see his facial expression changing and I felt bad inside because I felt like I offended him because maybe from his cultural opinion that was an offence. After that exact incident, he never spoke to me again.
Firstly, let me clarify that I did not intend to be rude; culturally I was being a collectivist. According to Hofsteds’s Value Dimensions, collectivist is a culture where people described and act mostly as a member of a long-term group in terms of profession, age cohort, family or religion, so carrying that mindset from my ancestors I still apply it. While Christ was being an Individualist, he displayed his individual personality and to choose his own affiliation by not talking to me anymore.
On aspect of “Intercultural Learning on Short-Term Sojourns” defined by Jane Jackson, Christ was also being an ethnocentric because he had failed to understand the actual reason why I denied shaking hands with him and after he did not speak. From a case study in ELL 210 class, Culture as a Perceptual Framework, which is adapted from Ganon & Palai of 2010? I learned that I had applied Expectation Framework because I expected Christ to understand the variations of our cultures, as he was also an international student here in Malaysia. I expected a different reaction from what actually resulted from him.
One day I was walking through an aisle near college to print my assignment where I spotted Christ once again. I smiled and explained to him the situation and for what he may have been thinking of me was not what it seemed. I made it clear to him that this was because of my culture and nothing against him. Soon after our encounter and mutual discussion, we become good friends, shared thoughts about our cultures and traditions. Since then whenever he sees me he just smiles very gracefully without any grudges.
This whole experience indicates that we were not aware of each other’s cultures and that is why our intercultural communication failed.

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