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Intercultural Communications Service Learning Paper Submitted by: Zackery Barker May 1, 2013

Submitted to: Tamra K. Phillips, M.S. Comm 2150 Department of Communications Salt Lake Community College

Service Organization For my service learning project, I volunteered at the Academic Literacy Center at Salt Lake Community College. Community Partner contact information: Lidya Gonzalez Academic Literacy Center Free Tutoring Slcc Taylorsville Redwood Campus TB 430 Phone: 801-957-4026 E-mail: lidya.gonzalez@slcc.edu Project The Academic Literacy Center's goal is to help students who have difficulties in the English language. The ALC helps mostly students from foreign countries and those whose native language is not English. They help in various ways, whether it is with teaching and correcting grammar principles, helping with pronunciation, proofreading assignments and many other tasks. During my volunteer service with the ALC I worked as a volunteer tutor. I did one on one tutoring with 2 different students. I worked mostly with Laura La Grutta, A woman from Lima, Peru, in South America. She is a fellow student in my communications 2150 class. She is currently taking English 1010. Laura has no family here in the U.S. She has aChihuahua which she loves and talks about very much. Laura is a native Spanish speaker, she speaks English very well, but struggles very mildly with pronunciation. I also had the opportunity to work several times with Lassis an African Male from Togo, West Africa. He is a native French speaker. He is taking English 990. He lives here with his wife and children. Both of these students have lived in the states for several years, over 5 years I believe. I worked most often with Laura and we worked mostly on her English homework and also worked on communications assignments. While working with Lassis we worked on homework from a how to study class. We worked on basic skills like setting up an outline and good study techniques. When I started I was volunteering at the center about 3 times a week. Towards the end of the semester I was asked to visit less and less. I am only meeting with

Lassis once a week now. I completed over 20 hours in the ALC during this semester. Culture Group Laura belongs to several culture groups as does Lassis and myself. Laura is a early mid aged woman from Latin origins. She is from South America, she speaks Spanish and English. She has lived in the U.S. For several years now. She works and goes to school; she is single, with no children. She is Christian, Catholique and not practicing. Lassis is From Togo, Africa. He is a Native French speaker and speaks his home dialect and English. He is Black, he is middle aged. He is married and has children. He is a Christian, believes in the LDS faith. Challenges I encountered several challenges while working in the ALC. Sometimes there were days where either I or the student was unavailable and unable to show up. There were also days where it was difficult to go because I had homework I needed to finish before going. There were also the challenges that the student and I faced because of our cultural differences. Language barriers between Laura and I. Whether it be miscomprehension because of her accent or a lack of words. Sometimes it was a struggle with grammar or some things were misinterpreted. Sometimes it was difficult to teach certain grammar principles that I was unaware of. For example I did not know the reasoning behind using the past continuing tense. There were times where I was tired and uninterested in the volunteer work. Theory I would like to use the proxemics theory developed by Edward T. Hall. This theory states that according to cultures, people have different personal space and distance values. It also deals with nonverbal communication. In the course packet we learn about Hall's theory of Proxemics, which is the study of the human use of space within the context of culture. There are three different types of space (Phillips, 2013, p 80) 1. Intimate space- this is the space that only close friends and intimates are accepted. 018 inches


Social and Consultative spaces- this is the routine space for acquaintances and strangers. 4-10 feet.

3. Public space- this is an impersonal space or anonymous space. From 10 feet and beyond it has been noted that in different cultures people will change distances for each space. People also have ways of reacting to people entering in each different space or bubble. Americans might typically move back when talking to someone during a conversation if they feel that person is too close. While in Latin America cultures someone might move in closer during a standard conversation. Hall also teaches us that depending on our culture, our verbal and nonverbal messages can have different meaning. In a low context culture such as the U.S. We tend to focus on what is said and not how. In a high context culture like Latin America they focus more on how it is said instead of what is said. Cultures also have different values in time, body contact, symbols, and groups. (Phillips, 2013, p. 80-82) Analysis I really enjoyed looking at ways to apply this theory to my service learning project. I found examples here and there of the different things that Lassis and Laura would do possibly because of cultural influence. I think one of the biggest ones was the difference on the time schedule between me and them. I was almost always on time and in fact most of the time I was early. Because I am from a culture that is very monochronic, meaning we hold to schedules and go step by step focusing on one thing at a time. (Phillips, 2013, p. 81) while as for both Lassis and Laura they come from cultures that are more polychronic. In both Africa and Latin America people tend to focus less on time and more on the relationships and personal obligations. They can move their schedules around as the day goes by. (Phillips, 2013, P 81-82) I often had to wait for Lassis and Laura because they would show up 5 minutes late to our apt. One time while waiting for Lassis, Lidya the ASL coordinator called him to ask if he was coming. He said he would be there in fifteen minutes, which didn't give us enough time to work together. She told him that I would not be able to meet with him

because it was too long and then she excused me for that day. Other days Lassis was not there and told neither Lidya nor myself that he would be unable to come that day. I would always try to visit Lidya and tell her beforehand if I was unable to come. One time because of my schooling I had too much homework, so I made sure to call. Some would say this is very monochromic because I am sticking to my plans and schedule of schooling and losing out on my personal relationship with Lassis and Laura. Laura did quite well with scheduling but I noticed she would try to talk after the volunteer service was over. She was seeking more human transaction, while I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible to go finish my schoolwork. She liked to walk slowly and talk which was sometimes a struggle for me. I also saw differences in our spatial perceptions and comfort. I am used to several different cultures, like the African Culture, and also European Culture. While in France I was able to notice some of the differences in space. I adjusted to several of them. While working with Laura, often times we needed to use her laptop to see her works. She would pull the laptop closer and move closer to me, which would normally make me uneasy and I would maybe turn my chair insuring a larger distance, or I would make less eye contact during this time to put up a sort of barrier. I noticed she was extremely comfortable during these times. I would react a little at times when maybe our knees touched or we made some sort of contact but otherwise I feel I have adjusted to this closer personal space. My culture's space for conversation is 4-7 feet while for Laura I believe it is probably much closer and about half of that distance. (Phillips, 2013, P 80). This could explain why she felt so comfortable being closer than most other Americans would. Once again dealing with Chronemics-attitudes toward time, I noticed the different use of time. While volunteering, I wanted to use all of the time I had to help them with English. I wanted to focus on grammar and use books. While both Laura and Lassis were very focused on developing a friendship. I believe they used that time to work on building their English through conversation. Many times Laura would stop the lesson and ask me questions about my personal life and try to start conversation. This tended to make me a little fidgety, I would answer the question and then go

off topic a little. During these times my goals often changed to how can I get back on track. Which presented a very monochromic attitude towards time. I recognize now she simply values these human transactions more. She and Lassis come from Polychronic cultures and so they tend to focus more on how things are said and the relationships built then tend to worry about time. I thought I had adjusted quite well to a more polychronic time while over in Europe working with the many polychronic cultures. I realize now I am very monochronic oriented. I really enjoyed applying this theory to my service learning because; these were some of the things that stuck out the most to me. The different attitudes towards time and our concepts of personal space. Reflection I was extremely excited for this service learning project. I knew I had the time for the project and I knew that I was going to learn new things about cultures. I really enjoy learning new things about different cultures. While I was in France I really took the opportunity to learn new things about all of the different cultures I saw and I loved trying to adjust to them. I was able to learn a lot more about the two cultures of Latin America and West Africa. I found I already knew several things about West Africa, but I learned so much more about Latin America. I was very unfamiliar with Latin America except for the stereotypes and generalizations that I had. I have become much more open to both cultures because of this project. I was able to recognize something that I would like to try to change in my own life because of what I learned. That is making human transactions more important in my life, to try to focus more on the relationships I can build than to stick to the schedule. I really enjoyed how much both Lassis and Laura valued our Relationship. I could see myself change a little more towards the end. At first I was ecstatic to meet with new cultures and work with new people. I saw the enthusiasm drop a little bit towards the end because I felt I already knew a lot about each culture. Although now looking back I feel there is still so much more I can learn. I think if I were to do this again I would choose a theory right from the

beginning to follow through and apply. I really enjoyed meeting these new people and working with them. The service learning project has helped me a lot because it allowed me to take myself out of my culture and embrace another for a short time. I am grateful for the relationships I was able to form and for the gratitude that was shown. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I had to work with those who are really trying to embrace my culture right now, as they try to learn my language. I know the feeling and how difficult it can be so I was so very grateful to help them learn the English language. This project has helped me learn principles and values that I will change and continue to use throughout my whole life. References Martin, J. N. & Nakayam, T. K (2010). Intercultural Communication in Contexts (5th ed.) Boston: McGraw Hill. Phillips, T. K. (2013). Intercultural Communications Course Packet. Gonzales, L. (2013) ALC lab brochure