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Considering your educators’ cultural stories

To help you get to know us, each of the course educators introduces their cultural backgrounds and intercultural experiences.
[Steve Kulich] I’m Steve Kulich, your lead instructor, a US-American with a European immigrant background. On my father’s side, my family were Czechs, Bohemians, who immigrated to the US in about 1900. On my mother’s side, we come from a long line of Scots and British who first settled in the eastern part of the US in about 1700 and then over the years became part of those pioneers who migrated west. I’ve been living and working among Chinese since I graduated with a degree in Education in 1979. I first taught college English and business English at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan, then did team building training and cross-cultural research in Singapore. Later I studied Chinese at Xiamen University in Fujian Province.
So now you can see, when we get to that part of the course where we describe our cultural identities, I have some serious unpacking to do in trying to figure out which of my cultural identities is most important or salient in various intercultural encounters. And this is also true for each on our teaching team. So now, let me have them each introduce themselves to you through their own brief cultural stories. [ZHANG Hongling] Hello, I’m Zhang Hongling. You could call me Professor Zhang or Zhang Laoshi. It is so nice to meet you all for this course on intercultural communication.
Among my many identities, I am particularly grateful that I have developed the identity of an intercultural communication learner, teacher, researcher, and practitioner. Learning intercultural communication helped me understand that people with different cultural backgrounds think and communicate in different manners, and this constitutes the amazing cultural diversity in the world. Teaching intercultural communication over these many years, I enjoy reading and listening to students’ cultural stories each time, which demonstrates the value of sharing, understanding, and appreciating each other’s cultural experiences. As Director of the International Office of Shanghai International Studies University, I am fortunate to have many opportunities to practise intercultural communication.
In my numerous encounters with people from various walks of life, from both home and abroad, I get to learn what it means to venture out of the comfort zone. I find it both frustrating and enriching and rewarding as well.
My experiences,00:02:57.690 –> 00:03:01.220 align:middle line:84% growing up in a small town near Wuhan,
studying and working these many years in Shanghai, then studying in the United States as a Fulbright Scholar, and serving as the Director of the Confucius Institute in Naples, Italy were also incredibly formative experiences for me, providing numerous personal examples that I still reflect on. Meanwhile, as a scholar dedicated to the research of intercultural communication, I have a strong sense of responsibility to investigate this complex and significant aspect of human behaviour in context. The coming weeks, I look forward to sharing with you what I have gained from my journey of learning, teaching, practicing, and studying intercultural communication. Of course, I also expect you to share with us your cultural experiences and stories.
[CHI Ruobing] Hello there. My name is Chi Ruobing, a Research Fellow at the Intercultural Institute of Shanghai International Studies University. It’s a great pleasure to be on the teaching team of this course, and I’m looking forward to the intercultural journey that we are going to take together. I was born and raised in inner Mongolia, Nei Menggu, an ethnically autonomous region in Northern China. The landscape, climate, customs, and spoken languages differ greatly from those in Shanghai, so when I first came to Shanghai as a freshman in 1998, I felt completely out of place, insecure, and overwhelmed by the multi-cultural and dynamic metropolitan city.
Later, when I started taking courses on intercultural communication from our lead instructor, Professor Steve Kulich, all my past experiences and feelings started to make sense and launched me on a journey that has brought us now into contact through this course. As I stepped further into this field as a graduate student and later as a lecturer, I became more motivated to pursue a life and a career to explore the possibilities and outcomes of culture mixing in this era of globalisation. The most important lesson I have learned is that if you are willing to be changed in behaviour and attitudes, you will get the most out of your own experiences and from other’s stories.
The abilities to shift positions, check assumptions, and empathise feelings are the fortunes I am trying to gather over a lifetime. In retrospect, I would like to say that learning about intercultural communication has transformed me, both personally and professionally. I hope that our course will do the same to you, to provide you both with extra perspectives and understanding while interacting with those from different cultural backgrounds.

Each of us has unique culture stories – who we are and what we’ve experienced in our situated cultural contexts. To help you get to know us better, we introduce our cultural backgrounds and intercultural experiences.

As you consider our varied backgrounds and experiences as educators, you can be thinking both about what we might offer to your own intercultural development (please comment by using the pink ‘plus’ button at the bottom of this page).

Steve J. Kulich: I come from a small farming town in the Midwestern USA, and have both Czech immigrant and English/Scottish/Dutch pioneering settler roots. But I’ve lived in Asia since 1979 and mostly in China since 1986, focusing on intercultural education and training for the last 25 years, seeking to comprehend culture’s complexity and how to meaningfully adjust!

ZHANG Hongling: I grew up in a small town nearby Wuhan, central China and am also an intercultural communication learner, teacher, researcher, and practitioner. In my many identities and professional roles (past Fulbright Scholar in the US, past Confucius Institute Co-Director in Naples, Italy, and currently Director of the International Office at SISU), I enjoy seeking to understand people from different backgrounds and especially reading and listening to your culture stories!

CHI Ruobing : I grew up in Inner Mongolia in northern China and have lived in both Nanjing and Shanghai. Since doing MA at SISU and my PhD at the University of Hawaii, my studies have focused on intercultural adaptation, personal attitudes, empathy, and transformative development in and through cross-cultural interactions – topics we’ll learn together in this course.

Please follow our Educators! If reading or hearing the explanations from each elicits any thoughts or responses, please post your comments. Thanks for being involved with us!
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Intercultural Communication: Dynamics of cultural identities in global interaction

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