The Intercultural Experiences

• During the course of the semester, you will be assigned to participate in four outside activities intended to expose you to intercultural experiences and turn in a 2-5 page typewritten or word-processed report on each of those experiences. In each case, you will earn 10 points for participating in the experience, and you can earn up to an additional 5 points for submitting a written description of the experience plus up to another 10 points for a written description of what you learned from engaging in the experience, so that each of the four experiences can earn you up to a possible 25 points, and the four experiences combined can earn you up to a possible 100 points.

• Each intercultural experience you engage in should last a minimum of one hour. If you attend an event which ultimately lasts less than an hour, you shouldn’t count that one and shouldn’t write about it. Similarly, if you didn’t learn much of anything about yourself, then you shouldn’t count or write about that experience. (Given these instructions, you should be aware that it’s not a good idea to wait until the day before the assignment is due before actually engaging in your next intercultural experience. What if you don’t learn anything? Then you may well not have time to engage in another experience and write about it in time to meet the deadline.)

• The intention is that each of your four intercultural experiences will move you further outside of your “comfort zone” than you’ve been before. You will engage in your ICE 1 experience alone, but you may if you'd like to share your ICE 2 experience with a friend or friends, with a family member or family members, or with one or more of your classmates. You may share ICE 3 with one or more classmates, but not with other friends or family members. You should go to your ICE 4 experience alone. (You may not share ICE 2 and ICE 3 with the same classmate or classmates, although you may go to ICE 3 with a different classmate or classmates than the person or people with whom you shared ICE 2.) Here are some suggestions of experiences you could participate in:

ICE 1

ICE 2

ICE 3

ICE 4

• The options described in these links are not comprehensive. If you’d like to substitute something else for ICE 2-4, feel free to propose it to me, and I’ll either approve, suggest an alternate approach, or explain why your proposal doesn’t fulfill the requirement. I may be willing to allow you to use one of the options I've provided more than once (such as attending two different religious services or visiting two different museums), but that needs to be cleared with me ahead of time, and you won’t be allowed to use the same type of experience more than twice. (Note that the ICE assignments specifically ask you to engage in what will be for you new experiences. Doing again something you've done before doesn't qualify.)

• Important Cautionary Note: Do not substitute a different experience for one of the listed options without clearing the substitution with me in advance. Doing so will result in an automatic zero for the assignment, and you will not be permitted to do a make-up assignment later in the semester.

• Your ICE reports must be typed or word-processed. Put your preferred name and a page number at the top of every page. Use a 12-point standard font and leave 1” margins at the left, right, top and bottom of the page. Indent the first line of each paragraph. Double space, but don’t double double space between paragraphs. Spelling, grammar and punctuation all count.

• In the first paragraph of each of your written reports, you should specify what experience you had, where and when (date and time) you participated in that experience, and who if anyone was with you. (For example: “On February 14, my husband and I had dinner at Agneethi, an Indian restaurant in Herndon. We were there for a little more than an hour and a half, from 6 PM to just after 7:30 PM. Our server, Geetika, was born and raised in India.”) This part of the assignment is worth 10 points.

• In a subsequent paragraph or paragraphs (but not beyond the bottom of Page 1 of your assignment), describe the experience you had. What happened? How did you feel? In what ways did the experience match or differ from your expectations? How was this experience different from the types of experience to which you are culturally accustomed? This part of the assignment is worth up to a possible 5 points.

• Then comes the most important part of these ICE assignments, which is for you to share with me about what you learned from each experience. When you do this, I'm much more interested in what you learned about yourself than in what you learned about Greek food or Buddhist meditation practices or the difference between “transsexual” and “transgendered” or whatever. The most important things for you to learn from your ICE experiences are things you learn about yourself. Students often find this part of the assignment especially challenging, particularly when they’re working on the first one, ICE 1. I’ll sometimes see, for example, statements such as: “I learned that French is an interesting language.” This, however, is something you learned about French, not something you learned about yourself. Better would be: “I learned that I like listening to French.” This still doesn’t quite work, though — it’s really something you learned about your taste, not something you learned about your self. This part of the assignment is worth up to a possible 10 points.

• I’m not going to provide an example here of a wording that does work, since I’ve found that — when I’ve done so in the past — people wind up merely copying that, rather than doing independent thinking. I will say, though, that in order to tell me what you learned about yourself, you should respond to all three of the following guiding questions:

WHAT? Remember that, when you write about what you learned, I’m much more interested in what you learned about yourself than in what you learned about food or meditation or whatever. Start out by telling me what you learned about yourself.

SO WHAT? Why is the thing you learned important? Why does it matter? What does this thing you’ve learned about yourself have to do with communication in general, and what does it have to do with intercultural communication in particular?

NOW WHAT? How will you use this piece of learning in the future to guide yourself into more and more satisfying intercultural communication? (If you can’t use it, then it doesn’t really matter, does it?)

• Remember to begin each assignment with a paragaph telling me what you did, where and when you did it, and with whom. Then, in a couple of paragraphs, describe the experience you had. This part of the assignment should not extend past the bottom of Page 1. Finally, tell me what you learned about yourself, in What?/So What?/Now What? terms. For ICE 1, you should devote approximately 1-2 pages to this part, and you should report on a minimum of three things you learned about yourself. For ICE 2 and ICE 3, this part of your assignment should run about 2-3 pages, and you should report on a minimum of four things you learned about yourself. For ICE 4, I’d like to see 3-4 pages (and at least five things learned about yourself). (These page counts are approximate. Talented writers may be able to express themselves more concisely, while especially thoughtful and dedicated students might well write more than is indicated here.)

• After you’ve printed out your report, take a highlighter and highlight the "WHAT?" sentences, the sentences which specify what you learned about yourself. (Sentences specifying what you learned about subjects other than yourself — food, meditation, etc. — should not be highlighted.) Your ICE 1 assignment should include a minimum of three different highlighted items, ICE 2 and ICE 3 should include a minimum of four different highlighted items each, and ICE 4 should include a minimum of five different highlighted items.

• For each of the four ICE assignments, you should turn in a supplemental page with your name, a page number, and the heading “What I Learned About Myself” at the top of the page. Under this heading, copy and paste the highlighted sentences from the body of your paper. Number each item consecutively. This page will serve as a summary of the key learning points you derived from your ICE experiences. Be sure to save it to your hard drive, since you’ll be adding new items to it and resubmitting it as a supplemental page at the end of each ICE assignment. For ICE 1, for example, your “What I Learned About Myself” page will include three (or more) items numbered 1-2-3. For ICE 2, you’ll add your new learning points, consecutively numbered 4-5-6-7, and reprint and resubmit this page, and so on for ICE 3 and ICE 4. (By ICE 3, this section of your paper may well extend to a second page.) Each of your learning items should be different from each of the previous learning items, not just the same things restated.

• The due dates for your four intercultural-experience papers appear on the Tentative Schedule page of your syllabus. These assignments are due on their due dates. If for some reason you need to be absent on the day that an assignment is due, you need to make arrangements to have it turned in on time or early. In certain emergency circumstances, I may be willing to accept a late assignment, but usually not — and only if you have followed the instructions in this course's Attendance Policy and contacted me no later than 9 PM on the day of the absence with a legitimate explanation of why you think your absence should be excused.

• Note: The intercultural-experience papers are not eligible for the class "REDO" policy. With this in mind, you need to be responsible for getting them right the first time and submitting them on time if you want to be successful in this course.

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