It is important to remember that international students are facing many challenges while studying here at Marquette due to cultural and linguistic differences. They may be experiencing culture shock, anxiety resulting from a loss of familiar social customs, cues, and norms. Be understanding of students who may seem withdrawn and/or struggling to acclimate to the U.S. culture. Adjusting to a new environment is a different process for everyone.
For many international students, English is not their first language. The level of language acquisition may vary from student to student. All communication with international students should be approached with patience, understanding, and a true effort to comprehend what students are saying.
Awareness of one's intercultural competence level is important. It affects how one sees and evaluates the work of international students. Being interculturally competent helps faculty best teach international students because it allows them to better understand various situations. It is also the responsibility of the faculty to open the minds of U.S. students in their classes so that they are more interculturally competent. Take advantage of the diversity in your classroom as you and your students develop intercultural competence.
Darla Deardorff’s Intercultural Competence Model (2006) is based on five elements: attitude, knowledge, skills, internal outcomes, and external outcomes. This model provides a framework that can be utilized to guide a curriculum that promotes intercultural competence and assessment of learning outcomes.
Many people are at different levels of intercultural competence. To help visualize where you may be, look at the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) by Milton Bennett (1986). There are six steps to achieving an intercultural mindset:
Stage 1: Denial- The ability to recognize the more observable cultural differences, but may avoid or withdraw from these cultural differences.
Stage 2: Polarization- A judgmental orientation that views cultural differences in terms of “us” and “them.”
Stage 3: Minimization – Sees cultural commonality and universal values that may also mask deeper recognition and appreciation of cultural differences.
Stage 4: Acceptance – Recognizes and appreciates patterns of cultural differences and commonalities in one’s own and other cultures.
Stage 5: Adaptation – Able to shift cultural perspective and change behavior in culturally appropriate and authentic ways.
Stage 6: Integration – Able to move smoothly in and out of different cultural worldviews and develop a feeling of membership in a new culture.
The goal is to move from a monocultural mindset, in which we make sense of cultural differences and commonalities based on our own values and practices and use stereotypes to identify cultural differences, to an intercultural or global mindset. In an intercultural mindset, we use our own and other culture’s values and practices to make sense of cultural differences.