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When we think about verbal and nonverbal communication in a different culture, we often consider challenges associated with language. However, much of what it takes to negotiate a shared understanding between different languages and to be effective in a different cultural context means you can detect subtle differences in how people behave and the ways they interact.

The source of this assignment is Engineering Cultures East Asia – China Learning Activities, Spring 2013 by Dr. Brent K. Jesiek, bjesiek@purdue.edu  

For this assignment, you need to find a busy public place where people from different cultures interact (or in the country you are visiting) and where you can observe people for a sustained period of time, such as 30 minutes or so. While observing people, take time to consider: How do they move about? What gestures do they use? How do they interact and relate to each other? In what manner do they pass by each other? Do they have direct or indirect contact? What are the expectations for space and privacy? Are there exceptions to this?

Take detailed notes and write, as a Word document or other file, a one paragraph summary responding to the following prompts:


  1. What did you observe that is different from your native culture? Describe the traits, practices, and behaviors you observed. Discuss the similarities/differences compared to your native culture. Reflect on how you react to these traits/practices/behaviors. 
  2. Identify and describe one specific goal relating to building intercultural verbal and nonverbal communication skills you’d like to achieve in the next month. 


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