August 21, 2008

Xenophobia or Complacency? Something Else Altogether?

Filed under: Emo (EQ), Human Relations, Personal Branding, School — Robert John Ed @ 10:26 pm

Carlson certainly advocates (and advertises) a well structured and integrated international populace of students. After a few conversations with a friend about the situational differences between international and domestic students, it seems to me that the advertising isn’t necessarily living up to the actual, through no fault of the school or students, in my opinion.

I had an undergrad class on diversity that claimed America as “no melting pot,” as has been accepted lore over our existence. It is by and large a segregated community, based on racial identity and more importantly through the ongoing class war that permeates capitalistic societies. This segregation can be examined rather easily at the micro level here in school. There are 107 students, of which 22 or so are international.

There are many reasons for this disconnect. Cultural barriers play a role, albeit small. Communication barriers are the primary problem it would seem. Overcoming communication barriers is the most difficult aspect of dealing with other humans. Increasing the difficulty naturally causes a declining amount of alacrity for either party. Especially when there is another option that negates the variable. Declining amounts of communications are reciprocal for parties. People give up and resort to what is familiar, as is the case in most things human.

As an aside, I note this with the understanding that these issues are extremely sensitive. They are difficult situations to address. We do not wish to address our own biases. Complacency abounds. More importantly, I note these situations in hopes to alter them for the better. I have exactly 107 students within my class and can only benefit more from the knowledge and understanding of all those individuals. Is that idea even plausible? Probably not, but to discount a segment of that group for miscommunication or other arbitrary factors unrelated to their actual opinions and personalities would be archaic. Especially for someone who wishes to study abroad. Answering the questions will have to come later.

Back to the platter at hand. It’s easy. People naturally opt for the easier of two options. So the communication problem is sincere in that English is EXTREMELY difficult to grasp and use well, most Americans don’t. Those students who must transcend not only subject matter but linguistics are clearly above the fold. Yet building relations is still difficult. What is the reason? It isn’t xenophobia. It’s complacency. As sure as death and taxes, human nature takes control in our situations of uncertainty. More is the pity. To label it as a conscious bias would be incorrect, a subconscious gravitation toward the familiar would be more apt.

It makes me wonder how a student population all parts equal would interact and develop. You may think that it’s early in the game to be addressing development. As in chess, the first moves of the game dictate the end game. Your relationships will develop in the long run based on your disposition today. Opening communication and facilitating that growth with all parties is imperative today for friendships tomorrow. How to do that is the question. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know that anyone does. But I have been told we must be the change we want to see in the world.


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