INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION Essay is commonly explained as an interaction between people of different cultures whether defined in terms of racial, ethnic or socioeconomic differences. Human communication consists of verbal and nonverbal messages (language and gestures) which are shaped by gender, social class or culture. Thus, what perimeters define the intercultural exchange and what primary messages do we need or try to convey?
Our communication process or the way we attribute symbolic meanings to words and gestures, in order to express ourselves is shaped by the society in which we evolve. This shared use of codes within a given group of persons, also leads to a common philosophy of life, ideas or morals. Therefore, culture to a certain extent, shapes our thoughts in different fashions in spite of the fact that we have common biological or emotional needs and therefore, common responses to certain stimuli.
In addition, various societies are now stratified in classes inside which, groups create and develop other codes. Each subgroup sustains its values and tradition through language and rites creating multicultural interactions. Hence, the human communication process cannot be held for homogenous, even inside the same society because factors like race, gender or social class will slightly modify this pattern.
Last summer, I spent one month in Quito, Ecuador and one week on the island Anaconda in the Amazonian Forest. This was my first experience in Latin America and I have been able to see two very different part of the Ecuadorian culture. In Quito, people speak Spanish, live in the capital and are from mixed descent (Spanish- Indian) while Anacondas population is mainly Indian, speaks Quichua (Ecuadors second national language) and lives in the jungle.
I had the chance to immerse myself in both environments because I was staying in a host family in Quito and in a traditional habitation in Anaconda.
Although Latin American countries like Ecuador are defined as Third World due to their economical level the lifestyle in Quito, for instance, follows more or less the pattern we know in this part of the world. People, drive to work, eat out and children go to school. However, this system functions with different values, customs or schedule. I spent four weeks in Quito at the Spanish Academy to take transfer credits in this language. During this time period I lived with an Ecuadorian family that is the parents and their two daughters, which allowed me to interact with them on a daily basis.
The father, Ramon works in the United States and Marcella, 18, the eldest daughter attends college in Quito where she studies medicine. I found it easy to interact with Marcella because our age difference is not big and we are both college students. In addition she is a girl and we could discuss topics that are relevant to our gender, such as fashion or dates. The fact that this family educational level does not greatly differ from mine helped our communication, and shaped the messages we were exchanging. We were able to discuss many topics from politics to sociological and although they are from a different culture, our views were not radically opposites. However, the pace at which the Ecuadorian society develops made it difficult for me to explain them clearly what I am studying.
For instance, they could not figure what jobs I would have later with a public communication major, since the communication sector is not as advanced as the ones in the United States or in Europe. Thus, in this particular case it was not their social class or their culture that made the difference, rather the time at which their society as a whole develops. I also had the chance to interact with men and women from different backgrounds, mainly teachers from the Academy. Since I can speak Spanish it was not difficult for me to bond with people and make friends. Thus, I did what people my age do in any city of the world and went out for dinners or drinks in restaurants and bars. Although I know that women are perceived differently in Latin America and was careful about by behavior, I have not been able to avoid some errors.
For instance I did not .