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Assuming best intentions in cross-cultural situations

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Co-written by Jackson Boyar, Sawyer Middeleer, and James Lu Morrissey.

All educators approach their multicultural classrooms with the best of intentions. However, even the most culturally aware of teachers cannot always avoid putting their students in awkward positions. This video created by the Off the Great Wall YouTube channel presents humorously dramatized situations that students of Asian descent occasionally face in American school:

Tom, what is your real name?

You’re Chinese—can you tell us about Communism?

Can you say my name in your mother language?

In an international environment, there are bound to be misunderstandings between people as they get to know each other. Without a solid grasp of all “other” cultures, well-meaning people will still make mistakes. Americans will sometimes seem insensitive to international students and these students will occasionally seem insensitive to us.

As long as everyone in the school community is ready to assume best intentions, incidences of accidental insensitivity become opportunities to learn instead.

Jackson Boyar and James Lu Morrissey are Co-Founders of Shearwater International, a mentorship and cultural integration support network for international students. Sawyer Middeleer is currently a sophomore at Carleton College.

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