International House Berkeley

I-House Times Fall 2012

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THE CULTURE CORNER Understanding Culture Through Proverbs By Breidi Truscott Roberts, MA IH Office of Intercultural Education & Training My dad used to tell me that sometimes you have to "stick your neck out." What value do you think he was teaching me … Risk-taking? Taking action? Values tell us a lot about a cultural group. Idioms are an accessible way to learn what culture values and passes down through the generations. My dad and I are both American. Now consider a Japanese proverb "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down." I hear the importance of adhering to the norm–quite contrary to sticking one's neck out. The USA is by and large considered a risk-taking individualistic culture, whereas the Japanese culture tends to be more 'collectivistic,' in which the group is generally valued over the individual. Thus, you're more likely to hear this phrase in Japan than in the US: "A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle." As I lead intercultural workshops at I-House, I ask participants to look deeper into the values underlying proverbs as a way of getting to know one's own and other cultures. I-House Gala 2012, Honoring Joan Baez, Global Citizen of Peace 2012 Daniel Mouen-Makoua (IH 1984), Alumnus of the Year 2012 Web Videos Bring I-House Into Your Home Joan Baez brought down the house with a moving sing-along of John Lennon's "IMAGINE" at the I-House Gala in Spring 2012. This, along with other stellar Gala moments, including the inspiring words of Alumnus of the Year Daniel Mouen-Makoua, African sustainable agriculture pioneer, are moments alumni and friends can experience through expanded I-House videos posted online and at the I-House You Tube channel Below is a sampling of videos now online: Crisis in Europe: Consuls General Views: Speaker Series 9/12/12 Google's Eric Schmidt (IH 1976-80), CAA's Alumnus of the year 2012 Welcome To Berkeley! New Pac-12 Network video Updated History of I-House video "Join Us!" Navigating Cultures Class Gains Momentum I'll ask you to do the same: What expressions did you hear growing up? What do they say about the values of your culture? Ask your friends, especially those from other cultures, and learn what messages they received. My hunch is you'll learn quite a bit about your similarities and differences, for as the old Yiddish proverb says: "Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven." Do you have a proverb from your home country or culture? Share it with Breidi at breidi@ 4 International House Times A four-unit Cal course is being taught for the fourth year at I-House: Peace and Conflict Studies 119.3 – Navigating Cultures: Living & Working Around the Globe in the 21st Century. The class formalizes and extends I-House's capacity to foster intercultural knowledge. This year's class of 25 students, including 10 residents of IH, brings the total number of students completing the course since 2009 to 128 (both grad & undergrad). The success of the class inspired a half-day training on Intercultural Literacy for UC Berkeley employees, that has reached 192 Cal staff since 2010. The aim of these programs is to enable participants to better understand their own cultural compass and acquire tools to assess and interact with other cultures in an insightful manner. PACS 119.3 now also fulfils the "Philosophy and Values" breadth requirement in addition to the "International Studies" requirement mandated by campus. Co-taught by Liliane Koziol and Joe Lurie, the class examines how culture shapes perceptions and influences communication styles. Different cultural approaches to time, emotion, power, decision making, and ethics are explored, as is how the meanings of "late," "love," yes," "no," "sorry," "silence," a touch, a smile and an insult vary dramatically across cultures. n

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