Module 2: Expanding Your Intercultural Knowledge

How Interculturally Competent Are You?

Intercultural competence involves awareness of self and other cultures, knowledge of cultures beyond surface elements (e.g., music, dance, language, food, or traditions), the ability to change perspectives and attitudes, the capacity to identify unjust actions and behaviours, the intentionality to learn from experience and about other people’s experiences, and the development of skills to help individuals adapt to situations and be more effective and respectful when interacting across cultures.

One may hear people affirm they are already culturally competent, that they have intercultural experience, and that they are interculturally successful, but intercultural competence is not about attaining a level, a mark, or passing a test that shows you are ready for intercultural interactions. Rather, it is a lifelong process wherein you continue to have opportunities to gain knowledge and develop skills and embrace the opportunities you have for immersing yourself in different cultural contexts at home and abroad.

Activity: Intercultural Competence

  • Can you identify with at least one of these statements?
  • Have you heard other people say any of them?
  • Do you believe this/these experience(s) make you interculturally competent? Why?

2. Take a closer look at the statements and consider how they may reflect your own experience. As you read the feedback provided on the back of each card, consider how each of these experiences or perspectives could be better used to expand your intercultural knowledge or what you could do now to help you appreciate other people’s perspectives. [Statements 1-7 are from C. Lantz-Deaton and I. Golubeva (2020), pp. 11-17.]

Think about this

  • Based on the feedback provided for each statement, what do you think you need to do to truly learn about other cultural groups?
  • How can you engage more meaningfully with peers and people in Canada and abroad?

Takeaway points

  • Intercultural experiences can happen in different ways while you are at home or when you travel abroad. However, having those experiences does not mean you gain extensive knowledge and skills to help you in intercultural situations.
  • Any of the intercultural interactions you may have had are valuable, but you must ensure that this is not a one-time, one-person engagement. To be truly intercultural means to continuously learn and engage with people across cultures and levels of diversity.

Try these strategies

  • Go back and look at the answers you selected for this activity. Based on what you now understand after reading the feedback, think about what you could have done to have more meaningful interactions with peers, friends, family, and others.
  • Think about how you can use your past experiences to inform your current and future interactions. Focus on how you can learn about the cultures of people you know.
  • Think about one or two actions you can take—something you can do now to learn about other people’s cultures—and try one of them in the next two days.

Media Attributions

Karpovich, V. (2021). A Man Listening on His Headphones while Packing His Clothes. Pexels.

Rossi, G. (2019). White and Black Sailing Ship Print Ceramic Plate. Pexels.

Kobruseva, O. (2020). Keurig Hot Cafe Escapes Cafe Caramel Box. Pexels.

Suhorucov, A. (2021). Diverse women stacking hands on wooden table. Pexels.

Shvets, A. (2020) Women in White Dress Shirt. Pexels.

Shvets, A. (2020) Women With Arms Raised and Holding Hands. Pexels.

Wilcox, K. (2018). Four Men Sitting on Platform. Pexels.

Burrows, M. (2021). Crop student writing in agenda at desk with laptop. Pexels.

McBee, D. (2018). High Angle Shot of Suburban Neighborhood. Pexels.

Shvets, A. (2020) Woman Wearing Face Mask at Airport. Pexels.