In reading Culture and Communication and Cyberspace, chapter 6 lead me to reflect on past international partnering assignments I experienced in graduate school. The first was in 1998, I took intercultural communication and our instructor partnered us with Japanese students. My partner was Joe, and he impacted my life.
Joe taught me wedding pictures are very private and sacred. He also taught me gifts are opened in private, not in front of the giver.
Another experience I had was in Italy, where I spent over a week with fellow students and two brave Professors. I interviewed single Italian women for my final assignment and analyzed my results based on my data relating to being single in Italy, what that means and why.
A recent example was with a pair in our program. We were instructed to form a connection and have two Skype meetings with two Chinese students our Professor matched us with. I was interested in this assignment but my partner made it clear that she was less than thrilled because it was not web related. Although it was more interpersonal, I learned, and still learn through communicating with Leah, who is a hard working student who likes to learn English, study, play bass and take nightly hot showers to relax.
After our assignment concluded I was busy and did not email Leah for a couple weeks. When I did she was surprised because she said they often get partnered with U.S. students, they seldom keep in touch after the activity, or assignment had finished. I had fun helping Leah with the report she was required to submit to her Professor and ours. I learned from helping her. I was sad she felt I would lose touch and think it is important to think about. If people feel used for an assignment, it does not build community, or trust. I appreciated Leah felt comfortable sharing her concern with me, and I assured her she is important in my life.