GCD- Intercultural Communication

Intercultural Communication

Throughout the years, I have consistently been using a variety of strategies to communicate with people from all around the world. One example of this was during the summer of 2017 when I visited Vietnam.


One of the first and most important issues I experienced when arriving in the country was a language barrier. The Vietnamese language was very different compared to the languages that I spoke, and since everything was in this foreign language, I had to find a way to communicate with people in order to survive for the two weeks that I was there. Being an intercultural student, I applied different strategies to solve this problem.


The first and most simple solution was to study the local language. Therefore, I spent my first day reading guides and learning basic phrases. By the end of the day, I realized that these phrases could only be used in a handful of situations and that two weeks would not be enough to memorize enough of the content. This troubled me and caused me to panic as to how I would survive the remaining days without a clear form of communication.


For the following days, I decided to use another form of communication. Despite speaking different languages, I figured out that an universal language that everybody would understand would not be through words, but through actions or gestures. Whenever I tried to communicate, I used gestures to physically show what I was talking about. This seemed to work as people would understand and subsequently act out their response.


Although I was able to communicate with people using this method, I continued to learn and practice the Vietnamese language as well. By the end of the first week, I was able to understand and speak basic words/phrases as a result. Again, in some areas that I visited, people spoke in French, which I used to my advantage as I was able to implement my French skills that I have developed over the past years.


Overall, this experience has helped me to understand that I do not have to speak the same language as someone in order to communicate with them, although it could be helpful. Furthermore, I learned to appreciate the language barrier as it stimulated me to find new, creative ways of communicating with others, while adapting to a new environment. Finally, this experience helped to remind me that at the end of the day, everyone is the same in the sense that although there are +6,500 languages, anyone can understand basic actions or emotions.


GCD Reflection- Wilderness Engagement

Throughout 9th grade’s Field Studies Expedition in the October of 2017, I developed and nurtured my collaboration skills as well as my outdoor skills in terms of dealing with nature and the environment as a whole. During the 120 hours in Niigata, I experienced sleeping in tents, hiking for long hours, and team-bonding exercises. Although there were times that made me tired and hungry, the breathtaking views made up for it.

First and foremost, I developed my skill of working together with others in a group. Towards the start of the trip, I was still unfamiliar with some of the members of my group, and thus it was hard to interact with them. However, as soon as our group was in the mountains, we relied on and helped another to achieve our goal: arriving at the campsites. Despite the fact that on occasions our group argued and had conflicts in opinions, we were able to come together and develop a type of trust and respect that brought us together as more than just a hiking group.

Another aspect that the trip helped me to enrich was my outdoor skills. For instance, during the hiking activities, my group and I used gadgets and instruments that we do not frequently use, such as compasses, maps, and large backpacks. Typically, I do not use or even see these materials in my daily life, thus it allowed me a chance to practice getting good at using them. At the start of the trip, it took time for me to navigate the way, but at the end of the five days, I was able to smoothly figure out which way we were heading, how steep the trail would be, and even how long it might take to get to our destination.

Again, there were some challenges that I faced throughout this trip. For example, sometimes our group lacked in energy and motivation which caused us to become silent and interact less with each other. Being the positive person I am (or at least I hope so), I tried my best at times like these to cheer people up by telling jokes or initiating conversations- which I think boosted our energy levels up.

Overall, it was a fun experience, and I hope that I can build more experiences like this one.