Service Learning

I had the amazing opportunity to be an ESL tutor for my friends at the Asian Refugee Association. In my responsibility as a tutor, I tutored 3 refugees all from different backgrounds and circumstances. Ameen is in his late twenties and is from Iraq. Sirya is from Sri Lanka and is in her late 30’s and Leonia is from Congo and she is in her early 40s. Along with these three friends of mine, I had the opportunity to interact with several other refugees at the Sunnyvale Community Center. From my experience with each of these refugees I learned a series of lessons that I will never forget. Some of the lessons deal with intercultural communication and some of them deal with life in general.
The first lesson that I learned from my students was the power of humility. All that my students wanted was to have effective intercultural encounters on a daily basis. They wanted to speak the language fluently. Why? I would argue that their core desire is to have connection with other human beings. That is why we communicate as human beings. Every time I showed up to my lessons with my students they were not just ready to be taught, but ready to learn. In broken English they would ask me questions about English, American culture, and just life in general. They were always engaged in the process of learning. Though I know my lessons were not even close to where they should have been regarding my level of teaching ability, they still told me how much they appreciated my time teaching them. They did not know that they were teaching me more than I was teaching them. Their humility was the foundation for our intercultural encounter. It was the foundation for our connection.
The next lesson that I learned regarding intercultural communication was their willingness to take it one step at a time. We did not necessarily talk about this in class but I feel that it is absolutely necessary for fostering an intercultural relationship. The truth is, we are all human. We can read a text book and know the theories, but in the end, we need practice as communicators to develop the skill, just as a musician needs to practice to master at playing an instrument. As each one of my students learned English throughout the semester, they each made a lot of mistakes saying words, reading words, and writing words. They were not perfect. Some days, I felt like they were not learning anything besides how not to say the words. However, my students went on their intercultural journey, one step at a time. In the same vein, we as intercultural communicators need to take our journey one step at a time. We will not go through the stages of acceptance in one day. It takes time.
The last lesson that I learned through service learning was the importance of dialogue. I have personally never talked to a man from Iraq—until service learning. For context, this past semester I had a meeting with Kyle Reyes where he did a stereotype activity where he asked me to think of a middle eastern man. He then asked me what was the first thing that came to my mind. I immediately thought of a man with a AK-47, wearing a turban. He then instructed my internship cohort that we overcome our stereotypes through dialogue. I knew what he said was probably true, but it did not become real to me until I started my service learning experience. Like I said, Ameen is from Iraq. The first day I came to class and found out that one of my students was from Iraq, I knew that this was my opportunity to overcome my stereotype. After 20 hours of one-on-one time with Ameen, cracking jokes with him, talking about basketball, talking about Iraqi food, and a slew of other random things, I can honestly say he is a cherished friend. He is a man of integrity who works 8-10 hours a day. He is super helpful and he is possibly one of the most persistent people I have ever met. I experienced what Kyle talked about. Dialogue really is the most crucial thing we can do to create meaningful intercultural connections.
Overall, I absolutely loved my service learning experience. Because I tried to put as much into it, I have received so much in return. I am a changed person. Because of my service learning, I see differently. Because of my service learning, I listen differently. Because of my service learning, I feel differently. Because of my service learning, I love differently. Because of my service learning experience, I am going to actively seek opportunities to meet and have dialogue with people who are different than me.


Over the course of the semester I had the opportunity to mark off some pretty great places/activities for my events. I went out to eat twice; once at Thai Siam in Draper and once at Greek Souvlaki in South Jordan. I went to a refugee thanksgiving for my ethnic event where I had foreign food from India as well as from the Dominican republic. At the refugee thanksgiving, we sat down and ate some great food with some amazing people.

I watched two movies; Wonder and the Watson’s go to Birmingham. Wonder was a great movie that aligned perfectly with the class concept of bias and prejudice. Auggie, a young boy with a scarred face, is bullied at school for looking different. The other kids have to learn how interact with him in a non-judging way. Empathy is at the center of the movie that teaches about kindness as well as learning how to foster an intercultural relationship with others–through dialogue–the foundation of making connections with those different than you.

The Watsons go to Birmingham is a short film about an African-American family in 1963 that goes on vacation to Alabama. The film mostly takes on a perspective of the children of the family, and their experiences with being exposed to racism and segregation for the first time. The movie aligns with class content especially dealing with racism and power and privilege. the kids experience first hand what is like to be discriminated against for the color of their skin.

Overall, I learned a lot from my events and became more competent as a intercultural communicator in the process.

Empathy and Dialogue

Over the course of this semester I have learned a lot about myself and the cultures that are in our global society. What I have come to learn that I hold most important is that in order for me to have effective, lasting, intercultural communication encounters, I need to have empathy for others and their situation. I cannot develop empathy without effective dialogue. In essence, we do not bridge gaps of misunderstanding, hatred, malice, prejudice, without effective communication.

My paradigm of middle eastern men was not changed until I had the opportunity to have genuine dialogue with my ESL refugee student from Iraq. My paradigm of transgender and gay people was not changed until I had the opportunity to have genuine dialogue with the LGBTQ panel after class as well as with my old gay roommate. Because of those two opportunities to engage in active and genuine dialogue with my fellow students, I have developed empathy for others in their similar situation. I have developed a fresh view of everyone that I interact with. I have more of a desire to advocate for their cause and to strive to help them feel respected and loved as human beings.

When Janet asked us to think of one thing we were going to do differently as a result of taking this class, I decided that the one thing I am going to do differently is see; I will choose to see differently than I did before. I will view people as human beings instead of as a labeled group of people.

One last thing. I will remember my thoughts and feelings about power from this class. Because of my fortunate upbringing, I have the opportunity to help others gain more power so our society is more equitable, more kind, more fair, and more humane. I will use my power and privilege to advocate for others.

Media, Culture and Intercultural Competence

Popular media has had an influence on culture in many ways. For decades, the view of men in American culture has been influenced by many different factors. For example, the movie industry broadcasts a very targeted approach to how men should look and act. Almost every action film, chick flick, and movies where there is a main actor who is a man, is portrayed for the most part as tall, dark, masculine and aggressive. On top of that profile that the media has established, most of those men get the girl, or they defeat the bad guy.

Last year, my friend saw the movie Creed, which is based a spin-off of the Rocky movies. After the movie I vividly remember him saying, “That movie made me want to get into boxing.” He was being dead serious. Within in a month he had a boxing membership and started going to the boxing gym on a daily basis. He wanted to be like the men in the movie Creed.

I, myself, have also been influenced by the media in my life to be more “manly.” When I was a teenager, the Bourne trilogy made me want to work out more so I could have the physical endurance of Jason Bourne. I worked out day after day to have that “change” in my life.

The ted talk brought up great points about how the media industry has influenced how people of every gender think about themselves. It was a great critique of what we as college students should be thinking about, “how much of our culture is influenced by media” and “how much is my identity influenced by the media?”

In regard to our guest speaker, I was very intrigued with his experiences in Ghana. His experiences demonstrated how important our class is when doing business. When he and his partner were in villages that were underscored with conflict, it was their intercultural competence that allowed them to overcome the conflict and become better as a result. It made the content of our class very real to me. It made me thankful to be in this class. I know that the things that I learn in this class will benefit me greatly in the long run for my future in HR and as a community member in general.

NPR/TED Talk Paper

Ryan Stephenson
Intercultural Communication
Janet Colvin
November 7th 2017

Vulnerability: The Spark to Intercultural Communication Encounters

The issue that I have chosen to address in this paper deals with the whole purpose of this class. Something that I have not really thought much about with this class is the actual name of the class, “Intercultural Communication Encounter.” I like the word encounter. In this class we have encountered a lot of different theories and various ideas about how to become a competent communicator with people who are from different cultural, ethnic, sexual, or religious backgrounds from ourselves. I argue that the whole aim of an intercultural encounter with someone else is to create a connection with that individual that was not there before. It seems, however, that there is a lot of obstacles that prevent authentic connection to form between two cultural groups or individuals. We discussed a lot in our class about bias, stereotypes and privilege as obstacles to connection. I this paper I will look at how we can overcome obstacles to connection by embracing vulnerability as an essential element of our intercultural communication encounters.
In 2010, Brene Brown gave a Ted Talk called, “The Power of Vulnerability.” She begins her talk by giving a brief background of her professional career as a researcher and social worker and launches into talking about connection. Brown posits that connection is, “what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. It is why we are here” (TED, 2010). Brown explains in her talk that she analyzed several people’s experiences with love and connection and she found that there was an underlying emotional state that precluded positive feelings, which it was, “excruciating vulnerability” (TED, 2010). In essence, if you want to have connection with someone, you need to first be vulnerable with them. If we desire to communicate with someone openly and with authenticity, we must be vulnerable. If we care about eliminating our bias towards others and make connections with other people who we have thought negatively about in the past, we must embrace vulnerability. If we want to have intercultural competence as a communicator, we need to vulnerable. Though vulnerability is so essential in making genuine and authentic connection with others, we often reject it and put up walls of bias and prejudice. Brown said that we, “numb vulnerability…and as a result we numb everything” (TED, 2010). In other words, if we try to numb our negative emotions including sadness, hatred, and disconnection, we also numb our positive emotions such as joy, love and connection. By being vulnerable, we allow ourselves be authentic, and by being authentic with ourselves, we are likely to make authentic connections with others. When we choose to be vulnerable we knock down the walls of bias and prejudice. By being vulnerable, our ability to connect and empathize with those from different cultures improves, which in turn lays a strong foundation for being an interculturally competent communicator.
Sarah Kagan, a professor from the University of Pennsylvania, has similar view to Brene Brown of how vulnerability precedes connection. They published an article in 2016 titled, “Embracing our own vulnerability for more effective and compassionate care.” Head author, Sarah Kagan, writes, “Simply turning toward vulnerability and realizing it within ourselves frames the potential for reciprocity with any person and hence for greater empathy and compassion in our care” (Kagan, 2016, pp. 402). In essence, when we accept our own vulnerability, we have the greater capacity to have empathy and compassion for others. Kagan relates having vulnerability for others specifically to a healthcare setting, caring for the needs of others in a hospital. However, the underlying principle of turning towards our own vulnerability, as Kagan discusses, is still supported as a way to foster emotions that are conducive to connectedness such as empathy and compassion. When we are striving to form a connection with someone from a different culture, we need to be vulnerable in order to have an opportunity to foster empathy to ensure a strong emotional connection with them. Kagan also discusses how when nurses see patients suffer intensely, when they see them display physical vulnerability, it makes it easier for the nurses to be more empathetic towards their patients (Kagan, 2016, pp. 402). We can apply this to an intercultural setting where people from a different culture may feel more comfortable interacting with us if we are more vulnerable and open with our emotions and feelings. Thus, Kagan gives two reasons why we should practice vulnerability: (1) we will be better able to foster emotions conducive to creating genuine connection and (2) we will make the environment safer for the other person in the intercultural encounter, helping them feel comfortable to communicate freely and openly.
In conjunction with the ideas brought to us by Brene Brown and Sarah Kagan, George Tsai also posits that vulnerability is necessary to form intimate connections with other people. In his article, “Vulnerability in Intimate Relationships”, Tsai focuses on the process that individuals go through in becoming friends and creating intimate relationships. Tsai explains that the more we interact with others and the more open we are with them, the more vulnerable we become with them (Tsai, 2016, pp. 170). Tsai also explains that by having more vulnerability with those we interact with, we are more susceptible to hurt (Tsai, 2016, pp. 169). However, we are also more susceptible to creating intimate bonds with them. In other words, the more willing we are to be vulnerable in our relationships with others, the more susceptible we are to connection. When we value creating a connection with someone else from a different culture, we need to recognize that the level the relationship’s intimate connection is correlated with our willingness to be vulnerable.
In conclusion, any individual desiring to have a meaningful and lasting intercultural encounter with another person, needs to be willing to embrace vulnerability. When we as intercultural communicators embrace vulnerability, we will foster emotions that are conducive to connectedness as well as ensure a more intimate relationship with the person we value getting to know better. When we embrace vulnerability, the door to authentic and genuine connection is opened. Vulnerability helps bridge the gap between us and whoever we are desiring to connect with, no matter their cultural background or identity. Practicing vulnerability is an essential element of being a competent, intercultural communicator.


Kagan, S. H. (2016). Embracing our own vulnerability for more effective and compassionate care. Geriatric Nursing, 37401-403. doi:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2016.08.010

TED. (2010, June). Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability [Video file]. Retrieved from

Tsai, G. (2016). Vulnerability in Intimate Relationships. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, (S1), 166. doi:10.1111/sjp.12183

Interracial Relationships

I had the opportunity to talk to one of my friends who is white and married to a black girl from Ghana. He said that during their dating period, it was so interesting going from relationships with American girls to a relationship with a girl from Ghana. He said the first thing that was very different is that in Ghana, it is very seldom that people express feelings for each other in relationships through physical touch or words of affirmation. He talked to me about how when he would text her, she would never be causal in their conversations and only texted for the means of coordinating times and other things like that. He said that in Africa they flirt differently than they do here and she was not used to how he tried to flirt with her. He said at one point that he felt like that things were very one-sided in their relationship and that he wondered if she even loved him. After confronting her on the issue, she told him, “Of course I love you, why would I be marrying you if I didn’t?” He had to explain to her the dating dynamics he was used to and let her know that it was fine she wasn’t doing what other girls did, but that he just needed to establish expectations.

My friends relationship with his wife is similar to how international students feel coming to school. The biggest correlation I see in the communication gap, besides the language, is that we often have unrealistic or different expectations of the other person in the intercultural encounter. We often assume things that are not true are accurate about another person’s culture and their identity within that culture. I want to try to establish more expectations up front in more of my intercultural encounters with others.

Regarding the LGBTQ panel last Friday, I was very impressed with everything that they discussed. Mostly just because it aligned so well with my research on vulnerability. Here in Utah, we have a stigma towards those in the community because of the predominate faith in the area. When I listened to the members of the LGBTQ panel I tried to be as vulnerable as possible in my thinking. As I did this, I found myself being a lot more empathetic towards their situations and more understanding of their positions in society. I approached them after the panel was done and thanked them for their own vulnerability. When I physically shook their hands I felt a wall go down. I felt more compassion for them and I felt a connection with them. Because of my vulnerability to go out of my comfort zone, I was able to have a positive intercultural encounter that has left me feeling more empathy for the LGBTQ community.

Socioeconomic Privilege

Over the past couple of weeks the privilege thing has been on my mind a lot. My views have not changed in some aspects and they have changed in others. They haven’t changed in that I have always viewed myself as privileged and knew it was a part of my life from certain experiences that I have gone through. However, what did change was the extent of my awareness regarding my privilege. Before I knew that I was privileged regarding my gender and race. However, I did not think a lot about socioeconomic privilege. I have realized that I am indeed privileged with a lot of things that involve money. Though my family was never well off by any means, I never worried about not having a place to sleep or toys to play with or food to eat. It was always there. However, I did start to notice the privilege a little more when I got older when my other rich friends would have their parents pay for everything, including their own tuition.

From the activity that we had on Monday this whole concept of socioeconomic privlege came alive to me. When I started off with a low amount of points, I felt like I justified my circumstance and blamed it on the system. Whereas when I got more points I gave myself credit for my “hard work.” Ultimately, I never left the bottom section of our economy. It woke me up to the realization that there really are glass ceilings, not just involving gender but several people in the lower socioeconomic class. It also made me want to know how to advocate more for those who are in a lower class, which is honestly something I have never felt that passionate about. It was honestly the most liberal thought I have had regarding social class.


The content for this past module was perhaps the most eye-opening this past semester. Privilege is a topic that we don’t talk about much here in Utah and in America frankly. In the readings I thought it was very interesting when it discussed the difference between unearned advantage, which is when certain groups do not receive the type of treatment that all human beings should have regarding their human decency and their value, and conferred dominance. Conferred dominance is when people in a culture give power consciously or unconsciously to other groups of people. To be vulnerable, I have thought about how these things apply to my faith and religion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was once subject to extreme unfair advantage. People were slaughtered, tortured and discriminated against majorly for their beliefs. Persecution raged against early members of the church. They were certainly not privileged. If privilege walks were used back in the 19th century, it is likely that the statement would have read, “If you are a mormon, take 2 steps backward.”

Now look at today. I would say that members of the church enjoy conferred dominance, especially in Utah. I find it very interesting that this population could go from one side of the spectrum of privilege to the other. Members of the church now receive power from other members as well as those who are not members of the church. It has made me consider what my role could be in creating more equity in our Utah society that is so focused on conferring power on LDS members. I think, just like with all privilege, I need to voice more when there is obvious conferring of power, just because that person is a member of the church. I in no way see the church in a negative light, in fact I am an extremely devout member of the church. However, the mormon culture that has left other minorities feeling oppressed and discluded needs to change. Overall, from reading this chapter I was made more aware of my own privilege and how I can be a more competent communicator because of that awareness.

How privilege impacts me

As we have been learning more about privilege in our readings and class discussions it has become more aware to me just how important this concept is and how crucial it is that we as communicators, in whatever industry we go into, we know how to communicate competently about privilege as well as how to bring more equity to our society. I have been more aware of my privilege because of the discussions we have in class. When I participate in my service opportunity each week tutoring my refugee students, I am always reminded of privilege that I have; specifically that I can speak english and that I have a university education. These refugees may have degrees, but they are not accepted here. Something that was really humbling to me was when I was helping my students fill out job applications. It took about an hour to just go through one page of size 14 font with basic personal information. I realized that I have privilege in that I don’t even have to think when I fill out a job application.

The guest speaker talked about the apartheid and the segregation that happened in South Africa. It made me want to look more into economics to be honest just because there was so much segregation that went on because of inequity of wealth. It made me realize that money is perhaps one of the biggest determining factors of your privilege. I say that because even if you are black, but are very wealthy, you may not be subject to the type of segregation that other poorer blacks are subject to. That is also easily seen with whites. I would imagine that if someone had smashed my car windows and they brought two suspects, one homeless white person, and a very affluent white person, my gut reaction would be to blame the homeless person.

Cultural Self-Assessment

Cultural Self- Assessment

I. Introduction: Introduce my cultural background

This assignment has truly opened my eyes as I have pondered over my personal experiences and my own perceptions of the world and people around me. To begin before I dive into exploring my prejudice, my bias and my steps to overcome it, I will first discuss my own cultural background to set the stage for the rest of the paper.
I am a white middle class male. In terms of race, socioeconomic class, and gender I am in the majority here in Utah. To add to my being in the majority I am also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the predominant faith in Utah, especially Utah Valley. On top of my race, gender and social status, I’m speak only English and I’m from a pretty affluent community that is known for being snobby and stuck up- Draper, Utah. On top of all of that, I graduated high school, attend an accredited university and I’m currently employed at a high wage in an internship with practical work experience that is offering me learning opportunities to develop in my future field of study, Human Resource Management. Ultimately, in my circumstances that were allotted to me in life, I rarely came into contact with those who were different than me growing up. I hardly ever had to think to myself how to act around others because they were all the same to me. Growing up most of my friends were white, with one exception of a good friend of mine who is black. But other than that, my friends were white, Mormon and around the same economic status.
I did have an opportunity to serve and LDS mission in New England which is a relatively white society for the most part. I did have an opportunity to serve in an area where I taught and served African refugees and that is what started my journey to become a more intercultural competent person.

II. Ideas about Cultural Groups Different from Your Own
For this next section the two different cultural groups that I chose are gender and socioeconomic classes, specially those who are transgender and lower class individuals will be who I am focusing on this section.
Over my life I have learned various things about these two groups in society. I will start with those in the lower economic class as I learned more about them earlier on in my life. When I was growing up my family was never wealthy by any means. My Dad had a livable wage as a construction project manager but we never had a lot. I was never part of a family that was on food stamps, that worried about paying rent, that was torn apart by financial distress and I always had a place to sleep with a blanket and a pillow and a bed. I was taught as a child to always be grateful for what I had and that there were people in this world who did not have food or shelter. Though I was told these things I never comprehended what my parents and older siblings meant by it. I never actually saw what poverty looked like. That was really the extent to my learning of those who lived in the lower class of society.
As to the other cultural group, transgender individuals, I did not start to learn about them until I was older and into my young teen years. I heard about transgender people mostly through the media in super liberal places like San Francisco and New York. I had never actually met one until I served an LDS mission and I taught a transgender man, who identified as a woman. Before my experience on my mission teaching this man I was very unfamiliar towards this group and frankly prejudice. As I reflect on my life I have realized that I was so judgmental towards this group, I still have repercussions of it in my life and I am trying to overcome that bias still today.
Regarding the level of intelligence, I don’t believe that in actual reality there was a huge gap between me and these other cultures, but I perceived that there was a huge one between me and those who were more poor, but not necessarily those who are transgender. I will start first with my experience and perceptions of those who are homeless. I feel like that when I was growing up, I judged those who were poor. I know that I had an absolute phobia of homeless people and frankly am still trying to get over it. I thought that those families and people who were poor were there because they had not worked hard enough, or they were not smart of enough. I perceived that those who were in a lower social class than me were not as intelligent because they could not read as fast as me or they could not do other homework assignments as well as me. Those people probably did not have books to read at home and probably did not have parents to help them with their homework, because their parents were probably working.
I never viewed transgender people less intelligent than my own cultural group, though I am sure that if the transgender person was of a lower social class I would have thought that they were not as intelligent as my working white class group.
I viewed these people differently when I was growing up with regards to their value systems, though as I have matured and grew older, I have realized that these two groups do not differ as much as I thought they did with their values, for the most part.
When I was young I viewed the lower social class as people who did not have the value system that I did with being kind and loving others. For whatever reason I was afraid/intimidated by poor people because I thought they would be mean to me. It is embarrassing to share that but it is what it is. I did not feel like my values and beliefs were similar to those who were poor. However, going on mission drastically changed that. I was around poor people for the majority of my mission. I hugged several poor, homeless and impoverished people. I talked with them. I got to know them. I have come realize that the people of the lower social class are in most cases extremely kind, civil and charitable. I came to find out that they shared my same values usually on most topics, including the basic values of my Christian faith.
Transgender people were, and still can be, harder for me to relate to with my values. I felt for a long time that I would never really understand them. That is mostly because I had never in my life interacted with someone who was transgender. On my mission when I met my Transgender friend my paradigm of transgender people shifted. We got to know each other on a much deeper spiritual level than I had ever anticipated and I found that this transgender friend of mine was actually in agreement with almost everything that we taught as missionaries, not just our Christian tenets of being loving and kind but also our specific church doctrines. I was honestly very surprised. I gained a lot of respect for transgender people since that interaction.
My perception of these two cultural groups’ behavior was bolstered by the media and others around me when I was a child- which is probably why I thought they had different values than me.
Those in the lower class typically from my perspective of occasional interaction with them at school and sports showed me that they sometimes were more disruptive and less disciplined. However, something else that would hint towards how I thought about the lower social class was when I found out that a specific person in my grade in middle school, who was very rude and disrespectful, was actually from a rich family when I assumed that because of his behavior he would have been from a family of a lower social class. Fortunately, over the years I have come to disconnect people’s behavior with their social class as I have realized that bad behavior is not always caused by lower social class.
In regards to transgender behavior, I had never seen a transgender in person until my mission and so I really did know their typical behavior. When I met my transgender friend on my mission I came to learn that their behavior was nothing out of the ordinary from any other civilized person. From that experience I came to not transgender people as much due to their behavior.
In a broad scope of things, those who were a lower social class than me and those who are transgender have definitely been in my worldview. However, their position in my world has changed over the years. I would definitely say when I was younger I was a lot less aware of my bias than I am today and so I am sure that my paradigm of these two cultural groups was much more hostile and not as respectful. I would have never hurt them by any means but I will be bold to say that I hurt them by the things I thought of them, which ultimately is no exception to how they should be treated or thought about.
When I was younger my parents definitely were the type of parents who told me that everyone should be treated with respect and my parents did walk the talk. I have never seen two people more loving and forgiving in my whole life. My Dad is particularly kind to those in the lower social class. We have never had a serious friendship with anyone in the lower social class but I never heard my Dad talk negatively to or about them. He was always kind. He was kind to them because his family was poor. He came from a lower social class. As did my Mom. My Dad was fortunate to have the right opportunities open up as well as working his butt of to get to where he is today.
With regards to transgender, I never was taught to hate these people, but I also was never taught to love them. My family never really talked about the LGBTQIA community and so my paradigm of that cultural group was never shaped by my parents.

III. Sources of Cultural Knowledge and Input
In my life there were several sources that I had that helped me gain my cultural knowledge and helped me grow in regards to my relationships with other human beings. I will briefly touch on each individual or group and how it influenced my knowledge of the low social class, transgender and other cultures in general.
Parents as teachers. As I have already discussed, my parents were instrumental in instilling in me the basic Christian ethics and values that ultimately have shaped my life experience in how I treat others. Those values are loving your neighbor, the golden rule, but also loving those who hate you, praying for those who despitefully use you and going the extra mile with someone if they ask you to go with them.
Neighbors as teachers. I had great neighbors growing up with amazing life experiences. In particular, I had neighbors growing up who would go on humanitarian trips often to Vietnam and they would tell me about their experiences which influenced me to think about others cultures in a new light and become more aware at how much privilege I have had in my life.
Teachers as teachers. When I went through high school I had two teachers that made an enormous impact on me. Mrs. Ferguson, my junior year honors English teacher and Ms. Hughes my AP Art history teacher. Both of these individuals like I said did amazing things for me in my life and helped me see the importance of embracing others of other cultures and other beliefs. Though it is not directly related to transgender or socioeconomic classes, Ms. Hughes helped me learn a lot more about Islam and as a result I totally changed my paradigm towards the people of the middle east entirely.
People I met on my mission as teachers. This group was perhaps the most influential in my development in becoming a more intercultural competent person. On my mission I served in an African refugee camp where I not only taught the gospel of Jesus Christ to these people but I also had the opportunity to develop lifelong friendships with these people who taught me a lot about how to see the world. On my mission I also taught a lot of people who were extremely poor. I taught people who lived in houses (if you wish to call them that) that were barely in livable conditions. My eyes were totally opened to the lower social class and I had a greater appreciation for inherited privilege in my life and gained a greater desire to create more equity in my sphere of influence in the world. Finally, on my mission I gained a friendship with a transgender individual who really shaped my paradigm of this specific cultural group. Before I thought transgender people were bad people. I was prejudice towards them. After that meeting my friend, I started to become less prejudice and more empathetic.
The Media as a teacher. I would say that the media has construed my paradigm of those in the lower class economically and those who are transgender. At first I feel like the media made fun of these two groups, and because of this, I made fun of these two groups. However, the media has now totally shifted to support those who are transgender and there is activist who openly defend this group. However, it seems to me that the media has not really changed in relation to those in the lower class—which is odd to me. For some reason it seems like there are a lot more polarized people in our society and culture who advocate for transgender people, but there are not nearly as many people who advocate for the lower socioeconomic classes. Overall, the media has shaped my paradigm of the transgender community very much so. It has made it worse and it has made it better. Without the media helping me to understand these individuals, I would most likely still be more biased than I am now. At the same time however, the media still is in my perspective, negatively impacting my paradigm of how I view those in the lower socioeconomic classes.

IV. Conclusion
This class has by far been the most influential teacher to me regarding intercultural communication, besides my mission (where I experienced the refugee camp for 6 months). This class has taught me that I need to rid myself of all of my bias and my prejudice and listen more empathetically. This class has created a sense of urgency for me to be more competent in communicating with other cultures as this is a key skill that will not only enable my future personal relationships, but also my relationships in business and in the community with be improved as a result of taking this class.
Regarding what questions I would like to have answered in this class for the rest of the semester would be the following: “How do I really create a rich relationship with someone who has opposing values to me regarding my religious beliefs?”, “What are 2-3 practical strategies we can use to ensure that privilege does not occur in the work place, or at least, so it does not inhibit others growth?”, “How do you minimize the bias that you have towards others? (How do you limit yourself from living your life always judging others unfairly?)” The reason why I chose those three questions is because I want to not only know that I need to change, but I want to know HOW to change my behavior and ultimately my nature and innermost feelings towards these human beings that I share such an important connection with, we are all part of the human family trying to have the best human experience possible. So I think it is fair that we cut each other some slack—the problem is, I don’t know how to do it yet with the results I want. So that is why I chose those questions.