When most of us are asked about our culture, we might immediately think of characteristics like our ethnicity, nationality, or ancestry, but culture is much more complex than the surface-level aspects most of us associate with the term. Cultural identity is like a quilt woven from not only these obvious aspects but also from threads including our life experiences, societal and environmental influences, and our general way of being. Trying to understand the impact of culture on the way we interact is like trying to explain water to a fish. This course explores how cultural identities are formed and influenced over our lifespans and what happens when those identities are challenged through social interaction with people from significantly different backgrounds than our own. By developing empathy and understanding through the act of mindful listening and observation, this course seeks to help students navigate the many complexities of intercultural interaction.
*Note: This class is delivered when lunch is served.
Field WorkCountry: Poland
Date: September 16, 2019
This field class departs Gdansk for the nearby site of KL Stutthof, the first Nazi concentration camp constructed outside the borders of Germany and the last of the camps to be liberated by Allied forces in 1945. Stutthof We will learn about the history of Polish Jews from pre-war Poland through modern times and how the death of an estimated 65,000 Jews in Stutthof continues to leave an indelible mark on descendants of survivors.
1. Connect the importance of intergenerational stories on community and individual cultural identity
2. Explore the significance of radical transformation (i.e., invasion/colonization) on cultural identity
3. Practice intercultural communication through mindful listening, observation, and reflection