​In the university setting, we’re exposed to a lot of new people, ideas, values and beliefs. It’s ever so more important to be aware of all these and be able to respect them.  We’re lucky to have a diverse population in Winona where we can safely learn about different people. So, you may be wondering, how do I communicate with people of different cultures? Well, from my own personal experience of working with international and diverse students for the past four years, I have made up a little guide that usually helps me better communicate with other people:

1)  Make time to get acquainted with people


This goes without saying. It’s hard to communicate with someone you really don’t know. Take some time to get beyond introductions and surface-level interactions.

2)  Do your research


If you don’t know about the cultural norms of a country, use your resources to learn about them! We have Google for a reason, right? Take advantage of our plethora of online information!

3)  Communicate


The first step of talking to someone is actually to talk to them. Say “hi,” ask them how they are doing, and ask specific questions about their country. When I was an international student, when people tried speaking my language it made me really happy. Try learning how to say “hello” and repeat it back to them. Even if you mess up, trying is greatly appreciated!

4)  Practice patience


I think with any encounter with another human being, especially initially, patience is crucial. Patience goes a long way, and it shows a lot about your character if you can wait and try to invest in someone.

5)  Writing helps mediate communication


If you can’t understand what someone is saying, try have them write out what they are intending to say. You may also do the same too!

6)  Don’t be worried about making mistakes


College is the perfect time to make mistakes. As long as you’re making an attempt at fixing mistakes and reflecting on them, then you’re doing it right in the aspects of intercultural communication.

7)  Include them in activities


People come to America to experience American culture. What if you wanted to go to Spain, but no one ever reached out to you to include you in what people in Spain did? You’d feel really left out and lost. Don’t be that person to someone else! If you’re doing something that can include another person, feel free to invite them!

8)  Learn from each other 


As mentioned, college is the perfect time to make mistakes. We’re interacting daily with people from around the world. For example, we don’t have to go to China to experience China! We can learn from the Chinese students here!

-John Otis