University of Alabama at Birm

Q: What problems can you anticipate when you are communicating with someone who holds a different context orientation?

Now think about your own surroundings. Even within your own race/gender/age groups/etc. you have high- and low-context people.

As we examined in the past five chapters, perception is selective, learned, culturally determined, consistent (or is it?), and inaccurate. Thus, it depends on the family you were born into, the race of your family, the religion we practice, and the people you interact with; perception can vary from person to person. As we grow older with different experiences, even within the same family, even identical twin can develop radically different perceptions.

We have 195 countries in the world, and how many different languages? How many religions? So, this many different reasons to have different perspectives. Our textbook states that, “Perception is selective, learned, culturally determined, consistent, and inaccurate.” So, we choose what it right for us, right? Even a deviate behavior in one country can be a normal behavior in another country. The book gave a good example in Nigeria. One country has different religions and cultural behaviors among its various regions: north, central, and south. Can you think of similar patterns in America? Our American norms and values change as well. Immigrants bring in different sets of values, religions, and cultural practices; changing political parties can bring in different values. Immigration is a prime example as we deal with different people from different backgrounds. The US has had radically different immigration policies in the past, swinging from nearly isolationism to open borders and everything in between. Thus, the current debate over immigration policy is nothing new, but it is obvious we have learned precious little from the previous debates on the issue and are merely repeating the same pattern, seemingly unaware of such past discussions.

As we learned in chapter two, culture is based on symbols. Cultural symbols, as we have noted, can take a host of forms, encompassing gestures, dress, objects, flags, and religious icons. However, it is words, both written and spoken, that are most often used to symbolize objects and thoughts. Notice the link between symbols and culture in the definition of the word symbol advanced by Macionis:

For me the first time when I saw the American flag designed swim suit usage in the US, I was shocked.

Patriotic 4th of July American Flag Print Lace Up Plunge Swimsuit.docx Download Patriotic 4th of July American Flag Print Lace Up Plunge Swimsuit.docx

Cultural pattern taxonomies are used to illustrate the dominant beliefs and values of a culture. Here we can talk about how certain countries play a huge role in influencing other countries. America and many Western countries set/develop new cultural norms. However, Japan, China, and South Korea have played significant roles in shaping modern globalized culture as well: music, anime, foodways, fashion, filmmaking, and politics. As we discussed at the beginning of the class, media plays a huge role. So even within a culture when certain people practice particular cultural values, or let’s say a young group is listening to pop music, dress more Western, speak a Western language, eat certain Western food and another “local” group who listens to traditional music, dress more traditional, speak the native language, eat certain local food can conflict with one another. I remember when I first told my father that I am in love with an American and wanted to get married, his first reaction was “he is an outsider.” Even though, today, the world is interconnected more than ever, we are worried about our differences. Thus, when we communicate we face cultural, social and values issues.   

Our textbook discusses that according to Kohls, the dominant American cultural patterns include personal control over the environment, change, and time and its control, equality, individualism/privacy, self-help, competition, future orientation, action/work orientation, informality, directness/openness/honesty, practicality/efficiency, and materialism/acquisitiveness.

And now think of all this to answer these questions, employing the new terms and concepts you have learned in the course:

What problems can you anticipate when you are communicating with someone who holds a different context orientation? Also, think about your own surroundings. Even within your own race/gender/age groups/etc. you have high- and low-context people.

University of Alabama at Birm

Drawing from your readings AND the videos, answer the following questions. Make sure to provide specific examples. Use your own words to define terms. Feel free to draw upon discussions with your classmates as well.

What is the role of the mass media in culture? Are there negatives as well as positives? Provide some examples.

To start the thinking process…

Culture and communication are intertwined. Through language, culture exists, and through culture, language exists. For example, in Sri Lanka, there are specialized tools used in the cultivation of rice, which is the staple food of the culture. As such, these tools have names in Sinhala that are specific to our culture and have a special place in our culture because of the significance of rice. Likewise, Iceland provides a strong example. It is perhaps an overstatement to say that Icelanders can still read the old Norse sagas as they were written over a millennium ago, but it is true that Icelanders have carefully preserved their language over the centuries, and Icelandic is the least changed of the modern Nordic tongues. This has to do with the Iceland’s isolation from mainland Europe as well as the government’s long-time agenda to preserve the language and protect it from outside influences. To that end, a government committee works to create unique Icelandic terminology for new things, such as sjónvarp(“vision projection”) for TV, rather than incorporating loanwords into the language.

Culture can be unique from one person to another. However, we often generalize for the purposes of studying culture—it would be rather impossible to study every member of a particular culture after all! A good example is we watched a documentary on honor killing today and after we watched the video, one of my former students mentioned that Baptists and Muslims may not see eye to eye. This illustrated how even when we learn about the issues of objectivity, subjectivity, and generalization, we are so programmed to think in terms of subjective generalization, that we find it difficult to break those modes of thought. It is completely natural for us to generalize groups. It is the human nature. We sometimes try our best to leave our prejudices behind; however, is it possible?

We learn “our” cultural values from day one. Even as babies, we recognize our parents’ voices, learn about who is family and who isn’t, learn what foods to eat and what not to eat, learn what language to speak, often begin to attend religious services, engage in ethnic events, and otherwise are immersed in a culture into which we were born. As we grow, we may expand our notions of who “we” are and who “they” are, delve into foods outside the culinary traditions of our own background, convert to different faiths, learn a different language, relocate to another country, and marry into a different ethnic group—trust me, I have done most of these things, and doing so is becoming more common every day.

Take a look at this video on Japanese pre-School. Look at how they learn “their” culture from a very young age.

Early childhood education in Japan: My nursery is different (Learning World: S3E35, 2/3) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)

Their staple food: rice. Parents must send a “bento” at least twice a week, so kids will learn how to appreciate their parents; kids do physical exercise every day, because good health is important in their culture.

While many social institutions play significant roles in shaping our culture and our identities, media plays a huge role even once we have reached adulthood. We have to be careful in how we engage with media, because as many of you pointed out in the first week of the course, journalists are SUPPOSED to be objective and that is how many perceive them to be. However, few of them truly are. Some are mercenaries plying their storytelling abilities to the highest bidder, as evidenced by those who jump from organizations with significantly biased perspectives to another organization with the opposite slant without batting an eye at the fact that they have pretended to subscribe to the previous ideology: i.e. ‎Megyn Kelly, Glenn Beck, Joe Scarborough, Dave Rubin, and Bob Novak. Others are nothing more or less than political activists masquerading as impartial journalists but spouting nothing more than political party talking points for the Left or the Right. And, we, the consumers, tend to gravitate to which ever media outlet reaffirms our own subjective viewpoints, reacting in kneejerk fashion to anyone perceived to be offering an alternative perspective. If we have such difficulty in gleaning information about our own culture through the biased media, imagine how much more difficult it can be to learn about someone else’s culture through that same slanted lens: right-wing media painting all Muslims as terrorist, left-wing media portraying all conservatives as racists, and each outlet bashing the perspective portrayed in their rival’s network.

Hope this will be helpful. Happy learning!

University of Alabama at Birm

250-word response to the assignment

What was most interesting to you in reviewing these resources?

What did you learn from these resources about bacterial metabolism?

  1. What new questions do you have after reviewing these resources?

What do these resources tell you about the types of people that do science?


Out of these resources provided, in my opinion, the article that talks about grief while attending college was the best one that attracted my interest. I like how it spoke about an “Unpopular topic” of struggling mentally while attending classes and meeting mandatory deadlines. This is a topic not many people are willing to converse about with one another. Something that I learned over these bacterial metabolism organisms is that they can live in harsh conditions, no matter, the temperature. It is crazy to think if that’s why aliens are built from this bacterium and bring up whether if that’s how aliens can survive through harsh environments like the stereotype displays. After reviewing these resources, I have three questions: (1) why study extremophiles for a lifetime? People are really dedicating their lives to find signs of living elsewhere by looking for organisms. My second question is, other than not having carbon, (2) what kills or halts the existence of organisms? In other words, what eliminates the bacteria if they’re adaptable to harsh environments. Lastly, if we know the variables that help exist these organisms, (3) why don’t we duplicate the resources where they don’t and imitate the environment? And then see what can be a substitute close to where they don’t exist on other planets? Moreover, with resources demonstrated, this assignment shows the interest that earths simple beginnings of living, fascinates scientist’s time to find out more and more and learn the way planet earth has been able to maintain the way it has with metabolic cycles and not fade like close by planets that don’t show sign of living environments.

University of Alabama at Birm

In this assignment, you will write an 800 – 1000 word essay on one of the following movies: Interstellar, Arrival, or Contact. Access to the movies is described in Weekly Agenda 18 – 22.

The goal of this assignment is to use the thought-provoking events of the film to push and expand your own thinking about the nature of life and the possibilities of extra-terrestrial life. If you have seen one of the films numerous times, and feel this assignment will not afford you this educational experience, please choose another film for this assignment. You will not earn full-points on this assignment if you respond to the questions below “I have seen this film numerous times so I did not experiencing anything new,” or “Nothing surprised me,” etc.

Use the prompts below to guide your essay formation. Do not simply write the questions and respond to them one-by-one in paragraph form. Please use the essay rubric as a guide to your creation.

Guiding questions for all three movies:

  • One role of art is to spark thoughts and feelings outside of one’s typical or daily purview. What questions/concerns/conundrums do you think the film writers wanted the audience to grapple with?
  • Tell me about a scene that surprised you. What happened?
  • Which character did you find yourself resonating with most? Why?
  • Which character did you find yourself disagreeing with or irritated by the most? What did they do or think that made you feel this way?

Additional guiding questions for Arrival or Contact:

  • How did extraterrestrial life interact with humans? To what extent did this encounter expand or enhance the experience of human life? Does this match your expectation for human’s first contact with extraterrestrial life? Why or why not?

Additional guiding questions for Interstellar:

  • In what ways does the film de-center our geo-centric vantage point? (there are multiple answers and please feel free to pick more than one to discuss)
  • To what extent do agree or disagree with the statement, “We must reach far beyond our lifespans.” To what extent do you think the film writers have a position on this statement? Cite evidence from the film in your response.

You do not need to respond to all of the questions in your essay. You may find that answering one of the guiding questions provides enough grounds to support your writing of the entire essay. As long as you provide a rich discussion in response, you may earn full points according to the rubric.

Meets or exceeds required word count.

Well formed paragraphs: strong topic sentences followed by supporting sentences. Use of complete sentences. No grammar errors.

Coherent presentation (sentences are presented in an order that sequences thought in a useful order to the reader); Appropriate voice and tone; Understands assignment.

University of Alabama at Birm

Here are a list of events and documentaries. These are all online/virtual offerings. Some are not in English language. This is a great opportunity for you to use your imagination. Pretend that you had the opportunity to go to a wedding in Sri Lanka. This is a Western/Eastern wedding. How do the two cultures come together in this function bringing two cultures together? West meets the East.

Happiness: the music, gestures, food, clothing, all have hidden cultural/social meanings

Once we get used to things, certain things become customs to us . However, when you enter a new culture, when you are not familiar to certain things, that becomes culture shock. Watch a few documents or attend a few UAB virtual events and write your event paper. It is not safe to attend events in person, so please pick one from this list.

Please do not wait until the last minute. If you have any computer issues, do not contact me. Please contact the Help Desk.

Event paper guidelines: Make sure that the assignment is typed, 1-2 pages, double-spaced, 12pt font, with a 1” margin all around.
The cultural event reports must include, but are not limited to the following elements:

  • Title of the event
  • Name of event organizer(s)
  • Reflect on how this event changed your perceptions or added to your knowledge

Recorded past events:

1. Japanese Obento

2. Wedding in Sri Lanka (two cultures coming together)

3. Chicken Ala Karte

4. Happiness

Face-to-face event

1. Social Justice Mixer – University of Alabama at Birmingham ( (Links to an external site.)

Monday, August 30 at 5:30pm to 7:00pm

Hill Student Center, Outdoor Amphitheater (Links to an external site.)1400 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35233

2. Foreign Service Careers Info Session – University of Alabama at Birmingham ( (Links to an external site.)

Wednesday, September 1 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Virtual Event

3. What’s New with COVID-19 Series: Women’s Panel

Wednesday, September 1 at 12:00pm to 12:30pm

Virtual Event

4. What’s Happening in Afghanistan? (this is an ideal event)

Wednesday, September 1 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Virtual Event

5. UAB Nathan Shock Center Seminar with Dario Valenzano

UAB Nathan Shock Center Seminar with Dario Valenzano – University of Alabama at Birmingham (Links to an external site.)

Wednesday, September 15 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Sample Cultural Event Paper:

German-American Oktoberfest

Every year the German Day Association in Chicago, IL hosts an Oktoberfest that is celebrated over an entire weekend in Lincoln Square. The event highlights traditional German food, drinks and music as well as showcases traditional German fashion. While there are three days of events, this year I attended the Saturday event on September 8th for the Steuben Parade and participated in the street festival. I attended the festival for just over 2 hours, and I was able to speak with one event coordinator as well as one participant, and I believe these interactions as well as my overall experience allowed me to gain insight into this German tradition. The Chicago German Day Association was founded in 1920 by local German citizens who wanted to promote the use of the German language and customs, despite being in America. The association created German-American Day as an annual celebration of German heritage and has been held in Lincoln Square for the last 25 years. The festival helps to educate both local German and Non-German youth in addition to keeping the German culture alive in the city. One of the main attractions to the festival is the Steuben Parade, which is the event I was able to attend. After speaking with an event coordinator, Anna, I learned that the parade is named after Baron Friedrich Von Steuben who was a soldier that had volunteered his service under George Washington. The Parade honors his service as well as his heritage and stars a lineup of traditionally dressed Chicagoans that are members of local German social, sport, fraternal and folk groups. I saw dancers in traditional garments dance the Schuhplattler, a style of folk-dance originating from the southern region of Germany. Additionally, there were floats with singers that sang German folk music in the native language. Prior to attending this event I had expected it to just be a festival of beer as I had a very American perspective of Oktoberfest. While there were tents serving German beer and strudels, the parade really highlighted old cultural traditions I never expected to see, nor did I expect to see so many people attend who were at least part German. One of my favorite experiences during my time there was hearing the people around me speak in German to their friends and family. I felt at times like I was in another country because I heard more German than I heard English, and I even learned how to say “hello” and “goodbye” (Hallo/Auf Wiedersehen). I had a brief conversation with an event goer named Chelsea who said she had been to this event before, and loved hearing the traditional music because it reminded her of visiting her grandmother overseas as a kid. While I have a German last name, I have never really felt connected to that part of my ancestry. Being at this event made me feel more in tune with the German part of me I have never really explored. Even though there were parts of the festival I had anticipated to experience, such as eating bratwursts and drinking Paulaner, I was surprised hear so many people speak the language and I did not expect to see traditional dances. I was introduced to so many more traditional food options than I have ever known existed, and hearing live folk music was really fun. I believe this experience highlighted parts of the German culture I was unaware existed, like that Lederhosen is considered to be the national costume and that there is traditionally a gun salute to close out the real Oktoberfest in Germany. While I believe there is much more to learn about this particular culture, I feel that I have a greater understanding of Germans and their traditions after spending time at this event.


University of Alabama at Birm

Q: In class, we learned that globalization has had a profound impact on cultures around the world. The many benefits of globalization are readily visible. However, do we get a holistic picture of the pros and cons, or have the media and academia distorted reality? Gender relations are a good case study for this quandary. Read below, research the matter, and let the class know what you think.Things to ponder…The media and academia would have us believe that women in the West are much better off than they are elsewhere in the world. However, how many women have served as heads of state/government in Western countries? Among the major countries of the West, only Theresa May (United Kingdom), Angela Merkel (Germany), and Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand) hold the elected leadership of their countries, although women hold similar posts in smaller countries such as Serbia, Croatia, Iceland, and so forth. Interestingly, the first female prime minister was Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Sri Lanka), and all the major nations of South Asia have had female leaders: Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan), Indira Gandhi (India), Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma), Sheikh Hasina Wajed (Bangladesh), and Bidhya Devi Bhandari (Nepal). The United States, Canada, France, and other major Western powers have never had female heads of state/government aside from hereditary monarchs. What does this say about the perception that non-Western countries are behind the West in terms of gender equality? That said, in some countries such as India, Sri Lanka, China, Bangladesh female infanticide still exists (please make sure to watch the video, “India’s Missing Girls” listed under this week’s videos), yet devotees of the dominant religions in many of these countries worship female deities. Some research has indicated that sex-selective abortion may be much more common in America than is realized, largely because abortion providers do not collect that data. However, American abortion has just as dark a history. Margaret Sanger, the founder of the Birth Control League (the future Planned Parenthood), championed a coercive brand of eugenics. Her eugenics creed is clearly stated in her speech “My Way to Peace” (1932), which called for a vigorous state use of compulsory sterilization and segregation. So again, one must ask if the media and academia are giving us a clear picture of globalization and the merits and demerits of Western influence therein. What are your thoughts on the question, In class, we learned that globalization has had a profound impact on cultures around the world. The many benefits of globalization are readily visible. However, do we get a holistic picture of the pros and cons, or have the media and academia distorted reality? Gender relations are a good case study for this quandary. Read below, research the matter, and let the class know what you think.

University of Alabama at Birm

I’m working on a english question and need support to help me learn.

What is ethnocentrism? (brief explanation would be fine)

Define ethnophilia and ethnophobia. (brief explanation would be fine)

What impact do these concepts have on intercultural communication? Can they have positive influences as well?

Things to ponder…

Immersing oneself in a new culture can lead to apprehension and emotional distress, resulting in mental and physical fatigue. Culture shock is a mental state that can occur in such situations—especially when one finds that one’s established patterns of conduct are ineffective. Such disorientation can have profound impact upon one’s health, learning, and adaptation. According to the U-curve model, cultural adaptation progresses through four phases: honeymoon, disillusionment, recovery, and adjustment (Interestingly, students go through this same process when they enter college from high school). Many people experience a similar experience upon returning to their own culture after being immersed in the other culture for lengthy periods of time, struggling as they try to assimilate new values, perspectives, and attitudes into their original setting—especially if they find that family, friends, and others around them are not accepting of the changes. Cultural adaptation strategies include learning the host culture and language, eschewing ethnocentrism, and sustaining contact with your own culture.

Obstacles to effective intercultural communication include a predilection for similarities, dealing with uncertainty, the risk of withdrawal, stereotyping tendencies, problems of prejudice and racism, and matters of power. Prejudice is a strong feeling or attitude toward a particular social group: ethnic, racial, religious, or so forth. Racism is the belief that one’s race is superior to another race. Because communication is an activity that has a consequence, we must develop a communication ethic. The two major perspectives on ethics are relativism and universalism. An intercultural ethic leads one to be heedful of the power of communication, respect the worth of all individuals, seek commonalities among peoples and cultures, recognize the validity of differences, and take individual responsibility for your own actions.

What is ethnocentrism? (brief explanation would be fine)

Define ethnophilia and ethnophobia. (brief explanation would be fine)

What impact do these concepts have on intercultural communication? Can they have positive influences as well?

University of Alabama at Birm

Drawing from your readings AND the videos, answer the following questions. Make sure to provide specific examples. Use your own words to define terms. Feel free to draw upon discussions with your classmates as well.


Why do you believe families around the world have experienced so many changes over the past few decades?

What are those changes? Do you believe those changes are positive or negative, and why do you think so?

Please watch the video that I have given below on Dalits (Untouchables in India=low caste people) You are more than welcome to bring in other examples; This video is just one example to show us how caste system could affect a role in making changes in Indian society.

Let me give you a very brief explanation of India’s caste system which will make it a bit easier for you to start the thinking process.

The caste system within Hinduism is hierarchical and posits a very different perspective of human identity and capacity than we usually see in the United States. According to the caste system, the different castes have innate capacities for certain types of jobs. It is important to note that not all Hindus accept the caste system, and there have been important Indian reformers who have worked against the caste system. Caste discrimination was made illegal in the 1948 Indian Constitution; however, caste discrimination still persists.

We can compare this to the way that racial discrimination is illegal in the United States; however, racism still persists here.

Some points to keep in mind:

1. Racism is not based on religion. It is easier to formulate social change and modify political opinions than it is to alter religious tenets.

2. Media. Radio and television were instrumental in promoting the civil rights movement in America. Scenes of Southern police officers and dogs attacking peaceful African-American marchers were beamed into the homes of millions of Americans, graphically depicting the injustices being perpetrated against minorities and those supporting them.

3. Politicians have used the caste system to keep the population divided to their own ends. Interestingly, in India, it is the BJP party, which is more religious in nature, that has elevated Dalit (Untouchables=low caste people) leaders to the position of president of India. The more secular, socialist Congress party has done comparatively little to promote the general well-being of the Dalit community. Are there any political parallels in America (use objective sources to support your position)? to an external site.

University of Alabama at Birm

1. For this extra credit opportunity, student will view episode 1 (The Cause) of The Civil War, a film by Ken Burns (about 90 minutes long).

Write and submit two paragraphs (7-10 sentences at a minimum). Follow all other directions for Reflections on the Syllabus. You will be grade on quantity and quality of content.

  • Briefly describe what Burns describes as the root causes of the war, the sparks that started the battle, and who starts out winning the war. Why do you think they started out winning the war?
  • Give detailed specific examples from the film to support your answers. Quotes are good but use them sparingly. I want to see more of your writing rather than quotes.
  • Tell me what surprised or interested you about the causes, the sparks, the armies. Does this follow along with what you read in the textbook or learned in class.

You might need to sign into UAB Libaries, select Database, then PBS to open this link. (Links to an external site.)

You can also watch this in class and on Netflix

2. For this extra credit assignment, I am going to allow you some freedom to create your own submission. It is two parts.

  • First pick one battle from the Civil War and discuss in your three paragraph submission.
  • You must introduce the battle, the date, the location, and the commanding officers. You must explain who “won” and why or how. Most importantly, why is this battle important? What is the significance of it?
  • Include interesting facts, observations and comments. Pick one that is interesting to you. If it is not interesting to you, it will reflect in your work. You can use any battle mentioned in the textbook or better yet, use this website (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)
  • After you select the website, then select the battle. At the top of the battle page are several tabs that will reveal many details about the battle including interesting things like the music!
  • Include what you learned in your submission. If you decide to use another source, that’s good! Just be sure to cite your source. (Links to an external site.)
  • Second, provide one paragraph to explain if the Civil War between the North and South is still an ongoing conflict in one way or another. You should Google contemporary news article to provide facts, examples or evidence to your position. Cite your source. Send me a Canvas Inbox message if you have any questions.

3. As the semester comes to a close, I wanted to give you an opportunity share your feedback about this class.

I would like to hear from you about the assignments you enjoyed (or did not). Also, what did you think about the textbook and course resources?

This is your chance to earn points just for sharing your opinion! I still would like to see supporting evidence 🙂

Feel free to let me know how you are doing this semester at UAB. Is this the only online course you are taking? If you are taking others, how does this one compare? Thanks!

4. For this optional extra credit assignment, student will consider Sullivan Ballou’s (a Northerner) letter to his wife Sarah. He wrote this letter home before the Battle of Bull Run. You can find the letter at the end of Ken Burn’s Civil War, Episode 1, The Cause. Here is a link to the letter—read it carefully. I also pulled in a link to just the letter. Fantastic!

  • Write one paragraph (7-10 sentences minimum) about the things the author said you believe are important.
  • Discuss something from the letter explaining about life in the U.S. at the time it was written.
  • Briefly include your personal opinion about the letter and discuss how the letter is relevant in today’s society.

Ballou’s letter and a short video from Ken Burns about the letter. (Links to an external site.)

Video clip from The Cause…must watch to complete assignment. (Links to an external site.)
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