Promoting Self-Reflexivity in Intercultural Education

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Self-reflexivity — having an ongoing conversation with your whole self about what you are experiencing as you are experiencing it — is a crucial skill for interculturalists, and I have been seeking to promote it when teaching intercultural communication in English to students of varying nationalities. This article will review how I structured both a large, introductory intercultural communication undergraduate course and a graduate seminar in order to teach theory and offer opportunities for students to apply the course concepts in practice using reflexivity as a bridge between them. Bodymindfulness, metacommunication, and communicative flexibility were emphasized for the development of self-reflexivity in both courses. Graduate students also pursued Mindful Inquiries to develop reflexivity as a way to instruct themselves about how to be critically and explicitly conscious of what they are doing as intellectuals engaged in the practice of research.
Parallel efforts were pursued in each class: 1) course concepts were presented in lectures with PowerPoint slides and videos, and 2) practice was required in individual and small group activities that stimulated reflection in class sheets and later in a journal. This reflective journal writing was optional for undergraduates and required for graduate students.
Classes often began with the Bodymindfulness Practice to cultivate the ability to tune into one’s own state of being and to manage one’s energy by breathing consciously. A series of intrapersonal and interpersonal exercises were pursued during the courses with reminders to be reflexive during group interactions and the requirement to reflect in the feed- forward sheets. Overall students responded well to these attempts to promote self-reflexivity as attested by reflective passages they wrote at the end of the courses.

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