Intercultural Communication: Cultural Relativity Principles

Samoa Essay

The essay by Vicki Marie is a detailed illustration of the author’s empathy towards the new culture and its representatives. The author tells about her life and works abroad, in Samoa, a country she knew little about. Marie admits that her way of thinking and habits clashed with those of the native Samoans, yet she does not make anyone right or wrong discussing her experiences. On the contrary, the author objectively presents the readers with the aspects of the two cultures that were the most different.

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Marie’s empathy is shown in her attempts to understand the Samoans, view things from their perspective, adopt their way of thinking. Even though sometimes her intercultural communication with the Samoans was unsuccessful, she is persistent about putting herself “in their shoes” and developing a better intercultural competency.

Compare and/or contrast the different norms

The photographs from all around the world depict practices rather typical for different cultures but highly uncommon or non-existed in the United States. Specifically, many of the photographs demonstrate how bathing is done in different countries. For example, Indonesian people are showing in groups and fully clothed, it seems like some kind of public shower. Such an approach to bathing is unknown in the USA and it would be considered unreasonable to shower with clothes on.

A picture from Iceland features a little girl in her bathing suit in the middle of a snowy and frozen landscape, clearly, people of Iceland practice such winter bathing regularly and it is considered as an activity strengthening one’s health, while in the USA such practice is viewed as likely leading to pneumonia. In another photograph, Indian men are soaping themselves standing in a river, and there are a cow and pile of something the looks like trash right at the shore. This kind of bathing would not be considered cleansing enough.

Which Activity does Orientation define how the Aborigines view human actions?

In the essay by Art Davidson, the Australian aborigines are described as peaceful and unaggressive people. They do not seem to be very goal-oriented or driven by achievements. At the same time, I would not call their original cultural lifestyle pleasure-seeking. Their way of life is a day-to-day routine incorporating hunting, gathering, cultural activities, and rituals such as storytelling around the campfire, and tribal dancing. To my mind, the lifestyle of the Australian aborigines can be recognized as becoming as they believe that after death they return to nature and become its direct parts such as trees, waterfalls, and other places. In other words, the aborigines recognize spiritual development and transformation of humans into various natural objects, so they live to further occupy their place in the world.

What culture do you think you would have the hardest time adapting to?

In my opinion, I would have the hardest time adjusting to the culture of Brunei, mainly because of its strong religious values and promotion of Islam. According to the description of the culture of this country, Islam is the basis for everything (just as it is in the majority of Islamic cultures). In other words, Islam is the basis for the political built of society, behaviors, and values, attitudes, and norms. Besides, it does not look like the representatives of other religions would be welcome there. This way, living in Brunei, I would feel like “other” all the time and I am sure, I would be treated that way as well. Brunei does not sound like a place living according to cultural relativity principles.

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