Special Issue, Cross-Cultural Communication

We welcome submissions and comments at any time on a variety of topics related to international development (see broad topics below). Please send inquiries to the editor: beth.snodderly@wciu.edu. Articles will be added as they become available.

Strategy and Innovation (here)
Leadership (here)
Cross-Cultural Communication / Translation Studies / Orality (here)
Environmental Studies and Creation Care
Community and Societal Development (here)
Social Justice (here)
Area Studies
Disease Origins (here)
Worldview Transformation
Religious Studies
Education

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Special Issue, Cross-Cultural Communication

The secular West regards the “religious” wisdom of prior generations to be obsolete. What was once known as good-sense is categorized “supernatural” and rejected. The Western disrespect for concept of the “supernatural” contrasts sharply with the African worldview and its approach to a search for “the good” that tackles shame and envy using mystical forces. Western thought puts a priority on material realities while African prioritizes the spiritual and relational (although these are not accurately expressed using English). Dominant Western engagement in Africa wrongly presupposes African people to be dualistic. This misleads Westerners to believe Africans should be able to accept and build on secular approaches to solving their society’s problems. The result is confusion and unhealthy dependency on the West. To benefit tomorrow’s Africa, a genuine holistic witness to Jesus, and the positive development possible as people within societies follow Jesus, must use local categories and languages.

 

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I would like paraphrase and summarize the article first to see if I understand the article correctly. Then I would like to briefly respond to it. As it is said in a Chinese proverb, “Presenting a block of brick, hope for a block of jade in return.” I would like to invite the author, Dr. Harries, and the readers of this article to respond to my understanding of this article and to my inquiries.

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Two scholar-practitioners from the missions education community critique and respond to Jim Harries’ article, “Resolving Western Hegemony in Africa: Distinguishing the Material from the Spiritual/Relational.” One respondant asked to be anonymous. Allen Yeh analyzes Dr. Harries’ concerns, in part, from an East Asian perspective.

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Interweaving with stories of her cross-cultural experiences in three countries, Cheng contends that the context of conflict management is the emotional wholeness of a cross-cultural worker. One of the two starting points of cross-cultural conflict management is self-awareness of the impact of one’s national character in their personality, especially in relevant to individualistic and collectivistic cultures. The other one is the understanding of the conflict dynamics and the issues in cross-cultural conflicts. For cross-cultural workers from an individualistic cultural background, the core lesson is to move their social life and conflict management from a self-centered orientation towards more of a communal life orientation.

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George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Shaw’s irony is apparent when two people from the same language and culture converse over a seemingly simple topic, yet they interpret what is said differently. His irony is especially apparent when two people from different culture and language backgrounds attempt to communicate using a shared language. So often there is a communication breakdown. A breakdown happens simply because language in general and word choices in particular are influenced by at least two things: experience and environment. No two experiences are exactly alike. Environments may be the same, but experienced in different ways. People from vastly different cultures have vastly different experiences which influences how they process or make meaning. No wonder Bible translation, be it oral or written, is so challenging. In hindsight (and ongoing research) the code model of meaning transfer from one language to another seems simplistic. So much “interference” happens in the process because of the decoder’s and encoder’s unique experiences and environment. What can we expect from translation? 

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This book was written to help members of a multicultural team recognize and understand why cultural differences exist among members of their team and to apply biblical truth to cultural differences. Silzer starts this book by stating that we are all created in the image of God. The image of God is presented in three views: substantive, functional and relational. The substantive view of the image of God describes the image of God as the ability to make decisions by using human will. The functional view of the image of God explains the image of God as the function of taking responsibility of creation. The relational view of the image of God addresses the image of God as the ability to make relationship with God, other human beings and creation. The image of God in us is distorted, however, by following cultural practices rather than biblical truth.

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Since the author consistently encounters objections to oral strategies, he thought it would be helpful to address for our readers some of the main concerns that are voiced and balance those concerns with the major benefits. In this article, he will go through many common objections to an oral strategy, and then present some benefits to this strategy as well.

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Oral strategies are more participative than traditional learning approaches. These include storytelling, audio materials, diagrams, visual portrayals, and verbal discussions. Strategies also include the use of more “right brain” literary genre like metaphor, imagery, folk proverbs.

This short article gives two examples of oral learning strategies.

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Eighty percent of the world, and nearly 100% of the majority world, are from primary oral learning cultures. This means the people— whether non-literate, functionally non-literate, or even semi-literate—prefer to learn in ways other than through reading printed matter. Even listening to Western literate analytical forms (such as lectures, lists, etc) is foreign to their way of thinking. The importance of this is that most of our students work in societies where the people are oral learners. We want to help our students become familiar with techniques they can use in teaching their people. If all they do in their studies with WCIU is read and write, they won’t have learned how to communicate their learning well to the people with whom they work.

This short article gives two examples of strategies for oral learning.

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This article highlights the vital role of oralized Word, for our moment in history, and especially for Jewish people.

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