Intercultural Communication in Tertiary Pluricultural Education: Bridging the Social Divide
International students sojourning in an overseas university often leave having made very few friendships. Further, domestic students, often through habit rather than choice, tend to maintain a social distance with these students. The resultant gap does little to enhance intercultural communication on campus, or to develop individuals' intercultural communication competence. This study explores the reasons for this social distance by uncovering how students socially construct their everyday communication experiences with cultural others. The study is underpinned by the following research question: How do students make sense of their intercultural communication experiences with cultural others in the pluricultural learning environment? Students in a final-year undergraduate intercultural communication course were paired with cultural others outside of the course. Students engaged in a structured interaction programme throughout the one-semester course. Each student wrote an ethnographic account of his/her partner's intercultural communication experiences on campus. The researchers conducted follow-up interviews to further explore emergent themes derived from the students' accounts. This presentation will report on the emergent data. It will also present the theoretical and practical implications for promoting social interaction in the pluricultural learning environment.
Keywords: Intercultural Communication, International Students, Pluricultural Learning Environment
Senior Lecturer, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato
Dr. Prue Holmes
Senior Lecturer, Department of Management Communication, Waikato Management School