You have probably come across people defining our world as a ‘global village. This term mostly stems from the fact that distances seem to have shortened, and you are more likely to encounter people from different parts of the world now. Regardless of whether you’re in school, at work, or even just at the grocery store, you are bound to meet people from different ethnicities and cultures.
This is why being fluent in intercultural communication has become an essential skill to have. It allows you to remain respectful, empathetic, and kind as you communicate with people who don’t necessarily lead a similar lifestyle as you.
Today, let’s understand what intercultural communication is and how global virtual exchange can help you develop it.
Understanding Intercultural Communication
Intercultural communication is the art of sharing information across borders with people of different cultures, traditions, religions, and social groups. It aims to understand and celebrate the differences in how people belonging to different cultures act, live, communicate, and perceive the world.
Intercultural communication allows you to benefit from the following:
- Removes Cultural Barriers
The best way to break down cultural barriers is through effective communication. It allows you to build awareness of cultural norms around the world and creates increased respect for how people go about their lives.
- Creates an Environment of Acceptance
It is only by communicating and understanding others that you can learn to accept differences and not feel threatened by them. Through intercultural communication, you can learn about basic manners, what different people consider appropriate in communication, how meeting etiquettes vary, and other essentials of basic interactions.
- Encourages Active Listening
Communicating with others who might not necessarily be like you allows you to develop essential active learning skills. As you engage in intercultural communication, you are more likely to ensure that you’re paying attention and listening to understand, not respond. In this way, you will be better positioned to understand how others’ cultures influence their life and work. You can also build trust and enjoy an authentic connection with people from around the world.
How Effective Are Global Virtual Exchange Programs
Virtual exchange programs are some of the best ways to increase cultural competence in education. They are an innovative way to learn about different cultures and countries on a budget. Life in Peru might feel like a faraway dream, and Indonesia probably appears to be an unknown land far away to you right now, but when you enroll in a virtual exchange program, all of these places become accessible.
Virtual exchange programs are the best way to form global connections without leaving your home. You can log in from your phone or a computer and participate in structured activities at any time of the day with people in different time zones. Here are some of the biggest benefits of these programs:
- Allows You to Meet People Globally
Virtual exchanges connect people who would otherwise be unable to build relationships. They are an ideal medium for intercultural communication with people residing anywhere in the world. All they need is a decent internet connection!
This accessibility to the global population allows for immense diversity within these virtual programs. With this diversity comes a whole new perspective that allows you to see how other people live their lives and develop increased empathy.
When the youth of the world come together in this manner and have unique experiences while sharing cultural insights and opinions, great things happen. This is why virtual exchange programs are credited for making space for confident and respectful dialogue that develops critical 21st-century skills of conflict resolution and understanding.
- See the World through Someone Else’s Eyes
When you develop relationships with people of different ethnicities and cultures, you can start to see the world through their eyes. From simple things like sharing what your breakfast looks like and trying to understand theirs, to talking about conflicts in the region, life as refugees, etc. Virtual exchanges are experiences that change people for the better.
- Create Intercultural Connections
Most of us rely on the news to learn about what is happening around the world. While this may be a good way to learn about the basic facts, nearly all media come with some form of bias. You never really get exposure to the reality of what is happening around the world, but you can through a global virtual exchange program.
Since they allow you to build global connections, these programs are a great way to gain a deeper understanding of what is happening around the world and how it impacts people living there. You can get an up-close view of life in calamity-struck areas and learn about the differences in cultures, political systems, and the daily lives of people around the world.