A word from the Editor
Welcome aboard to the interesting field of Intercultural Communication! This website is my attempt to take part int he discussions on this field that I find extremely interesting: the world is constantly changing and challenging people to learn new things – and all this change keep also conversations alive and well.
I collected materials for this website from different sources with the aim to conclude a database to be used for different needs in various organizations, schools, work places and individual’s lives. My main target is to increase the awareness and make people think – also critically – their own thoughts, think themselves and also see the possible stereotypes that they might have in their thinking (as “normal ways to think”) in a new way. I also wanted to give the readers and users concrete tools to develop their awareness about the concept of identity and culture, communication and intercultural competence – so becoming competent in a diverse world and different intercultural settings.
I also wanted to make an emphasis on the thought that cultures do not exist only on national levels: in a diverse world people represent for example their national cultures, age groups, gender, family cultures, work cultures, different organizational cultures and ethnic cultures at the same time. There is no such thing as “Finnish culture”: all the individuals come to the interaction with their diverse backgrounds and various subcultural groups.
Anyhow, we normally focus on the national level when talking about intercultural communication. That is of course interesting: with humorous thoughts we like to show for example, how all the Finnish people are silent and modest. That is not necessarily dangerous, it can be fun to a certain point as well, but in intercultural settings this stereotyped thinking is not normally very useful. Of course we can find some traits that seem to be more common in certain national cultures than in others, and that is because the surrounding cultural climate has an effect on how people think, behave and act. But, we also have to make sure that we understand that this is not the whole truth: only by challenging our stereotyped thinking we can see the world in its whole richness. The world is full of diverse and interesting individuals representing different cultures – and in today’s world the interaction between people keeps getting more active throughout the globe.
I have a dream. I think that in a global world intercultural communication is the key to a better understanding, effectiveness and well-being. Stereotypes, prejudice or discrimination do not help anybody or any organization to succeed or to make anyone’s life better. So let’s see the world from a bit different perspective and make a difference – together.
Aino Harinen, March 10th, 2015, Joensuu