The Importance of Introducing Intercultural Competence in American Classrooms at an Early Stage in College: Building Bridges over Barriers.

Incorporating classes focused on intercultural competence has never been of greater importance for students at early stages in college as it sets a tone of respect and understanding that they can carry out throughout their upper-level classes. Being aware of the customs and history of other cultures allows students not to infer that others will behave exactly like them or even have the same values and becoming interculturally competent is a key skill for the marketplace.
In these lessons learned, I talk about the importance of developing social adaptability skills by understanding cultural stereotypes, building intercultural competence in students, and bridging cultural differences between communities worldwide through increased awareness of global challenges. By building cultural awareness in students at an early stage in college education, students learn not only so see and share similarities and differences within each other’s cultures, but also to respect them, which in time can lead to enhancing conflict management in the workplace, better team participation, patience, among others.
This panel will address these advantages for teaching these kinds of classes, share class assignments done during the Spring semester in the LBST Global Connection class, provide ideas for future activities and offer feedback given by students in their final reflections. In my experience 99% of the students were excited about having taken the class and learned about people surrounding them, from family members to roommates, even to partners. Besides, I will make emphasis on intercultural competence as a fundamental work skill. Furthermore, I will mention some of the challenges encountered along the path, and the way in which the students and I attempted to build these knowledge bridges over found misunderstanding barriers.

Chair: Laura Viale