Opening up to cultures is important
By Roseline Collins - Staff Reporter
Learning about another person's culture gives room to learn more about yourself, a Highline hospitality professor said last week.
Instructor of Hotel and Hospitality Management Justin Taillon gave a presentation on cross-cultural communication and the skills of interacting with others from a diverse culture for the Honors Colloquy on Jan. 25.
The Honors Colloquy is a sequence of weekly sermons by faulty, students, and supporters of the community on diverse subjects concerning annual themes to increase student learning.
As a market-based socio-cultural conservation researcher, Taillon investigates cultures that are becoming extinct and in what ways they could be revived.
"If we make a culture more alive than dead, then it is going to stay," he said.
People like it when there is an attempt to learn about their culture and that is why people must be flexible, Taillon said.
Respecting the differences in others' cultures rather than becoming frustrated through miscommunication is critical because communication is complex, he said.
Taillon told a story about his friend from Eritrea who came to the United States and was entirely focused on living the American way. He really wanted to be American—he was even focused on only eating American food for an entire year, Taillon said.
However, when the friend's family came to the United States they chose not to focus on the American way of things.
"It was Eritrea first, U.S. second," he said.
Even people from the same culture can be different. No two people are alike, Taillon said.
Having a best friend from Eritrea, wife from Korea, friends from Peru, and growing up in a household where both of his parents did not speak English, has made him more grounded, he said.
"People from different cultures have different perspective on things like food, family structure, and what is important in life," he said.
Taillon said he has seen and heard of many instances where people from different cultures have struggled with creating friendships in the United States because they feel that Americans "will not open up to them."
Taillon said he believes one way students can open themselves up to the culture of others is by joining clubs on campus. He said he was inspired by the passion of one of his Japanese students standing at a booth to get students to sign up for the Japanese Club.
You do not have to be Japanese to join the Japanese Club, because you can take so much away from going to their club and seeing their situations, he said.
The Honors Colloquy seminars are hosted every Wednesday in Building 3, room 102, and unless otherwise noted, from 12:15-1:20 p.m. for the Winter Quarter.
The next colloquy will be Feb. 15 with part-time faculty member Rod Mattson who teaches communication. The topic of discussion will be chronemics, which is the study of time in communication.