Blog 7: Culture in Agriculture

As you may suspect, the importance of intercultural communication is growing in the agricultural community.  We are in a global economy, which isn’t necessarily new, but our awareness of the importance of other cultures has increased in recent years. I like this chapter in your book, as I feel it seeks to explain how we can communicate better with people from culture’s different than our own instead of just explaining how different cultures communicate.

As we continue to discuss on this blog, agriculture has a culture all of its own with strong roots in community and family. I would argue that  agriculture’s culture is closer to collectivist than the rest of the United States (you may need to refer back to figure 10.3 to remember where the Untied States appeared on Hofstede’s dimensions of culture). My argument for agriculture being collectivistic also aligns with face negotiation theory of conflict. I see agriculturalists typically being high context rather than low context. This communication style creates a culture that caters to in-groups, which we have certainly seen in agriculture. As these in-groups have similar experiences and expectations, they often feel certain messages or ideas are implied and not said leading to high context messages. This creation of in-groups is what can lead to poor communication with those outside of the in-group as we discussed with the “feed the world” message. In many cases, I see theories of intercultural communication applying to the communication of agriculturalists with members of the general public. Of course, as your book concedes, there are both ends of the spectrum in all cultures with certain individuals putting more value on the needs of the group than individual needs and vice versa. Sometimes these differences may lead to conflicts like family disputes when passing down the family farm to the next generation.

Think of a time when you interacted with someone from a culture different from your own. What elements of communication accommodation theory (CAT) and/or communicative theory of identity (CTEI) did you utilize to improve communication?  What role did your personal identity play? What do you know now that may have improved your communication?

One subject discussed in your text that can sometimes be uncomfortable is the topic of “whiteness”. One blogger described what he called the “unbearable whiteness of urban farming“. Many of his points apply to other agricultural groups urban or not. I encourage you to read his entire post, but I have pulled his six recommendations for addressing this issues. These are:

1. Go to where people are at, not where you want them to be.
2. Don’t accommodate people to the extent of ignoring your own needs.
3. Don’t operate from assumptions.
4. Always be focused on leadership development.
5. Be aware of how privileges may be effecting group dynamics.
6. CELEBRATE non-white contributions to Food Justice.

How do these points align with theories in this week’s reading?

19 thoughts on “Blog 7: Culture in Agriculture

  1. Class,

    This week’s blog is very interesting and especially prominent during this time of year, harvest. Agriculture runs deep in the blood of families, friends, and an entire agricultural based farming community. Over the weekend I was recently at my cousin’s wedding which was located in another small farming community in Missouri close to where I am from. Many of the guests could only attend the reception, in which they were even late to that. That goes to show that the farm and the strong desire to do whatever it takes to provide for the family and culture behind that dirt is the most important. With the strong roots that agriculture runs deep it is most important to realize that most involved in agriculture understand better than most what it takes to communicate in our field. As we have discussed in past blogs, it is especially difficult to get those that are not as knowledgeable in the field to understand the importance of agriculture and communicate the meaning to them. If we take it into consideration, it is even difficult for us that are communicators of agriculture to get on the same page regarding the various ways to farm or raise livestock or tend to our own way of agriculture. I try to always remember that we are all trying to feed the world and better our industry by being involved even if we do not all operate our own operations the same etc.

    A time that comes to mind when I interacted with someone from a different culture than mine was actually involving agriculture. Each year as a member of the American Angus Association and an avid member of the breeders association there is a large show held every summer at a different location in the U.S. However, other countries do not have these large events but are very interested in being able to promote and show the Angus cattle that they raise as well. Therefore, our association invites those individuals. I had the opportunity to visit with agriculture enthusiasts from Brazil who had incredible Angus cattle. One ranch had brought around thirty bulls to exhibit at the event and each bull was every bit as good as any I have witnessed being showed in the U.S. It was great to see agriculture as well as the beef industry which I so deeply work hard in each day being so strongly represented. We were able to discuss everything from culture, the surroundings at their ranch, to marketing opportunities and even the feed they use to ensure that their cattle are properly cared for. They had all the same thought processes regarding agriculture that my family and fellow breeders in the U.S. have. In conclusion, it was just extremely neat to see things from such a different point of view. It allowed me to open up my mind to possibly traveling in the future to another country to attend a tour etc. related to farming/agriculture. It is important to not only promote agriculture through communication but be teachable by our fellow ag communicators so that we can continue to teach others. I look forward to learning from each of you!

    Thanks,

    Ashlyn Richardson

  2. First off, I wanted to say how much this class has taught me and pushed me to grow as a person. Not only have I learned how to apply communications and theories in agriculture, but also in my personal and business relationships. I continually learn more about myself and why I communicate the way I do – and hopefully improve my communication.

    Dr. Baker’s point on the United States agricultural groups are more classified as collectivists is spot on, and also pushes me to evaluate the communication to outside of the agricultural community. Our communication posses issues and frustrations, especially with the “feed the world” campaign as Dr. Baker mentioned. Through all of our blog posts and readings, I can’t help but to continually strive to communicate better with those outside of agriculture.

    As many of us probably have, I have experienced communication with several individuals outside of my culture. Some conversations were meaningful and some have been completely frustrating and I walk away not understanding anything. For instance, my chemistry professor in college was Asian and spoke faster than I am accustomed too. I left class several times having no idea what the lesson was, but just some scribbled notes. After a few class periods, I approached her and shared about the communication barrier and my concerns of falling behind in class. Sharing my concern made her aware that other students were struggling to understand, as well. This conversation was difficult to have, because I didn’t want to be offensive in any way, but I also didn’t want to struggle in class.

    When communicating with an individual from a different culture, I make it a point not to change my voice. I know some people tend to change the pitch of their voice, and I find that almost degrading, whether intentional or not. I am typically an up-beat, bubbly individual, but will tend to pull those characteristics out of my personality, to simplify the conversation. Once I am more comfortable, I may add it back in. This is typically with any new person I meet, but I find it important to not add to the mix when communicating with other cultures, initially.

    Another culture I have recently interacted with is the Amish community. I moved to a town on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky this summer, and work mainly in Kentucky, selling corn and soybean seed. At first, I avoided stopping at the Amish farms, because I wasn’t sure how to communicate with them, in fact my worst fear was to offend them. I wasn’t sure if talking to the male farmer was offensive, or how they interacted with females inside and outside of their community. After conducting some research, I found it was acceptable to speak with the male farmers on a business level. I even became comfortable enough to ask the Amish women, if it was at all offensive to them or other women in the community. She reassured me that it was acceptable, but to not take up too much of their time. Typically the most of the Amish’s spare time is meant for worship. In this instance, I wasn’t sure how the community communicated with women, especially on the outside, so before I formed a theory, I researched and asked the source, them-self.

    My personal identity plays a specific role in groups/people I am unfamiliar with. I typically am interested in different cultures, and hold an interest in observing their actions, lifestyles, communication, etc. If I have a question, I like to ask the individual directly, in a non-offensive (I hope it is non-offensive!) way. I have built trust through my openness with other cultures and continue to build on that trust. I know others may not be as comfortable or bold, which is acceptable, but being open helps me in these situations.

    When I first read the 6 points Dr. Baker listed in the blog, I thought those were all perfect ways to evaluate my personal communications. Then, reading the blog, I was pulled into a whole different interpretation of the recommendations within agriculture. In the fourth recommendation, he shows that if you are an individual outside of the group, put some one else in charge through train the trainer. In this situation, if you are the leader of a group going to share information or teach a different culture, it may be best to address this issue. The group may not receive the information as readily or may perceive the individual as an outsider. The example that youth love being taught by people that look like them is perfect and we should address this without making divisions of cultures – if and when possible.

    I also want to incorporate CELEBRATE non-white contributions into agriculture, but at this point I am not sure how. When I look at agriculture, it is really “white” so I am not sure how to incorporate this other than maybe food contests or something of the sort. Some communities may have contests on the best BBQ, why not try some sort or international food competition or convention. What are other ideas one could have for this?

    1. Jessica,

      I really enjoyed reading your post! It is wonderful that you have allowed yourself to grow as a person and create even more successful business relationships. I try my best to always put what I am learning in the classroom to play within my daily life. I find that I gain the most out of being an advocate for agriculture and my cattle operation when I do those things.

      Your thoughts regarding the Amish community were really interesting. I live very close to an Amish community and have worked with them some through selling cattle. I was at first very anxious as well being in charge of most of the sales for our farm I wanted to know how to interact with them. This course has taught me that often times we have to arrange our ways of communication so that we can better interact with those around us in agriculture. We cannot communicate effectively if we speak the same way to every single person. Each person finds value in other things. Therefore, it is important to analyze how we will communicate to various individuals such as the Amish community. In addition, I took a Rural Sociology course emphasizing in the Amish community during my undergrad and it was absolutely the most interesting course I have ever taken, so I can relate in terms of wanting to learn more about them. Keep up the good work!

      Thanks,

      Ashlyn Richardson

    2. Jessica,
      I enjoyed reading about both of your experiences with intercultural communications. I also am usually a bubbly, up-beat person but when I am in an unfamiliar situation, it is the first characteristic I pull back. I also do not typically do this with other cultures initially because I am unfamiliar if it will be offensive or greeted with warmness. I think it is important for me to keep this in mind but to not drawback completely to risk offending a person. I fear that some people may be offended if they knew that I was holding back my personality with them.

      I think that the author of the blog is not instructing us to create events to celebrate non-white contributions but to seek out the hidden gems already in existence. Creating programs is certainly a good measure to create a crowd but it is not celebrating the contributions that are already taking place. I also would find it interesting to read about other programs that already take place that celebrate non-white contributions in agriculture.

      You always bring a good perspective on the weeks readings.
      Christina Peterson

    3. Jessica,

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. Personally, I have created uncomfortable situations before by communicating in a manner that was offensive (not on purpose). Like you, I have learned to step-back in unfamiliar situations. I have also found that with certain cultures, admitting ignorance right out of the gate can be effective because it creates dialogue. It allows me to ask questions, and allows them to tell me how they want me to communicate with them. Thus, I can communicate more appropriately.

      I really enjoyed reading about your experiences working with Amish farmers. Every person has a different identity, which influences how we send and receive communications. It was fascinating learning about how the Amish reserve downtime for worship. Based on your experiences would you consider the Amish culture to be more individualistic or more collectivistic? I will admit that I am ignorant on this subject, but it sounds like the Amish culture may be more collectivistic.

      Finally, I think that the blog post was encouraging readers to celebrate the contributions made by minority groups. For instance, a Latino church in my community maintains a community garden. Based on the author’s instructions, we should be celebrating these types of existing efforts.

      As always, it was great learning from you. Thanks for sharing your insights!

      Best,
      Alyssa S.

    4. Hi Jessica,
      I really enjoyed reading your blog this week because I also live in an Amish community. Recently I sold one of my favorite horses to an Amish farm, the man that bought her said that I was welcome to come visit whenever I wanted. One day I took the man up on this offer and my friend and I stopped in to visit with my old horse, I knew that the Amish are very well dressed and that the women often don’t show much skin, I made sure that I wore long pants and a long sleeve button shirt. My friend on the other hand wore shorts and a t-shirt, I was so worried that we were going to offend the man, luckily he was very welcoming to us and said that we could stay as long as we wanted. I tried to make my visit very short because I didn’t want to be too much of a nuisance to him and his family, I think that if I do go back I will make sure that my friend is properly dressed and I will do a little more research before I go.
      Thanks for sharing!
      -Leah

    5. Hi Jessica,

      I really learned a lot from your discussion post. I think your post was very well written, and you really synthesized this information well and found an applicable experience to relate to. I think it’s interesting that you use an experience with the Amish. Although they still speak English, they have different customs and ways of doing things. I think it was great of you to keep others’ background and customs in mind when considering selling seed to them.

      Keep up the great work! I enjoyed your post!

      -Anissa

  3. Class,

    This week’s blog is very interesting and especially prominent during this time of year, harvest. Agriculture runs deep in the blood of families, friends, and an entire agricultural based farming community. Over the weekend I was recently at my cousin’s wedding which was located in another small farming community in Missouri close to where I am from. Many of the guests could only attend the reception, in which they were even late to that. That goes to show that the farm and the strong desire to do whatever it takes to provide for the family and culture behind that dirt is the most important. With the strong roots that agriculture runs deep it is most important to realize that most involved in agriculture understand better than most what it takes to communicate in our field. As we have discussed in past blogs, it is especially difficult to get those that are not as knowledgeable in the field to understand the importance of agriculture and communicate the meaning to them. If we take it into consideration, it is even difficult for us that are communicators of agriculture to get on the same page regarding the various ways to farm or raise livestock or tend to our own way of agriculture. I try to always remember that we are all trying to feed the world and better our industry by being involved even if we do not all operate our own operations the same etc.

    A time that comes to mind when I interacted with someone from a different culture than mine was actually involving agriculture. Each year as a member of the American Angus Association and an avid member of the breeders association there is a large show held every summer at a different location in the U.S. However, other countries do not have these large events but are very interested in being able to promote and show the Angus cattle that they raise as well. Therefore, our association invites those individuals. I had the opportunity to visit with agriculture enthusiasts from Brazil who had incredible Angus cattle. One ranch had brought around thirty bulls to exhibit at the event and each bull was every bit as good as any I have witnessed being showed in the U.S. It was great to see agriculture as well as the beef industry which I so deeply work hard in each day being so strongly represented. We were able to discuss everything from culture, the surroundings at their ranch, to marketing opportunities and even the feed they use to ensure that their cattle are properly cared for. They had all the same thought processes regarding agriculture that my family and fellow breeders in the U.S. have. In conclusion, it was just extremely neat to see things from such a different point of view. It allowed me to open up my mind to possibly traveling in the future to another country to attend a tour etc. related to farming/agriculture. It is important to not only promote agriculture through communication but be teachable by our fellow agriculture communicators so that we can continue to teach others. I look forward to learning from each of you!

    Sincerely,

    Ashlyn Richardson

  4. This week’s readings have by far been my favorite thus far in this class. So many of the topics we are learning about are easily applicable to my, life but this week’s topic is one that I was starting to research on my own. I have a handful of students from different cultures in my classroom and am struggling to ensure that I am communicating effectively without directly asking them if they are comprehending the content. I am excited to try out some of the strategies the book mentions for communication accommodation theory in the classroom this week and report back to you if they worked.

    Growing up in the melting pot of the world, I have been blessed to have several experiences to reflect on pertaining to interactions with people from different cultures than myself. Some of my most prized memories of intercultural communications stem from my two times I have lived abroad. The experience I have chosen to reflect and analyze the communication elements present will be my most recent experience living abroad. Last year, my husband’s job relocated us temporarily for 6 months to the Netherlands, during which I was pregnant and would be expecting to have our child. As you can imagine giving birth is a time when communication is at a critical high, and I was moving to a country 7 ½ months pregnant where English was not the first language.

    Let me preface my experience by explaining the process for childbirth and aftercare in the Netherlands now that I understand it. In the Netherlands, you are in the hospital for typically no longer than 4 hours post birth. Upon arrival home, you are assigned a kraamzorg who comes to your home daily for one to two weeks doing household chores, grocery shopping, and cooking your meals. Along with the kraamzorg, you have a midwife who visits you at various intervals until you are 2 weeks postpartum. This sounds like an awesome benefit to having a baby in a different country, if your insurance will provide it. Most American insurance companies do not pay for the kraamzorg or midwife as there is no equivalent in the United States, hence where my first issue with intercultural communication occurred while abroad.

    Throughout my medical journey, most Dutch people understood the situation and issues were avoided until after my child was born, and a new nurse came in to send us home after 3 hours in the hospital. My midwife and I decided that I could stay in the hospital for 2 days if I felt it necessary because I would not have a kraamzorg at home to help aid in the transition. We had a midwife set up to come see us once we left the hospital at our own expense. Our new nurse was beside herself because she did not understand how we could stay longer than the typical duration for an uncomplicated and fast labor. It was very hard to not slow down and change my voice while describing the situation to her. As most of my conversations started out for the last two months, my husband is military, our insurance will not cover a kraamzorg. No, we do not have family coming to help, but my husband has two days off including the day of birth. Even after explanation, she still called around to price out kraamzorg services to see if we could get a good deal on one without insurance and be on our merry way. After three hours going back and forth with our new nurse, we finally left the hospital due to exhaustion of re-explaining repeatedly the situation. Side note, Dutch hospitals are not used to long term patients, so all I had eaten for 6 hours was crackers with butter and muisjes (anise seed) on them, therefore I was starving and may have let my hunger take over.

    Reflecting on my intercultural experience, I understand that I was very aware of my identification as a minority in the setting, which caused me to try and avoid communication. Instead of continually working or seeking a new path when communication was stressed, I chose to conform and just go home. I also started to exhibit characteristics of hyper explanation as I was simplifying my language to communicate with my nurse. My personal identity played a huge role as I soon become known around the hospital as the “American who had no pain drugs”. Everyone was in awe that an American woman would be okay with no pain medicine for childbirth, but then they were confused that I would stay longer in a hospital.

    If I were to relive this experience, I would ensure that I have a well thought out plan for communicating with my nurses, acknowledging that there is going to a language barrier. I think I would also try and not conform to social norms but stick with what I personally felt was best in the moment.

    The 6 points at the end of the blog really solidified my learning this week. The blog that describes these points helped me think of possible ideas of how to incorporate and what to be aware of with intercultural communication and agriculture. Number three: Don’t operate from assumptions is one that I feel fits in this week with the readings. The blog talks about making sure you start with your goal and then helping them to get what works best for them not use assumptions about their goals. Within the readings, four different dimensions are highlighted that are the typical cultural preferences. This point can help remind us that these dimensions are not set in stone, some people may be in the middle between the two sides or on the extreme of a dimension. It is important to keep in mind that everyone will have their own agenda/goal and to not assume.

  5. Christina,

    Your experience of giving childbirth in a different country was so interesting! I am not a mother at this point, so I haven’t experienced childbirth at all, but know the general process in the United States.

    I completely understand the feeling of having to re-explain yourself several times, either to the same person or to several others. If I have to do that, I tend to avoid the conversation again, and if it is a task I am explaining, I complete it myself. Sometimes this isn’t the best solution, but it is the easiest for me.But on the other hand, I’m not the greatest at hiding my frustration and this may hurt my relationships. I try to hide it, but my facial expressions give it away!

    Thank you for sharing your experience of living in a different culture!

  6. Meeting people from other cultures and being immersed in a totally new culture are definitely learning experiences. Between my junior and senior year of college, I spent a good portion of my summer in Honduras and Argentina. I am fluent in Spanish and have had the opportunity to travel to several Latin and South American countries. I had been to Mexico and Costa Rica before college, so I thought I would have a good idea of the culture in Honduras and Argentina; however, I was not prepared for some of the communication issues that I had.

    Upon arriving in Honduras, I realized that communication there was unlike any of the Latin American cultures I was familiar with. Though Spanish is spoken in Honduras, many words mean something completely different than they do in other countries. I noticed this when I was in Honduras but learned more about it later when I got a job at a nursery in Virginia. My crew at the nursery was almost all Mexican but there were two Hondurans that started working shortly after I did. The Mexicans made fun of the Hondurans and complained about not being able to understand what they were saying. The Hondurans did the same right back. In relation to the communication and accommodation theory, they both maintained or even diverged from their normal speech patterns.

    One day, I was put on a crew with one Honduran and several Mexicans. While we sat together cutting the tops off of plants, we had a conversation about what different words meant in both Mexican Spanish and in Honduran. We also talked about gestures and body language and how each country’s codes and contexts were different and, often, offensive to the other. I found the entire exchange fascinating. It also was interesting to watch as, during and after the conversation, the members of our crew seemed to converge their speech patterns a little bit.

    My experiences in Argentina also allowed me to see both new cultures and communications. I spent almost two months in Cordoba, Argentina, which is a large city. I lived with an older woman and had a roommate from Georgia who only knew two words in Spanish. When I stepped off of the plane, I was mistaken for being Argentine. I was shocked because I always stick out in Latin American countries as the stereotypical American. Since they thought I was Argentinian, I was shuffled into the wrong line and created a little bit of confusion. I was jet-lagged, by myself, and in a foreign country, so I found it hard to say anything in Spanish. I opted to avoid communicating unless I had to, which is something I find I do in a difficult communication situation. Though I speak Spanish, I don’t always like to let people know that I do. On a personal identity level, because of fear of saying the wrong thing or actually having to have a conversation in Spanish, I sometimes choose avoidance.

    During my time in Argentina, I learned that the Cordoba region had been settled by Italians and Germans during the 1940s, which has contributed to a large European influence in language dialect, food, and even lifestyle habits. Context, such as a hand gesture my host taught us, does not mean the same thing to those outside of Cordoba, so the culture is low-context and relies on code to relate to the rest of the country and world. While traveling around the country, I was amazed at the differences in language and communication. Salta, in northern Argentina, is a region of Andean indigenous people that have vastly different codes, contexts, and meanings than those in Buenos Aires or Cordoba in the middle of the country.

    On a smaller, more personal scale, the Argentine woman I lived with, Martha, was continually confused by my roommate’s hand gestures and hyper explanation of things. It was very entertaining to watch both of them gesturing wildly and practically shouting slowly articulated words in two different languages across the dinner table. Nearly every night, these crazy conversations were punctuated by one or the other running across the room to the computer to type what they were failing to communicate into Google translate. Then, once Google saved the day or I interpreted for them, there were more understanding gestures and words and, then, the process would start all over again.

    In terms of a culture being collectivistic or individualistic, I find Figure 10.3 interesting. Argentina is listed as collectivistic and more high power distant. Often, Martha spoke about the country and the people as a unit or group and not as individuals. Argentina has long had ties with socialism, so that is not completely shocking. Also, Argentines love to protest. I saw quite a few while I was in Cordoba. They don’t protest like Americans though. They all get together and march through the streets, but they do it as a form of group communication to government officials or whoever will listen. I think that small aspect of life in Argentina is indicative of their collective culture.

    The blog post by Antonio Roman-Alcala was an interesting read, especially in light of issues in today’s world. I am not sure that I whole-heartedly agree with his description of the “unbearable whiteness of urban farming” though. I do think that his points of action are generally helpful. As stated in the communicative theory of ethnic identity, it is important to remember that identity affects both how communications are given and how they are received. As Roman-Alcala states, it is important to consider the audience, where they are, and what they want or need to hear before just teaching things. I think agricultural communicators forget that sometimes and promote things that they feel are important rather than doing some research to find out what its really needed.

    The topic of race in agriculture is a complex issue, but it is one that I think is getting better in the urban agriculture sector. On the east coast of the U.S., at least, many urban agriculture movements are led by non-white people. Karen Washington is a great example. She’s a resident of the Bronx in New York, an African-American, and the owner of Rise & Root Farm. In addition to Rise & Root, there are many other programs and projects that help teach urban agriculture all over the United States. People like Karen Washington are figuring out how to use communication to do just what Roman-Alcala said needed to happen.

    Since the United States is individualistic, collaboration is something that helps with effective communication. There is always a need for clarity in communication and relationship building, which are two especially important aspects of working with people. Sharing with people that you are working with on both a communal level and a relational level, allows accommodation to happen, which makes people more comfortable working with each other.

  7. While pursing my undergraduate degree, I met one of my best friends. She is African American, and I know she felt out of place because the agricultural classes were predominately filled with Caucasian students. We met taking a meat science class, which had a two-hour lab once a week. The purpose of the lab was to create our own meat products, and since only a few people could cook in the kitchen at one time, it left a lot of time for socializing. Most of us in the class had some sort of livestock background. However, my friend had no prior agricultural experiences. After learning about the communication accommodation theory, I realize that she used interpretability strategies. For example, she stopped using certain slang words. At the time I didn’t realize it, but as we started becoming friends outside the classroom, I learned that she talked and acted differently in our meat science class to try and fit in.

    This same friend and I got along great, so I didn’t think twice when she invited me one of her brother’s basketball games. However, I was out of my element as soon as we arrived. I was the only Caucasian person in the stands, and everybody there (except me) was African America. These basketball games were also different from the sporting events that I had been to. There was loud music, dancing, and socializing. Basically, these games were social gathering on a communal level. As someone who identifies as Caucasian, I was an outsider. They were speaking English, but they were using slang that I was unfamiliar with. To improve communications, I used elements of the communication accommodation theory. I tried to converge by using the same slang that they were using and adjusting the inflection in my voice. However, this attempt backfired. My friend pulled me aside and told me that I was coming across of as offensive and rude.

    Looking back, I realize that trying to converge, in the way that I tried, was inappropriate. My convergence was problematic, and I should have been more aware of how my communication style was coming across. Rather than trying to imitate the speech of the other culture, I should have maintained my normal speech. While convergence can be effective, I do not believe that it was the best move in this example.

    While I don’t agree with all of Antonia Roman-Alcala’s points, I found that his recommendations aligned with this week’s reading. The third and fifth recommendations are primarily applicable. Based on the communicative theory of ethnic identity, we all have different identities. Additionally, based on the face-negotiation theory of conflict, we may encounter people from individualistic cultures, and we may encounter people from collectivistic cultures. Thus, the way that we communicate and engage in conflict may vary based on context levels. We need to be aware of how we communicate with other groups with different dynamics. Letting assumptions influence our convergence or divergence, can be problematic. We should be aware of how our communications styles will be received.

    Best,
    Alyssa S.

    1. Alyssa,

      I really enjoyed your stories about you and your friend, thank you for sharing. They are great examples of the communication theories discussed in our book. The examples really elaborate the points that the book went over. One thing I always think about after being in a situation like you described, at the basketball game, is if how you felt in this instance, how members of a minority feel every time they walk into a classroom or a grocery store? More times than not, I have been the majority, so this is an uncommon feeling to me, but the few times I have been the minority it is extremely uncomfortable and I mainly cope by avoiding. Your story of converging your communications to adapt their slang made me chuckle a little bit. I understand how it can come off rude and insensitive, but I think we should also remember that it shows the other person is trying to fit in and assimilate to another culture. It may not be the right way but it is an effort.

      I completely agree with you that some of Antonia Roman-Alcala’s points I could not jump on board with. I really appreciate your incite on the face-negotiation theory of conflict. I did not think of that but I see how it makes a lot of sense. There are so many ways to communicate and different cultures communicate in different ways. If there is a conflict between two individuals from two cultures, you may not be able to communicate effectively like you would with someone from the same culture. A different tactic might be necessary to come to an agreement. If one just assumes, it can possibly escalate the issue and cause permanent damage to a relationship or reputation.

      I really enjoyed you post this week! Thanks for sharing your stories!

  8. Until recently, I sadly have not had the opportunity to really communicate with someone from a different culture. Of course, I have had interactions here and there, but I had really never sat down and worked together on a project. I say sadly, because recently I have had multiple opportunities to meet individuals from other cultures, and it has opened up my world and thought process immensely. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about other cultures and incorporating things I have learned into my daily life and my communication skills.

    At the begging of the semester I was assigned to work on a project with a gentleman from Ecuador. He was a very high-context individual, while I tend to be more of a low context individual. This aspect of communication in its self was somewhat frustrating for me, but at the same time, I learned to appreciate his thoroughness and in-depth analysis of the topics we were covering. It taught me to slow down and take advantage of the assignment, and really understand the concepts we were learning. Components of the communicative theory of identity that I noticed while working with my partner, that allowed for a better communication were, salience and intensity. My partners first language was not English, and part of our project was to write a paper. My partner was very aware and “salient” of the fact that his English was not the best and asked me right off the bat if I could type up the paper and make it flow appropriately. My partner also had a very low “intensity” communication, he was very passive in his communication. The combination of these two traits made it extremely easy to work with my partner. He made it aware, right away, what he felt comfortable doing but in a way that was very subdued, calm, and laid back. This made working together very effortless and communication was unproblematic. Things I noticed pertaining to the communication accommodation theory were, convergence as well as interpretability strategies. Do to the fact that my first language was English, and my partner knew multiple languages, I feel that we often both converged our communication to better our paper. We often knew what we wanted to state, but could not think of the right words. We combined our knowledge of the language and worked with one another to create the wordage we were looking for. While converging our communication, we often ran into interpretability strategies. Not in the sense that we were yelling at each other to get the other one to understand, or slowing down our speech, but in the sense that sometimes the words or phrases we would come up with, would need extra explaining if it was an uncommon word or dealt with a cultural/ slang phrase. I found it to be an extremely educational process on my end to learn knew vocabulary as well as cultural aspects to communication that I had not yet encountered. I think the most frustrating thing for me was the different context levels. I am the type of person who loves to work fast and get it done and high context cultures do not see things that way. I know I need to be a more patient person in general, and I think realizing that would make the communication process easier. I think learning to be more of a high context individual would benefit my communication by paying more attention to whomever I am communicating with, as well as, paying attention to small details of communication, as to not offend other people. As far as the role my personal identity played, I would have to say power distance. My partner is working on his Phd, while I’m only receiving a Master’s. He also knows multiple languages and has experienced many cultures unlike myself. I felt like he was more knowledgeable and higher up on the chain. I found my-self overthinking things and distancing myself, so I would not come off as uneducated, or insensitive to other cultures.

    I feel that these points closely align with the critical race theory, as well as the communicative theory of ethnic identity. These points mention accommodate for other individuals but also make sure you take care of yourself. From reading this, I also picked up on the tone of, don’t make it so apparent that you are trying to over compensate for the lack of diversity in agriculture. An over accommodation can make things feel forced and unnatural. You want to combine cultures and focus on the main goal ahead. Not the fact that another producer is of a different ethnicity. Another point mentioned do not make assumptions. If you do not know, ask or do your research first before.

    I found this chapter to be very insightful and beneficial to aspects of communication that will be a necessity in agriculture.

    1. Hi Kelsey,

      Your example of your project experience is a good one! I often have the similar issues working with others on group projects, especially if they don’t speak English well. I think that your point about intensity and passiveness ties in with the politeness theory. Especially in group work, we all try to avoid conflict by collaborating or compromising. I think that, when both partners come from different cultural backgrounds, we try to collaborate as much as possible, sometimes just to get things done.

      Your thoughts on context are good too. Since Americans rely on fewer words and more body language and gesture clues in communication, it can be hard to effectively work with someone from a high-context culture. I was recently talking to my grandpa about language. He has been watching an Italian police drama that has been dubbed in English. My grandpa does not speak Italian and was remarking about how long the actors keep speaking after the English words are done. Part of this is the structure of the actual Italian and English languages but I also think it illustrates high-context versus low-context cultures too.

      While reading the blog about urban agriculture this week, I found it a little but difficult to not get caught up in my views and opinions. There were certainly pieces of the post that I do not agree with. Your thoughts on the theories involved and how they can be used in the author’s main points show a very good way to look objectively at that article. They made me wonder about my own post and whether or not I’m guilty of doing exactly what so many others do in regards to not taking time to think about the audience and the topic and not just publish my own opinions. Thanks for that!

      -Deanna

  9. At least once in our lives we have all come to that breaking point where we have stopped and asked ourselves, “Who am I?” To me this is an example of an attempt to understand and define our personal identity. Communication is a very important part of human existence. Our identity is crafted in our early years by our interactions with our grandparents, parents, and siblings.
    A time that I interacted with someone from a culture different than my own was when I was on an internship at a reining farm, I worked alongside the barn manager who was from Mexico named Julio. Julio spoke very little English and I spoke very little Spanish, the two of us had to work together six days a week and develop a schedule for feeding the horses, turning horses out, and cleaning stalls(for 50 horses). When Julio spoke English he spoke with a noticeable accent, without even realizing it I would be speak back to him also with a Spanish accent. I wasn’t trying to be offensive it kind of happened without me really thinking about it. To me this demonstrates “convergence” which I adapted to Julio’s communicative behavior. “Identity is expressed or enacted through communication.” A part of my identity was adapting so that Julio and I could successfully communicate, by the end of the summer I had become more comfortable with the Spanish language, I wasn’t fluent by any means but I could get my point across in a barn setting. I learned that I need to be more diverse especially if I wanted to work and be successful in the horse industry, I have also introduced this concept at the university that I teach at. Starting last semester we required that our students could only speak in Spanish while they were working in the barn so that they go into the industry as diverse and knowledgeable as they can be. I found that the students really enjoy this and it is rather easy for them to learn this new language in a hands on setting.
    I enjoyed the six recommendations and felt that it was very easy to make connections of real life learning back to these recommendations. In fact a recommendation that stood out to me and that I could strongly connect with is, “Don’t operate from assumptions.” While I was on my internship I had to pick up a new horse from another barn that was up the road, I walked into the barn and all of the lights were off the only person on saw was off weed whacking. When the person weed whacking noticed me he came over to the barn to see if I needed help, I immediately began speaking to him in Spanish and asked how to turn the lights on. The man responded to me in perfect English, I was so embarrassed I wasn’t trying to be rude I was trying to be helpful and accommodating. The moral of this story is in fact, “Don’t operate from assumptions”, or you’ll make a “you know what” out of you and me!

    -Leah

  10. The most memorable experience I have interaction with someone from a different culture would be when visiting Costa Rica during a study abroad tour with a group of other students. Although we were normally together and had no issues with dialect and language barriers, in this experience, we were given freedom to choose our own restaurant in town. Myself, along with a few other students, chose to go to a pizza restaurant and order lunch. In this restaurant, there were no English speaking employees, so we had to rely on the minute amount of Spanish we had taken previously to this trip. In addition to piecing together words to be able to order, we also utilized gestures, such as pointing to things in the kitchen or sizes of pizzas. I believe body language or motions can add to communication accommodation theory. As well as having a solid base of Spanish terms, looking back it would be helpful to learn specifically the dialect and terms of the region your planning on going to. This can be difficult to accomplish since you would need to most likely visit with a person from that area. However, it would have been helpful in our situation because even some of the terms we had learned were not applicable to the region we were in and not as common to the folks of that area. Overall, it was intimidating not understanding someone. I think it was beneficial to keep a positive, kind demeanor toward the other individual.

    I think all of the blog post’s topics were quite interesting, and I can see how they can be someone applicable to today’s agriculture and this week’s readings. Specifically, I think point three and five are similar and are applicable when communicating in agricultural communications. I think as communicators, we often forget to identify with the audience and understand them on their level of knowledge first.

  11. One recent experience where I have had an interaction with someone from a different culture than I was on my honeymoon a few weeks ago. My husband and I traveled to Mexico for my first ever trip out of the country. Before leaving, I hadn’t thought much about being in a place where English was not the primary language (wedding planning had my mind elsewhere). When we landed in Mexico we had to pass through customs and immigration services, something I had never done before. The paper work and even airport signs where primarily in Spanish. The employees working in these areas spoke very limited English. When I think about our experiences going through the airport, I can now see several aspects of the communication accommodation theory (CAT) at work. Both the employees of customs and immigration and myself tended to converge our speech patterns, attempting to use a few words in English or Spanish to help with the process. There were also interpersonal control strategies used to get us through this process. One employee used nonverbal cues to tell my husband that he needed to take off his hat and to tell me that I was handing her the wrong form. This experience, while it was only an airport and not necessarily a full emergence into a different country’s culture, was a great learning moment for me as we dive into the interworking’s of communication.
    Another example that comes to mine when interacting with someone from a different culture is at my workplace. My 4-H office professional, Aline, is from Brazil. Her marriage brought her here a few years ago and she has worked in our office for about two years now. Aline is brilliant- a computer whiz and fluent in both English and Spanish. We still do find ourselves using interpretability strategies like changing our word choice and typically converge our speech patterns to better understand each other. While we use these strategies to overcome any communication barriers, I do believe that the femininity of both of our identities through our communication styles.
    I enjoyed reading the blog post about the whiteness of urban agriculture. I think that the six points that the author shared are particularly valuable as I continue to plan my programming and work as an extension agent. While we challenge ourselves and our organization to serve more diverse or under reached audiences, we still have work to do. Roman’s post and six ideas challenge me to consider how my own communication influences my audiences in extension. This blog post probably touches on a few of the notions of the postcolonial theory, concerning the colonization of our nation and the politics of immigration. I would guess that a further examination of our nation’s agricultural history and the postcolonial theory would provide context in the reasons why urban farming, and often all of agriculture are predominantly white.
    -Hannah

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