Understanding Cross-Cultural Communication
(30 minutes)

A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES explores 14 different ways--verbal and nonverbal--that two people from different cultures can fail to understand each other. Some of these differences reflect language and translation problems. But many others involve subtle differences in etiquette, gestures, values, norms, rituals, expectations, and other important cross-cultural variations.

Cross-cultural communication can be difficult, inaccurate, and highly stressful. When we are immersed in an environment where the language, attitudes, values, and behaviors are alien to our own experience, we may suffer disorientation and frustration--an experience known as "culture shock."

This is because culture affects almost all behaviors. Culture governs how close we stand while talking with another person. Culture governs how we use (or avoid) eye contact. Culture governs how we express (or suppress) powerful emotions such as joy, disapproval, and anger. Culture even governs the expression (if not the actual experience) of love, because culture determines whether we feel free to express love in public settings by holding hands, hugging, or kissing the person we love.

The video "A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES: Understanding Cross-Cultural Communication" examines 14 different facets--both verbal and nonverbal--of cross-cultural misunderstanding. In each case, the power and subtlety of cultural differences is explored and illustrated. As the video demonstrates, culture can be like a veil that prevents us from understanding people from other societies, and also prevents them from understanding us.

The examples in A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES include dramatic differences in personal space, patterns of touch, etiquette and ritual, the expression of emotions, ideas about food, gestures, courtship patterns, and parent-child relationships. The people shown in the video describe from their own experiences important examples of culture conflict, and how these differences have affected their lives.

People who see A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES will emerge with an enhanced understanding of the number, variety, and tremendous power of cultural differences. In addition, the video is a powerful sensitizing device. Viewers of A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES will be able to improve their own cross-cultural communication skills by learning the subtleties, nuances, and hazards involved whenever individuals from two cultures meet.


What reviewers are saying about "A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES":

"In my opinion, showing A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES to students is likely to make a world of difference in them. This video will surely affect those student perceptions and attitudes which make or break encounters between people with different cultural experiences. It speaks directly and forcefully to students by using the words and experiences of their fellow students from around the world--with an impact no instructor's lecture could duplicate. I'd feel a lot better about the future of our planet if I knew every student in school today had seen this video and discussed the issues it raises."
--Mark L. Knapp, Jones Centennial Professor in Communication, University of Texas, co-author "Nonverbal Communication and Human Interaction."

"A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES is an indispensable tool for the instructor who wishes to explain the difficulties inherent in cross-cultural communication. The videotape is fascinating and is sure to arouse and hold students' interest. The accompanying Instructor's Guide offers a variety of innovative techniques for using this tool in the classroom. Along with previous videotapes by Prof. Dane Archer, A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES is bound to change the way nonverbal communication is taught and understood."
--Miron Zuckerman, Professor of Psychology, University of Rochester

"This is a really wonderful introduction to the myriad problems of intercultural communication. The many examples of real difficulties experienced by people have charm and relevance. The net effect is a funny, sensitive, and ultimately loving embrace of the varieties of human cultural experience. Archer's technique of having real people talk about what has happened to them works superbly in this film; what might be just words on a page come to life through the empathy the viewer feels for each speaker. The film has humor and sympathy, and it teaches an ever more important lesson."
--Judith Hall, Professor of Psychology, Northeastern University, Editor, "The Journal of Nonverbal Behavior."

"Dane Archer has produced another winner! A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES is a must for teachers of cross-cultural communication. Its entertaining vignettes illustrate the variety of misunderstandings that occur when cultures collide. For my students who plan to study abroad, I advise them to watch Archer's video because it quickly alerts them to both the power and the subtlety of cultural differences."
--Lawrence T. White, Professor of Psychology, Beloit College

"As with all Dane Archer's work, A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES is as delightful as it is informative. Students will be engaged and amused by the stories they will hear, stories told by young travelers and immigrants whose experiences demonstrate with both humor and poignancy the awesome breadth of cultural variation, and the humbling arbitrariness of many of our own cultural practices. Students who view this film will be sensitized to the importance of appreciating cultural differences--as well as to the awkwardness, hilarity, and even peril that await the cross-cultural traveler who fails to appreciate the differences. I see this film as widely applicable, relevant to courses in psychology, sociology, teacher-education, and, of course, anthropology."
--Prof. Joshua Aronson, Prof. of Education, Univ. of Texas, Austin

"As a teacher of a senior level World Communities high school class, I am looking forward to showing Dane Archer's video, A WORLD OF DIFFERENCES. The subject matter fits in very well with the curriculum of my class and is, in fact, a missing element I have long wished I had. The first hand experiences related by the people in the film are humorous while conveying the serious nature of miscommunications and misunderstandings that often result from cultural ignorance. The different nuances of culture are broken down into easily understood segments."
      "Also, the support documentation and activity ideas that go along with the video are excellent. The teacher can use the video as a springboard for more in depth cultural comparisons and lessons described in the support materials or as a self contained lesson to spark discussion and expand the frame of reference of high school students. All in all, I enjoyed the video very much and look forward to sharing it with my department members and classes. It is excellent."
--Jason Dunlap, teacher of "World Communities" at Harbor High School, Santa Cruz, California