My perception of the culture of Saudi Arabia is correct. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, Islam is practiced by all the Saudis. The Saudi Arabian values and beliefs are defined by the culture of Bedouin traditions, which reflects in their style of dressing, their hospitality, and their verbal and nonverbal communications. My impressions that were incorrect about Saudi Arabia are women in Saudi Arabia cannot be happy because of the lack of equal rights they have in this country. I was wrong about that, women in Saudi Arabia do not have the same rights that American women have, but they are pleased with their life. Certainly, the Saudi Arabian women took a pride in allowing them to drive in the country, which made them extremely happy. Moreover, I got the impression that the woman doesn’t get the same opportunity as men educationally. I was incorrect, the women of Saudi Arabia can attend schools, colleges like any of their peers and can take scholarships too. The new information I learned after reading about the Saudi Arabia culture, is that there is a beauty pageant in this country. I asked myself, how a Saudi Arabian woman could be in a beauty pageant contest when she covers her face and body in black robes. The interesting information I learned that in the Saudi Arabia beauty pageant, the judges do not care about the face or the body, however, they are looking for the beauty of the soul and the morals. My perception of the culture of Saudi Arabia is the same. Since I was born in Kuwait and spent 20 years of my life in there, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are so close to each other geographically and both are in the Gulf area, they share a lot of similarities. My level of ethnocentrism after completing the group cultural assignment is low and is always going to be low, because I came from a different culture and different religion and I like to treat and evaluate others the same way I want them to treat me. I like to treat other cultures with equality and evaluate the other culture as equal to my own ways. I will accept that everyone comes from a culture that teaches certain things about people and the world, and those things differ depending on the culture. We don’t have to agree with other cultures such as Saudi Arabia just because we disagree, we have to respect that others have a different point of view. Saudi Arabia’s culture has a unique character of its own, and the best way to experience and understand other cultures is to actually live among them, and the sooner you accept the differences, the easier will become to understand their cultures. I think after doing the group research project about Saudi Arabia culture, nonverbal communication plays an important role in intercultural communication. Eye contact, touching, and personal space are a few of the nonverbal communication that mean different things in different cultures. For example, In the United States, it is considered polite to maintain an eye contact when speaking to others. In Saudi Arabia cultures, however, this would be seen as disrespectful. So, Saudi Arabia is a very high context culture, the nonverbal communication plays a significant role in communicating with people more than actual spoken words. In addition, In Saudi Arabia, the left hand is considered unclean and should only be used for personal hygiene. The right hand is used for shaking hands, eating, drinking and passing objects to another person. Therefore, it is important to know the cultural differences in nonverbal communication to avoid judgments and serious misunderstanding. The best strategy to overcome nonverbal communication barriers is both cultures must have some form of knowledge or awareness regarding the nonverbal communication that exists in each other’s culture. Also, observe and learn the meaning of nonverbal communication signals such as the facial expressions, the social distance for conversing, and the hand gestures. Avoid nonverbal signals that may be offensive. Moreover, you could respond in ways that show others that you understand, respect and care. After completing the culture project, the big lesson that I learned is the language barriers are not the only challenge facing global communications there are a lot of barriers should be kept into considerations. Also, intercultural communication requires an understanding that different cultures have different values, standards, and beliefs. Moreover, positive intercultural communication skills require understanding, empathy, and willingness to accept cultural differences and adapt to those differences. And the best way to avoid misunderstandings and confusion is to listen carefully to other person and check understanding regularly in the course of a conversation. Ask questions to make sure that you have understood, and ask others to recap what you have said to ensure that they have understood you. Furthermore, to achieve the goal of intercultural communication, every culture needs to learn how to transform their awareness, perspective, and knowledge into competence, and to develop adaptability and flexibility in intercultural communication.If I would be visiting another school in a different country, I would take some time to better familiarize myself with the country I am visiting by keeping in mind the cultural differences, language, religion, history, geography, economy, government and everything. This would influence the way I dress, the way I speak and the way I am interacting with others. Also, I would talk to others who have been there and seek opportunities to watch movies and read more about the country and its culture and observe the differences without being judgmental. Moreover, I would enroll myself in language classes or download apps like Duolingo to help me learn the basic of phrases in the local language of the country I am visiting, this would overcome the differences that I might face in the few days of adjustments.
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