Focus of the Final Paper
Throughout the course, you will be exploring various aspects of culture and intercultural communications. Your final assignment in this course will be to conduct an extensive oral history interview with a person who is somewhat older than
you and from a culture or subgroup that you are not a member. This person can be a relative or acquaintance who is from a different generation. It can be someone who immigrated to this country either recently or some time ago. Or, it can be someone who belongs to a different subgroup from you and whose cultural experiences you believe would be very different from your own. Obtain permission from the person you are interviewing to record the conversation (either an audio or a video and audio recording) or to take handwritten notes during the interview.
Your overarching goals during the oral history interview are as follows:
- To learn more about the culture and subcultures to which your interview subject belongs.
- To determine what issues they encountered in terms of intercultural communications.
To relate concepts you have studied in this course to the experiences of this person.
After you have conducted the interview, review your recording or your notes and write a six- to eight-page paper (excluding a title page and a reference page), in which you discuss aspects of this person’s culture and/or subcultures and communication issues related to his or her cultural identity. In the paper, you must also include the following:
- The name of the person and his or her relationship to you.
- The interview subject’s cultural background and the culture and/or subcultures to which he or she belongs.
- At least six questions from the following list. You may add additional questions or other questions not on this list,
Remember, though, that the focus of your paper must be on intercultural communication issues. How far back in time can the person remember? What is his or her first childhood memory? (Consider how it reflects the interview subject’s culture or subculture?)
What does the person remember of the experience of being an immigrant or a subgroup member in that time?
Which impressions or experiences from that time are most vivid to him or her today?
If he or she immigrated to this country, what was the country of origin like in terms of geography, government, transportation, economic system, and education system? If he or she were raised in this country, what were these aspects of life like during childhood?
What does the person recall of the communication with members of the dominant culture? What barriers to effective communication did he or she encounter?
In the United States today, what is different about his or her life in terms of language, religion, family customs, diet, recreation, and work, as compared to childhood?
- What role did the news media play in the interview subject’s life and in supporting or contesting the interview subject’s views of his or her culture? How did the media influence his or her individual beliefs and opinions about males and females, masculinity and femininity, and other aspects of gender belief systems and views about race and ethnicity? (Cite specific examples he or she gives you regarding these two specific issues.)
- If your interview subject spoke a different native language, ask him or her to discuss differences between that language and English. (Consider the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.)
- What are some of the most significant differences in day-to-day life in the past versus today?
4. From this interview, what can you conclude about important values in your interview subject’s early life?