Intercultural awareness involves the idea that an individual has when encountered with cultural differences. Bennett outlines six stages that can be used in assessing a person’s position on cultural difference matters. They include, denial where individuals are assumed to be oblivious of the existence of cultural differences due to social isolation or sub- human status. Secondly, defence, individuals are more sensitive to cultural difference and view the differences as threatening. The stage is characterized by denigration of differences and insecurity.
Thirdly, minimization, cultural differences are known and tolerated to a certain level. They are viewed as superficial and a hindrance to communication. Next is acceptance, cultural differences are viewed as dynamic and individuals get to know more on cultural differences rather than viewing them as threats. Another stage is adaptation characterized by empathy as people adapt to the cultural differences through having multiple cultural frames of reference. Lastly, integration, here individuals have the ability to analyze a phenomenon from a certain cultural context (Bennett, 1998, 26- 30).
The Benette model is useful in the following ways, first, it promotes cultural understanding enabling one to be an effective cultural sensitive volunteer to different cultures. It also helps to overcome ethnocentrism through understanding the various cultural differences in society. It promotes a peaceful co-existence between individuals from different cultures through understanding each other’s culture as well as appreciating the difference. Individually, Benette model is useful in assessing our level of intercultural awareness and giving room for improvements.
In conclusion, level of intercultural awareness course has helped improve on my knowledge of intercultural differences as well as the different stages involved in it. Besides the positive change in attitude towards cultural differences, the course has nurtured in me the ability to interact with people from different cultures as well as the ability to know my own stage in intercultural differences. The most influential topic that helped with this change is the stereotypes in cross cultural situations, during the defence stage people develop negative stereotypes where an individual from a particular culture is viewed as having undesirable qualities that are associated with the entire group which is a wrong assumption.
Bennett, M. Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication. Boston. Intercultural Press Inc. 1998. Print.