Sheng Zhang

MA in Intercultural Communication, Class of 2012/13

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     Hi, I’m Sheng Zhang. I’m now studying MA in Intercultural Communication at the University of Sheffield. And I think it might be a good idea to share my personal experience in one of our compulsory courses, Ethnography, with you.

I think, generally speaking, ethnography is a reflective practice which aims at prepare us to become life-long reflective practitioners. And at the beginning of last semester we are required to join a group or society based on our own interests. Erm... and then the lectures, we have learned some skills and theories in ethnographic research, such as participant observation. Then it’s time to put theories into practice, so…

For me, I think I quite enjoy doing participant observation in my group, which is the University Pool and Snooker Society. And we will meet every Wednesday at the Common Room, and every time when I was playing pool, I need to record and observe something there, like the people there, what people say, and what people do. Erm, I have to say it’s kind of weird, ‘cause… You know, I’ve been playing pool for quite a long time, so basically I know this game inside out. So when I was doing participant observation there, I missed lot of informations as I just took everything for granted. So later I realised I need to, like, learn this game, this society and those people from the beginning, like a baby learning a language. So I stood back from my previous position and… to, like, relearn this society again. Then I found I have come to a totally new world where I noticed a lot of things which I have never thought about before, like erm… Why people in this society will come into the Common Room in groups. And in what kinds of situation people will, like, shake hands and say ‘Hello’, ‘Thank you’, etc. So this kinds of questions seemed extremely easy and simple, right? But, this is the point. This is why we can’t see things that do exist.

Apart from this I realised it became easier for me to integrate into this group as I know how to behave properly and I know how to interact with people, erm, different people in a more comfortable way. So erm… At last, I want to say the most important and useful point I’ve learned from this course is intercultural awareness of intentional-, intentionally comparing and learning.
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(March 2013)

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