HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives


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Perception

Growing up in a multicultural community like Malaysia, I am constantly met with people of different ethnic backgrounds. Before high school, I was only exposed to mostly Chinese as I  went to a Chinese middle school where majority of the students were of the same race and spoke the same language, but in high school things got tricky. Growing up, my perceptions of the world was shaped by my parents and sometimes things were a little contradicting. For instance, parents would scare their children if they misbehaved, warning them that an Indian “uncle” would suddenly appear and kidnap you, but at the same time bring us to a random Indian man friend of the folks’ house for a party. Were they good or bad, mom? Am I supposed to run the other way or be all friendly with them? As an 8 year old, it was confusing. Transitioning into high school, where I’m exposed to all the different cultures of Malaysia, was slightly overwhelming. I wouldn’t call myself a racist, more like ignorant and oblivious. My first encounter with a classmate of a different race was clouded by negative gestalts that has been instilled in my subconscious from previous experiences. First day of school, I struggled to make friends as usual and after everyone sat in their assigned seats, I started talking to the Malay girl sat next to me. As days progressed, I realised it wasn’t all that bad. I slowly transitioned my my preconceptions fade. I learned that not everyone fit into the negative stereotypes made by the society. Despite the differences between me and them, I learned acceptance and tolerance towards people with different beliefs and values and keeping an open mind towards these differences.

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