My cultural and racial background as well as academic training has prepared me to establish my teacherly ethos as a strong non-western scholar of color who pays attention to the needs of the diverse student population. In my class, students are global rhetorical agents who bring diverse cultural, racial, and language backgrounds. Considering student background as an important asset, my class establishes a pedagogical environment of intercultural learning leading students to forge interdisciplinary actions in order to perform global civic engagements and impact community via writing and rhetoric.
Intercultural Learning Within and Beyond Classroom
I practice intercultural pedagogical framework in my class that helps students to recognize their cultural, language, and racial, differences not as a barrier but as a resource for producing meaning in writing, speaking, reading, and listening. I use this framework as an approach in teaching of writing (both undergraduate and graduate class) with an understanding that there are varieties of Englishes, identities, and the meaning of language changes while used in different socio-linguistics contexts. I begin my semester by fostering intercultural sensitivity by taking time to understand each student’s background by holding one-to-one conferences, writing an introductory reflection, and organizing Diversity and Intercultural Workshop. Conferences and reflection help me in creating multiple contexts for my workshop where students can bring their disciplinary and cultural background. In the workshop students practice research, writing and communication to develop a concrete plan of action to address problems of social, environmental, racial, and cultural injustices in corporate settings within and beyond the US. This workshop has been successful in helping students interact with peers from other cultures and also providing them with exposure to the real-world issues that could be solved via intercultural learning. This leads to the development of academic writing, research, as well as racial and social consciousness.
Global Civic Engagements: Writing, Communication for The Public
I position the power of writing, communication, and digital media technology for engaging with the local and international community to address the issues of lack of inclusivity and social injustice in my classroom. The classroom becomes a space where all students’ disciplinary interests and backgrounds could be fostered with collaboration. Interdisciplinary collaboration in my classroom gets manifested via group projects and group activities as well as peer-reviews that require students to bring their disciplinary knowledge to create an impact in the community. I encourage my students to employ their literacies as rhetorical agents and engage with the communities they are part of both locally and globally. One-way students do that in my class is writing, is via local and international partnerships. For example, I have established partnership with Code for Nepal since I was a graduate student and as such my students from Purdue University (in past) and my current students at Virginia Tech are engaged in a semester-long collaborative projects with Code for Nepal. Students at Purdue applied their knowledge of rhetoric, community service, project management to research, write, and design digital and multimodal communication materials to support community partners’ endeavor in raising funds for vulnerable populations. Likewise, students at Virginia Tech have created digital rhetoric-based artifacts such as websites, user documentation, and instructional videos targeted towards enhancing the digital literacy of the rural audiences of Code for Nepal. This partnership has been featured in local and global newspapers. Similarly, in past, at Purdue University I have involved students in writing, submitting, and receiving an actual grant provided by Purdue’s Office of Engagement. By employing their own literacies in research and writing, students are able to critically think about how their service and engagement can create meaningful impact in the community as rhetorical agents. Furthermore, I mentor students for being trained as an academic by encouraging them to present at conferences, publish articles, and as practitioners invested in community by creating varied local and global partnerships that creates opportunities of engagement.
Overall, I believe that local and global awareness in any professional job can benefit from that kind of attunement; at the same time, I recognize the value of student’s rhetorical agency as a critical component of my teaching philosophy. By implementing an intercultural learning as a pedagogical framework to foster interdisciplinary collaboration in supporting global communities will help students in negotiating their rhetorical personas and actively involving in communications for public wherever they move in their career.