Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In my first post, I defined the image I associate with effective communication. This image has not changed, but my understanding of the value and capacity of effective communication has. In this respect, the collaborative research project was the most rewarding part of this class. Through the research project and working with my partners closely for a sustained/prolonged period of time, I learned about developing communication over the long term, not just the short term/first impression. Some of this learning came from learning from mistakes, and then improving/making corrections. Cultural differences can only account for so much, and to blame them solely would not be fair. Overall, in any group there will be differing views and directions, no matter how good the communication skills of those involved are. I could say that I learned as much about building effective working relationships as I did about synthesizing data and communicating it clearly, concisely: effectively.

Regarding the image of an effective communicator, there were plenty of examples/models of this in class.

In fact, I would say that I learned the most from my classmates. I wish that we had more discussion and communication in class so we could build relationships with each other. The blog assignment was particularly rewarding in that it allowed us to learn more about, and from, our classmates.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


我想The West Wing的说法比较好的:
[I don't really like what I've written, but it is what I have. I think this sounds very arrogant and self-gratifying. It also has needs a concluding sentence.]

Matt is a fourth year undergraduate at the Pennsylvania State University’s Schreyer Honors College, which has given him the opportunity to study at the National University of Singapore. He double honors majors in mathematics: applied analysis option, and Chinese, where he will be the first student to receive a Bachelors degree in Chinese from PSU.

Matt is focused and determined. He pushes himself academically to prepare himself for his ultimate career goal – working towards sustainable development at the international level. At NUS, he is becoming an active member in Energy Carta, an organization that takes a pragmatic approach in solving/promoting energy issues. In high school, he had focused on sports as well as academics, and was selected as one of his region's Student Athlete MVP's as a result of his efforts in ice hockey, fencing team, rifle team, cross country and track.

He is versatile and responsible. He has studied at five universities in three countries. This has helped him learn and foster international cooperation. His international experiences, from working on team research projects to traveling alone, have made him a global citizen. When serving as an intern for Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change, Matt put in long hours to help organize and run a field office. He learned to interact and build working relationships with people from all age groups, ethnicities, and levels of social strata. Matt pushed his comfort zone by volunteering daily for face-to-face persuasion, and through this developed his perception of the fabric of America, and what it means to be American.

Matt is also a teacher. He has a sustained track record of taking students from D’s to the top in their class.

[I don't really like what I've written, but it is what I have. I think this sounds very arrogant and self-gratifying. It also has needs a concluding sentence.]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We're Lookin' for a Leader

Three weeks ago NUS hosted the National Sustainability Conference, addressing the need for Singapore to become sustainable, and how Singapore can influence the rest of the world to do the same. One of the speakers, from NewsAsia, brought up an interesting point. The main reason we don’t see sustainability addressed as much as we would like (or as much as is considered necessary) is because the people have not demanded it. There is a breakdown in communication, and it seems to be between science and the masses. Most people, even those who are aware of the climate crisis and the coming end of cheap fossil fuel, are not demanding change. The problem is not immediately tangible, in contrast to losing half of one’s retirement savings due to the economic crisis, and thus does not command attention.
What we need is a great communicator – such as a Mao Zedong, a Martin Luther King Jr, or a Barack Obama; someone whose voice can resonate with the masses, maybe just enough to move us past the tipping point. Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” helped to do this, as it raised the awareness, especially of the immediacy of the issue.

In relation, the speaker said that people who are working to raise awareness, such as protestors and their organizers, need to go through media training. In such training, the student would learn to give a good sound bite that news producers all over would love to use, which would greatly increase the probability that the message is proliferated.

My question to the reader is: Given the immediacy of climate change, do we as citizens have time to wait for this motivator, or does this sort of change have to be driven by what we have – grass roots talking to people in your neighborhood?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Intercultural communication

I was not here for the intercultural communication lesson, so I will tell and example of a personal cross cultural miscommunication.

Once when I was studying at a Chinese university, a young woman approached me in the library study room and we started talking. In the conversation, she had lavished praise that seemed a tad excessive. I misinterpreted this as an effort to flirt. She seemed friendly, and I figured that her type of approach was tantamount to an ask-out in China. As-per my policy of giving anyone who gathers the courage to ask someone out two dates/meetings, I asked her out. I was wrong. When I asked her out, in a respectful manner, she was flat-out shocked, and seemed a little offended or embarrassed. When I recounted the situation to my American friends, they were equally confused.

In a different situation and with a different girl, I merely asked if she wanted to meet at the cafeteria to eat dinner together. My thinking was, 'we all have to eat, and if we’re going to eat at the cafeteria, might as well eat together.' In the US, this does not constitute a date, but is rather in the grey area between date and just hanging out – it is not a date but could lead to a date. Well, this sweet young woman came decked out in a beautiful silk dress and makeup. I felt like a jerk. I was embarrassing her because I had not worn anything that special, just a standard polo shirt (I was thankful I had not donned a tshirt that morning). I was afraid that this miscommunication would be obvious to other students. I considered suggesting that we go to a nearby restaurant instead, but didn't as I thought it would tell her that I wanted to date. I have been told that it is normal for women to dress much better than men in these situations, and that I should not worry about it. Is that true? Should I have switched plans and offered to take her to a restaurant instead?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009




Wednesday, February 11, 2009

US Embassy Thank-You Letter

Above is a thank-you letter from the Embassy of the United States of America to the Nordic Chamber of Commerce. Firstly, I notice that the format is not the similar but not quite the same as what we have learned. The address of the US Embassy is not given (though it may be in the signature block, which may have been cutoff). Also, the date stands alone in the center, under the letterhead. There is an address block and salutation, but no subject line. I suppose that is because the tone of this letter is meant to be more personal.

The letter does convey the message. It is written in direct style, which makes this easier.

Cited the event, the exact sum donated, and the frame. It could have been more concrete by saying how the money would be used (besides just for Hurricane Katrina relief).

No glaring errors.

The message stays on topic; very focused with a clear purpose. The message is not long enough to need many transitions.

The letter is posted on the Nordic Chamber of Commerce website, so I infer that they got all the information they wanted. Thus, complete.

This letter is certainly concise, but perhaps too concise. It is perhaps too blunt and not specific enough. Granted, as this may have been during Katrina repair, it is possible that the writer could not spent as much time writing the letter as he would have liked.

I do find it strange that the writer talked about the frame, but not what the donation will be specifically used for. [The standard joke in movies and TV shows when a not-so-sophisticated character is in an art museum is him standing infront of a famous painting and all he can do is comment on how expensive the frame looks. I am not sure how far this frame of reference extends, but I think it is worth noting.] Overall, one might go as far as to say that this letter violates STARS in regards to being Specific. He also does not mention the food or luncheon itself, rather only speaking at it – could this be taken disrespectful?

While this is not the thank-you letter I would have written, I suppose it did the job, as may be inferred as it is posted on the Nordic Chamber of Commerce’s website.

Edited in response to Kalene's feedback.