The Cross Cultural Communication Conference: My Introduction to Southeast Asia

by Alexandra Howard

This past January, I attended the Cross Cultural Communication Conference in Bangkok, Thailand along with faculty from Zayed University (UAE), Blanquerna-Ramon Llull University (Barcelona), Bournemouth University (UK), and Chulalongkorn University (Thailand). Although we only represented five countries, those who presented at the conference came from all over the world. It was an incredibly diverse group of extremely intelligent people. The participants presented research on topics stretching from international public relations and social media campaigns to American politics and the presidential candidates.

One presentation that stood out argued the possible connection between conservative beliefs and aggressive behavior. The speaker outlined in detail the numerous levels of aggressive behavior and the subsets of conservative beliefs, such as sexual conservatism. He offered a number of diagrams and maps depicting the various ways to connect these beliefs and actions; one showed the trend of progression from conservative beliefs to verbal aggression and on to aggressive actions and behaviors. Perhaps most interesting about his research, however, was the dialogue it prompted during the lunch following his presentation.

The talk had many thinking of the somewhat radical language and behaviors associated with Donald Trump and his supporters. All throughout lunch other participants went up to the speaker one by one and anxiously asked if he really thought that Trump had a chance of winning the US presidency. Those living abroad were not exceedingly comforted by his answer; although he was skeptical of Trump’s ability to actually win, he thought it was entirely possible for him to secure the Republican nomination. Many were shocked by his certainty, but the professor simply stated that Trump appealed to the anger and frustration that so many conservative Americans have felt for the past eight years. Regardless of this, the conference participants continued to debate Trump’s odds and what his victory would mean for the USA and the international community. People wanted to know how they would be impacted and how their country’s relationship with the US would change if Trump really did have a shot at the White House.

From what I experienced in my short time in Bangkok I found Thai culture to be remarkable. The people were some of the kindest I have ever met and their visual culture was simply beautiful to behold. The close cultural ties with Buddhism created an incredibly vibrant and calming atmosphere that was present in everything I saw. After spending just three days in the city and experiencing a culture and part of the world that most Americans will never see, I find myself all the more intrigued to see who will become the next US president. I want to experience as much of the world as possible and I deeply hope that whoever enters the White House next will respect and honor the rest of the world and all of its people.