Cultural Variations Regarding Appropriate Personal Space

I have been extremely fortunate to spend my summer working with Professor Soonhyang Kim of Pace’s Graduate program for Education. Together we have worked to expand on a paper originally written by some of her graduate students. We have successfully revised and lengthened two major sections of the paper, and are currently working on our last two. I have found the entire process to be very educational, not only academically but also personally.

The findings of the paper, as well as the literature review, conclude that differences not only exist between various cultures in regard to personal space, but also between the genders of those cultures. The recognition of these distinctions is crucial in providing a positive learning environment for students of all cultures and genders.

As I started to research the importance of space in different cultures and ethnic groups, I began to wonder what some of the implications are on students when unique opinions regarding personal space are violated. This in particular has become a topic of interest to me, and is something I am learning more about each day, not only through researching on my own, but also the work of Professor Kim’s graduate students.

I feel that this project has helped me grow significantly, both as an academic and as a member of a team. This experience has opened my eyes to the delicate process that is working toward a communal goal. Learning to delegate and repeatedly fine-comb a project to express the thoughts and information found by many researchers is a difficult task. Additionally, having the end result reflect the voices of the individuals, while presenting a cohesive piece, is quite an accomplishment. While I see this as one of the challenges I faced, I also see it as a success.

This project, while at times trying, has only solidified my certainty that I am on the right path. I am more excited than ever to return to Pace University in just a few weeks and continue my studies, with the hope to continue similar research regarding bilingual and multicultural students. It is our intention to get the final paper reviewed by other members of the faculty and submit it for peer review by the end of August/beginning of September. We have also been accepted to present the paper at the NYS TESOL conference in mid-November.

I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for me, and appreciate this opportunity to push forward from Pace University.

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