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Intercultural Case Study


In the modern times, we can see many foreign students going to other countries to get some education or advance their studies. As a result, many people are moving to other countries with many other or totally different cultures that affects them in many ways. In the following case,   we shall see a situation of a foreign girl from Taiwan to USA for education and her different challenges. The case will be discussed in details, analyzed, recommended solutions that will help others and then a conclusion will be necessary. In the case, below we can see the effects of intercultural difference of one girl called jean and her challenges as an exchange student. The case happened some time ago, yet its implication might still be of importance to the current cross-cultural education.

Case description

Jean, a then nine-year old Taiwanese girl had been a straight-a third grader in Taiwan just before she arrived in United States. She was highly confident, quick, outgoing, and according to her teachers and her classmates in  npe school in Wallingford, pa%uFF09. These characters enabled Jean to be welcomed “extraordinarily unique young lady” as they used to call her. One semester later she transferred to the pca school%uFF08 New Brunswick, NJ%uFF09. There she underwent severe conflict with three American classmates. She was insulted by her classmates, Judy and Anita white girls and Carol an African-American-American child. Judy had commented that Jean was rather stupid as Anita assumed that Jean had several lice Carol was thinking that Jean rarely took shower. Because of confidentiality, the fictitious names and other locations that have been used throughout this case study.

"Sink or swim"

Before enrolling in Pca School, jean had spent one semester in Npe School in

Suburban Philadelphia, where she was not graded in any course because of her limited English proficiency. The moment jean attended pca school her English vocabulary and background knowledge of the mainstream society and American textbooks were undoubtedly insufficient to put up with normal through curricular level of  fourth grade. This got evidenced her acquiring a placed in the Esl program a similar time. Though, she was expected  her homeroom teacher Mrs. White to work out all  assignments of a  full-scale curriculum in conjunction  to those of  Esl program. If she failed to finish in-class assignments, she would  have to finish them while at home and collect them early the next morning. She had to be questioned by Mrs. White should she have failed to do as told. She was compelled into a situation of “swim or sink”. To finish all  assignments, in most cases father, by a then doctoral student  at university nearby pca school, had to endure working with her till midnight. Compelled by the overwhelming stress, jean finally burst into crying and asked to quit school after several school days.

“shut up, you stupid!”

To soothe jean down, her father called Mrs. White and asked her not to push jean

 Hard before she was ready. He also requested that jean be assigned a student of

Goodwill to help her catch up with the classroom activities. It was his hope that jean slowly recover from panic, and eliminate   mental stress, and would in the end regain confidence. The teacher identified that problem and agreed to let jean

Concentrate on reading, spelling and math for the first marking period; she also agreed to ask Judy, who sat beside jean, to help jean.

However, assigning Judy to help jean turned out to be the onset of another

Conflict. When jean needed Judy’s help, most of the time, Judy would say, “stupid!”

Before she answered jean. Sometimes, “shut up! You stupid!” Was the only reply

To jean’s request. Teacher’s arrangement did a lot of damage more than help. The teacher changed  seats of the entire class weekly. In the second week, jean did not sit beside Judy any more. It was good that jean was away from Judy’s insult, but it also put jean back into her original situation, that she depicted remorsefully, “sitting in the class was  just like a piece of log”. Meaning that she was not able to comprehend whatever was going on in the class.  As things seemed to get worse, jean’s father could not help

But calling Mrs. White again. This time, her reply was “kids need to learn to be independent”. As usual, jean brought all  in-class assignments  home, and

Worked with her father’s help till midnight.

“I bet jean must have lice”

Another rather unpleasant event followed. It took place during the lunch recess,

When students were discussing the coming school-wide examination of lice among

Girls. Jean overheard somebody say behind, “I bet jean must have lice. Jean

Turned back to see who was making that comment. There were a group of girls there

Giggling. She recognized that it was Anita, a white girl who did it. Although the

Examination report announced proved that indeed she was clean; nonetheless the damage had already been done. And it was too ironic to know that such a white girl in such a giggling group had a lice problem. Nevertheless, jean had already been deeply hurt. She knew her place in this class.

“When did you take your last shower?” Vs.”...she is a black.”

The fourth event took place during the noon recess. And Carol, an African-

American girl, launched another insult by asking jean, “When did you take your last

Shower? “I take a shower every day! What do you mean?” replied jean with anger.

Being shocked by jean’s strong response, carol fled. After jean had gone back home, she told her dad the whole story, and commented, “it could be that carol herself rarely took a shower, thereby she assuming that everybody did just the same. She is just a black.” Jean’s words simply revealed her stereotype against the African-Americans. Her father taught her a lesson concerning racial stereotype and how out would damage the harmony of society. Showed that while jean suffered unfair racial stereotype, she also held racism against others.

In her diary, jean wrote to her teacher:

Dear Mrs. White,

How are you?

Since I came to this school, I felt remorseful sometimes. Some people said

Words about me. I just have two or three friends who would play with me.

Sometimes I certainly hope I speak English as well as Americans.

In reply to jean’s desperation, her teacher wrote replied on her diary:


I am sorry people hurt your feelings. Sometimes kids can be real mean

To each other. Try not to let you down. You are a super kid! Your English is getting better every day.


Mrs. White

In a teacher-parent conference, jean’s father discussed with Mrs. White about

Jean’s undesirable experiences. Mrs. White’s reply was simply what she

Wrote on jean’s diary. In addition to the academic pressure, jean continued suffering

Poor peer relationship. Commonly, she was alone in most lunch recess because rarely did her classmates invite her to play with her.

“But of course. She is good because she is  Chinese”

The fifth event is  to racial the stereotype. When jean slowly picked up

English, she was recognized several times as the only student who attained an A+ in most quizzes.

While she accepted  the compliment from the teacher and, in addition enjoyed the applause emanating, from the class, she did overhear somebody comment, ”of course. She is good because she is  Chinese.” It was Judy again, the one who commented that jean was “stupid”.

Outcomes of the conflict

Under her father’s guidance, consultation, and tutoring, jean gradually caught up

With her peers and in the end of the semester most of them excelled. Jean abandoned the pca school for Taiwan for her summer vacation which was about four weeks earlier just before  end   same semester, with  report card containing A’s in all regular courses. Mrs. White delightfully took jean to senior principal’s office and took her over to her father.

The poor peer relationship was not much improved by Jean’s later academic

Success. Though her later effort of helping white peers with math and her active

Participation in extracurricular activities had gradually helped improve her place in

The peer group, she still felt more comfortable to play with Chinese children and kids

Of other Asian minority groups: Koreans, Indians, Malay, and Thai, who lived in her


Summary of the case and facts, to understand the concept of summary on this case, we need to discuss where the case occurs, the number of people involved in the case and when the misunderstanding took place.

This case occurs in the United States of America in pca school in New Brunswick, NJ. The characters in this case are Jean, Judy and Ani,ta white girls and Carol,  African-American girls and the teacher white]. The main character in this case is Jean, and we can see her as a straight student until she got to the United States where she was not good in English and the teacher in PCA School where she was treated as a normal student.  Due to this, we can see the dad helping her finish her homework till late in the night. Due to the shuffling of students in the class every week Jean was changed positions, and these made her loose socially and meet with Judy who treated her in an abusive manner. During the school wide examination of lice among girls, she overheard Anita saying “I bet Jean must have lice”, due to this her image was damaged in the school. Carol was also insulting by asking Jean, “so when did you last take shower? “I do take shower almost every day! What are you insinuating?” Jean replied Jean with an enormous anger, and due to this she started thinking in a stereotype manner. And talking about stereotypes Judy also said that Jean was brilliant because she was Chinese when she excelled in her exams.

Analyzing the underlying problems and consequences

According to the plight of Jean we can safely conclude that cultural believes differences might lead to, racial discrimination the fact that Jean is an international student, it is assumed by other students that she is not competent when it comes to either writing in English, or handing class work.

It is against the aforementioned backdrops that even the her teacher Mrs. white allocates her private assignment, in order to evaluate her, English skills, although some may assume that it is a mere kid’s play, this is not the case considering the fact that, three children gave negative comments about her, this is just but some indications of how difficult it is to reconcile different cultures, it can also be seen, physical appearance plays a vital role in perceptions, as in individuals tend to judge others by  the way they appear, this can clearly be illustrated when her class mates at PCA decides to abuse her just because of her physical appearance.

Due to the frustrations, abuses she ended up getting isolated, ending up all alone at lunch time, In addition to the academic pressure, jean continued suffering the impacts of Poor peer relationship, she almost completely failed to socialize freely with her peer group, this has clearly been shown by the fore mentioned statements, that, commonly, she was alone in most lunch recess because rarely did her classmates invite her to play with her.

The fact that, Carol asks Jean when and where she bathed, shows a lot of doubts in Jean, in addition to portraying her as, a rather filthy girl who seldom take shower, consequently this adds to the already existing hatred consequently he total fails to socialize with her peers.

Because of the frustrations, abuses, weird insinuations, and false accusation, jean is compelled in losing trust for all her classmates including her teacher, consequently, this solicits the same feelings from other classmates who view her the same way she looks at them, consequently, these compels her father to chip in by, reporting to school personally to the school to try and find an answer to the problem as he can no longer put up with the sudden decline in her child’s performance, and also the sudden  change in  his child’s behaviors.

She was insulted by her classmates, Judy and Anita white girls and Carol an African-American-American child. Judy had commented that Jean was rather stupid as Anita assumed that Jean had several lice Carol was thinking that Jean rarely took shower. Because of confidentiality, the fictitious names and other locations that have been used throughout this case study.

Other activities in her class, assumed to be helping her, does more damage than benefits, as expected that by shuffling the class, overall class performance would increase, these is exactly opposite as, instead of improving her perforce, it deteriorates, her performance in addition to reducing her sociability, with other students, these leaves her father with no option but to take the role of teacher and train his child back home.

There are various problems that are portrayed clearly in this case one of them being that Jean was Asian and according to Edward T. Hall they deal with their problem in a quite manner. We can see the consequence of this very clear in the sense that failure to find a good solution Jean continues to suffer and only confiding in the person that she thought was trustworthy.

The other problem is that Jean does not trust anyone else except her father while she suffers in class. She also suffers emotionally and only discloses it to his father. The consequence of this is that she continues suffering and fails to get the solution to the problems until her father goes to school to talk on her behalf. The other problem is that of communication and Jean coming from Asia she suffers from English illiteracy and as a consequence  she did not have several friends and her teacher also uses this as an advantage by giving her a lot of homework.

Solutions and lesson learned

The case is worth acknowledging as it reflects most serious issues of cross-cultural

Conflict hinted earlier. In our study as we can see there are various solutions to the problems that are arising in this scenario. One of them is that of Judy who is a black-American girl we can see that jean is against her because of being black. A solution to this is that the media has a lot to do with this it shows the evil side and a lot of discrimination and this needs to be changed because it affects who black people are.

According to Jean and Judy there is the introduction of facial festival to show what they feel, When Judy gets mad, she goes away and deals with the problem by not facing it, but by using facial expression to express what they feel. In Jean’s case according to some books and research, it shows that Asian express what they feel by way of facial expression.


Based on the findings and the research done we can see that, in the case of Jean, cultural difference, leads to racial discrimination, interfering with the freedom to socialize freely with other peer groups. In conjunction to the existing language barrier, but with   various solutions. The teacher is using a dominating and integrating style in conflict resolution, Jean’s friends are using dominating and avoiding styles jean’s father is using an integrating style while jean herself is using obliging and avoiding style. In our case therefore, we can suggest that there should be flexibility and open communication in between  parties, just like Jean, there lacks flexibility in that Jean is not as flexible and also the people. The communication is also not open because Jean is not open in her communication skills she only shares her problems with her father, in  case of her friends and the teacher Jean prefers to keep quite this affects communication creating language barrier. The country is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, and hence more culturally.

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