I recently had the pleasure of working with some Women in Technical Communication during a #teachingtalk on Intercultural Communication. The discussion, led by the ever-fabulous Lucia Dura, prompted us to consider our goals for intercultural communication. We worked to establish goals, means, and outcomes for a range of classes: Elizabeth and I, for example, are teaching service courses at our universities, where Tatiana and Jen are working on specifically Intercultural courses.

I learned a lot from working with these women, but here are some notable takeaways:

  • Intercultural Communication is often treated as an aside or a specialty; we agreed that intercultural communication, ideally, should be integrated throughout professional writing/writing majors;
  • Intercultural is more than just international or global; our students encounter intercultural situations regularly, but they might not identify them because instruction often privileges international rather than domestic interculturality.
  • Notions of professionalism, which sometimes [if not often] motivate our PW courses, are wrapped up in culture and power, and if we allow professionalism to dominate our classes, we have a responsibility to communicate this transparently to our students;
  • Intercultural Communication is difficult to teach because it is so wrapped up culture and power, so the means by which we assess adeptness in this area need to be concrete;
  • One way to make the expectations concrete is to anchor the idea of intercultural communication in specific scenarios or specializations–this gives a site of application for the critical thought required of intercultural communicators.

This list is incomplete. And we all felt we needed more time to consider how to enact our goals for intercultural communication, but our next step is to develop some shared language, assignments, and assessment tools for integrating intercultural communication across curricula in PW/TC.

So, I’ve decided to start blogging about what I’m reading, thinking, and doing. Why? Well, in part, because I feel like I have some things to write about that don’t necessarily belong in scholarship but that belong, well, somewhere. But perhaps the more important question is why not? Well, I’ll tell you why I haven’t had a blog for most of my young academic career: I’ve been scared. As a young [female] scholar, it’s daunting to say what you think. And it’s even more daunting to say what you think and have it recorded. But in the past several months–since the 2014 Association of Teachers of Technical Writing–I’ve been inspired by both the Women in Tech Comm #womeninTC and a small subset of the #womeninTC, a group of peer mentors who discuss their work progress #getafterit, to be more confident about my ideas and to offer some of my thoughts to others in the hope that they might help others, make them more confident, speed along other young scholars’ treks to confidence and public writing. This blog is evidence of the mentoring I’ve received from colleagues and mentors, but will also [I hope] discuss topics that I wish I were mentored on as a grad student, need to be mentored on as a pre-tenure professor, and other snippets of thinking as appropriate, including gratitude posts.


Speaking of gratitude. When I say Twitter saved my summer, I more accurately mean that the #womeninTC and #getafterit women  helped me stay focused, motivated, committed to a community of other writers, and confident that my daily work [even if it was esoteric writing on some rhetorical concept] mattered. At times I was reading documents from other women, receiving feedback from them, talking on the phone about ideas, or reading books per their suggestion. But mostly, I was checking in, championing, feeling championed, and sharing ideas. I started Project Getafterit #getafterit because I knew it was more fun to dig in my heels and work with others rather than in isolation. The #womeninTC and #getafterit group have offered inexplicable support, and for that I am thankful. I am also thankful for the confidence I gained being with and around these women–where some academics say snarky things about writing groups and public accountability, we instead nod along when people are stressed, offer advice, and cheer one another on. Thanks ladies, I’ve needed this.