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AFCLC Faculty Teach Intro to American Culture to Incoming International Officers

Intro to American Culture

Intro to American Culture

Maxwell Air Force Base --

The Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Dr. Angelle Khachadoorian recently taught Squadron Officer School’s incoming class of International Officers via teleconference on the morning of 8 March. Dr. Khachadoorian, the AFCLC’s Professor of Anthropology, offered a light-hearted but informative lesson on American Cultural Patterns. She included a brief introduction to American Communication Patterns based on curricula developed by Dr. Susan Steen, AFCLC’s Professor of Communication.

The SOS students represented Air Forces from across the globe who have partnered with the USAF. While the course on American Cultural Patterns is usually taught face to face, the International Officers School, the AFCLC professor and the incoming students adapted well to the newer modality. The students were required to fulfill a mandatory two-week quarantine period upon their entry into the U.S.

“This is such a fun class for me to teach,” said Dr. Khachadoorian, “because the students always give us great examples to use for future classes.”

AFCLC faculty have taught courses on American Culture and American Communication for IOS for more than a decade, not just for SOS but also for Air War College and Air Command and Staff College. From the course’s earliest versions to the present, AFCLC faculty have offered insights to incoming international students for navigating the sometimes-confusing terrain of American culture. Drs. Khachadoorian and Steen routinely teach students about American cultural values (such as emphasis on individuality and personal independence), American communication styles (informal and direct), potential causes of culture shock, and everyday social rules (such as expectations around tipping, or the social rules of potluck meals).

Since Dr. Steen joined the AFCLC in 2015, Drs. Khachadoorian and Steen expanded the course curriculum to include an introduction to Southern U.S. Culture and Communication, to introduce students to local phrases and idioms (including the powerful, yet adaptable, phrase “bless your heart”), use of personal space, college football culture and regional foods (such as the Alabama dining out staple, the “meat and three”).

Drs. Khachadoorian and Steen enjoy teaching the incoming International Students, and the students give positive feedback for the course.