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. . . rather than imposing U.S. conflict resolution styles on international students,
it would be helpful for both international and domestic students to discuss
culturally sensitive ways of addressing potential conflicts so that they can find
a way that works for both parties.
interactions, such as rooms clustered in pods, provide students more opportunities
to build a sense of community, which will promote learning each other's culture and
reduce biases toward each other (Devlin et al., 2008).
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
This study has implications for residence life professionals who coordinate multicultural
living-learning communities and help international students adjust to living with
roommates from different cultures. It would be beneficial for residence life professionals
and resident assistants to receive training on the cultural challenges of international
students and culturally competent ways to address cultural issues. For example,
training can include a discussion of international students' challenges in multicultural
living-learning communities. Given the cultural differences in communication, it
would be helpful to train residence life professionals and resident assistants on crosscultural
communication and team building so they can learn more about culturally
sensitive ways of helping international students communicate and mediate with their
roommates when conflicts arise. Collaboration with offices for international students
on such training would also be useful given their expertise in the specific needs of
these students. In addition to training for residence life staff, it would also be important
to recruit culturally diverse resident assistants, including international students,
so that residents perceive RAs as being approachable, which would lower their anxiety
about bringing roommate issues up with RAs.
It would be helpful to include residential programs that specifically address mediation,
conflict resolution, and healthy relationships and boundaries based on a multicultural
approach. In other words, rather than imposing U.S. conflict resolution styles
on international students, it would be helpful for both international and domestic students
to discuss culturally sensitive ways of addressing potential conflicts so that they
can find a way that works for both parties. Given that some participants reported not
having enough opportunities to spend time with their domestic roommates, social
programming to encourage peer interactions (such as ice breakers, a cultural potluck
dinner, and day trips where domestic students can share U.S. culture with international
students) may be helpful. Partnering with other campus offices such as the counseling
center (to develop skills related to effective communication) and student activities
offices (to promote social programming opportunities) would help support residence
life staff in these endeavors.
Given the importance that participants attributed to communication, it might also
be helpful to pay careful attention to establishing roommate agreements that clarify
expectations and utilize strategies to negotiate any challenges. RAs can facilitate roommate
agreements and help roommates discuss a range of typical challenges, including
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