What aspects of the ‘conviviality toolkit’ do you see amongst your friendship networks? How can these capacities be further developed?
As an exchange student, my friendship networks have grown more diverse. Through living with other Australian students and being part of a multicultural student community I have been amerced in Australian culture. Differences like cars driving on the opposite side of the road and walking on the other side of a path, seem minimal but have massive effects on my experience. Multicultural friendships are formed by conviviality, which is everyday friendly interactions and civil co-existence (Harris, 2018, p.606). Conviviality is a part of my everyday life, not only because I am learning more about other cultures, but also my friends are learning about mine.
While forming friendships with my Australian roommates, aspects of Back’s and Sinha’s (2016) “Conviviality Toolkit” are demonstrated through understanding and accepting the differences between us. Being open-minded and understanding of other’s backgrounds allows our friendships to be successful. When obstacles do arise, we are able to overcome them by “Resisting the pleasures of hating or laying blame…” (Back and Sinha, 2016, p.530). Once I accidentally left the sink water dripping, this infuriated my Australian roommate because I was wasting water. Even though she was frustrated, she explained to me that in Australia there are droughts and they have to be selfless when using water. Our friendship was able to continue because I understood how I upset her. Now I am cautious about how much water I use because I understand that in Australia it is considerate to limit water.
University of Wollongong is multicultural but still has a strong student community. New exchange students come every semester and change the dynamic of the social scene. In order to adapt Back’s and Sinha’s (2016) idea of, “An aptitude for connection and building home in a landscape of division…”, I implemented their idea within everyday life. In order to build a “home” within a multicultural community cultural difference like beliefs, clothing, education, etc., have to be acknowledged and respected.
So far, my experience as an exchange student has been cohesive, but there are still aspects where multicultural cohesion could be developed. People tend to stick with others of similar backgrounds and I tend to do the same. Although I am friends with some non-American students, I feel it is easier to communicate in American friend group because it is what I am used to. To increase cohesiveness amongst other cultures, people have to be willing to get out of their comfort zones and interact with different people. This will open student’s eyes to new cultures and global networks.
Back, L., and Sinha, S. 2016, ‘Multicultural Conviviality in the Midst of Racism’s Ruins’, Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol. 37, no. 5, p. 517-532.
Harris, Anita. 2018, “Youthful socialities in Australia’s urban multiculture.” Urban Studies, vol. 55, no. 3, 605-622.