From my earliest memories college was an important co-culture in my life. When I was in preschool my dad was in college. First, he studied at Orange Coast College, and then he transferred to Long Beach State to complete his Bachelor’s Degree as well as his Master’s Degree in Communication. Once he completed his degree he was hired as an instructor and Speech and Debate coach at Bakersfield College. From 2nd grade through 10th grade I lived less than a mile from Bakersfield College, I grew up playing in the hallways where I work today. While college has always been part of my life, and an expected destiny, my own academic journey was one of struggle. As a dyslexic, even after a year of tutoring with a reading specialist, I often felt less intelligent than other students at school. I struggled with the work. My teachers were often disappointed because my large vocabulary and verbal skills gave them the expectation that I was above average but my written academic skills were far lower than many of my peers. I never saw myself as an academic but I knew that I loved learning new things and making new connections between ideas. My joys in school were always performance based: band, choir, and drama. Music was my major when I enrolled in college. In my first semester I also joined my dad’s Speech and Debate team. I struggled in my music classes and I excelled on the Speech and Debate team. I became a national champion and I learned to support the work of my teammates as a peer coach. I decided to become a Speech and Debate coach and became a Communication major when I entered my junior year of college. While I continued to struggle in courses outside of my major I thrived in my Communication courses, earning first a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and then a Master’s Degree, both from CSU, Northridge. While in school I coached the Speech and Debate team at Los Angeles Valley College. A few months after graduation, I was hired as an instructor and Speech and Debate coach at Bakersfield College. After years in Southern California it felt good to return home.
Over 20 years ago, Mark Staller joined me as a coach and instructor in the Communication department at BC. On the surface it appears that Mark and I are exact opposites: I am extremely liberal, he is extremely conservative; I am a secular atheist, he is a devout Christian; I have no interest in ever having children, he has two wonderful adult children. Even our brains work differently. His ability to categorize ideas, ponder philosophical constructs, and conceptualize complex ideas simply astounds me. My understandings of the world do not tend toward the philosophical. I tend toward concrete understandings of the world. All those difference do not hold a candle to the similarities that have kept our friendship harmonious for 2 decades. We are both in love with learning, we are passionate about our work, we both have “absentminded professor” tendencies, and we both put family at the center of our lives. These similarities balance our differences.
Well into my 40s, I remained the youngest faculty member in the Communication Department at Bakersfield College. Luckily, 5 years ago we hired Bryan Hirayama. Bryan’s youth belies by his wideranging experience and expertise. Bryan gives me a glimpse of many experiences of the world that are far from my own. He and his active young family have a lifestyle that might be featured in a fitness magazine. Bryan has traveled and lived outside of the US, neither Mark or I share his global understanding. Beyond Bryan’s athleticism and cosmopolitan experiences, he has a drive and determination that inspires me.
Two years ago we were lucky to hire one of our long-time adjunct faculty, Talita Pruett, Talita’s love of Intercultural Communication initially brought us together and her knowledge, both theoretical and first-hand as a first generation American who moved here in College, consistently inspires me. Talita is part of a new generation of faculty at Bakersfield College who are teaching full-time and raising their young families. Her office is right next door to mine. I look forward to our, almost daily, conversation about our students, our work and our families.
Today, after 23 years at Bakersfield College, I have a wide variety of communities of which I am a part. I discuss these communities in the chapter titled, “Our Multifaceted Selves.” For my entire career I have taught between three and five public speaking courses per semester. I authored two chapters of the textbook Contemporary Public Speaking: How to Craft and Deliver a Powerful Speech. In the early 2000s, I also began teaching Persuasion and I began teaching Intercultural Communication in 2008. Intercultural Communication, more than any other course I have ever taken or taught, has changed my approach to all of my interactions. When any instructor I meet says they would like to start teaching Intercultural Communication I always say “Get ready! It will change you!” . . . and it does! The skills necessary to be an effective intercultural communicator are all learnable and, as authors, we hope that this text will help you recognize, practice and begin to master them.
The relationship in my life that has taught me more about Intercultural Communication than any other is my relationship with my husband, Enrique. Enrique has provided me a window into a world entirely unlike my own. Together, over the last 27 years, we have created a two-person culture of our own. Without him my life would be far less exciting. Enrique has introduced me to more co-cultures than I ever imagined: Comic book and Science Fiction (and their conventions), Medieval Recreation Societies, Community Theatre, Hard Rock musicians, actors, composers, theater companies, and coffee aficionados. Together we have been poets, play producers, and members of a community chorus we co-founded. His life before we met was my polar opposite. He pushes me toward adventure and helps me check my perceptions when I would not notice the need on my own. . . . and he keeps me from wandering out into traffic . . . which is tremendously helpful. I wrote Chapter 8 (History vs. Histories), Chapter 9 (Our Multifaceted Identities), Chapter 4 (Verbal Communication), and Chapter 3 (Adaptation and Empathy).