My name is Yuanfang Dai and I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University. One of my specialties is the theoretical research and practical implication of transcultural dialogues.

One of my professional and scholarship goals is to combine the theoretical research and the practical application of transcultural dialogues for the purpose of seeking an effective way to communicate transculturally. In my philosophical research, I propose a transcultural perspective as a better alternative to the multicultural approach for understanding cultural differences because a transcultural perspective implies interference and interaction rather than simply recognizing differences. That is to say, if we merely acknowledge cultural difference and are content with “cultural tolerance,” it will not contribute to genuine understandings of cultural differences because we tend to avoid cultural frictions and conflicts therefore miss meaningful and fruitful cultural dialogues. However, if we are motivated to step out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves, then we will be able to open sincere conversation with members of different cultures. To integrate my theoretical research with the social reality, I want to know what is taking place on the MSU campus and the local community in terms of transcultural communications. Working at the Office for International Students and Scholars gives me the opportunity to witness the richness, success, and fulfillment that intercultural interactions bring to students, as well as the frustration, anxiety, and reluctance when students encounter other students from different cultures.

I am interested in the Cultural Heritage informatics Fellowship Program because I believe it is a great opportunity for me to archive and reflect on the transcultural dialogues that international students go through, with the hope of providing educational materials for intercultural educators and guidance for international students to more effectively engage in intercultural communications. Growing up and being educated in China, I understand the importance of cultural heritage and what it means to people who inhabit in the culture as a people and as individuals. The transcultural experience that I gain through studying and living in the American culture adds a new dimension to my personal existence. I am interested in collecting stories of international students who have been going through similar struggles while adapting to the American culture. I believe this project can make personal stories into a collective observation and reflection, which would help international students as well as domestic students to communicate with each other more efficiently. In particular, I am interested in developing online workshops about MSU students’ experiences of American-Chinese cultural communication.

I am excited to get involved in the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship Program, which I believe will greatly advance my skills in instructional technology and digital humanities in addition to my philosophy research and transcultural practices.