By Paola BarreraSpecial to CSMS MagazineCultures vary from country to country. They also can vary from one town to another. It is important to understand your own culture before you judge other’s traditions. “Much of culture is invisible.” This statement is suggesting that a good portion of culture is felt emotionally rather then seen physically. Culture is learned through interactions and experiences. It could be considered invisible because everyone in a particular culture is familiar with the culture already. Learning more about your own culture can help you understand other cultures because you need to understand yourself before you can understand another person. Names, terms of endearment and Anglicization of “foreign” names all impact cultures and the way they are viewed by others. In her first essay, Patricia Covarrubias writes about her struggles moving to the United States at the age of about 9. Her third grade teacher assigned her a nickname without asking her how she would like to be addressed. She was not Pat; she was Patricia. In Mexico, she explains, it is common for people to use nicknames. Her mother called her “my daughter” and her brother called her “little sister”. To her friends she was Patty, never Pat. When Patricia met a racist classmate in California, her father told her he was ignorant. At that time she did not feel comforted by his response, but later in life she realized she could change ignorance. Mei Lin Kroll is a Korean woman, who was adopted at the age of 5 months. Her American parents changed her Korean name, Yoon, Chang Hee, to Mei Lin Kroll because they thought it would be easier for others to pronounce. Mei Lin, however, is a Chinese name, not Korean. Growing up, Mei at first thought it was normal to be adopted because she was friendly with other adopted children. She soon came to realize most families did not have adopted children. She was teased in school and began to hate her Korean side. Mei wanted to be white in every sense. In college she grew tired ofothers’ ignorance about Asian people. She was Korean, not Chinese or Japanese, and there is a difference. Now Mei identifies with other Korean people. They relate to each other because they all have similar experiences with people who are not Asian. From these two stories, I have learned a lot. Since I am studying to be a teacher, I see the importance of learning my students’ backgrounds. I will never call a student by a name they do not approve of, like Mrs. Williams did to Patricia. I will never assume a student’s heritage, like Mei’s college professor did. It is important for students to learn about all cultures and backgrounds. I would make it a point to ask my students which countries their families originate from and plan a lesson on those cultures.
Mean Girls: an important movie
A film in which the American Culture is portrayed is Mean Girls. This movie is about a girl who was home schooled her whole life until high school. Once she started attending school, she did not know anyone, and she really did not know how to react to pear pressure. She gets caught up in trying to be popular and fit in with the “cool girls,” which inevitably ruins her friendship with the “average people.” I think this movie represents American high school culture. Many teens struggle to fit in, and to be well liked. Some people are mean and will do anything to get what they want. Others are easily influenced and give in to things they may not want. When watching this movie, I realized how true to life the story line was. High school can be a vicious place.
My ideal culture
An ideal culture would be called Fabulousism. In this culture, there would be no racism what so ever. People would be free to dress, speak, and act as they please without others making rude or hurtful comments. Everyone is fabulous, hence the name, Fabulousism. Some values my culture would try to achieve would be the importance of family and friends, good communication networks, and knowing the history of the culture. There would be no homeless people because everyone would be encouraged to work for a living; no discrimination would take place during the hiring process. All the members of the community would know one another and be friendly to each other. Forgive and forget would be a motto if someone has been offended by another. Fabulousism would be a superb way of life.Note: Paola Barrera is an education student from Nova Southeastern University, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She wrote this peace exclusively for CSMS Magazine.Also see Creating one culture that embraces all of our differences