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Monday, September 25, 2023

Cultural reality check: Home is where your heart is

By Christine Jean-PierreCSMS Magazine Staff WriterThe American dream has brought with it intercultural experiences that will forever be in the forefront, due to the fact that all cultures are being represented. Most immigrants have tried to adapt to the dominant culture, but sometimes find it difficult to willingly adapt to the various differences. Young Yun Kim, a Korean writer, has been exposed to intercultural experiences and has concluded that cultural identity changes as the individual experiences life. He believes that because of cross-cultural mixing, it is noticeable that no one culture takes precedence. Instead, there is a little of several cultures intertwined to form a new culture or a product of several cultures, which is not really new but diverse in characteristic.Because culture is said to be the answer to solving different situations within specific groups, when groups intertwine there is now more than one approach to the same situation. For example, when people of Indian descent leave their country of origin and enter the United States, they no longer embrace the caste system. Instead, they venture into careers of their choice.Young explains that when living in a multicultural society, one faces certain factors that help to build identity. These include stress, adaptation and growth experiences. This, he attributes to the fact that living in a society with many cultures does not excuse an individual to only face aspects that relate to his culture of origin. He is also faced with a mixture of all the challenges related to the other cultures, forming this multicultural society.Young’s experiences taught him that regardless of where an individual is, he will have to strive to achieve success in all his endeavors, and differences in culture do not cause anyone to differ. However, he did maintain that individuals will always differ and try to maintain their self-identity. However, the basics of human survival will be forced to take precedence regardless of how culturally diverse we are—as there is no rule laid down to stop the mixing of cultures to aid human survival.            Ringo Ma, an other Korean writer, on the other hand, became so entangled with all the cultures that he had experienced that he could not identify with any one place or state or even his original culture. He soon realized that his culture of origin and the one in which he resides were exact opposite. Whereas he was born in a conservative culture, he now finds himself in one where he could be open and direct. The ways in which he deals with everyday behaviors often leaves him in wonder. However, he realized that all this was due to cultural differences. This leads Ringo Ma to become very bothered by how different eastern culture and western culture were.             Western culture to him gave everyone the sense of being overly casual, and there was no special recognition given to anyone because of his varied academic accomplishments. To him, everyone is so individualized; and being spontaneous is the order of the day. On return to his country of origin, he was still dissatisfied as he could not completely identify with the customs they hold dear, simply because he had adapted to intercultural living.            The implications that the various experiences of these authors has left for ESOL teachers is that they should not try to push their culture as being dominant, neither should they try to put any co-culture into a different realm. They should always try to embrace all cultures, because eventually the individual who lives in a multicultural society can only live successfully into in such a society. This is so because experience is what enhances culture, and where an individual lives is really where he ultimately belongs. After all, someone rightfully coined the phrase “home is where the heart is” and this is essentially what a multicultural society does.            Culture is deep-seated within, and where one lives one gains his experiences and lives by them, thus feeling a sense of belonging; and that is what living in a multicultural society does. It creates its own experiences and gives the individual a new identity that matches the environment, and its challenges.Also, see Role of alternative languages in our society

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