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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Make our society a better place

By Chantale JimenezCSMS Magazine Staff WriterIn American society, much of culture is quite visible. Although most races are intermixed in society, some groups open restaurants, have meeting, go to church, and have family gathering (with each other) near to where they reside.  One example is Little Havana, where you have Cuban restaurants, grocery stores, electronic stores, and department stores. Your mailman, mechanic, gas station attendant, light meter reader, and educators all speak Spanish.  It is like a mini micro society.        Why go back to Cuba, if we have a piece of Cuba in Miami?  We can also see this same practice in other races such as the Haitians, Jamaicans, and the Hindus.  As Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel state: “ A culture’s history affects individual perception and behavior and how people relate to other cultures.” The good thing is what we can learn from each other. Yes, learning about one’s own culture helps in understanding other cultures. The reason is that we may treat other cultures the same way we treat our own, and in some cases we may be doing more harm than good.        For instance, in some cultures it is disrespectful for a child to look at an adult in the face when being spoken to. In some cultures not looking at one when being spoken to is a sign of disrespect. We should compare how our own culture interacts in a family circle, which would be the way we will treat others cultures in our society.  It is for this reason we should make it a point to be inquisitive and practice the following: learn about the various cultures in our community—sample their foods, mingle with those cultures, and share knowledge that has been passed down through various generations. By doing so, we are on the right track to becoming one big happy family.        In Cross-Cultural Communication, Patricia Covarrubias, disliked the fact that her teacher used the nickname “Pat,” which is a common, Anglo-Saxon, nickname for the name “Patricia.” Patricia felt as though she had lost her identity, in that the nickname stayed with her for many years and through high school. Patricia felt offended by the way she was being Americanized on the first day she started elementary school. She felt her culture was slowly being erased.       However, what made a huge impact towards Americanization was hearing people addressing her by her nickname.  What I don’t understand is that Patricia should have told the teacher that she preferred to be called by her full name. If there was a language barrier, I am sure a friend or relative who spoke fluent English could have met with her teacher to discuss the issue. In America, a nickname is a more casual, friendly, and sometimes lovingly way of greeting someone. However, you have the right to let people know how to address you. The issue here is not that Patricia was never introduced to nicknames, given that her relatives often used their versions of a nickname. It is the fact that she was losing her identity because of it.        In the same book mentioned earlier, we learn that Mei Lin Kroll had an unfortunate, but positive experience early in life: she was adopted by loving parents. Mei Lin experienced the bullying in schools and the isolation of being from another race.  She also learned how people could be cruel and make derogatory comments about other races. In college, since she looked Asian, peopled assumed she was either Chinese or Japanese. In one incident, at work, a coworker said, “I know you Chinese people.” She replied she was Korean. The coworker said: “what’s the difference?” And she answered the way I would have answered. “The difference is culture.”  I’ve experienced that same stereotyping, but it is worse when you live in a community were there are so many Hispanic cultures. I am used to hearing “you Cubans,” instead of “Hispanics” when it involves issues related to people with Hispanic heritage. I agree with Mei Lin, if you do not know your culture, you should make it a point to learn more about it, and share your knowledge with the various cultural groups in your community.        In both cases, as a teacher, I would give the student the benefit of the doubt.  How would you like me to address you, do you have a nickname, or would you like me to call you by your middle name. I would make it a point to make them feel wanted and appreciated in society. Teach these students that although there are people who are racist, there are also individuals who like to learn about other cultures and interact with them in order to share their knowledge. This would make the world a better place for society to live in. I think the best approach for welcoming a student from another nationality into the classroom is having something in the classroom that they can relate to.  It could be a flag from his/her country, or posters depicting sceneries from their homeland.  Often time new students are homesick, and if you bring their culture into the classroom, they will feel welcome.      I strongly agree with our textbook that when you study the myth of a culture, you are studying what is important for that culture.  Fables, folktales, legends, and myths all are used to educate and give a good example of what is believed to have happened at one point in time.  Additionally, they can also be used as a scare tactic to discourage youth from doing wrong.  An example of a movie that portrays the American character and culture to those who are not Americans is Meet Me In St. Louis.  Although it is set in the early 1900s, it depicts a healthy American family with good moral values. Seasonal holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are portrayed. It even shows the family sitting at the dinner table enjoying a meal together—something you rarely see in this day and age.       If I were to create a culture, it would be called the Neutralites, a culture that has been desensitized of bigotry, hatred, and cruelty.  The primary value would be families. A healthy family lifestyle with good moral values would be at the top of the hierarchy of my culture. There will be no gender role stereotyping, as everyone is created equal. Parents will assume each other’s roles whenever possible, and share responsibilities. The dress would be anything that does not convey provocative or lewd behavior. The food would be a plethora of international dishes.  TheNeutralites will create a community clubhouse where it will make it easy for all cultures to get together and learn from each other to help make the world a better place to live in.Also see Much Culture: https://csmsmagazine.org/news.php?pg=20060916I269

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