Social Responsibility and Intercultural Competence
Culture can be defined in so many ways. The most simplified definition of culture is it is the shared and learned behaviour within a setup of a community which has interacting human beings. British anthropologist Edward Taylor describes culture as a complex whole within which man being a member of a community gains morals, art, knowledge, beliefs and customs (Ruben, pg. 334-354). Different communities have different cultures. By analysing each culture individually, it is easy to conclude that different cultures have common characteristics. The different definitions of culture give us various characteristics of culture.
I choose Simone Davis as my partner for this project. Simone is an African American who I met at the coffee shop. Before I met Simone I had the perspective that African Americans are very rough and rude. I also had the perception that they are into crime and drugs and that they are materialistic. I also thought African Americans are very talented when it comes to sports, music, dance and academics. My whole perception about African Americans were based on the movies I had watched since the above traits are portrayed in almost every black movie. I have never had a chance to interact one on one with an African American. My interaction with Simone was quite engaging and educative since I got to learn a lot about her culture. From our interaction I came up with a number of differences and similarities which I saw in our cultures.
Simone confirmed and at the same time refuted some of the perceptions I had about her culture. One of the major stereotypes that people have about her culture is connected to the issue of drugs and crime. As much as this is true to some extent, I learnt that it is very wrong to judge someone based on what you see being portrayed in movies. As I was listening to Simone, I learnt that our cultures are different in a number of ways. When it comes to the issue of celebrating weddings, our cultures are quite different. I learnt that African American weddings are quite simple as compared to our culture. In my culture we value celebrations and parties and to us a wedding is a very big ceremony. Weddings in her culture are mainly symbolized by a church ceremony and reception later on where the bride removes her gown and wears something comfortable for the reception. Before the newlyweds go for their honeymoon they are required to jump a broom which is symbolic that they are ready to begin a new chapter in life as husband and wife. In my culture, the bride is required to prove to the congregation that she is able to take care of the husband. The bride will feed the groom and remove his shoes as a sign that she is ready for her new role as a wife.
There is also similarities in our cultures. We are both immigrants and as a result we go through the same challenges. One of the biggest challenges we go through is racism. As immigrants, we have to work twice as hard and prove that we are also able to achieve what others can accomplish. The issue of equality in terms of treatment by others affects both our cultures. I also noticed that both our cultures value the family set up. To us family is always a priority and we can step out of our comfort zones just to ensure that our families are safe and are provided for.
During my interview with Simone Davis, I couldn’t help but feel a connection with her from knowing that our cultures face the same challenges. I also felt empathetic because I initially had a very wrong perception about her culture and all that entails to it. By the end of our interaction I was happy to have learnt all that pertains to African American culture.
Being flexible and open minded really helped me during my interview with Simone. I learnt that the more open minded I was to learning about her culture, the more I was able to see her culture for what it really is. This helped reshape my mentality and get rid of all the stereotypes I had about her culture. I also learnt that it is good to open up to people and learn from them because there something that we can learn from each other.
With my culture partner Simone, I identified quite a number of issues that affect both our cultures at the local, national and global level. One of the biggest issue that face both our culture is racism. This is experienced both locally, nationally and globally. Racism is discrimination based on one’s ethnicity and background. As Hispanics and African Americans people tend to have a low view of us. We are discriminated by the society because of our ethnicity and nativity. Poverty is another issue that both our cultures face. Being an immigrant in a foreign country is not easy. Most of our families have two or three jobs for survival. Since we both value large families, it becomes tough at times to meet all the expenses and pay all the bills. Most families struggle to get money for food, shelter and medical expenses. Access to education is also a challenge. Children in both cultures have to study twice as hard and prove that they are capable of being admitted in the same school as other students.
I also noticed that a woman has no place in both cultures. People tend to focus on men and a woman has been forgotten. Women really fight hard to be recognised by the society. I think that it is necessary to overcome the above prejudice about our cultures. It is very important to carry out civic education and enlighten people on the above issues (Ogbu, pg. 5-14). The society needs to know that any kind of discrimination on a person based on their background and ethnicity is very wrong. The government needs to come up with strict rules that protect the rights of immigrants. There are a lot of challenges that are faced by immigrants. It is the duty of the government to ensure that immigrants are free and safe from any kind of discrimination.
I also think that the society should come up with platforms that helps people from different cultures to interact. This could be in form of an annual event where different cultures meet to showcase their culture. It could be in form of showcasing the different foods and modes of dressing that we have. Interaction of different cultures helps to break down the negative mentalities that people have about other cultures. It also creates a society in which people are open minded and flexible. Interaction and mingling with other people creates harmony in the society. There is a lot to learn from other people and it is very wrong to allow issues like racism to be a diving factor in our societies. I encourage people to be open minded and empathetic. This will go a long way in ensuring that we build positive relationships regardless of our culture or where we come from.
At the end of the day, I realised that we are all humans. We need to treat each other with a lot of love and care. It is wrong to allow identities to break human interactions. We all have the same dreams and aspirations in life. The goal is to hold each other’s hand and work towards making our dreams and aspirations a reality. It is important to break cultural barriers that hinder our interaction. My interaction with Simone has taught me that every human being needs to be loved and be treated as they deserve.
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Thomas, David C. “Cultural intelligence.” Wiley Encyclopedia of Management (2015): 1-3.
Ogbu, John U. “Understanding cultural diversity and learning.”Educational researcher 21.8 (1992): 5-14.
Triandis, Harry Charalambos. “Culture and social behavior.” (1994).