Perspectives on Diversity and Culture

This week we were asked to talk to a few different people who may be in some ways culturally different from you.

I not only talked to a few different people, but I also made a post on face book to see if I could get many different perspectives.  One of the people I talked with was a young girl who is in College.  The second was a friend of mine who is from India, and then I also spoke to my brother.  I feel that this gave me a wide base of differences.

Overall I feel that most did a great job explaining what culture is:

Culture is the behaviors, beliefs, objects, and characteristics of a particular social group”

Culture is history and tradition, what you do because your family, your neighborhood, your city, state, country does to celebrate and as a matter of day to day living.

“Culture is set of values, beliefs and traditions

My friend Priya mentioned that in India part of their culture is to touch the feet of older people as a way of expressing respect.

Here are the explanations of diversity:

“Diversity is the extent to which we allow the culture of others into our lives

“Diversity is embracing everyone regardless their caste, color and religion

Diversity is the understanding that everyone of us is an individual, although we may be in the same social groups. We have differences in race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, class, age, physical abilities, politics, etc.”

For the most part I was happy with the fact that my friends could identify things that are related to deep culture: values, traditions, beliefs, as well as culture being related to the idea of characteristics of a certain group of people.  These attributes are deep culture, while looking at things such as foods and artifacts may be surface culture.

In terms of diversity, each of my friends had a little bit of a different definition.  Per the dictionary one word to describe diversity is variety.  So, while some may feel that diversity is an action, like taking differences into consideration, it can basically mean variety. 

As I listened to my friends describe these two concepts to me it was clear that we all have our own perspective of what the things mean to us.  In a way, I was both happy and surprised that when asked about culture the focus was not place on surface culture.  I was also very surprised to the extent that people view diversity.  So how has this influenced my thinking?  It is a great reminder that we are all different and may have different viewpoints as well as definitions about certain words and how they fit into our life. 

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My Family Culture

A major catastrophe has almost completely devastated the infrastructure of your country. The emergency government has decided that the surviving citizens will be best served if they are evacuated to other countries willing to take refugees. You and your immediate family are among the survivors of this catastrophic event. However, you have absolutely no input into the destination or in any other evacuation details. You are told that your host country’s culture is completely different from your own, and that you might have to stay there permanently. You are further told that, in addition to one change of clothes, you can only take 3 small items with you. You decide to take three items that you hold dear and that represent your family culture.

As I thought about this situation all week it occurred to me that it was very hard to determine what three things I would bring along with me.  It is not that I could not find three things, but in the long run I have realized that I am not a person who holds a lot of weight in material items or sentimental items.  After much thought the three items that I would bring are; a photo album with pictures of my family members from the past and present.  My bible, and my laptop.

The photobook would be important to me so that I could hold memories of those who have gone and those who are in my life.  And while I feel that we always carry memories of those who have gone in the past, sometimes seeing pictures can remind us of times in our life’s and stories that we can share with others.  I believe that the bible is self-explanatory.  And my laptop is a window into the world.  It is a way to have information and to stay connected with others.  I can listen to music, read books, or do research with the means of my laptop.

Your feelings if, upon arrival, you were told that you could only keep one personal item and must give up the other two items you brought with you

If I had to choose one item I would choose to keep the laptop.  But this seems obvious, so I am thinking that I would not be able to keep this item, so next I would choose the photo album.  I feel that our connection to the past and those who have been a part of our life is so important.  I have often shared stories with my children about my grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. 

What I have learned this week is that I am not a person who is tied to material objects, that I do value family and enjoy sharing the history of my family.  I value education and knowledge, reading, and being connected to the world around me.