What I’ve learned

What have I learned this semester?  Well, there is so much new information that has been revealed to me.  The largest lesson I took from this course is gratitude.  Be grateful for the privileges I have been blessed with, the life I have, and how and where I was raised.  These all were things I took for granted, and that is something  I regret.  My eyes were yet to be opened before taking this course, and now they are.  I learned to be accepting of everyone regardless of his or her background.  It is crucial that I treat everyone with respect and kindness, this can solve many issues.  At least this what I believe.  

I believe this is one of the most important courses one can take.  It teaches an individual to open their mind to truly understand someone else.  If we can truly understand then more love can be spread.  This is the main lesson I took from this class.

Kevin Hart

I decided to read the book “I Can’t Make This Up. Life Lessons from Kevin Hart.”  This is by far my favorite comedian and I knew his book would make me laugh historically on every page.  This manual for a successful life did that very thing.  It is the life story of Kevin Hart with lots of laughs and tons of moments of sadness.  This book goes through what it was like growing up poor and on the streets.  Kevin’s father left when he was young to do drugs and live with lots of women.  His brother joined a gang at a young age as well.  He maps out what it is to grow up as a young black American living in poverty.  It opened my eyes how bad life can be.  I’ve always just been in a bubble, but reading this book has popped that bubble.  Not everyone is born with the same privileges, but everyone has the same opportunity to be successful if someone works hard enough no matter the hand life deals. Kevin Hart worked past every odd and made a wonderful living for himself.  I want everyone to know that no matter how bad you have it someone has it worse.  Keep your head up and keep trying to live your dreams.  Everything will work out.

Movie and Food

The movie I chose to watch was Straight Outta Compton.  This motion picture goes through the life of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ran, and DJ Yells.  These are five young black kids who are striving to survive in the most dangerous city in America.  This movie outlines thug culture.  How dangerous life can be is portrayed in this cinema.  In the beginning scene it shows Eazy-E selling drugs to someone who refuses to pay.  Immediately guns are pulled on each other and it becomes a deadly situation.  From seeing this movie I had no idea how privileged I truly am.  Not just being a white middle class America, but where I was raised was a privileged as well.  After watching this movie it made me motivated to start giving to those who are less privileged.  I will never take what I have for granted ever again because of this movie.

For the food- I had some bisteck a la carreta and arroz con mariscos from La Carreta Peruvian Restaurant.  Both were amazing. I am glad Kylie and I went to this restaurant to open our mind and experience a new type of food.  Honestly from eating this food I learned to not disregard anything and always remain open minded. Before this restaurant I have been a pretty closed minded individual.  I would tend to shy away from places because it looked disgusting, but a lesson that was instilled in me is looks are deceiving.  This is something I have always heard but never really took it seriously. This class has taught me to be much more open minded. That is a lesson I will always be grateful for. 

Pop Culture

There are many ways popular media influences society today.  One of which is the diets we partake in.  Most people see people like the Kardashians trying out new diets and most of America has a desire to live that same life style.  Because we as a culture are driven to live as celebrities do American’s will participate in those exact same diets.  This is just one of many examples of how pop culture influences this wonderful country.  It determines what we watch as well, I will further use the Kardashians as an example.  Because Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe dress a certain way people tune into their television series to see what is going on with their life and how to develop more habits like them.

Something that stood out to me from the guest speaker was learning how to understanding another culture.  From listening to him talk about his experience in Africa, the biggest thing that I got out of his talk was to take the time to really know how a culture and society works so that you can get the best possible experience.  When he talked about how he was late to getting to the mining site and someone else bought it and how in an different country, that spot would have still be his.  It is fascinating to me how different cultures work so differently. 

Paper

As I pondered on the topic to present it dawned me to do “How Culture Drives Behaviors.”  I have a “why’ and a “how” kind of a brain.  Consistently my curiosity is always rising, because we are discussing culture I thought to myself  “Why are there so many differences within cultures? And why does these diversities cause so much hatred?”  These questions will be answered later on this paper.  In the mean time I wish to covey what I considered to be most important for this issue.  There is clearly there is an issue with how we handle certain cultures and the behaviors.  One example of this is my friend from Brazil.  When he first got to America around the years ago he would kiss friends on the cheek because of his culture.  Every time this took place friends would give him odd looks.  We live in a world where behaviors from other cultures are found upon. Why is this the case?  That is what I will be discussing in this paper.

The first question that comes to mind is “Why don’t we accept people’s culture’s?”  This is because we are afraid of what we are unfamiliar with.  Those who travel to other countries and experience new cultures experience culture shock.  This was prominent in the movie we watched in class.  Every turn the main character made was an unexpected culture shock.  It was evident he was uncomfortable just from observing his body language.  He would cringe at having to eat with his hands and wipe his butt with his hand.  He was afraid to do these things because he was unfamiliar with all of them.  This is extremely prominent in our society today.  Whenever I am introduced to a culture I am unfamiliar with I feel uncomfortable.  It is extremely hard for me to relate to a group of people I don’t understand.  I tend to shy away from those groups of people.  Even though this thought process is completely closed minded and something I am working on.  As we keep working getting out of our comfort zone to and teach one another about our culture uncertainty will diminish.  It is wonderful to get out of ones comfort zone.

In the article “Examining Culture’s Impact on the Learning Behaviors of International Students from Confucius Culture Studying in Western Online Learning Context” there was much talk about how learning of ones culture impacts our behavior.  “Teacher also has the moral role as a parent who has a collective obligation to instruct students to strictly follow social norms and behave within the socially accepted ways” (Chang & Kang, 2016, 782).  “We” as members of society need to learn from the teachers of each society and open our minds.  The ultimate teachers are not those who have credentials or are paid, but the ones who lead by example and learn about others cultures.  They are the ones who step out of their comfort zone.  Once one is understood more love is developed. This will cause much more unity in what we call society.

As I read on in this article I found lots of interesting thoughts on the teachings of cultures.   

“Second, conflict is seen as an undesirable and ineffective learning behavior and should be avoided with the greatest efforts” (Chang & Kang, 2016, 783).  It is sad because when we see violent actions taking place we shut those cultures out of our minds.  For example, my wife and I were talking about how it is sad that Muslims get dragged into groups that are extremely violent.  Most Muslims are just trying to live their life and be contributing citizens, but they got put into groups that are violent and horrific.  I am sad to say even this has happened to me.  When I was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I knew a Muslim, he was one of the kindest, generous, calm people I have ever met.  One night he was taking my companion and I out to dinner and we got to talking about various religions.  As we spoke of the various theologies the thought came to my mind to ask about his religion.  We ended up talking about his beliefs for about an hour and a half.  This man was extremely frustrated at the fact that Americans viewed all Muslims as being terrorists or violent.  He wanted out of that stigma, but was unaware how to break free from this prison.  This small interaction taught me to be much more accepting to all cultures. 

The next article was just as fascinating as the first, if not much more.  The article “Testing the Oppositional Culture Explanation in Desegregated Schools: The Impact of Racial Differences in Academic Orientations on School Performance” talks about how white people treat other cultures within in school.  From reading this article I found many of these ideas to be true.  I loved this quote, “Then-Illinois State Senate candidate Barack Obama argued that we needed to ‘eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white’” (Diamond & Huguley,   2014, 749).  It is said too frequently that any intelligent behavior is acting white.  We need to show society that any can be educated and it will always be a positive thing regardless of race.

The TEDTalk provided me with the thought process of needing to accept everyone and their culture and provided me with the question how can I accomplish this?  As I pondered upon these enigmas I came across these two articles and it shed some new light into my life.  I need to accept everyone and let every kind of person know it is okay to have an education. 

References 

Diamond, J. B., & Huguley, J. P. (2014). Testing the Oppositional Culture Explanation in Desegregated Schools: The Impact of Racial Differences in Academic Orientations on School Performance. Social Forces, (2), 747.

Kang, H., & Chang, B. (2016). Examining culture’s impact on the learning behaviors of international students from Confucius culture studying in Western online learning context. Journal Of International Students, (3), 779.

Intercultural Relationship

As I spoke to my sister about being married to someone who is half Indian there are questions that automatically come to my mind.  How was it adjusting to someone who has a different culture than you?  What were the biggest hurdles to jump over?  Are there difficulties that come with being married to a half Indian?  Did his father accept you?  These were questions that have been on my mind for about nine years.  That’s right! Nine freaking years!  When I finally sat down with the both of them my questions finally were answered.  Apparently, my sister Samantha had several issues with adjusting to an entirely different culture.  For example, when she first had dinner with Adam’s family she had to eat with her hands.  See, Adam’s father is Indian and they grew up sitting on the floor and have lots of finger foods.  Samantha told me that was the hardest thing for her.  In my completely white family we always ate at a table and used lots of silverware.  The biggest hurdle for her was opening her mind to a brand new culture.  My sister was always a closed minded type of person, but as soon as she got married to Adam her mind opened up.  She finally began to explore many different cultures.  The day Samantha married Adam was the day she became an opened minded individual.

Unfortunately I was unable to make the presentation on Friday, but I know a multitude of individuals who have same-sex attraction.  A person comes to mind when thinking about this topic.  I will change his name for the sake of his privacy.  Chandler served in my mission many years ago and he has recently come out to be gay.  I sat down with him and asked how it is being out of the closet.  Chandler was extremely nervous about coming out of the closet, but he could no longer hold it in.  As soon as he came out immediately the weight of the world came off his shoulder.  He can be himself now.  Chandler now lives a completely happy life. 

Privilege

This class has completely changed my thoughts on privilege.  Before taking this course I thought privilege was an absurd idea, it was just an abstract way of thinking.  This was just an excuse for people to complain about their shortcomings.  Honestly, this idea made me exceptionally angry, but after learning about what privilege actually is, it dawned on me people actually have it rough. When I did the activity in the class Comm 319g where we went over a list that had situations listed in which could help determine if one is privileged or not.  As I went down the list I realized I had every privilege.  The people around me did not have as many privileges, and honestly I realized how wonderful my life is.  It made me highly appreciative for everything in my life.  This class has truly opened my eyes to how hard other people have it and made much more sympathetic.  Thank you for teaching me this valuable lesson.

The activity we did as a class on Monday was extremely intriguing.  I had several gold cones and a red and green coin as well.  This put me in the top scorers and I only lasted about one round.  When I was in the top group I felt on top of the world, but when I was kicked out and went to the lower group that feeling fell.  I learned something a valuable lesson from this.  The amount of wealth doesn’t matter if a group is not unified.  I honestly felt the second group I was in was much more unified than the first group I was in.  As long as we stick together nothing else matters.  

Activities for the week

This weeks activity was so much fun!  I learned so much from my presentation.  The most important lesson I learned from this entire activity is that racism is not handled correctly.  We as Americans need to be more sensitive to this topic and do everything in our power to put an end to racism completely. Will that happen anytime soon?  I do not believe so, but with dedication and it can and will end one day, at least I would like to believe so.  We need to come together and stop this hatred.  Instead of teaching children the negative aspects of differences and teach them the positive part of differences.  This help tremendously with ending resulting.

Privilege

How has white privilege impacted my life?  I have contemplated much about this inquiry.  Before this class I never really thought of white privilege or privilege as being anything to think about.  I guess that is because I have so much privilege.  When I took part in the privilege activity in my intercultural communication class something hit me, and it hit me hard.  The fact I don’t have to think about privilege means I am so privileged.  The fear of someone kidnapping me at night has never crossed my mind, nor has the color of my skin often been in the forefront my mind.    Not just the color of my skin, but my gender is privileged as well.  I do not have to carry around mace to protect myself from perverts, or have an individual grope me.  This is not something that has been on my mind or something I will never have to worry about.  I am extremely grateful for the paperclip activity and will not take my privileges for granted. 

When Patience came and spoke it really shed some light on how prevalent racism is today.  He told us when he was kicked out of a bar on Center Street in Provo because he is black.  That aggravated me and caused me to be more aware of how real hatred is.  This man had it rough coming from a different country and being black.  His journey is absolutely exquisite and I hope he shares his story with the world. 

Cultural Assessment

Introduction: 

One of the things that has stuck to me the most has been the way different cultures communicate.  I now see the way each culture communicates.  For example, I relate more to high-context cultures because I surround myself with close friends and family.  I was unaware there were different names for these types of cultures.  

Cultural Identity: 

I am a white, middle class male that grew up in the suburbs of Las Angles, California.  My ethnicity is primarily of the English decent.  I also identify as a Mormon, being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints proved to be a challenging at times growing up in California.  Most of my social circle were not members of the church I belonged to.  My friends did have the same value system as myself, every Friday and Saturday night my friends would go off and party.  They knew I would never partake of such substances, so I was not invited to the activities.  Today I am grateful for the respect they showed me, but back then I often felt alone and nowhere to turn.  Being the youngest of four siblings made this even more difficult on me.  By the time I reached high school all my siblings had either left for college or were on a mission at the time.  Because I did not fit in anywhere and felt lonely, I attempted to adopt other cultural behaviors.  This was to the point where people teased me. 

Back in high school I viewed the African American culture as something I could relate to.  Not only that, but I felt it was a lot cooler to be a part of that community.  Because I felt lost and did not know where I belonged I yearned to be cool and popular.  Adopting the qualities of African American was the only way I would be able to find my identity; or so I thought.  I copied the clothing choices, speech patterns, and dance moves of those that were African American.  Due to these choices I was brutally laughed.  Other peers would yell phrases such as “WHITE BOY!” or terms like “wanna be” or “poser”. 

Ideas about Cultural Groups Different from Your Own:

As I said in previous sections, I identify as a white middle-class male.  There was much discussion about the female culture that I found fascinating.  It is almost as if males and females speak two separate languages.  There is a video that discusses how different the two genders truly are.  The video is called “It’s Not About the Nail” she has a dilemma and just wants her significant other to listen to the issue, when he just wants the issue resolved and not have to deal with this.  Viewing this video I find myself laughing at the fact I completely relate to this situation.  It never occurred to me the differences males and females have until I got married.  Though I have only been married a short time, many lessons have been taught.  To this day I am working on just listening and shutting up.  Hardest part about marriage for sure!  

Other culture differences I find is with the very culture I attempted to impersonate.  I have noticed as a white guy, I talk and act differently than African Americans.  With the history of African Americans in this country, I have noticed African Americans have to be careful with what they say or do.  I have been privileged to not have to be cautious with what I say or do.  When around those of your own race, one is much more comfortable with the jargon he or she  chooses.  I have experienced this first hand, at the gym I ran into my friend’s father, he was speaking to us differently than when his close friend went up to him.  I noticed his entire domineer change as soon as his other friends walked up to him.  It was interesting to see the comfort levels sky rocket as soon as someone came up to him who he viewed as a close friend.   In high school I especially observed my African American friends and how their volume would raise when around those of the same of race as themselves.  This is prevalent even today, but especially within stereotypes.

Another culture I differ from is hispanics, when I served a mission for the LDS Church I noticed hispanics loved to feel others and were offended if your plate was not finished.  I see this even today, whenever my hispanic friends have me over for dinner they will not allow me to leave until my plate is empty.  Sometimes even when it is empty they force me eat more.  Over the summer I worked with mostly hispanic people.  I noticed they enjoy their music extremely loud and they like to talk extremely loud.  Those of hispanic dissent do not enjoy being alone, but would rather congregate in large groups and poke fun at one another.  It was interesting to see  them communicate with one another. I noticed it was completely different from the way white people communicate.

Another culture I find fascinating is the Indian American culture.  My brother-in-law is about half Indian and his father is completely Indian.  The thing I have noticed is Indians are much more quiet and love to cook.  When Adam’s (my brother-in-law) father comes to visit he typically keeps to himself and quietly goes about his business.  Whenever I am around white people we tend to announce the things we do, but Indians will keep to themselves and mind their own business.

Sources of Cultural Knowledge and Input

I have gained much knowledge from lots of different experiences.  My dad being from Louisiana, has taught his experience with the American American culture.  When you think of the south; honestly and unfortunately prejudice is still alive.  My father never understood why white people hated blacks.  He never saw color of the skin as difference.  His parents taught him to love everyone and respect those who had different skin color than himself.  He has passed this onto me.  I was taught to always love and respect those with different skin color than myself.  Because of that I have learned to love everyone from different cultures and background.  My father’s parents taught him to be culturally aware of those he surrounds himself with and due to that life lesson he taught me to always be educated about other people’s culture.  This is probably the most important lesson I learned from my father in all my childhood.

I experienced first hand how African Americans act by surrounding myself with them in high school.  I gained lots of insight about what infuriates a African American.  When they do not view someone as one of their own it is frustrating for an outsider to adopt their culture.  When I would attempt to copy their lingo it would typically backfire and result in laughter and kicking me out of their friend group.  It was interesting to me who they would allow to use their lingo and who was unable to.  I was in the group that was unable to use such jargon.  I thought using terminology they used would help be apart of who they were, but it just drove a larger wedge between me and them.  

Media has impacted how I view different genders and races by portraying both in a more negative light.  The media has shown African Americans to be lazy, self-centers, and full of complaints.  When in reality, this is not the case.  As I have previously mentioned, I have associated myself with African Americans and have tried to immerse myself in their cultures.  On the contrary to how the media portrays this race, I have never met an African American that wasn’t hard working, honest, and that didn’t take responsibility for their actions.  I now understand that the media like to take stories, twist them, and show people as being criminals. Some of the greatest men and women that I know are African American and have inspired me to be a better person.

Not only has the media altered my perception of African Americans, but it was also negatively skewed how I view females.  In the media, all I see are women that are complaining and are blaming their problems and their hardships on men.  When in reality, women are strong, take responsibility for their actions, and have no problem with dealing with hards. I view women in such a positive light.  Women are strong, honest, and overall, are some of the best people that I have ever met. I have many of times found myself being uplifted and supported by women and I am forever grateful for that.  Examples of what a person should be, I think of a woman.  In my life, women including my two sisters, my mom, my niece, and now my wife have had some of the most positive influences on my life.  Woman have this uncanny ability to get men, and literally anyone else, to open up about their feelings and their emotions and to help them to be okay and to be stronger.  

The media portrays women as creating chaos.  On the contrary, I have seen women create more peace than any other gender.  One example of this is my wife.  My wife is wonderful at de-fusing a situation that seems impossible to defuse. She constantly makes me feel relaxed and calm, even when nothing is going right.  

Conclusion:

Areas that I am interested in related to intercultural communication is that of more effectively communicating with women.  I also want to better understand how to go about communicating with cultures that I am unfamiliar with such as the Asian cultures and I don’t have much experience with them.  I also have the following questions: what causes women to communicate so differently than men?

I want to know more about how stereotypes came to be, how to better get rid of stereotypes, and if there is anything that we can do to get rid of any negative thoughts that linger from the history of our nation.