Events

I have learned that trying new foods and reaching out to other cultures has taught me more about myself and my own culture more than anything else. This semester I tried fish eggs and India food. I watched movies with themes based on racism and gender. I have learned that although we are not defined by what we do, they have a large influence on our identities. The food we eat, the movies we watch, the books we read, and the things we do show a lot about what we value and find important. It tells so much about how we grew up and the views we have. The beautiful part is that we are all so different and a little bit the same. The foods I tried all had very similar ingredients but the taste was so wonderful and unique. We are all made of the same ingredients but have different flavors. That is what makes life so beautiful. 

Service Learning

I believe that we each interact with different cultures more often than we realize. I also believe that it’s important to understand how to do so respectfully and make connections with those around us. I had a really good experience working with others and getting to know more about their stories. Here are a few things that my new friends have taught me: 

  • Work smarter, not harder
  • Connections make us capable of so much more than what we can do on our own 
  • Be open
  • Listening is impactful, teaching is essential, loving is the key
  • Being aware is the best place to start
  • Empathy opens doors and leads to opportunity 
  • It’s a small world after all 

What impacted me the most was looking into their eyes and feeling their stories. A human body is so complex. There is purpose and power to every part down to the basic cell. A human soul can also be complex. Each individual also has purpose and power down to their basic thoughts and feelings. We shouldn’t compare or hide our stories. We shouldn’t let things such as language, socioeconomic class or the color of our skin separate our stories. Instead, we should take time to thread our stories together. 

Wrap It Up

Wow, how did this semester go so quickly? As the course is wrapping up, here are a few things that I have learned that will help me interact with other cultures: 

  • Learning about others differences is more productive than anything else. 
  • Our differences should empower us, not divide us. 
  • Everyone has a story. 
  • Empathy bridges the gap of misunderstandings, prejudice, power struggles and hate (etc.)
  • Interpersonal harmony and intrapersonal harmony connects us to ourselves and others. 
  • Perspective can change everything. 
  • Privilege should be handled with care; everyone has privilege and everyone should take the time to understand their privilege and the responsibilities that go hand in hand with that privilege. 
  • Culture is valuable because it is apart of who we are, the decisions we make and the perspective we have. Co-cultures are valuable because they had depth to who we are, the decisions we make and the perspectives we have. 
  • Awareness is the first step to change. 
  • Respect may look different in varying cultures but it is universally necessary. 
  • Anyone can be a refugee. 
  • Global communication down to local and personal communication are more important now more than ever before. 

I’m really glad I took this course. I learned so much from my peers and those I interacted with through various experiences. This is such an important topic: intercultural communication. Now it’s time to get out into the world and continue to apply it! 

Media Influences

The media definitely have a large influence on our culture. From popular diet trends to presidential votes. Listening to Scott on Wednesday share his experiences in Africa were super interesting because so much of what happened to him and his team was influenced by the media. 

I feel the media can also be a good thing. Most of the examples I can think of however seem a bit more negative. Definitely something to keep in mind as we consider how the media influences our culture.  

Co-culturals

I tried to talk to my husband about being in an interracial relationship -I’ve never really thought to talk to him about it before. He didn’t really say much other than he doesn’t know what to compare it to. I did not grow up with any Asian culture so there were never any cultural misunderstandings but we are often asked if we are together. I don’t know if that has anything to do with race so I realized I may not be the best candidate for this. 

I spoke with another couple and they weren’t too thrilled about sharing their names so I will call them Jeff and Rachel. They discussed issues with privilege, gender, social class and race. Rachel wasn’t really aware of any racial differences before she was married but since, she has noticed how people will treat them. 

There are many different co-cultures that are important to recognize and be aware of. That was something that I thought a lot about during my classmates presentation on Monday about co-cultures. It’s important to be educated and aware and respectful.  

Gender Equality -a few thoughts

I had the opportunity to watch a TED Talk by Michael Kimmel entitled “Why Gender Equality is Good For Everyone -Men Included”. He begins by sharing where this principle was really introduced in his life. He was in a study group with 11 women where they would read articles and books etc. and then discuss issues in regards to gender equality. During one of the study sessions he recalls listening to two women converse. A white woman said to a black women, “when I look in the mirror I see a woman.” (Kimmel 2015). The black woman said something along the lines of, “and that’s the problem because when I look in the mirror I see a black woman.” (Kimmel 2015). She went on to say, “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” (Kimmel 2015). What a powerful realization. Kimmel acknowledges that he is an average white male and that it is important to make gender visible, or in other words, be aware of the inequalities and start taking measures to reach equality.

Kimmel spoke about this press towards equality and that one of the steps necessary is addressing men entitlement. He talked about an experience he had on a talk show entitled “A Black Woman Took My Job” and discussed his concern about where the creators of the show got the name of the show and posed questions about where they thought it was their job and why those men felt entitled to those jobs.

At this point in the presentation, Kimmel claims that countries and companies that are more gender equal are also happier and healthier than other places that are less gender equal. This definitely grabbed my attention. He also mentioned that data has shown that men who share the housework and childcare responsibilities are happier and healthier along with their children. Who wouldn’t want that? He concludes that gender equality is in the best interest for everyone and I couldn’t agree more.

I decided to study the topic further though. I found an article entitled, “Division of Housework and His and Her View of Housework Fairness: A Typology of Swedish Couples”. In the research, there were three main concepts focused on: housework equality, perceptions of fairness and couple’s agreement. Basically meaning, did he feel that the responsibilities were fair? Did she feel they were fair? Were they fair? What they found was that the couples that were studied fell into six groups. This included couples that felt that there was equal sharing and that their roles were fair, couples that felt that the situation was semi-equal, couples that were non-traditional and he did more of the housework etc., couples that were more traditional, and couples that were semi-traditional were she viewed the work as fair and he felt it as unfair to give an idea of what the groups looked like. The research found that young Swedish adults expected equal household work. The article did mention that this did typically change once kids were involved and that all bets were off basically. There were also benefits from Sweden’s expansive gender policies in this study which is why they chose this demographic I would guess. In conclusion, they found that a feeling of mutual fairness and having men’s involvement were essential for obtaining gender equality at its finest. Men need to be involved in women equality, it’s not just a female issue.

I also read an article called, “Gender Equality and Women’s Participation in Transport Cycling” because I thought it sounded really interesting. This might be a stretch so bare with me. These researchers looked into gender equality and the composite indicators of gender equality index including it’s six core domains which are: work, money, knowledge, time, power, health, violence and how it affected women’s participation in transport cycling. They found that time, power and violence did influence more than any other domains on whether or not a woman rode a bike to work etc. They concluded that gender gaps did in fact result in less women commuting by bike.

So what does all of this mean? I would say that if we want solutions to a lot of the crisis we face today world wide, if we want happier and healthier societies and if we want to truly empower women across the globe, we need men to be involved and educated on the matter. The issue of gender equality does not just apply to the workplace either. It’s a policy and a right that should be in education, the home, the workplace, entertainment, the arts and even transportation. We can all agree that men and women are different right? This should not stop us from working together though. Think of all the possibilities that are available if men and women support each other and are given equal grounds. This research proves that we all would be happier and healthier if this was a fundamental in our world and human family. Kimmel quoted saying, “feminism will make it possible for the first time for men to be free” (Kimmel 2015). Humanity progressed when they allowed themselves to step out of the box containing them in every revolution know to mankind. Such movements have begun but as women fight for equality, we need men who are willing to stand up and benefit from joining hands too.

Bibliography

Kimmel, M. (2015, May). Michael Kimmel Why Gender Equality is Good for Everyone Men Included [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_kimmel_why_gender_equality_is_good_for_everyone_men_included

Prati, G. (n.d). Gender equality and women’s participation in transport cycling. Journal Of Transport Geography, 66369-375

Ruppanner, L., Bernhardt, E., & Brandén, M. (2017). Division of housework and his and her view of housework fairness: A typology of Swedish couples. Demographic Research, 36501-524. doi:10.4054/DemRes.2017.36.16

Privilege and Empathy

Privilege is experienced in all cultures. I’ve learned the past few weeks that most people have more privilege than they realize. My perspective has changed as we have discussed privilege and it’s something that has been more on my mind lately. 

I am more aware of the privileges that I have, especially this past week. Work and school have been overwhelming lately but the thought that I am privileged to be able to earn an education made the last little bit more meaningful. My parents worked hard in school and taught me the value of doing so and have helped me along the way. They taught me how to manage my time with work to pay for school and how to focus on my education. Remembering how important my education is to me and the privileges that I have really helped put this past week gain perspective. 

Empathy has been on my mind as well since we have learned about how it relates to intercultural communication. I learned a lot from my peers in class the other day and what I have been thinking about since then is the importance of thinking of others. 

I have found that thinking of others and being conscious of what they are going through and exploring the privileges that we each have are ways to change perspective and communicate with more intention. 

Be aware of your privileges and emphasize empathy in the decisions you make this week. Explore your perspective. 

 

What I’ve been learning

There have been many things that I have been learning from the readings and activities of this course but right now I just want to focus on one specific connection that I made during the activity the last time our class met. 

We were split into groups and each assigned a role with instructions to list two things that we would do in response to a major earthquake in Utah. As a class we discussed what we were learning and what stood out. My role was to represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

I felt that the activity itself was very straightforward and simple. There wasn’t really anything new I guess. Then the question was asked, “what levels of privilege did you see in this situation?” 

The privilege that a person has affects the influence they have. Seems obvious right? I could also argue that the influence that someone has can affect the privilege given. Different privileges can resonate with unique influences. A friend of mine growing up married a quadriplegic man. He didn’t have certain privileges that I don’t typically think of throughout the day. He had been paralyzed in a car accident that had been the result of alcohol. I met him at a fireside where he spoke about the importance of the decisions we make. He had much more influence on me than if any other person had simply walked in and told me to make good decisions. 

Privilege is to responsibility as yin is to yang. It’s the peanut butter to the jelly. 

The activity taught me that my role during the moment of crisis gave me responsibility and influence to help others. The world has enough people who neglect their privileges, abuse their influence and deny their responsibilities wouldn’t you agree? I’d like to see the day where privilege is used for good and that we celebrate the different privileges we have rather than crying about those that we don’t have. 

Cheers to that day

Privilege

The other day in class we did an activity where we went to different “stations” and silently answered a variety of questions. For each question that we could answer, we picked out a bead and put it on a key chain. Once we had gone to each “station” and answered the questions, we discussed what we learned. 

Often times, we focus on what we don’t have or what we don’t have enough of. I don’t have a good job, a new car, the latest phone, enough sleep and on and on and on. Sound familiar? Well this tends to seep into our privileges as well. We think about the privileges that we don’t have. But. Do we think about the privileges that we do have? 

As we discussed about the activity in class I realized that there are many privileges that I do have. As I looked at the key chain, I saw the beads that I do have and it wasn’t so much about the things that I feel that I lack. This has been really eye opening for me. Here are some of the effects that privileges has impacted my life: 

  • I don’t need to arrange to have an interpreter in class with me. 
  • I don’t think about where the curb cuts are. 
  • I rarely walk alone outside in the dark. If I do, I am quick and I am not on my phone but it is in my hand just in case. I have my keys out so that I can get in my car super quick and lock the doors. 
  • Both of my parents were college graduates and were helpful in getting me started and ready. They helped me register for classes and find a place to live. They taught me how to save money so I could pay for school. 
  • I get work off for the religious holidays that I celebrate. 
  • I do not see my ethnicity represented in ads, models, etc. 
  • I would be able to be at the bed side of my partner at the hospital if the situation arose. 
  • I am close to a university, a hospital, grocery stores, gas stations, a library, etc. 

These are just a few examples. How has privilege affected your life? Are you aware of your own privileges? Are you aware of the privileges of others? Or maybe even the lack of? Take some time to ponder this today and be more self aware. It really helps, I promise. 

Cultural Self-Assessment

How well do you know yourself? How well do you communicate yourself to others? What do people think of you when they first meet you? There are many indicators about your identity that people see without you even saying anything. It’s important to understand ourselves to gain greater perspective of those around us. In this post I will share some information about my own culture and try to get a better understanding myself of the cultures that make me who I am as a person.

It’s not very often that we think of our own culture. What I believe happens is that we get so comfortable and used to our own cultures that we don’t really think about it that often.  I know I don’t. Not until someone brings it up. What usually happens is that someone will ask me where I am from, and I will say that I am from Sandy, Utah. Now, this typically is a normal conversation that might lead into other topics like “what are you studying?” or “what do you do for work?” but instead, they continue to ask, “but I mean, where are you from??” I will try to clarify and explain that I was born in Salt Lake City which is where everyone awkwardly laughs and they say something like, “where is your family from?” or “where are your ancestors from?” I am from Sandy, Utah but my mother was born in South Korea. She was adopted at a young age and forgot the language. I grew up in Utah without any Korean culture influence. I don’t look white and I don’t know how to be Korean so it’s always been this weird dynamic that I mostly try to ignore. Until someone asks me where I’m from. I guess it’s easier for me to focus on what I do know. I am a middle class, female Utahn. I grew up in the township of White City technically which is basically Sandy City with its own water supply. I really enjoyed it. Our backyard was the gully, we rode bikes in the cul de sac, knew everyone in the neighborhood because we all saw each other at church and the weeknights at different activities. There honestly weren’t a large variety of different cultures but we were taught to embrace diversity and love others differences and for who they were as people so I guess it was hard to always recognize those cultural differences.

Growing up, my parents always had a budget. Mom would pull out her paper, pen and calculator at the grocery store and if it wasn’t on the list, it wasn’t going to happen. My friends had gone through two or three cell phones by the time that I got my first one. I quit soccer when I got into middle school because I outgrew the city recreation teams and couldn’t afford the advanced club teams. Looking back though, I always had a balanced and full dinner, clothes for a new school year and just enough for fun outings with family and friends. There were kids at school that had everything they wanted and more. They were the popular kids. There were kids at school that really had it hard at home and sometimes skipped school lunch. They were the tough kids. I was just the grateful kid, always in between. If you wanted to compare values between the different socioeconomic classes spread out through the kids my age though, you would need to look at each individual. It’s important to give freely and offer help even to a complete stranger if needed. A smile could go a long way. God is in charge. Those were a few beliefs that I found in many of my peers whether they were the upper class students with their designer clothes or my peers that weren’t in financial stability. Obviously each individual varied in their passion for those beliefs. At a young age I realized that everyone should have an equal chance but they don’t. The wealthier kids had the money to go to the fancy recreation centers to swim and play. The working class kids swam at the neighborhood pool outside as long as the parents were willing to run it. Technically we all had the chance to swim but it wasn’t necessarily equal. Mom and dad just said that we should be glad that we could swim at all because the current is quick in this life.

I would say that my parents were the greatest source of my information. We ate dinner together every single night and prayed as a family. Mom and dad would ask about our day and how our friends were. As a teenager, there were a few rough patches were this was really inconvenient and frustrating but I am very glad they took their time with me. I trusted them and their opinions so when they spoke about politics, the world news, etc. I listened to them whether they knew I was listening or not. I also had strong relationships in the church congregation that I attended. It felt like a family to me so I looked up to church leaders and adults, especially the ones that my parents talked to the most. At church, not everyone was the same financially. Some of that could would help out those that couldn’t. Others would give what they could and learned to take what they really needed too. One time, things got really hard for us and people stepped in to help. Mom and dad turned around and did the same for someone else worse off. Of course, media and school influenced me in different ways as well but this was mainly how I learned to be empathetic in understanding socioeconomic differences.

There are so many influences and factors that make me who I am today; too many to count probably. How I was raised, the experiences that I had growing up to this point in life and from observing others have all contributed to name a few. The best part is that there is still plenty to learn! I hope to be able to learn how to ask the right questions to help me be more self aware of my own culture and those around me. I would like to learn how to use media more effectively to communicate inter-culturally. I would also like to learn  how to communicate within my own culture if that makes sense.