Growing up in an area with a large Mexican community I never really understood how much my culture means to me. I grew up with the stories my dad and grandfather would tell me about my ancestors. My people were the raiders from the hills of Mexico City and that we were a family of warriors. I never held much weight to the warrior part of my grandfather’s stories but I did know that my great grandfather was a fighter. He left Mexico and rode the train up to Denton Texas and sold tamales on the square his entire life. He fought to give my grandfather a better life here. I don’t talk about my dad’s side of the family much, in this day in age being seen as white has more advantages than being seen as Mexican. This thought changed as I came to
Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by people of the same ethnic race and culture. I was raised in the small city of Temple City where a lot of older generation Asian immigrants resided, which resulted in my schools being mostly dominated by the first generation Asian American population. Because of this similarity of race and culture with my peers, it was fairly easy for me to bond with other students as well as feel comfortable within the realms of my schools and neighborhood. I had little trouble learning and participating in classrooms and also was able to be very involved in leadership positions in extracurricular programs at my high school which was a good learning experience for me.
Through learning, families values, community relationships, and the willingness to achieve. Culture can be easily seen - the behavior of people – is the smallest part of culture. The greatest part, internal culture is inside people’s heads. It is our way of thinking and perceiving. Most importantly, it includes the values and beliefs unconsciously learned while growing up. The collision of two cultures as people come together causes us to become more aware of the differences and similarities between cultural values. By understanding the internal culture and significant values, we have a system to analyze and interpret behavior. People from around the globe bring their cultures here to American and institute them into society. Although, the United States is a culturally diverse society, there is a dominant culture and others give up their culture (depending upon where they may live) so they can fit into mainstream society. My family as other African American families changed their ways to fit into society hoping to become socially accepted because of not being members of the dominant culture. As with most societal trends, family values in all cultures are in constant motion; the list of American family values is always evolving. African
Growing up as a young African American girl in Philadelphia was not always easy, however, having a strong family structure, old fashion southern culture, and beliefs have molded me into the strong women that I am today. Now that I am a mother, following my family’s culture and beliefs are not always the easiest thing to do. Times has changed and I feel like I am forced to conform to the everyday social norms of America, which makes me feel impuissance. Yes, growing up was not easy, but my family and youth kept me in the dark when it came to how society treats individuals of darker complexion, what to expect once I left the confines of my family and neighborhood, and how to befriend or interact with individuals of other racial groups. All of the things that I listed were things that I had to learn through trial and error, which makes life a little harder than it already is.
I am the product of a military upbringing, which allowed me to live in different parts of the world. This allowed me and my family to explore what other cultures are like as well as realize that Americans and our way of life is not the only culture that exists on the entire planet. I realized that the negative perceptions that other Americans had of people of German and Asian descent was directly related to lack of exposure and an unwillingness to educate ourselves about other cultures.
During my multicultural class my instructor asked us to explain what culture we were a part of. I thought long and hard on the topic, and identified that I was a Caucasian female, with English and German heritage. Needless to say, I was way off base. She wasn’t asking me to share my heritage, she wanted to know about my culture; what shared values did I have with people of my culture, what was my perception of the world in comparison to others of my culture. How did my culture change over time and through generations? These were the types of questions she wanted answers. I had a lot to learn.
My father is from Yugoslavia. I have very early memories in childhood of knowing that I was a first generation American. I am Croatian and this culture is huge on family. I remember being constantly at family functions that seldom involved people outside of the family and the neighbors (on the block we lived). I actually believed that all of my neighbors were family members and all were Croatian. I didn’t realize that the neighbors or other people had different nationality and/or backgrounds until I was a pre-teen. My neighborhood (the block) was diverse for the Southside of Chicago in 1960’s and 1970’s. I was exposed to Lebanese, Jordanian, Hispanic, German, Irish, and Korean culture from the time I was a small child but I didn’t know that the culture was different from being Croatian; I felt that it was the norm. I didn’t realize the difference until I entered high school.
How do you feel race, ethnicity, social class, and religion has shaped you and your family lives? Whether we take notice or not these aspects of our childhood and today’s life contributed to our viewpoint about different parts of the world. Also, the way your family interacted with you and others is determined in a way by these key points. My race, social class, ethnicity, and religion have helped mold me into the young adult I am, beliefs, and values I hold today because my understanding of who I am provides me with the ability to understand others backgrounds.
Going up as a young African American girl in Philadelphia was not always easy, however having a strong family structure, old fashion southern culture, and beliefs has molded me into the strong women that I am today. Now that I am a mother, following my family’s culture and beliefs are not always the easiest thing to do, because time has changed and I feel like I am forced to conform to the everyday social norms of America. Yes, growing up was not easy, but my family and youth kept me in the dark when it came to how society treats individuals of darker complexion, what to expect once I left the confines of my family and neighborhood, and how to befriend or interact with individuals of other racial groups. All of the things that I listed were things that I had to learn throw trial and error, which makes life a little harder than it already is.
Race is one of the most common ways people identify themselves. There are different advantages and disadvantages associated with different races. People are often judged on how they look and act. Some people benefit more than others just based on race. Others can be put at a disadvantage because of their sexual orientation. The family you are born into can have a major impact on how you are seen and what type of privileges and struggles you will face in life. Looking at my life specifically, I will reflect on how the culture, including race and gender, from the past and present can influence people’s lives in general and in education.
As I entered the home to conduct my interview, I was immediately greeted by very soft spoken female. She’s a 42 yrs old African American female, who’s married with two children. She migrated from the south 30 years ago along with her mother and sister. She’s currently working for the Department of Education as a substitute teacher with aspiration of becoming a child psychologist. The subject was eager to be interviewed. She thought it would be great to sure her views and perspectives of her culture. Culture is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as , the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action. To me culture is rich and fascinating filled with family, traditions, memories, and many dialects.
Race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexual orientation, ability, and gender have all impacted my life in ways beyond my total comprehension. However, I can begin to identify some of the notable interactions and effects and discuss the ways in which they might present themselves in my teaching practices. I am a White, European American, Christian, and heterosexual female without a medically ascribed disability. I can say that ultimately (and unfortunately) my cultural and physical identity is considered normative within the United States and has placed me on a path of privilege and power. Throughout my life, though, I have been fortunate to encounter other cultural groups in very meaningful ways. My international, religious, and family experiences have shaped my worldview most notably.
Sometimes I question if culture changes who you are. I try to pull up memories of the decisions I make, are they affected by my culture? Here is the response I came up with: Culture sporadically informs how an individual sees the world because, even being from completely different places and raised in contrasting households, people could still have similar views based on what they think of others and not how you are constructed with your culture, however, sometimes affects your perspective in certain occasions in circumstances where you wouldn’t face a community the same if you weren’t from the culture you were built in. This idea is supported by the personal essay by Bharati Mukherjee, Two Ways to Belong in America, the essay by Robert Lake, An Indians Father Plea, and also personal experience.
Culture surrounds us every day, it is in our arts, ourselves, our community and our careers. Everybody has multiple cultural elements that help create the personality of that person along with helping us identify similarities within a community that we individually reach out to be a part of. Casey, my interviewee, is a junior at Washington University of Saint Louis undergoing a Neuroscience major along with minors in music, linguistics, and French. She identifies herself as a Democratic, Christian, Caucasian. These are the three most stereotypical culture identities that most people are aware of and refer to themselves as. She also considers herself a multilingual, vegan, and bisexual. These identities too, are looked upon by other people in which they would like to express and follow in their everyday practices.
The environment, family, and community I have grown up in has shaped me as a person. So far, I grew up in the same house all seventeen years of my life. My personality has grown and molded over the years of middle school and high school based off the lessons I have learned and the things I’ve been through.