Monday, February 12, 2018

Culture: Chocolate, Potatoes, Google, and Deaf People Who Drive

A culture refers to a group of people who may share similar beliefs, experiences, family histories, religious beliefs, rituals, food, art, and ways of expressing themselves. Are you unsure how other cultures may influence your daily life?
  • How many pair of jeans do you have? Levi Strauss, an immigrant from Germany, first made Levis in the United States
  • The White House was designed by James Hogan, who immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland
  • The first enclosed shopping mall, Southdale, was designed by Victor Gruen, who came here from Australia
  • YouTube was invented by an immigrant from Germany and one from Taiwan
  • Google was invented by an American with Soviet background
  • Apple: The father of Steve Jobs, Apple's founder, was a Syrian refugee
  • How about the huge variety of foods we enjoy that originate from another country: Tacos, egg rolls, pizza, gyros, yogurt, kebabs, Danish pastry? Without other cultures sharing, we wouldn't know of all these delicious foods.
With that in mind, and being aware that we are a country of immigrants, here are 10 bits of information about the culture of others:

  • 10. A person who is a member of an Indian tribe may prefer not to be called a "Native American," and ideally would prefer you call them by their tribe name, such as Cherokee or Ojibwe. Cherokee is the largest tribe (also called a Nation), out of 560 tribes remaining in the United States. Did you know that their languages are not written down, but must be passed down generation to generation?
  • 9. What do you know about Hmong culture? Did you know they helped the CIA during the Vietnam War, but once the war was over, the U.S. did not offer them sanctuary? Once the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam, Hmong people faced a genocide at the hands of the communists.

                                                                             Traditional Hmong dress

  • 6. Did you know one of the most reviled cultures to immigrate to the United States at the turn of the century was the Irish? And, did you know a number of them came because there was a famine in Ireland? It was called the Potato Famine, and it spread throughout Europe as ships brought this blight, or disease, with them. Potatoes were easily grown in the Irish soil, but this disease caused them to rot in the ground. The British government refused to help, even though they had stores of food they could have offered. As a result, a number of Irish people starved to death, and some made their way to the U.S. Once they arrived, they often took menial jobs that no one else wanted to do.
                                                                    That's about $4000 in today's dollars...

  • 5. Jewish people think of Jesus as a person, but not the savior (Messiah) of the world. They follow the first 5 books of the Bible as part of their teachings, and believe those were given to Moses. They also believe there will be an afterlife. Basic tenets of Judaism are here:  Is Jewish a race? Or 'just' a religion? Some interesting thoughts:
  • 4. Did you know there are pyramids in Mexico? That chocolate was first discovered there? Or that 70% of the world's types of plants can be found there?

  • 3. The first English immigrants came to America for several reasons: To be able to practice their religion without being punished for it; because their home country's government was corrupt; and because they saw the potential to make money in the new land. And, as with all people from all cultures who came here, they brought some of their English culture with them-specifically, their language.

And the last thing for you to think about:
  • 1. What is your culture, and what makes that so? How do you identify yourself? What are some traditions and beliefs you hold? What does a wedding or a holiday look like in your family? What do you think you might have in common with cultures other than your own?

A culture is simply a group of people with shared beliefs, customs, and ways of expressing themselves, from their language to their arts, to their clothing, and their way of behaving.
  • Different is simply... different. Not better, not worse, not something to exclude or treat with contempt or fear
  • All of us can identify with some sort of culture. Have you ever experienced being treated badly and wondered (or knew) if it was because of the culture you identify with? What was that like?
  • People leave their home countries and immigrate elsewhere for a second chance. They bring with them a cultural heritage to be shared. It doesn't have to be, and shouldn't be, a reason to make us separate.
Here's a look at the backgrounds of people living in the United States: The largest number of people are from a German background, and the fewest is Greek.