As a first generation American, I began to understand the meaning of culture first hand at a very young age. Something as simple as noticing the way my parents packed my lunch versus the way my classmates and friends parents packed theirs demonstrated these differences. They usually had a sandwich, chips, applesauce or fruit while I had “smelly” food in containers to heat up at school. Using the word “normal” became a common way for me to explain the way my friends and fellow American classmates did things, dressed, lunch choices, etc. compared to what my family was accustomed to which I began to feel was “abnormal”. But as I grew older I began to understand that it is not normal versus abnormal that I was trying to understand but rather the difference in American culture versus that of my family’s culture. And also that there is no right or wrong culture but instead learning to find a blend of the two cultures that works for me.
I define culture as the way a person thinks, behaves, and acts based on their surroundings as well as how they are raised, what they were taught to believe, and their customs. My parents have taught me how to do many things from my Syrian culture such as cooking certain foods and speaking Arabic. Growing up in a place as diverse as Southern California has taught me to embrace my culture and be open to many other cultures. I am thankful to have been familiarized with such a society where I can appreciate my culture and be open to the diverse culture of others. Rather than living in a community that promotes a more conformist society.
Attached is an article demonstrating Understanding Culture – Teaching Tolerance explaining how to keep an open mind and not judging other cultures by comparing it to yours as the “norm”. But understanding that all cultures are different and to just see each as its unique culture.
Domek, Timothy J., and Emily Bermingham. “CS204 Unit 7 Cultures.”