Utah Valley University
In this introduction I will include a brief synopsis of some of my personal interests, achievements, and goals. I am a senior working towards my bachelor’s degree in speech communication. I am co-president for the National Communication Association for students at UVU. I graduated as a cum laude student at Snow College with my Associate in Science. Theater, music, fishing, and sports are all passions of mine. I play the piano, ukulele, and guitar. I enjoy playing basketball, and I have been involved in several plays. Obtaining my master’s in speech pathology has been a priority of mine, and is one of the many goals that I am working towards.
An individual’s identity has an impact on how they will be viewed by others. There are several factors that make up an identity. These include; race, gender, and socioeconomic class. I am a white male, middle class. My identity will impact my personal facets in life, including; academically, socially, and professionally. I am associated the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I live in Utah, and the LDS religion is considered to be the dominant one. Since I am LDS in Utah I typically don’t have to think about that since my views are rarely challenged. I grew up in Utah, mainly living in Utah County. Based upon my experience living here and being integrated into other counties, Utah County has a unique culture associated with it. The LDS members tend to have a stricter outlook on the LDS religion, and how it should be lived. Again, this is based on my personal observations and experience of it. I grew up in Lehi, Utah. It is predominantly white. Because of this I had little exposure to those who were different from myself. When I experienced these moments of diversity it caused me to reflect on my personal cultural identity and reevaluate my views. This story will further elaborate on my last point. One of the teachings of the LDS church is to abstain from drinking coffee. My sophomore year was the first time that belief of mine was ever challenged. I was in class with some friends and I explained to them how tired I felt. One of them offered her coffee drink to me. I refused and told her that it was against my beliefs. When individuals are in the majority they don’t have to focus on their behaviors, but when their behaviors and choices are questioned they feel a sense of being uncomfortable. Feeling this uneasiness creates a desire to return to their sense of identity within the majority.
Ideas about Cultural Groups Different from Your Own:
Knowledge is power. I feel that it’s safe to say that most individuals will experience some sort of cultural change in their lives. Cultural changes constitute many kinds of changes that can be experienced. Some of these can include; moving to a new place, changing schools, and getting married. This kind of change brings a different culture associated with it. Integrating into a new culture involves adjusting to the norms, beliefs, and values of it. My purpose in stating what was said previously is to stress the importance of being culturally diverse. In this section I will discuss the valuable concepts I obtained from these two cultural identifications, gender and race. I will address several questions regarding women and the African American population.
Women’s Rights. (2016). Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 1p. 1. Women have historically been viewed as submissive to the male gender in their history. This cultural view has had a negative impact on them socially and academically to name just a few of the categories. I learned that in Hinduism, the reward of a virtuous woman is the rebirth of a man. It hasn’t been until recent years that they have been able to gain recognition in these regards. Women’s rights movement arose in Europe in the late 18th century. They have been viewed as less intelligent due to their inferiority compared to men and not being allowed the opportunity to express their views. Anthony, S. B. (2017). The status of woman, past, present, and future. Status of Woman, Past, Present, & Future, 901. Based upon their history in seeking to gain recognition women behaved submissively and were diligent in their duties in basic housekeeping. Women fit into my worldview as providers. The many women that were involved in my life were superb in providing me with the care they needed, including my mom, aunts, and cousins. My mom and dad raised me in a manner that men were viewed as the head of the household, with the woman as his equal in support. I always respected the way my father respected my mother. He would ask for her input concerning matters that were important to them, rather than just stating it was his way or the highway. From my understanding my parents were raised similarly to how they act towards each other. Their parents also believed in treating their spouses as equals.
African Americans have historically been given titles, such as Negro and colored. Their ancestral roots are related to African slaves who were brought to the United States. Hood, S. (2017). Continuing the Exploration of African Americans in the Early History of Evaluation in the United States: Contributions of Ambrose Caliver in the U.S. Office of Education. American Journal Of Evaluation, 38(2), 262-274. They, similarly to women have had an unfortunate past of tribulation in gaining recognition as contributing members of society. Families were often separated due to being sold to different people. Damewood, C. (n.d.). African American Family Values. Retrieved October 06, 2017, from http://family.lovetoknow.com/african-american-family-values because of this they would often select friends and loved ones as family members. This illustrates their value of family to them. Religion is an important factor of their cultural identity. Since I was not exposed to many African Americans I did not gain a worldview of them until I was older. Serving an LDS mission in St. Louis, Missouri had a large impact on my view of the African American culture. I often felt comfortable around them because of how they were very accommodating towards me and my beliefs. They were very willing to explore my opinions on the LDS culture and I found them to be in tune with their religious values.
Sources of Cultural Knowledge and Input:
My knowledge obtained of these two groups were obtained from my exposure to media, personal experiences, and from others. I grew up watching sports with my dad and there were many African Americans that played on some of my favorite teams. I viewed them as athletic individuals. I also watched several movies featuring African American actors, such as Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Eddie Murphy. They seemed to talk more and act more hyperactive, so I naturally assumed as a child that this was a trait that was associated with their identity. Rap music also seemed to be a natural aspect of their cultural identity. I met an African American individual who was a mutual friend that listened to country music. This came as a culture shock to me. Since I grew up watching them perform on sports teams I also believed that sports was their only interest. He informed that he enjoyed theater, and dance. This came as a surprise to me.
Women in the media I was exposed to as a child confirmed my validation of their role as caregivers and providers within the home. Due to the roles that the actresses often played I also viewed women as being more responsible than men. This generalization came largely in part from the movie, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, which is a movie I enjoyed as a child. In this film, Robin Williams struggles to maintain a job, and Sally Field is the sole provider for the family. I also viewed quite a few Disney movies, which featured several princesses. Disney viewed them as hopeless romantics, dependent on a prince to save them, and having difficult life circumstances. Due to these movies I often felt that women were hopeless romantics in need of rescuing.
In conclusion, there are three different areas of interest that I have in reference to intercultural communication. My first area is cultural norms. The question that relates to this area is, can norms from other cultures gradually be integrated into another culture if enough members of the society integrate that behavior, or is it still going to be classified as something out of the ordinary? Secondly, creating an awareness towards racism in our culture in an effective, yet critical way. We had a great discussion in class on this subject. It was stated that if we don’t speak about it the issue will never be resolved. It seems that this will always be an issue, but is this something that can ever be lessened? Thirdly, how can an individual’s identity tied to a specific place be altered when they integrate to a different culture. Individuals will experience many different types of cultural changes within their lives. I hope that in this assessment I was able to effectively explain my thoughts towards the subjects I presented.