Service Learning

The final thing I wish to reflect on from this past semester has been my time doing service learning with the refugee’s kids at the organization of ‘Because He First Loved Us’.The service learning hours that I put in this semester really helped me associate with people from other cultures this semester. As someone who is not super open to interacting with anyone that I don’t really know, it started off as quite the challenge to try and open up to the kids. Two of the activities that I did with this organization are the ones that really stood out to me and where I learned specific lessons.

I still remember the first activity that I did with them. We were told to get into groups with the kids and do different activities. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure how many of the kids actually spoke English and if I was going to be able to communicate with them efficiently. I quickly learned that that was a stupid stereotype and assumption of mine.

The activity went on as I continued to stand by quietly and observe the kids from afar but then I saw others from the class really interacting with the kids and having a great time. Plus as time went on, I saw that they were normal everyday kids who liked to have fun, jump, yell and scream. It was at that point, that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and jump in and really interact with some of the kids. So I went up to one of the little kids who was sitting off to the side like I was and I asked her if she had ever seen Snapchat. She told me no and then I showed her the different face filters on Snapchat from my phone and she really liked it. At this point, other kids came over and wanted to look at the Snapchat filters as well and I ended up interacting with many of the kids and learning their names and I found out that they had never even been to Africa and most of them had lived their whole lives in West Valley or in Salt Lake County. That was also something that I didn’t expect as I automatically assumed that many of them were born and lived a grand majority of their lives in Africa.

Overall, this activity taught me that getting out of my comfort zone and interacting with people that I don’t know so well really can take me a long way and give me a better experience.

Another interesting activity that I did for my service learning hours was helping with a Podcast that other members of the class were doing to help promote and talk about the organization ‘Because He First Loved Us’. We were each assigned two kids to stay with us while the other groups of kids would talk on the Podcast about Because He First Loved Us and their own lives. I felt that during this activity, I got to know some of the kids even more because while the students who were putting on the Podcast were talking to some of the other kids, I got the opportunity to have two kids assigned to me and we got the time to talk about anything and get to know one another.

I found out many things such as they loved basketball, soccer and football and that these two kids were really into different professional American athletes and that they loved rap music.
I remember when first arriving at the activity that I quickly noticed that these kids came from Muslim families and we were different. However, as the night went on and I talked to them more, it made me forget more and more that we even had any differences between us at all and so I feel that these service learning hours really showed us that even though we come from different backgrounds, that we are all still humans and that interacting with each other really breaks down social walls and helps us overcome the first assumptions that we make about other people.

Intercultural Activities This Semester

During this past semester, we were asked to do 4 to 5 different activities that had intercultural themes with them. The activities I chose and was able to do was eating at a Thai food and Indian food restaurant, talking to an ESL student from Spain, going to a UVU intercultural event and I watched “Million Dollar Arm” which focuses on intercultural themes throughout this movie. I will quickly go over a couple of things that really stood out to me from doing these different activities.

First, when eating at the two different restaurant, it was actually really cool. Both of the restaurants were located in downtown Provo and tried as hard as they could to create a setting at each place that made it seem like you were literally eating in either Thailand or India. I also found something that I really loved to eat at both places. At Thai Village, their breaded sweet and sour chicken was great and at Bombay House, the chicken curry was amazing! After eating at these two places, it made me really excited to try other foods from different countries hopefully in the near future.

Finally, after talking to the ESL student from Spain, it opened my eyes to how people who grew outside of America viewed Americans. It was easy to communicate with him because I speak Spanish as well and he knows English as well. The thing that really stuck out to me was when he talked about what he had first heard about Americans. He heard that Americans were pretty selfish but at the same time that the United States was about as close of a perfect place that anyone was going to get. He said that when he arrived though, he found out that Americans weren’t selfish for the most part and that American had problems just like any other place in the world.

For me it was an eye opener to go throughout the semester doing these activities as it showed me how to view the world from someone else’s eyes.

What I Learned From This Past Semester

This past semester I feel that I’ve learned a lot. For me, I love learning about other cultures and seeing other people’s points of view and I feel that’s what I got this semester through this class. One thing that I learned was how much learning about other’s cultures can really benefit you when it comes to interacting with them. You have to be open to other’s ideas and realize that not everyone sees life the way you see it. Something that really impacted me this semester as well was when we talked about privelage that certain groups of people have an privilege that others do not have. This really helped me see that some people aren’t as lucky when it comes to that and that they don’t fit the social norm of the area where they live but at the same time we need to remember that while we may fit the social norm that we wouldn’t fit the social norm in some other area of the world.

Finally, one of the biggest things to impact me and that I learned was when we watched the video of those African American kids who chose the white doll over the black doll because they were seeing through their culture that for some reason the while doll was better. This made me extremely uncomfortable to see but it also made me realize that we need to let biases go and not discriminate and finally that we need to teach children that being different is not a bad thing and that they can be accepted for who they are and what they believe in and that they do not need to conform to the social norm.

How Popular Media Influences Our Culture and the Guest Speaker

I feel that media has incredible influence in our culture. For one, the media is everywhere and now with us being able to pull it up in a second on our smart phones makes it even easier to access and have the media influence us. So obviously the media influences us through our phones, music, books, TVs, radios, billboards, computers, etc. The media can influence simple things like what we decide that we want to eat and what brand of clothing we decide to buy. However, it can also influence bigger things like what we see about local or international events. It can also help us form an opinion about a different group of people or form an opinion about any other organization. The sad part about this is that the media may skew our views of the group or organization as they may not include all of the information about something or they can not deliver the whole truth. Other media may portray a certain event or group of people in a negative way. This can cause anyone to see a group of people that are different from them in a completely different way then how they actually are.

With the speaker that came on Monday, I thought it was interesting to hear from him how the media outlet was showing only negative things about their work at first to televise drama and it really caused them to get negative feedback at first. The other thing that was interesting to see was how they really made it important to work with and respect the locals of the villages they were mining near.

NPR/TED talk assignment

As I discussed in class, I listened to a TED Talk for this assignment that was by actress Thandie Newton. The talk was titled Embracing Otherness and was given back in 2011. Thandie Newton is a well-known actress who has played roles in movies and shows such as The Pursuit of Happyness, 2012, E.R. and Mission Impossible II but she wasn’t always quite as famous as she is today.
Newton explains in the talk that she grew up in the United Kingdom near London and was born to an English father and with a Zimbabwean mother while growing up in an all white school and community. If that didn’t make her different enough, she went to a Catholic school that was run by nuns and she had atheist beliefs. She explains that due to these differences that she had from everyone else around her, she was aware starting at the age of 5 that she didn’t fit in and that she was an anomaly. She goes on to say that later in life, she got into dancing and acting and that’s what she explains saved her life.
The most surprising part of Newton’s talk was how young she was when she began to notice and feel that she didn’t fit in. I was thinking that this was crazy at first but I realized that if something is different, even children begin to notice it. For example, my 4-year-old niece, who’s a different race from me, will ask me in the most innocent way possible why my skin is not the same color as hers. So how do we help people understand that to be different, whether that is because of religion, race or other reasons, is okay?
Personally, I feel that we need to be learning more and more about people who are different from us. I feel that we can do this through interacting with them more and really getting to know people. Another very key thing that we can do is set the example for our kids on how we treat and interact with people from other cultures. If we do this then children will know how they should grow up and how they should treat everyone else. This concept is important because even though we think of other people from other cultures as being different, really no two people are alike and so it’s important to know how to live and accept differences.
To help this issue I thought it would be helpful to teach people that differences are okay and that they should include people who are different from them by helping them fit in. One article suggests that we should expose children to diversity and show them that it’s okay to be different and for other people to be different from you. The article begins talking about how America is continually changing when it comes to the number of different cultures that are present. For that reason, the article says it is an ever-growing need to teach our children to be more accepting of others. This same article suggests that this can be done through what teachers will teach children about this subject. If we begin teaching children at a young age that hatred, leaving others out, discrimination and others things like that are not okay then they will continue to be more accepting of others that are having trouble fitting in (Hoss & Wylie, 2017).
The second article that I found about this topic also discussed the growing diversity that there is in America. However, it specifically addresses that this diversity is in the work force in America and the author shows that diverse groups will make up half of the United States’ work force. This article proposes that if we want to create a good and welcoming work place that we need to overcome culture and social differences. One way of doing this is by really getting to know co-workers that we work with everyday on a personal level. If we as fellow workers or as managers can do this then we will be able to get different points of view on the world and we will be able to understand why people think the way they do (Frabotta, 2001).
If we can do the things and suggestions that are outlined in these articles, it will help people who are having trouble fitting in because they are different feel that they can interact with people around them without being treated or looked at differently just because they see the world and have been raised in the world a different way.

Being an interracial couple and what I learned from the co-cultural group

First, being married to someone who is not the same race as me I feel makes me feel the same way about this as other interracial couples. However, to get more perspective from a different couple, I talked to my friend Will and his wife Jessica. Will is Native American while his wife is Hispanic. They explained to me that they are a lot more aware of their relationship but only when they step outside of their home. Just like we discussed in class, they said that when they’re home they’re just Will and Jessica but once they step outside with each other they become a lot more aware that they’re different races. My buddy Will even mentioned that people will ask his wife all the time where she’s from when she was actually born and raised in Provo and her parents came from Mexico before she was born.

During the presentation from the co-cultural group that came to class, it was interesting to hear them tell their stories. One of the most interesting things was when they said that they used to be homophobic of themselves and they were scared of how and what they were feeling as well. It really showed me that we need to be more acceptable of people that we come across but especially with those who are outsiders because they may be different but they’re still human.

Ideas of Privilege

I feel that my ideas of privilege have changed quite a bit. I just never really thought that I had that much privilege because I was normally surrounded by lots of people that had pretty much the same exact privilege that I did and I honestly didn’t think that much about others outside of my group that don’t have as much privilege. The more we talked about privilege the more it made me feel bad for being able to have so much privilege throughout my life while other people really haven’t had any.

From the activity we did on Monday, it was interesting to see how the richer and more powerful people can really use their privilege to benefit them the most. I started in the middle class and then ended up not earning enough points and so I was moved to the bottom class. Then while I was in the bottom class it sucked to see everyone in the highest class decide the new rules and how it did nothing to help me at all. It also was a bit discouraging when the new rules were created while being in the bottom class because it made me feel even more that I was going to be forever trapped in the lowest class.

What I Learned from this Week’s Activity and Reading

I was only able to make it to class on Wednesday so I was only there for the activities that we did with the group that was presenting and how we discussed how we can combat racism. I thought it was interesting to hear about how other members of my group and of the class have combated and dealt with racism in the past. Over the whole class it’s been interesting to see how racism has gotten better but also how it is still very much present. Many of my classmates brought up good points to deal with this because whenever racist comments are brought up, it’s awkward or hard to deal with. I thought that the point my group brought up about asking the person who makes a racist comment to explain why they feel this way and then that will help them see how rude or dumb their comment was.

With what I learned from the reading, the most recent chapter I read was Chapter 9. In that chapter, I thought that the standpoint theory was the most interesting part. I agreed with the theory when it said that everyone has different perspectives or standpoints on life depending on what their past experiences have been with either their race, gender, religion or class. Reading about this theory just helped to remind me that while I see things in the world one way that someone else can interpret the event a completely different way. It’s also interesting to read as a male about perspectives that feminist have since this is a view point that I’m not super familiar with.

How Privilege Affects Me

Before this class I never really thought myself to be this privileged. I guess that’s probably because I never really had to think about it. I think that one of the most privileged type of people in this world are educated white males in the western world and I fit all of those types. For that reason, I am very privileged. I’m also more privileged because I live in an area of the world where my religion is the dominant religion in the area and so no one thinks I’m strange or really treats me different for this reason. I’m also in an area where marriage between man and woman is a lot more accepted and I also fit into that group and no one even stares at me and my wife or thinks that we’re strange for being married in our twenties. Being so privileged in this life makes me feel a little guilty for those who aren’t quite as privileged as me. My wife isn’t as privileged I feel and can have a lot more stereotypes working against her in her life. It’s sad to think that just because she is an African American woman that people might make judgements of her and she has to be a lot more aware of her race than I do. My wife also has a really bad knee and has to have lots of surgeries with it. Because of this, she sometimes can’t walk very far and so she has to think about and be aware of where she parks and what spot is going to be the easiest for her to access places. She also has to be careful when she walks down steep hills and these are things I never have had to think about till I married her. It was also interesting to hear Patience speak of racial issues in South Africa and how unprivileged some of the people in that country are.

Cultural Self-Assessment

Culture is very important and it really does affect us in so many ways. It can greatly influence what we think and how we feel about ourselves. It can also affect how we feel about people who are either in the same culture as us and it defiantly makes us assume or think of things about people who are outside of our culture. Everyone has a very specific culture that they have had to live with and here is mine.
The cultural identity I grew up with was defiantly the dominant culture identity that I was surrounded by so I never felt like I was on the outside. I identify as white middle class male. English is also my first language and I was raised in a very religious home and more specifically I identify as Christian and part of the Latter-day Saint religion.
I’ve also lived the majority of my life along the northern part of the Wasatch Front of the state of Utah in the United States. The first 19 years of my life I lived in a small suburb dairy farm town outside of Ogden called Farr West. So most of the places I went to were in a small town with lots of cows and farmland but a more populated area was only a five minute drive away. In this area that I grew up in there was not a lot of cultural diversity. The grand majority of the people there were like me where they were Caucasian and had some connection or were very active in the LDS faith. The only other group of people that came in contact with pretty regularly were Hispanic and some identified as Catholic. Even then, a lot of the Hispanic people in the area identify as LDS so there still weren’t a lot of differences or diversity. It was very rare when someone would move into the area and they weren’t either Caucasian or LDS. Something else that was common in my hometown was how everyone was usually a relative of someone else in the area. That’s another outside group that would move to the town and it was strange to see someone move to Farr West who wasn’t related to someone else who had already been living there or who had lived in the town at some point. However, once someone new moved in the community is very family friendly and very welcoming. Most people know their neighbors very well.
Since I am a white male I will now look at the other gender and the other races. Especially since I grew up with two brothers and only one sister and with my one sister being much younger than me, I certainly learned more and was around my own gender growing up. However, as I got older and interacted with more females and as my sister has gotten older and since I have been married I’ve been able to interact more with the other gender. I learned that women think a very differently from men and they take on daily tasks in a different way. However, I believe that women are just as smart as men and in a lot of cases they’re smarter than males. Depending on the women, she can have similar values as men but I think that woman’s values and behavior is guided more by emotions then men’s values and behaviors are.
Now as I stated before, I didn’t associate much with other races other than Hispanic all growing up but since I moved away from my parents’ home I have interacted with other races. In fact, I’m now married to a woman who is African American. She has fifteen siblings and thirteen of them are adopted. Most of her siblings are African American and were adopted from various parts of the United States while she has one sister that was adopted from Mexico.
The Hispanic culture has defiantly had an affect on my life since I interacted with many people from this culture but I also learned Spanish. So obviously I learned the Hispanic culture’s dominant language but in the process of learning their language I also learned a great deal about their culture since many of the people I talked to were immigrants who had only been in the United States for a few years. This group was just as intelligent as my own and they also shared many similar values. For example, the Hispanic culture values family very highly and that was something similar from my own culture.
The African-American culture was a culture that I was less familiar with but since being married I’ve learned various things about it. One of the sad things I learned from this culture was how they’re looked at compared to other races. Many of these people feel like security officials watch them a little bit closer all because of the color of their skin. My in-laws also talk about how they were made fun of for the color of their skin when they were little which is very sad and was something that I never had to live with. They also fear that their kids will have to deal with things like that in school and this was something my parents didn’t have to think about raising me in a dominantly white area. Something that my wife has showed me since we started dating was how much she has to struggle with her hair on a daily basis. Being a white male I had no idea how much time and care African-American have to put towards their hair on a daily basis. This group of people is defiantly as intelligent as my own culture and I also felt that they shared many of the same values as me.
My parents did also teach me that “everyone was equal” and that I should “treat everyone the same”. My mom mostly taught this because she grew up in Los Angeles and she was the only white female in her area and one of the only LDS people in her neighborhood and she was made fun of for the latter reason. After these experiences she also told her kids to never discriminate against people who are different and not to treat them any differently. My dad, however, grew up in the same area where he raised his family and so he didn’t come in contact with a lot of diversity until his mission when he was assigned to the Philippines and learned to speak Tagalog.
The knowledge I got about females, Hispanics and African Americans came from various sources. The knowledge about females came from my mom, my sister, my wife and other females I interacted with in life such as aunts, girl cousins and friends. I feel that the media influences people and influenced me to think about females in a certain way. Most media shows woman to be second to their husbands or they’ll show them as being the extremely emotional side to a marriage or relationship.
The knowledge I got about Hispanics was from my mission when I interacted daily with Hispanics from various countries. During those years I learned Spanish and I wanted to interact as much as possible with their culture. I feel that the media also influences people’s views on this group. Unfortunately, the media portrays this group as illegal immigrants who come to our country for negative reasons. If the media wants to portray this group in a positive light, they always show them speaking Spanish and playing soccer all the time. My mission greatly changed my view. I met many amazing people who only came to this country to gain a better life for their families or they had to leave their families behind in their native country just so they could get better work up in the United States and then they would send the money back to their families to help support them. The other thing that I found was that not all Hispanics came directly from Central or South American countries. Some of these people were born in the United States and some didn’t even speak Spanish because they didn’t grow up with it.
Finally, the knowledge of African-Americans that I have came from my wife and my in-laws. I feel that the media has greatly influenced how people view this group as well. Not all the time but sadly often times the media shows this group as being the bad guys or criminals. They also show them as always listening to rap and hip-hop music. Obviously, I never actually thought this was true throughout my life but I think that if most people are alone in a darkened area and they see someone from this group approaching them then they would tighten up and be worried a bit which is something that is really unfortunate. I think that this is true even if that same person has very close African American friends or family.
Even though we go throughout life saying that we say and feel that everyone is equal we still get many different ideas about different groups outside of our own from the media. We just have to remember that the media doesn’t speak for every single person in that group.
The first area of interest that I have in regards to intercultural communication is just learning about cultures different from mine. As someone who hasn’t interacted with many cultures and since the only place I’ve been to outside of the United States has been Alberta, Canada, I think other cultures are fascinating and cool to learn about.
Another thing that I would like to learn more about is why certain cultures communicate the way that they do and the history behind why they communicate that way. I think that each culture on earth communicates the way they do because of what has happened to them in the past. I also think that this is something essential to know about in order to properly be able to communicate with a different culture.
The final question I have in regards to intercultural communication is what are other ways and the best ways of communicating with other cultures if we don’t speak or hardly know their local language. All of these questions/areas of interest would be good to find out more about for when I come in contact with different cultures in the future.