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.

What has stood out to me so far in the semester…

There are a few things that have stood out to me so far in the semester. First, the video that we watched with Adonica Limon was actually really cool to see. It was really neat to see a person who came from such a troubled past be able to rise to the top like that and be able to go through college with being a single mother and trying to raise 3 kids all at the same time. It really showed me that if someone sets their mind to something that they really can do no matter where they come from or what’s happened to them in the past and that things like that are not impossible.

Something else that has really stood out to me was when we talked about race and when we watched the video with the little kids picking between the dolls. To me it was just crazy to see that those little innocent kids had already been this influenced through some means that their race was usually seen as the bad guy and that whiter skinned people were better for some reason. However, as I thought about it more and I realized that we all have perceived notions and things we associate with specific type of people. I’m married to an African American woman and I have friends of different nationalities as well and so I obviously am not a racist but I remember when me and my wife got on a flight together, I saw a middle eastern man board as well and even though he was just wearing a t-shirt and jeans like me, I remember my brain automatically going to September 11th and feeling a bit nervous. I quickly dismissed the thought saying, “You’re being stupid. Not all people that are Middle Easterners are like that.” But to me it’s just insane that from different influences in our personal lives to the images that we see in the media that it causes us to see people in that light and we automatically assume that they do things a certain way just because of what we’ve seen/heard.

Making only English laws?

I do not think that we should make only English laws at all. I know that there are some people who think that because English is widely spoken and that it is the international language of business that we should require everyone to learn English. Even though I agree that knowing English is a good skill to have, I do not think that we should make it essential for other people to learn it and that we should not try and learn their language. As a person that speaks two languages I think that there’s a lot of advantages for those whose native tongue is English to learn another language. First, there is a ton of culture just in a language and you can learn a lot more about where people are coming from if you learn the language that they speak. You can more fully understand why they interpret words the way that they do. If we were to make only English laws then those who are native English speakers are going to become a lot more ignorant about other cultures and it just wouldn’t be fair to those people who aren’t native English speakers to expect them to learn a new and often times hard language. Plus I feel that it would be pretty arrogant of native English speakers to walk into a country where the majority speaks another language and the English speaker tells them, “No you have to adapt to my language and my ways of speaking because it’s the law.” Also there honestly are more Chinese speaking people in the world then there are English speakers and I don’t think that someone who only speaks English would think it would be fair for someone to create a only Mandarin speaking law.

I have not started my service learning yet and I’m not 100% sure about what I want to do quite yet but I am hoping to do something with helping refugees with learning a little bit of English. Since I speak Spanish I feel that many people who migrate to this country want to learn English so they understand better about what’s going on but they do not know where or how to learn English.

Chapters 3 and 4

After studying chapters 3 and 4 I think the thing that came most surprising for me was the anxiety/uncertainty management model. I just thought that it was very interesting how when we as humans interact with someone new or different from us that we build up anxiety in our minds. At first I didn’t really believe that that’s how I dealt with situations like that. However, the more I learned about this, the more I began to realize that that’s exactly how I deal with situations like that. Anytime, I see someone not acting or going along with what I think are the social norms then I begin to want to distance myself a little from that person and observe them from afar because I’m not quite sure what they’ll do next and I get kind of uncomfortable. This was just an overall interesting way to describe how we deal with people who are different from us.

With the video we recently watched, I thought it was interesting to see how another country like Australia views racial issues. Normally for me, I only really see how the United States deals with things like that through history, civil rights and other means. I also thought that it was interesting to see the roles reversed through this video. In our world I feel that unfortunately, the white male from the western world is pretty dominant in most things globally and so it was a good look to see what would happen if the roles were reversed. The video made me also think about what would happen if the roles had been reversed here in the United States between the Europeans and the Native Americans. 

Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2

Hey everyone. My name is Jordan Berger. I’m originally from a small dairy farming town right outside of Ogden, Utah called Farr West. I’m currently studying at communications at UVU and hoping to be a journalist one day. With the intercultural communications class that I’m in we just recently studied the first two chapters that were about what culture is, intercultural and cross-cultural communication. I actually really enjoy studying about other cultures even though I’ve only been out of the country once in my entire life (and it was only to Alberta, Canada). The point that really hit me between these two chapters was when we talked about cultural mores and how bias is reinforced by powerful groups and social structures. Other than when I’m in a class studying culture I don’t really think much about culture and how it affects my daily life. For me it’s crazy to see how much our own cultures really do affect us. For example, I agree that there are many social norms, values and beliefs that affect us greatly. I also think that a lot of times we don’t even think about it especially if we’ve been apart of the culture for a while. There obviously is a specific culture here in the United States but I would say that there’s even one here in Utah and there was even one in my hometown. In my hometown, almost everyone knows everyone and a lot of people are even related to each other. This is because most people when they grow up, leave for a little while for usually college but then they come right back to Farr West and live only a neighborhood or a few streets away from their siblings or parents. Whenever someone who was brand new moved into the town and wasn’t related to anyone else, they were seen as new and different. Not bad just different from the social norm. Everyone in that town is also very friendly to their neighbors and most people know everyone else. So neighborhood and city social gatherings are a very common thing where I’m from. This is something that is the social norm in that town and it’s because a powerful group (the big families in my hometown) keep traditions like that going. Because my family grew up in that culture, we were always very close with our extended family as well. That’s why I feel that it was strange for me when I got married and my wife automatically met all of my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and we’ve done many things with them since then but she’s not close with her extended family at all. In fact, I haven’t met most of them and everyone else I’ve only met once or twice. The funny thing is that it’s not like my wife grew up on the other side of the planet but she grew up in Highland, Utah. So we weren’t raided too far away from each other but there was already these differences between the cultures we grew up with. So going over these things during these first two chapters really made me think specifically about the cultures I grew up with.