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Our group consists of individuals from very different backgrounds. We are all from different areas and walks of life. The individuals are from New York, Texas, Iowa, and Venezuela. Our definition of culture is learned patterns of perceptions, values, and behaviors that are shared by a group of people and are dynamic and heterogeneous. We associate histories to stories, and the cultural influences of our perceptions as well as how we came to adopt these perceptions. There are many differences in how we understand our histories as well as others’ histories, and history is typically written from the view point of the individuals that came out on top, or by the winners of the situation or event. People’s historical events and stories sometimes provide the barriers for communication among people.
I was born in New York City. My parents are both from Southern African in a country called Namibia. My parents came to the United States for better opportunities and four years after I was born, they moved back to Namibia. Their reasoning for moving back to Namibia was that the country became independent. The language used in my home is Afrikaans. I am currently a senior at Wartburg College for liberal arts. There are currently predominantly white students at this school. Identity plays a large role in how people of different backgrounds communicate at Wartburg. Individuals use stereotypes all the time, often without even realizing they are doing so. I have experienced this, and my team members have mentioned this as well.
The role that identity plays in how people of different backgrounds communicate at Wartburg is a very strong role. Our backgrounds have molded us into the individuals that we have become and will continue to grow into. Our backgrounds have also taught us what is appropriate and not appropriate in communication. Some individuals are more out spoken than others, and this is how their particular background has made them. Some may find how a particular person communicates is rude from their perspective, but for the other individual, they are not trying to be offensive at all. This may cause conflict because a person will respond defensively as a natural reaction, but the outcome was never expected, nor is it welcomed.
The team as well as myself have discussed whether we feel like insiders or outsiders at the school. At times, we have felt empowered and at other times trapped. Dependent upon the situation and the individuals we are communicating with; we sometimes are able to associate with some more easily than others. In discussing the peace imperative, we would like to get along peacefully with others. We all share this desire to an extent; however, it is sometime easier to peacefully coexist than others. Because of the conflict that inherently occurs with diverse backgrounds and cultures, sometimes individuals do not share the same priorities, ethics, morals, and beliefs. In discussing the technological imperative, everyone is in agreement that technology allows us to keep up to date on what is happening, and better allows us to communicate effectively. The ultimate answer to the question of how we feel though is somewhat a little of both. We feel like insiders and outsiders at various times.
My team as well as myself feel like we have been treated a certain way because of our identities or how others perceived our identity. Some examples of this are how individuals react to our skin color or accents. A team member mentioned how every time he introduces himself, others ask is he dances salsa, or other completely absurd questions because they assume he is accustomed to various traditions based on his accent. Another team member mentioned how the majority of individuals she encounters bring up how all black people are too loud. This is also an absurd stereotype and assumption. As illustrated in the Demographic Imperative, many individuals of various demographics are coexisting, and because of this, we should respect each other’s backgrounds and coexist without these stereotypes and assumptions.
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