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Cross Cultural Conflict

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As many of us squabble?about culture, I decided to research more into ?culture? and how we adopt, instill and?carry our culture from place to place and time to time.

How do we define culture? Or I should ask what is ‘culture’?all about?

Culture varies from groups of people, place to place and from country to country. If we take a close look at our Mangalorean Culture, we have adopted our so-called “CULTURE” from various other groups. Mangalorean Catholics culture is a mixture of?Hindus and British culture.

We notice a big difference when we land in a country like the USA and start communicating with Americans. The first question they ask is ?wow, you speak English fluently, where did you learn?? Americans are very ignorant about ?Indian mixed British Culture?

When I first drank my tea with cream and sugar, my Philipino co-worker exclaimed saying you use cream and sugar with your Tea??!! Although I said Americans are ignorant, there are a few who know British culture as well as Indian?rich culture. Immediately my American co-worker said, yes, British drink Tea with cream and sugar. Well, it sounds like we Indians adopted this from the British,?doesn’t it?

What is our rich culture? We can define it as wearing a saree, a dot on the forehead, mangala sootra, speaking Indian languages, wearing a Dohti, etc. etc. as Indian rich culture. Whereas we Mangalorean Catholics get married in the church adopted from British culture ? wearing white saree & three piece suits, both British and Indian mixed culture. The traditional white wedding dress was not always so traditional. Ann of Brittany popularized the white wedding gown in 1499. Prior to that, women simply wore a new dress or the best dress they owned, regardless of color. The white gown became a symbol of purity and innocence and an outward sign of the maiden?s worthiness. The exchanges of ring and vows were adopted from Britain. Changing into a red saree, decorating hair with flowers and gold, exchanging garlands and the boy giving the symbol of marriage in Hindu style called ?kariyamani? is derived and implemented from Hindu tradition.

No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive. Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart

All in all, culture is accumulated habits, attitudes, and beliefs of a group of people that define for them their general behavior and way of life; the total set of learned activities of people. Also, the beliefs, habits, traditions, and values, are controlling the behavior of the majority of the people in a social-ethnic group. These include people?s way of dealing with their problems of survival and existence as a continuing group. When we land in another state or country, we see dissimilar culture from our own. As time pass by, we mix our culture. Eventually, our kids are inclined to follow the culture from their birth place mixing it?with their parent?s motherland culture.??Ultimately if there are no organizations to instill our culture, future generations will adapt to a new culture. Some leaders come forward with a group of people and start an organization named after the place of their city or country and organize events in an attempt to carry on?their culture?with changes.? As they strive to?teach our younger generation to practice our culture, some amendments have to be made to encourage them to instill the same to the future generation. It is extremely difficult to practice or carry on the same culture as the sum total of ways of living built up by a human community and transmitted from one generation to another. Our culture has been changed from generation to generation.? As we look back many years ago, we all used to wear white saree and now since the generation changed, we?have?adopted the western culture, and?some have replaced white sarees?with gowns. This is also called, the pattern of learned and shared behavior among the members of a group which includes values, goals, the shared attitudes, and practices that characterize a group; their customs art, literature, religion, philosophy, etc.

Culture is the learned values, beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors of specific groups of people. Nurses or therapists value cultural differences and recognize mental disorders within the context of their individual cultures. It reminds me of an incident that took place when I worked as a volunteer in one of the Hospital’s here in Chicago, 17 years ago. They needed an interpreter?who spoke?Hindi?for a patient who couldn?t speak English. It was my first job, barely 2 months in this new land and just a few days since I started working in the Psychiatry Department as an office helper. When I went to the clinic, I introduced myself to the Psychologist who asked me to translate the Indian patient?s problems. This Indian guy, about 60+ years old,?who was sitting depressed, was happy to see me as the doctor couldn?t understand his dilemma?because he couldn?t speak English. Although I wasn?t fluent in Hindi, with great interest I asked him to expline his tribulations not knowing his quandary. He started explaining his melancholy for not getting physical pleasure from his wife; I was totally traumatized and speechless. When the doctor asked me to?translate to English, I was extremely embarrassed. But this is part of our Indian Culture, the doctor said.? Surprising but it is true. Culture plays a big role in our lives and we try to amend it as we move on.

The sum total of the ways of life of a people; includes norms, learned behavior patterns, attitudes, and artifacts; it also involves traditions, habits or customs; how people behave, feel and interact; the means by which they order and interpret the world; ways of perceiving, relating and interpreting events based on established social norms; a system of standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating, and acting.

Culture is an assimilation of social norms which dictates a group, conduct, behavior, social norms and customs. Culture is a learned behavior which adapts to the environment around us. Culture is not static rather is transient and changes as the time passes depending on current trends. So, if we think a culture should be in this specific way of fashion at all times, at every occasion and in every region,?think again!

“No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive. Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart.” ? Mahatma Gandhi

Author: Queenie Mendonca- USA

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