Intercultural Movie #1 (January 2017)
Life is Beautiful
At the beginning of the semester my roommates and I watched the movie, Life is Beautiful. I had seen only parts of it before, and watching it this time around it was interesting to see the whole movie coupled with watching it with a lens of intercultural analysis. Even though we weren’t very far into this course, knowing that I was watching the movie for this class, it helped me be more aware of cultural differences displayed within the film. This movie is based off of true events during the time of the Holocaust. It tells the story of a Jewish-Italian man who during his life adventures, gets married and has a son. WWII breaks out and the man and his family are taken to a concentration camp. The movie depicts the events that took place in concentration camps and in the end, miraculously the wife and son were able to escape from the horrors, alive. Watching this movie helped me to have an even greater appreciation for that part of history of the Jewish people and many other minority groups negatively affected. And now, reflecting back with a greater understanding of privilege, I am profoundly grateful not only for my privileges but also the time in which I live.
Ethnic Food #1 (February 2017)
BHFLU Valentine Fundraiser
While volunteering at the Valentine Fundraiser for Because He First Loved Us I had a new food experience. There was leftover food after serving all those who came to support the fundraiser and they kindly let us help finish off the leftovers. Since I’m gluten-intolerant I wasn’t able to try some of the food that looked and smelled really good but was able to try their gluten free options. I’ve had Spanish rice, prior to this experience but the meat/pork dish was something new. I can’t recall the name (maybe Sambusa..?) but it was a recipe from the Middle east. Honestly, I was a little nervous to try it since my body reacts poorly to a lot of foods but it tasted pretty good and I didn’t have a negative reaction, thank goodness.
Intercultural Movie #2 (March 2017)
Last month I had the opportunity to see the movie Lion with my boyfriend as well as Nancy. My parents had seen it a few weeks before and had highly recommended going to see it. Even though they told me briefly what it was about I still wasn’t sure what to expect going in to the movie. It’s a biographical film sharing the story of a boy from India who became lost and ultimately was adopted by a couple from Australia. About 25 years later he begins his journey back to India to find his home and family. This movie was so eye-opening for me in grasping the realities of what “Saroo” went through as a child and then as an adult in his efforts to find his true origin. I cried throughout the whole movie and have an added appreciation for where I’m from and again, the privileges I’ve been blessed with.
ESL experience (April 2017)
Luis is an ESL student who I have the opportunity to know through my boyfriend, Blaine. Luis is from Mexico City, Mexico and decided to come to Utah to better learn English as well as obtain the University experience here in the United States. As I came to know Luis and his background, I couldn’t help but be impressed with his ambition and openness to come to another country and gain these kinds of experiences. While chatting, I related to him somewhat in the fact that I served my mission in Guadalajara, Mexico and we were able to speak in Spanish back and forth a little bit. During our conversations, I helped him clarify some English linguistics as well as vocabulary. Also, woven into our conversation were cultural explanations due to questions he had about Utah and our culture here as well as him describing some elements of culture from where he is from. It was interesting to see how it differed from some of my experiences I had living on the Western side of the country. Talking with Luis also reminded me to be more patient with those who are living here and learning a new language and culture. Also, to be more mindful of the “foreignness” of their situation.
Ethnic Food #2 (April 2017)
Peruvian food at Se Llama Peru in Provo
While much of Latino food is consistent with what I am able to eat, I had never tried Peruvian food prior to this semester. Even before serving my mission in Mexico I always had a love for Latino foods and so I was excited to try food from the Peruvian culture. Yesterday, my boyfriend, mom and I went to the restaurant called, Se Llama Peru located in downtown Provo. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the dish that I ordered but it was very tasty! It had pieces of steak sautéed with onions and tomatoes, on top of a few French fries along with a side of rice and sauce. Even though I was excited to try it I was also a bit nervous because of my food allergies. But, again, success with the taste and it sat well with my stomach. We also ordered the Peruvian passion fruit drink and both the beverage as well as the food exceeded my expectations. I’m definitely planning on returning to eat there.
April 27, 2017 No Comments
A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook that was asking for people to help with the Because He First Loved Us basketball teams. I reached out and after a day or two I was given the opportunity to coach the 8th grade basketball team. This slightly differed from the age group that I interacted with in our musical activity but it was been a pleasure to work and hang out with these boys. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them personally, given some of them rides home, and I can say that they are really great kids. It’s been humbling to see how they live, what their parents do, and how many people stay in the same household. One of the kids I took home just last week talked about how his brother works to help make sure that ends meet. Personally I know how hard it can be to come to America from another country, but I don’t understand what it’s like not to speak English and not to have a parent that is actually from America. In a lot of ways these kids have the odds systemically stacked up against them. It’s an honor to help swing the numbers in their favor, even if it’s just a little.
April 27, 2017 No Comments
This week I had the opportunity to speak with a guy named Elvin from Honduras. He spent some time in Texas several years ago but chose to return to Honduras in order to pursue a LDS mission. He ended up being called to the Dominican Republic where he served in multiple leadership assignments. After he finished he returned back home to San Pedro, Honduras and tried to plan out what would happen next in his life. Fate struck and a sister missionary, one who had worked with his family, started writing Elvin and what started as friendship quickly evolved to marriage. Now Elvin is living in Utah County and he has two children. When we started talking I was incredibly impressed with his ability to speak the english language. He says it’s come with a lot of hard work and practice, something that can be extremely hard when you aren’t sure if you are saying things correctly. I was taken a back with how humble Elvin was. I could sense and feel that he was grateful for his life here in the United States, a level of gratefulness that I believe only comes from having experienced the struggle.
April 27, 2017 No Comments
I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to attend the events that I did and to be able to get to know the refugees. I attended the basketball event, music event, Easter event and I look forward to completing my hours by attending the Art activity. The thing I loved about this opportunity was to see the similarities I had with these amazing children. During the basketball event we met Merriam. I was super nervous to approach anyone at first because I didn’t know what to say. Donna and I immediately hit it off with Merriam, who we nicknamed M. We played basketball together and got to know each other. She reminded me of myself when I was her age, it was so fun getting to know M.
Something that stood out to me in all of this was how scary and awkward it was at first, but then once you get over they initial “hi” it really wasn’t scary and I felt silly for being so nervous. I am really excited for the art event and to be able to take what I have learned and really just jump in and get to know all the wonderful people.
Something I also loved about this opportunity was to see the others in the class grow and open up. It was really cool to see people flourish and show a whole new side of them. I saw that this intercultural experience not only helped us open up to other cultures but with each other. We were all in it together.
The main lesson I learned from this opportunity is to not let fear from getting in the way of a growing experience. I would say in most things that are new are scary. If we get scared and quit or not even try we miss out on learning and growing so much. In the first half hour of my interactions with the refugee children if I would have had the attitude of “this is so awkward, i’m going home” I would not have not had the chance to get to meet M, or to beat Mohamed in lightning or get to know some amazing individuals.
The other events I was more behind the scenes but it was so cool to see everyone laugh and have a good time. It’s crazy how fast we can build relationships if we try. I was in the kitchen for the music event and we got to just pop around to different classes and check everyone out. It was funny to see how in some class rooms some kids were not having it. We were trying to entertain them instead of getting them involved. The work shop outside with drums was a lot more interactive and fun. I was thinking about what made such a difference from the Disney room, and the drums. I think it is beneficial to remember while interacting with other cultures is something that may seem way fun for us may not be something relatable for another. I found that while getting to know people it is so much easier for the person who is in their element to open up, but for someone who is uncomfortable they may not feel so inclined to open up.
I loved my time with the refugees and will be continuing to look for opportunities to serve even outside of this class. It has been an amazing experience, one that has shaped how I interact with others and has helped me become a better communicator.
April 26, 2017 No Comments
For this assignment I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I thought of all the different kinds of food that I ever thought was scary or smelt bad and I took it on. I went to Bombay house and had Chicken Tikka Masala, and let me tell you it changed my life. I loved every bite and still dream of eating it again. This started my adventure of trying all the new food I can. I then went to a Japanese Sushi place and it was good. After that I went to a Korean restaurant and it wasn’t my favorite. I have a new life motto this semester which is “try everything” I hope to continue this for the rest of my life and not be afraid to embrace different cultures.
For this assignment I chose to watch The Last Samurai because I was interested in seeing more of the Japanese culture. It was an interesting and intense movie that really portrayed a lot of the Japanese culture and the differences. It was cool to see the culture of the warriors and the samurais and how they honored and had such reverence towards their leaders and fellow people. It was interesting as well to see how Nathan was taken as a prisoner in the village and then he slowly learned their culture and became more and more like them. He accepted their culture and they all slowly accepted each other. I think it really showed me how if we really embrace new places we can learn to love them, even if we start off being a prisoner there, or just not wanting to be a part of it.
For the ethnic event I chose to go salsa dancing. I went two different times, once with my friends for Peru, and the second with my friends from Argentina. It was so much fun. I loved seeing all my friends who were completely in their element and so happy. I saw some big cultural differences that I had to become more comfortable with. The big one for me was physical touch. I am not much of a touchy person and my new Latin friends sure love to touch. It was a hard adjustment and I learned I had to just let them kiss me on the cheek or it would be very rude.
Conversations with Juan Luis
I met Juan Luis here at UVU and he has grown to be a good friend. He is from Peru and I loved talking to him about his culture and his family. It is interesting where he is from the family all works together to help the oldest child get through school and when that child graduates they help the next. It really helped him to stay focused and work hard to see how much his family was sacrificing so he could be here going to school. He also made me Peruvian food that was SO good. He is a fantastic cook and makes very tasty food. I loved getting to know him and hearing all about his journey here.
UVU International Event
Months ago I attended a low key event with the Native American Club. They were helping people make their own scones. First off, best scone I have ever had. It was cool how they represented their culture as well as went around and took this opportunity to educate people on their culture. While writing this I realized that this was not an international club. At the beginning of the semester I was so much more naive about cultural differences. Although this club was for Native Americans, in my head they were different from me so they much be international, an embarrassing confession. After this semester I can better understand other cultures. I feel like going to these activities and events has really pushed me to become better and accept others.
April 26, 2017 No Comments
Go to the people: live with them, learn from them..love them. Start with what they know, build with what they have. But of the best leaders, when the job is done, the task accomplished, the people will say: “We have done it ourselves.” Lao Tzu
I just finished reading the Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz. It is a biography of her life and the charities/groups and organizations she has helped set up throughout Africa, India and the Middle East. The book starts out with her leaving behind her wall street banking job (in her twenties) to set out for Africa. She wants to help tackle poverty. While living in Rwanda she helps set up a foundation in which they lend to very poor women through micro financing. It ends up becoming very successful, but before she got there she talks about the struggles of trying to do business in another country. She had to humble herself greatly. She goes on to set up a bakery too in Rwanda and her struggles there, but rewards as well when it finally gets up and running. The two major life lessons I took away from the book is overtime you take two steps forward in setting up a charity or foundation you always take one step back. However, she goes on to say that if you put enough energy and determination into creating something, the universe has no choice but to work with you. The second thing I took away from the book is to humble yourself. You will get no where in another country if you do not take the time to listen to the people and engage in the culture.
I couldn’t help but think on Tuesday while the speaker was speaking about how similar Jaceline’s life lessons were to Scott’s. They both talked about not getting anything done until they became humble and opened their eyes to the way of life in another country. While Scott worked in Ghana just a few years ago and Jaqueline worked mostly in Rwanda in the 1980s they had similar
April 26, 2017 No Comments
This class has been a great opportunity to open my eyes to many things that were once daunting, very unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable. A few years ago, prior to taking this course I developed a desire to move outside the state of Utah to raise my future family. The reason being, to help them grow up in more of a diverse setting with people of more varied ethnic and religious backgrounds. My mentality was to help them be more comfortable around people that are different than they are as well as more accepting. Through this course I have been able to better realize the lack of diversity we have here in Utah and my own perspective on people and therefore have reinforced that previously established desire to move out (at least for a portion of my children’s growing up years). I’ve come to realize that I’m generally more familiar and comfortable around people with very similar demographical backgrounds and this is due to such a large majority culture that I fit into. I hope to give my future family a different experience that in the end would be more open and inclusive to differences.
Something that I’ve started to take from this class into my perspective, is my awareness of my own privilege. Having a greater realization of all the things I’m blessed or privileged with, I try to be more sensitive to people of other cultures and their position of privilege in context with my own.
Another key concept that I plan to incorporate into my future is a mentality of openness to differing cultures, especially if I’m visiting a foreign place. I’m working on being more open-minded to how other cultures do things and eliminate the mentality that usually Americans, and especially those of similar cultures of my own, are the ones who know how to maneuver life in the best and most effective way. This was a challenge I had my whole mission in Mexico, both with my Latina companions as well as the people we were serving. I recognized this as being something that interfered greatly with my ability to connect more fully while living there and so from my experience as well as things we covered in class, I am in the process of changing that approach.
I also am working on going into situations with international students, with more empathy and effort to understand them and the challenges they have as that status of student. Having had material covering the ideas and elements that surround intercultural students in America, and especially an academic setting, opened my eyes to be more sensitive and helpful.
To be honest, I’m pretty surprised at the effect this class has had on how I’m now framing the world around me in my mind. It has been a new and stretching opportunity that I hope to continue to expand as I interact with people of differing cultures.
April 25, 2017 No Comments
There are many things that I have learned over the course of the semester that will help me in future interactions with different cultures. Two sections stuck out to me the most; white privilege and popular media. When it comes to white privilege, I knew about it before the class began. But, I feel that the class helped me better understand the true meaning of it and intentions behind talking about it. It is easy to get defensive when privilege is discussed but the course helped me to understand that it is more about education and equality versus bashing on someone because they are white. I think this is important information for the future because it can help me be more aware of minorities and their positions. I can strive to help these minorities by recognizing the privilege that exists.
Popular media was the second section that stuck out to me because I am constantly analyzing these type of things. The other night my husband and I were watching a movie and I made the remark to him “why is it that we let other people decide what our nations kids watch? Why do we do that?”. It is interesting and sometimes terrifying to me that we allow complete strangers in companies, decide what media is going to be created and market it towards our children. We have created a culture where we innocently accept all of this without even consciously thinking about it. But, I think it is important to take control and decide as a parent, what is appropriate for our child and what is not when it comes to popular media.
The above sections are a few of the things that have stuck out to me the most, this semester. Overall, I feel that this class has provided a framework for further exploration of cultures and how to interact with them. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to take this class and will miss it. I have always had a love for other cultures and I am grateful for the chance to learn how to better appreciate and support them.
April 23, 2017 No Comments
This class has made a huge impact on me. I honestly have started to see the world differently. It’s been so interesting learning how to be a better communicator with people from other cultures. I’ve learned the position of privilege that I’m in and the affect that has on my actions towards people who are not privileged. Because of my privilege I’ve never had to think about the way the cultural systems work. I love that I’ve opened my eyes a bit to that so I can be a better communicator and hopefully a small force for equality.
I have yet to experience any of the world outside of America. I loved that this class brought me into other parts of the world. The experiences outside of class helped me feel like I am really just one piece to this world, and I’m not at the center. I want to continue to have experiences like these.
April 23, 2017 No Comments
This semester I believe that the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to look at myself at a deeper level. I’ve always believed myself to be a considerate and openminded individual. I’ve had the opportunity to live in multiple countries, I was raised by a single mother and being in a biracial family, I’ve always felt like I’ve had the ability to slide fluidly between different racial lines. It didn’t come easy, but through my life experience I believe that I have seen the world through different lenses, lenses that have given me additional understanding on how others might live their lives. With that all being said, this semester has taught me that I’m not as openminded as I once thought. I am biased, I often jump to making generalizations based on limited experiences, and frequently blind to the privilege I have. This class has opened my eyes to constant need I now have to be better. It’s a need that will never be satisfied, but it’s one that I must constantly strive to fulfill. I want to be the voice of the “little guy”, to speak on behalf out groups, and to couragously stand for injustice. For that to happen I need to hold myself to the same standard that I expect from others, and this class has given me the tools to do so.
April 23, 2017 No Comments