In light of 2009 rolling in, many individuals made New Year’s resolutions; however, many are personal resolutions and few will actually cross that cultural boundary. This is not an uncommon thing. As each New Year rolls around resolutions are being made all over the world and a very small amount will go unbroken. When asked if she made any new year’s resolutions, Courtney Staton, a freshman in chemistry replied, “I decided not to make any new year’s resolutions because whenever I do make any, I never keep them.” A lot of people make a long list of things that they would like to end or change such as eating healthier, exercising more, or quit smoking but one resolution that we should all strive to make and commit to is having more understanding and respect for different cultures and lifestyles. Staton heard Dr. Mae Jemison speak and ask the question, “How can I go anywhere without knowing where I came from?” Jemison led Staton to want to become more aware of her own cultural background in order to accept the background and lifestyle of others.
Listed below are a few easy steps that would help in widening the views that people have towards their culture and towards other cultures.
The first step to take is not to assume that everyone is the same as yourself or has the same beliefs, morals, values, creed, and or religion as you do. Assuming that every individual is the same as you only belittle others culture and makes them feel inferior and disrespected.
The second step is realizing that what one person may consider or deem “normal” may not be normal at all to other people. In China it is normal to consume a class of wine with every meal. In the United States some people follow this but many do not. Living in an expedient world does not allow for sit down meals. Not only do American’s eat on the go often many households rarely have sit-down dinners where consuming wine is a custom.
Step three is not to assume that all hand gestures have the same meaning universally. In the United State signaling or giving a “thumbs-up” would be perceived as an “ok,” “good job,”or some form of a positive signal. However, in other places such as Latin America, West Africa, Greece, Russia, and South of Italy this, what Americans consider a normal universal gesture, has a totally different meaning. They find the “thumb-up” to be extremely offensive as in saying “sit on it and swivel.”
Understanding and respecting the significance, meaning, and origin of other cultures is prevalent in step four. Even though one may not like or accept what others are doing they should have the decency to treat that person with respect.
The fifth and final step is to know that most people behave rational based upon what they are accustomed to. So in order to do understand other’s behavior you have to first determine what the rational is for their culture.