A Culturally Unaware Country
Effective communication and human interaction is built upon cultural awareness. People near and far see and interpret things differently, and even the most honest expressions can get lost in translation, leading to a typically friendly gesture from one country being misconstrued as a flat out insult in another country. For example, giving someone the “a-ok” hand gesture in France is roughly equivalent to the middle finger gesture in America. As you can see cultural awareness doesn’t come naturally, and it requires the ability to step away from our own beliefs and see the world from a different perspective. Looking back now I realize this was an ability I learned far too late in life.
I was raised with a heavy conservative Catholic father. I wasn’t naïve enough to believe that everybody in the world was walking around with the same conservative Catholic beliefs as my family, but thanks to my upbringing, I believed that our way was the only “right” way. Growing up the only piece of cultural awareness training I received was from a trip to Mexico with my family, where I learned from my father that Mexico is a poorer country than the US, and you can usually barter street vendors down to next to nothing for an item. Needless to say, this wasn’t the healthiest way to interrupt another country’s culture.
My teenage years went by pretty much in that fashion. I never thought of myself as being culturally “close minded”, and even believed myself to be culturally diverse because I watched so many Asian cartoons, a huge irony being that I believed ALL Asians were the same culturally. This type of thinking would all change starting by a chain of events caused on September 11th 2001.
On September 11th when the United States was attacked I got my first big dose of what can only be described as true hate filled racism. My family, like most in our country it would seem, was fueled with the notion that the heritage and cultures of...