?Problem-Solution: Building Relationships with People from Different Cultures Preface The purpose of this report is to look at How to build relationship with different people from different culture. The report goes to explaining what culture is, How to learn about people’s cultures, How to build relationships with people from other cultures, Becoming aware of your own culture as a first step in learning about other people’s culture. Building relationships with people from many different cultures.
The report taken took at possible solution that there are many ways that people can learn about other people’s cultures and build relationships at the same time. Table of Contents Introduction Relationships are powerful. Our one-to-one connections with each other are the foundation for change. And building relationships with people from different cultures, often many different cultures, is key in building diverse communities that are powerful enough to achieve significant goals.
Whether you want to make sure your children get a good education, bring quality health care into your communities, or promote economic development, there is a good chance you will need to work with people from several different racial, language, ethnic, or economic groups. And in order to work with people from different cultural groups effectively, you will need to build sturdy and caring relationships based on trust, understanding, and shared goals. Why? “Because trusting relationships are the glue that hold people together as they work on a common problem.
As people work on challenging problems”, they will have to hang in there together when things get hard. They will have to support each other to stay with an effort, even when it feels discouraging. People will have to resist the efforts of those who use divide and conquer techniques pitting one cultural group against another. The Problem Culture is the system of shared beliefs; values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that the members of society embrace. Culture is transmitted from generation to generation through learning, a process known as enculturation.
Our culture helps to shape and influence our perceptions and behaviors Society has assigned many descriptors to assist us in defining our culture. Global, or worldwide descriptors, such as ethnicity, race, nationality, religion and socioeconomic class, or status are broad categories that are often used to help define who we are as cultural beings. Often these terms are used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion. The following will help to distinguish some difference and highlight the similarities in these common cultural descriptors.
Ethnicity refers to a group of people within a larger society who have a common ancestry, memories of a shared historical past, and a cultural focus on one or more symbolic elements that help to define them as people. In other words, one’s ethnicity is their membership in a subgroup within an environment dominated by another culture i. e. Italian American, Jewish American, etc. These subgroups can be characterized by religion, language, customs, traditions, physical characteristics, and ancestral origin.
Race is a group of people who are classified together on the bases of a common history, nationality, or geographical location. In other words race is an ethnic group that has assumed biological basis or physical attributes that are believed to be characteristic of that group i. e. hair type and color of the skin. Often times it is difficult to identify one’s racial background based on physical characteristics because many people have multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds. Example to help clarify race and ethnicity: John is a male in his twenties.
His skin color is black, his eyes are brown and his hair is tightly woven. For all accounts one might assume that John is African American. However, he was born in Jamaica. John considers his race to be black, and his ethnicity to be Jamaican. Religion and Socioeconomic status are two other global descriptors that help to define who we are as cultural beings. It is important to realize that unlike race and ethnicity, one can adopt new religious beliefs and change their economic status, thus changing the culture they belong to.
Age, the social group that we relate to, our gender, sexual orientation, belief system, values and morals also help to develop the framework that gives structure to our cultural being. We learn a culture by watching, listening and talking to, learning from, and being with other people, in both conscious and unconscious ways. Background Cultural history is not to be defined by a set of rules or a distinct subject matter.
It is not just, what the German term Kulturgeschichte denotes, a study of the activities within the sphere of ‘high culture’; nor is it exclusively to be seen as an exercise in interpretation of symbolic acts and rituals of people in the past. Some observers have been frustrated with cultural history that seems at times to be the ‘history of everything’, not without reason. There is more than a grain of truth in the view that cultural history can be exercised in every field of activity: politics, economics, kinship, gender, religion and all their interlocking and overlapping domains.
For example, alongside a demographic historian who calculates the historical movements of the size of family, or age at marriage, cultural historians probe the ideas about family, obligation, conjugality, with all the contradictions and points of pressure and conflict which they induced in people’s lives. Or, alongside the study of doctrine, theology and ecclesiastical structures – areas long studied by historians of religion – cultural historians seek out the practices through which religion was disseminated, experienced, interpreted and applied.
This has meant that cultural historians have often also been innovators in the search for sound and viable ways of approaching and identifying ways into the daily lives of people who did not generate a great deal of documentation. Yet, it is wrong to think of cultural history as a ‘people’s history’ alone; its operations are as illuminating when applied to courts, politics and armies; to the art and clothing, literature, grammar and music of the few and privileged.
Before cultural history became so important to the work of historians, sometime in the late 1980s, the ‘new history’ of the 1960s and 1970s had produced a great deal of pioneering and exciting information about social relations and structures. The lives of workers, working-class politics, peasant economies, demographics of plantations and slave-owning economies, levels of literacy, all these became visible, and often for the first time. The work was often inspired by acquaintance with Marx’s theories of class conflict, and in France by an indigenous version of a history situated within a geographical, physical frame.
E. P. Thompson, Natalie Zemon Davis and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie showed that peasants and artisans could be studied historically, and that historians could try to understand their ideas and aspirations, the words that comforted or excited them, the symbols they cherished or rejected. The Chartist movement, for example, was first studied as an expression of class aspirations in the plenitude of its mobilisation and political effect; but an analysis of its language revealed that its main concerns were not based on class solidarity but with inclusion and exclusion from the polity.
The study of social relations led the most inspired historians to seek meaning beyond structure, and subjectivity beyond class formation and adherence. The most formative impact in urging historians towards the ‘cultural’ – the domain of representation, the struggle over meaning – was the advent of interest in women and then gender, and this impact has not been sufficiently understood or appreciated by historians and those who observe them .
Although there are a few examples from earlier periods of history, and indeed a trickle of studies throughout the early 20th century, the field of women’s history within academia emerged in the 1970s, in complex yet undeniable relation to the Women’s Movements throughout the world. Many feminists expected – and in the UK many feminists were Marxists – that women would gain alongside workers, people of colour and colonised people. The history similarly tended to situate women within peasant households and working-class families, and elite women – in some ense the class ‘enemy’ – attracted little attention. The historical strategies which illuminated the lives of workers – hitherto hidden from history – were used to discover women: in factories, in bread riots, during religious wars and among the destitute poor. Yet, it soon became clear to the historians of women that women operated not only under the systems of economics that made them poor peasants or poor factory workers – capitalism – but also under a set of assumptions and expectations and within roles – patriarchy – which structured their lives within the family and community too.
Moreover, ‘patriarchy’ equally, through differently, structured the lives of women of different social locations: noblewoman, rich merchant’s wife, privileged nun or academic. Social structure alone could not capture the lives of women, and once this was realised, many historians of women sought to develop concepts and practices – the field we now call gender adequate to the task of understanding the complex realities of relations between and among men and women.
What began as a stage in the development of women’s history became a veritable revolution in all areas of historical practice. Joan Wallach Scott’s Gender and the Politics of History is as much an essay on the history of gender as it is on cultural history, and history in general. The categories ‘male’ and ‘female’ are shown to be words freighted with meaning far beyond the mere biological difference that we all find easiest to identify.
There are strings of assumptions and associations about them that far outstrip physical capacity and are deeply grounded in history and language: and so in the Middle Ages to the feminine was often aligned morbidity (a tendency to fall ill), weak moral judgement, dissimulation, credulity, lower life expectancy, weak powers of reasoning and more. These were meanings beyond any observable reality, and they were disseminated powerfully through the constitutive language practices, rituals and representations that surrounded medieval people – not without variation or change – from cradle to grave.
This is the domain of ‘culture. ‘ Guided by the examples of excellent historians the ‘cultural’ turn began to affect a wide range of reinterpretations of historical moments as well as long-term processes. The German Reformation, for example, so long studied by historians and theologians deeply entrenched in confessional warfare, has produced a rigid map of ‘confessions’ in Europe, of regions each adhering to a set of theological tenets, and their related political and social practices.
All this changed with the advent of R. W. Scribner’s studies of the Reformation in the 1980s as a clash of attitudes to authority and the sacred, represented by the symbols and rhythms of daily life. Scribner identified change alongside long continuities, and this complicated matters considerably, as much cultural history does: for he found that Lutherans created a ‘cult’ around miraculous and incombustible ‘images’ of Luther. Scholars inspired by Scribner have travelled new terrains, true pioneers.
Lyndal Roper has shown the powerful convergence between the system of gender and Lutheran practices of family life; these came together in reinforcing the authority of fathers within the workshop-households of Protestant Augsburg. Philip Soergel has unearthed complex polemical interplay over Bavarian shrines, which continued to mean a great deal to Catholics and Protestants too. A third generation is now at work, like Bridget Heal, who shows strong trends towards continuity and adaptation in early modern Germany around the figure of the Virgin Mary, so powerful a symbol that few people were willing to reject outright.
Gender was a conduit of the cultural turn in medieval studies too. Through its operation in the influential work of Caroline Walker Bynum practices which had been dismissed as ‘neurotic’ or simply bizarre above all the devotional practices of religious women – are now much better understood, and moreover, are seen as central to mainstream religious practices. Theirs was a world aware of the visual and the visionary – to use Jeffrey Hamburger’s apt phrase and so a field rich with cross-disciplinary possibilities was identified and worked by art historians, historians of devotional literature and cultural historians.
Cross-disciplinary practice is indeed the hallmark of much cultural history. The desire to embrace the plenitude of interlocking experiences has meant that cultural historians work hard, often collaboratively, with experts in other fields of history and disciplines. A good example is Colin Jones’s work on the European smile – first depicted in portraits around the mid-18th century – which brings together not only artistic practices, but notions of self, and very crucially, the history of dentistry, for to smile is to show one’s teeth to the world!
From incombustible images of Luther to the teeth of the French bourgeoisie cultural history continues to be a field of innovation. In my next section I shall discuss the rhetoric of cultural history and its global aspirations. Problem Solution Make a conscious decision to establish friendships with people from other cultures Making a decision is the first step. In order to build relationships with people different from yourself, you have to make a concerted effort to do so. There are societal forces that serve to separate us from each other.
People from different economic groups, religions, ethnic groups, and races are often isolated from each other in schools, jobs, and neighborhoods. So, if we want things to be different, we need to take active steps to make them different. You can join a sports team or club, become active in an organization, choose a job, or move to a neighborhood that puts you in contact with people of cultures different than your own. Also, you may want to take a few minutes to notice the diversity that is presently nearby.
If you think about the people you see and interact with every day, you may become more aware of the cultural differences that are around you. Once you have made the decision to make friends with people different from yourself, you can go ahead and make friends with them in much the same way as with anyone else. You may need to take more time, and you may need to be more persistent. You may need to reach out and take the initiative more than you are used to. People who have been mistreated by society may take more time to trust you than people who haven’t.
Don’t let people discourage you. There are good reasons why people have built up defenses, but it is not impossible to overcome them and make a connection. The effort is totally worth it. Put yourself in situations where you will meet people of other cultures; especially if you haven’t had the experience of being a minority, take the risk. One of the first and most important steps is to show up in places where you will meet people of cultures other than your own. Go to meetings and celebrations of groups whose members you want to get to know.
Or hang out in restaurants and other gathering places that different cultural groups go. You may feel embarrassed or shy at first, but your efforts will pay off. People of a cultural group will notice if you take the risk of coming to one of their events. If it is difficult for you to be the only person like yourself attending, you can bring a buddy with you and support each other in making friends. Examine your biases about people from other cultures. We all carry misinformation and stereotypes about people in different cultures.
Especially, when we are young, we acquire this information in bits and pieces from TV, from listening to people talk, and from the culture at large. We are not bad people because we acquired this; no one requested to be misinformed. But in order to build relationships with people of different cultures, we have to become aware of the misinformation we acquired. An excellent way to become aware of your own stereotypes is to pick groups that you generalize about and write down your opinions. Once you have, examine the thoughts that came to your mind and where you acquired them.
Another way to become aware of stereotypes is to talk about them with people who have similar cultures to your own. In such settings you can talk about the misinformation you acquired without being offensive to people from a particular group. You can get together with a friend or two and talk about how you acquired stereotypes or fears of other different people. You can answer these kinds of questions: Ask people questions about their cultures, customs, and views People, for the most part, want to be asked questions about their lives and their cultures.
Many of us were told that asking questions was nosy; but if we are thoughtful, asking questions can help you learn about people of different cultures and help build relationships. People are usually pleasantly surprised when others show interest in their cultures. If you are sincere and you can listen, people will tell you a lot. For example, you might ask a person of African heritage if they want to be called, Black or African-American. Or you can ask a Jewish person what it is like for them at Christmas time when practically every store, TV commercial, and radio station focuses almost entirely on Christmas.
Read about other people’s cultures and histories It helps to read about and learn about people’s cultures and histories. If you know something about the reality of someone’s life and history, it shows that you care enough to take the time to find out about it. It also gives you background information that will make it easier to ask questions that make sense. However, you don’t have to be an expert on someone’s culture to get to know them or to ask questions. People who are, themselves, from a culture are usually the best experts, anyway. Don’t orget to care and show caring It is easy to forget that the basis of any relationship is caring. Everyone wants to care and be cared about. Caring about people is what makes a relationship real. Don’t let your awkwardness around cultural differences get in the way of caring about people. Listen to people tell their stories If you get an opportunity to hear someone tell you her life story first hand, you can learn a lot–and build a strong relationship at the same time. Every person has an important story to tell. Each person’s story tells something about their culture.
Listening to people’s stories, we can get a fuller picture of what people’s lives are like–their feelings, their nuances, and the richness of their lives. Listening to people also helps us get through our numbness there is a real person before us, not someone who is reduced to stereotypes in the media. Additionally, listening to members of groups that have been discriminated against can give us a better understanding of what that experience is like. Listening gives us a picture of discrimination that is more real than what we can get from reading an article or listening to the radio.
Recommended Solution Families have different values, especially when it comes to family closeness, loyalty, and responsibility. In many immigrant and ethnic families, young people are required to put their family’s needs first, before the requirements of extra-curricular activities. Young people from immigrant families who grow up in the U. S. often feel torn between the majority culture and the culture of their families; they feel pressure from each cultures to live according to its values, and they feel they have to choose between the two.
As community workers, we need to support and respect minority and immigrant families and their values. It may already be a huge concession on the part of a family to allow a teenager to participate in extracurricular activities at all. We need to make allowances for the cultural differences and try to help young people feel that they can have both worlds–instead of having to reject one set of values for another. As community builders, it helps to develop relationships with parents. If a young person sees her parents have relationships with people rom the mainstream culture, it can help her feel that their family is accepted. It supports the teen in being more connected to her family and her community–and also, both relationships are critical protective factors for drug and alcohol abuse and other dangerous behaviors. In addition, in building relationships with parents, we develop lines of communication, so when conflicts arise, they can be more easily resolved. As you are building relationships with people who have different cultural backgrounds than your own, you will probably make mistakes at some point. That happens.
Don’t let making mistakes of making mistakes keep you from going ahead and building relationships. If you say or do something that is insensitive, you can learn something from it. Ask the affected person what you bothered or offended them, apologize, and then go on in building the relationship. Don’t let guilt bog you down. One of the best ways to help you build relationships with people of different cultures is to demonstrate that you are willing to take a stand against discrimination when it occurs. People will be much more motivated to get to know you if they see that you are willing to take risks on their behalf.
We also have to educate ourselves and keep informed so that we understand the issues that each group faces and we become involved in their struggles–instead of sitting on the sidelines and watching from a distance. Conclusion Friendship is powerful. It is our connection to each other that gives meaning to our lives. Our caring for each other is often what motivates us to make change. And establishing connections with people from diverse backgrounds can be key in making significant changes in our communities.
As individuals, and in groups, we can change our communities. We can set up neighborhoods and institutions in which people commit themselves to working to form strong relationships and alliances with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. We can establish networks and coalitions in which people are knowledgeable about each other’s struggles, and are willing to lend a hand. Together, we can do it. Works Cited Axner, D. M. (1993). The community leadership project curriculum. Pomfret, CT: Topsfield Foundation.