Culture and you

by Michael Deuel

Our culture can drastically influence how we see other people. FM does a good job of attracting students and faculty from many types of cultures.

Culture can be defined as a set of behaviors, views or customs shared between a group of people. New cultures can be created, or old cultures can be passed down from previous generations. Both new and old cultures, oftentimes, have an embedded outlook on differing cultures.

Unfortunately, this outlook can and often does result in cultural biases. Being culturally biased could be simply defined as judging another culture based off of your own culture.

If you take a look around campus, it’s pretty obvious that students can sometimes gather into groups due to their similarities. When students walk into a classroom at the beginning of the semester, they try to find other people who are most like themselves, which is fine. It is almost natural to be attracted to people who are like you because you share a similar likes and dislikes.

However, there is frequently a point at which groups can share negative views of other people’s differences. This is how cultural biases arise. Whether you would like to believe it or not, cultural biases are everywhere, including FM’s campus.

In a recent interview with Dr. Paula Brown-Weinstock, professor of psychology, she was asked, how can we break cultural biases on the FM campus?

She said, “We have to take personal responsibility to learn about other cultures and not expect other cultures to educate us.”

Education is an excellent way to beat cultural biases. After all, cultural biases are usually just a misunderstanding. If you don’t understand why someone is acting out of what you think is the ordinary or talks in a different manner, do some research or you could easily talk to them and ask questions.

What is unusual or disrespectful in one culture might not be viewed as the same in another culture.

Brown-Weinstock added, “I don’t think people stop to realize how much their culture affects their thinking.”

This statement couldn’t be more than true. Sometimes it’s hard for us to think outside of our own culture. But through education, becoming open-minded, and stepping out of our comfort zone we can all have a better understanding of why others do the things that they do.

Mohammad Farhat is an international student from Lebanon. He has been a student at FM since the spring semester of 2015.

Farhart was asked, what was the biggest challenge when he started his education at FM?

He said, “I was scared on the first day of college to tell others my name. When the teacher took roll, I was nervous to say here and raise my hand”

What is even better is what Farhart said next; “I soon realized that I was stereotyping others.”

This scenario is the true definition of turning the other cheek. Even though Farhart was fearful of be discriminated against, he understood why, accepted the situation and moved on despite the fact that he could have been mistreated.

How can we break cultural biases? The main methods which will make the quickest and greatest change is promoting cultural differences through face-to-face interactions, FM social media sites and education. We all need to recognize that there is always good and bad in every group.

Like Maya Angelou once said, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

We can reach this level of realization by eliminating one bias at a time.

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