Culture and Psychology: WEEK 7 6/7/2018

There are problems in the whole world. Each region and part of the world has different problems that arise, but they are issues nonetheless. First-world problems usually are mental or stimulant problems. 3rd world problems are usually from physical or financial strain. First-world problems include mental illness, problems with technology, road rage, and solicitors. 3rd world problems include finding clean water, enough food for the next day, and being able to find enough money to survive. All of these are real issues and cause stress to the individual. The problems are just different.

I worked in an Eating Disorder treatment center for 5 years. The majority of our clients were from wealthy areas in the United States or Canada. These girls were dealing with mental illness, control issues, and trying to fit into a society that called for perfection. This is extremely hard stuff to navigate. They had great challenges in front of them, and most were able to reach a point of recovery where they could move forward in their daily life in their own home. There is hunger all over the world, but this is not an eating disorder. This type of hunger comes from poverty. In 3rd world countries, the people are in survival mode. There is no room to realize or worry about mental illness. Anorexia is almost nonexistent. There is hunger, but there is not a mental illness as a foundation. This is a physical problem for them.

This is only one example between psychological differences between cultures. What types of psychology differences come when someone is of a multicultural background. My husband reminded me that he has a lot of family that are Mexican-American. They don’t feel like they fit in in the United States and they don’t feel like they fit in in Mexico. This could be a reason why the depression rates are higher for Mexican-Americans than Mexicans. His cousins are told to go back to Mexico when they are in the states. They are told to go back to the USA when they are in Mexico. They never feel like they really belong.

We must keep an open mind when working with others from around the world. It is important to remember that experiences are different for all. Be mindful of what we complain about when we are in the presence of newly arrived people from 3rd world countries. Things that seem to be such an issue for us are major blessings for them.

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Cultural Differences: Attributions: Week 6 6/7/2018

Where does success come from? Does it come from your own personal efforts? Or does it come because of outside sources? Well, this depends on what culture you are coming from. In the United States, a highly individualistic country, success comes from your own efforts and hard work. Yet when others have success, we tend to have the attitude of “they were lucky”, or “they had connections”. This seems to be a more negative and competitive outlook towards others and their success. What usually happens when an American fails at something? It is usually someone else’s fault or the fault of their surroundings. I’ve seen this same attribution in Mexico. So many times, I’ve heard people say in Mexico “you can’t make a business work here because the economy is so bad”. I’ve seen plenty of people in Mexico have success. The difference is, they have a different mindset. They know that success comes from your own efforts and how smart you work. The economy may be bad for one reason or the other, but one’s own personal success in business can shine through. There have been many studies on this actually.

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
                      -William Ernest Henley

Cultural Differences: Personal Space: Week 6: 6/7/2018

Learning about the differences in personal space was so eyeopening! I have heard so many stories about how in Japan and other countries they have “pushers” who literally push as many as they possibly can onto the subway, but didn’t really think that was a real thing. No! It is real! Here is a video showing just how extreme.

When people think of personal space, they usually think about the personal space around an individual. As my husband and I discussed this cultural difference, we realized that this is in regards to all things. Including houses. In the United States, there are yards, fences, and the home lots are big with a house in the middle. In Mexico, each house shares a wall with it’s neighbor. It is like every single house is a town house. There are no yards or fences. For security purposes, however, the houses have metal bars and metal doors so no one can get in, but everything is compact. I could never understand or pinpoint the reason why I always felt claustrophobic. Now I understand that I felt closed in in the city I was living in, even if there was no other person in sight. This goes to show that personal space much greater than the space around your body.

Individualism vs. Collectivism: WEEK 6 6/7/2018

Individualism and Collectivism are two ways of thinking. Individualism is where people and their outcomes are mainly based on the internal acts or individual/self acts that one does. For example, success for failure may come from ones own individual efforts. Collectivism is the idea the efforts of a group or the effects of group/environment make up success or failure. This is a more interdependent look on life.

In the United States, most people are generally individualistic. They look out for themselves and their own success. They have a stronger sense self. One of the ways that you can see this is in the corporate world. People will do whatever is necessary to rise to the top. This includes making others look bad or taking opportunities away from others. While this is not ideal, a lot of Americans have this mentality that “no one can get in their way”.

In other countries, most people live in a more collective mindset. They do things as a group. They make decisions based on a family hierarchy. I have noticed this slightly in my husband’s family. The dad or grandpa has the final decision. I do think, however, that because of a newer generation, this way of thinking is a little old and most are steering away from it. Women are more involved in the family decision making. We can live as a more individual family unit. We don’t have to be so intertwined with either of our families.

Cultural Differences in Emotional Expressiveness: WEEK 6 5/29/2018

Teaching English to students from different countries and cultures has been so fun. I have loved my job and my studies. Each morning as I begin my classes with my Chinese students I ask them a simple question: “How are you?” More often than not, I get the answer “I’m fine.” They give me this answer with a straight face. A few months ago, I noticed this emotional unresponsiveness. I decided to do an experiment at the beginning of each of my classes. I wanted to know if their “fine” answers were a cultural answer, or something that all students said because they didn’t have the vocabulary for different emotions. Each class that I teach is a half hour long and each has a different age group and efficiency level.  The ages range from 3-15 years old.

I began the experiment by showing each class different pictures of people showcasing different emotions. Sure enough, most of the students could identify the different emotions. The next week, I began to ask students “how do you feel” instead of “how are you”. At first, students continued to say fine. So I gave them options. This is where I showed them the pictures from the previous week and asked them if they felt what the picture showed. The students began to identify with the photos and answered accordingly. The following week was the big test. I was going to try to get the students to express and show the emotions spontaneously on their face. Most of the students responded with “happy”. So smiles and laughter were my goal. That week, I had the most successful classes that I’ve ever had in my teaching experience. Each of my classes went from straight-faced “fine” kids to giggling, jumping children.

As I think about those weeks, it reminds me that each human experiences emotions, but each cultural doesn’t express them outwardly. In our own teaching, one way that we can help our students show more emotion (if that is the goal), is by building rapport with them and showing them that the classroom is a safe place to “let loose”.asia-1202527_1920

(Picture from http://www.pixabay.com)

 

Cultural Differences Regarding Time: Week 5 5/24/2018

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Being here in Mexico there has always been one thing that has bothered me. There are times when I feel that the people here, especially in the smaller towns, don’t respect time  we set up for things. My husband live an hour away from the LDS branch that we attend. Because my husband is the president, we set up and go to all of the activities and meetings. I am going to school full-time and often put my homework off in order to go to these activities. After the activity, we have to drive another hour to get home. I am happy to do this. I am not happy when everyone shows up when there is a 1/2 hour left of the activity and expect it to run for the appointed 2 hours. I feel that my time and effort means nothing when this happens.

Watching and studying Brother Iver’s lesson about the cultural differences regarding time, a light bulb went off in my head. I am from a monochronic society and I live in a polychronic society. Monochronic societies value time spent and being on time. Polychronic societies value relationships more than time. So if someone said they were going to go to the Family History activity that I spent time planning and preparing for, but their cousin showed up at their house right before the activity, they will stay with their cousin. Having this knowledge can help my patience immensely!

How can this knowledge help us as English teachers? This helps us to understand the behavior of our students. We still need to be professional and on time as teachers, but knowing about the cultural differences will help us to have patience and understanding regarding why certain things are done. This knowledge doesn’t just help teachers, though. It helps anyone around the world. The world is becoming more and more integrated. One example is the United States. There are so many races and cultures that have gathered in the USA. Knowing about the different views of time will help in neighborhoods, the workplace, and in mixed families. Minds and hearts will be opened even more as we learn more about this cultural difference.

Cultural Paradigms: Week 5 5/22/2018

America is known as “the melting pot”. So many families from all over the world go to the United States for refuge and the promise of a better life. My husband is one of these. We are happy to announce that today he passed his interview at the border and we will begin our process of transferring to the United States. His story is one like so many others. A man from a different country, with different cultural views, looking for the “American dream”. Currently that dream is filled with racism from people in the country. What drives racism is ignorance. People don’t understand and accept that not everyone is the same or believes the same.

 
In the video “Cultural Differences” from National Geographic, we see how the fear of some neighbors effect the way the men can live in their new “free” country. The neighbors called authorities in fear after seeing the group of African men walking around town. The authorities then told them that it is best for the neighborhood if they travel separately. Is this the freedom they came for? No.

Because of cultural differences, there can be many misunderstandings. Each country has a different sense of humor. In the United States it is common to use humor at the expense of others. In other countries, this is not accepted. When one travels the world, it is important to keep an open mind and be respectful of the culture of the country you are visiting. This principle would be especially helpful for English Teachers. No, English is not the official language of the United States, but all through out the world, many are using English more and more. It is important as an English teacher, no matter where you are in the world, to be sensitive to the different cultural paradigms they may encounter. What is normal for one student may be highly offensive for another. I recommend that one way to get to know these differences is to open the floor to your students. Have a discussion, unit, or assignment where the students must present their culture to the class. This would be highly beneficial for the teacher and the other students. We really are a melting pot and must respect those that choose to come to America like our ancestors before us.

Response to “Is the Great American Teacher Dead” Week 2: 5/3/2018

I grew up in the United States. Honestly I don’t remember any of the lessons that I had while I was in school. Quite often I think back and wonder what I learned in my 12 years of schooling. I don’t remember a thing. I don’t even remember if I got good grades or not. Now this may or may not be because the form of teaching was boring. It couldn’t been because my brain just blocked it out. But looking at schools in different countries, I am beginning to see just how routine each lesson is in the United States.

Unfortunately we, the American people, are losing the desire to learn. What can help us retrieve that desire again? As I studied the article “Is the Great American Teacher Dead” by John J. Ivers, I realized that we lack enthusiasm in our classrooms. Teaching is a like a performance. When you teach you are presenting material or a presentation to students. Like my dad always says “It’s all in the presentation”. The more you keep people engaged, the more they enjoy and the more they retain. When you teach with enthusiasm, you instill a love of learning in your students. This helps them to go on further and become life-long learners.

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What kind of schooling do we want our children to have? Ivers created a list of characteristics that a successful classroom has. Let us keep the future of our children in mind as we look for good teachers and become good teachers.

1. Positive teacher-student relationship.

2. A good “delivery”
3. Edifies rather than damages a student’s self-concept
4. Clarity (through the use of many examples and
stories)
5. Encourages deep and critical thinking
6. Variety instead of monotony (do not forget the Ten-
Minute Rule)
7. Grading and workload is generally perceived to be
fair
8. Enthusiasm and zest for the topic
9. Meaningful to real world problems
10. Potentially transforms one’s world view from one of
uncritical acceptance of cultural dictates to one of
deep, reflective, and compassionate thinking

(Ivers, 2012)

The children are the future of our society. Let’s train them well and help them retain the information and gain the desire to be life-long learners.

 

Having Harmony with your In-Laws

When I first told my parents that I was moving to Mexico to get married to Jose, my mom was excited, but my dad wasn’t as much. Mexico was far away, a dangerous place, and there was not much money or opportunity. These are the things that we all have been told about Mexico. These things are not necessarily true, though. There are safe places and prosperous areas. The best part of Mexico is the people. My in-laws taught me that. When my parents went to Aguascalientes for my wedding, they had the opportunity to meet Jose’s parents. Even though there was a language barrier, there was immediate kinship between the two sets of parents. My parents, especially my dad, were able to see the love that Jose’s family had. They were so kind and giving. Jose’s grandfather told my parents at the dinner table that even though they don’t have a lot of money, they have a lot of love and that is what they will give me. There were tears all around and my dad felt great about leaving his daughter with this sweet family. He knew that I would be taken care of. And he was right. My in-laws are one of the reasons why my transition to Mexico living was smoother than I expected. My mother in-law taught me to cook Mexican food and she taught me Spanish. My father in-law taught me that you can live off the land with hardly any money. The land always provides.

These blessings don’t always come when you combine two families. There are certain “family rules” and traditions that are so different that it could cause clashing moments in a family. It is important for a newly married husband and wife to build their relationship together rather than having the parents of the married couple involved. Advice should be taken with prayer. In Genesis 2:24 it says “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Decisions about family matters should be between the two spouses.

Jose and I are no longer in the “honeymoon phase” so I feel like our personalities and traditions are shining through more now than they were the first while of our marriage. I would never bring up how my family did something when we first got married because “I was in Mexico now and needed to do things the Mexican way”. But the problem is, I’m not Mexican. I had to figure out a way to honor my in-laws and their traditions while still being true to myself and how I was raised. It is very important to me to find that balance. This is something that is ongoing, but it gets easier every day.

James M. Harper and Susanne Frost Olsen said in their article “Creating Healthy Ties with In-laws and Extended Families, “Marrying into a family that is different from yours or has different values can be a challenge. Demonstrating humor, exercising patience, overlooking small irritations, and looking for the positive can help in dealing with differences. One woman said: “When I met [his] parents … I didn’t agree with them on religion, politics, or even on how to cook a pot roast. I really wasn’t even sure if I liked them. But then l had to remember they had raised [my husband] and I loved him, so there must be something good about them. At that point, I began to enjoy their differences, and to love them, too.””

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One way that I have found that I am able to build relationships with my in-laws is by cooking for them. My mother in-law still walks into the kitchen and tells me how to cook, but I politely tell her that I’m making something that I learned from my mom. She knows then to let me be and she’ll try the food after. We have different religions, but I like to show interest in their religion. I feel it is respectful to honor what they believe. This doesn’t mean that I believe it, but I respect and love them so I have interest in what they do.

By doing these things with our in-laws we not only build our relationship with them, we strengthen our own marriage. We are showing love to the ones who raised our sweethearts. We are showing respect to the grandparents of our children. Contention is lessened. This also can strengthen the relationship that our children have with their grandparents. There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home, even in our in-law’s home.

Unity in Marriage

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Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. This is important to remember because men and women are different but complement each other. In a marriage, they are equal. There are roles that the Lord has set out for us in marriage and family, but these roles work together to raise a righteous family. In the Family Proclamation to the World it says…

“by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, father and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”1

It is so important that one spouse doesn’t exercise unrighteous dominion over the other. This does not promote unity and love in a marriage. This also does not set a good example for our children to follow in their own marriages. Our duty as parents is to teach and guide our children how to be kind, responsible adults. President David O. McKay has said “The most important thing a father can do for his daughter is to love her mother”.2 We teach our children more by how we treat our spouse and more by our actions, than the words that we speak.

Respect is something that is key to a marriage. Each person is an individual and needs to be seen as such. The woman in the marriage should not be silent because “her husband is the head of the family”. Like the proclamation says, they are equal partners. The best example of this is shown in the marriages of the apostles and prophets and their wives. President Gordon B Hinckley and his sweet wife were in an interview and Sister Hinckley stated that President Hinckley never tells her what to do. In response, President Hinckley said…

“I’ve tried to recognize my wife’s individuality, her personality, her desires, her background, her ambitions. Let her fly. Yes, let her fly! Let her develop her own talents. Let her do things her way. Get out of her way, and marvel at what she does…If there is anything that concerns me, it is that some men might try to run their wife’s lives and tell her everything she ought to do. It will not work. There will not be happiness in the lives of the children nor of the parents where the man tries to run everything and control his wife. They are partners. They are companions in this great venture that we call marriage and family life”.3

I got married a little later in life, so when I got married I was so independent. I had lived on my own for a long time, paid my own bills, made my own decisions, and worked. I took care of myself. Then, although I was thrilled to get married, I had a hard transition. All of a sudden, I had someone else telling me what to do. Jose had the same experience. We really struggled to find balance between being independent and depending on each other for support. It is still hard, but something that has helped us Is having our own hobbies. We still have most of our lives together, but there is one part that we try not to interfere with in the other person’s life. Sure, we’ll share and talk about what we are doing, but no suggestions are made. This has been a big help for us in our marriage. It may not work for everyone, but for us, it has been working wonders.

I encourage all couples to find unity in marriage through the teachings of the gospel. The true unifier is our Savior, Jesus Christ. If there are struggles, He can help to dissolve them. We need to go to Him, together.

 

  1. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng&old=true, LDS Church
  2. “Love Her Mother”, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/love-her-mother?lang=eng, Elaine S. Dalton.
  3. Marjorie Pay and Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, October 2003, pp. 22, 27