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 – Cross-Cultural Students: Week 7 6/7/2018

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

During the video about cross-cultural students I found myself identifying more with the Asian students that complained about American students. It was said:

“‘What I don’t like about American students is that before class ends, they are always packing up their things while the teacher is still talking. It shows shocking disrespect.’ Another student from Asia said, ‘In America, the students have all left the room before the teacher is even done talking!'”

I find these two things very disrespectful. Our culture really values time. So why would one get ready to go before the allotted time is up. I understand if there is an emergency or if it was discussed with the teacher before the class began that they needed to leave early, but this is a constant thing that starts sometime in middle school and never ends. I haven’t seen this in any other culture.

As English teachers we must be fully aware of other cultures. There are several videos floating around the internet that show an African American student being “loud and disrespectful” to their white teacher. What people don’t realized is that that right there is a cultural difference. It may be the race, it may be the region of the country the student grew up in. The fact is, there is no need to be afraid. Get to know the background and cultural norms about your students. Not only will this help you as a teacher, but it will help build trust and respect in your classroom. Students will have a more relaxed environment because you are relaxed and they will learn more.

CULTURAL MISCOMMUNICATION: WEEK 5 5/26/2018

Being in a multicultural marriage has been such an amazing experience. It has had its challenges and will continue to bring more, but we have been enjoying a beautiful life. There have been so many miscommunications that we have had. Some come because the culture of a man and the culture of a women are very different. Our family dynamics are different. Though we both spoke English in the beginning, it wasn’t until I learned Spanish and we then had two bilinguals in the house did things get better when it came to language. The biggest cultural challenge that we have had is what in insulting and unacceptable in one culture and is just fine, even funny, in the other.

One event in particular comes to mind. One night when we were dating, we went on a walk and talked while we ate guavas. We decided to sit on a bench and Jose said in a cute voice, “oh mi gordita”. This translates as “my little fatty”. I thought I misheard and astonished said, “what?” “You are my gordita,” he stated. Oh no he did not! He did not just call me fat on one of our first dates. To me this was highly offensive, especially because I had worked 5 years in an Eating Disorder Treatment Center trying to combat negative body image. Well, while this was a bad thing to say in my culture, in Jose’s culture is was considered a very cute compliment. He was accepting me as I was and doing so in a loving way because he added “ita” at the end. We laugh at this now, but truth be told, this is a part of the cultural miscommunication that I’m still getting used to.

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HSBC Bank has set a great example for businesses and people all around the world to get to know the cultural differences between different parts of the world. If we are traveling, teaching, or working internationally it is so important to know the culture and respect it. The are many things that are normal to one, but to someone in a neighboring country it it offensive. Research before you travel or interact so that you are prepared for things you may encounter. If you are still unsure, ask a guide or a friend as you travel. This will save you a lot of embarrassment and awkward moments.

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.

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

The Importance of Charity in Marriage

We all have dreams. We all have certain desires that we want to see unfold in our lives. Sometimes in a marriage, the couple has the same dreams and desires, sometimes they don’t. Jose and I both have the same dream to have a Christ-centered home. I have a dream to have a musical family. He has a dream to have a hardworking family. All of our dreams, when based on righteous principles are good. The key is to be able to help each realize those dreams in a marriage and family. Most of the time this comes with compromise. We must talk about our dreams and be humble and open so that both in the partnership feel fulfilled. At times we may not be able or even willing to express what is driving a dream. When this happens is creates conflict in our marriage.

The best way to overcome conflict in a marriage is charity. What is charity? We are told that charity is the pure love of Christ, but what does that actually entail? There are 3 aspects of charity that we must remember: Love FOR Christ, love FROM Christ, and love LIKE Christ. Each of these has different actions tied to it. As we grow our love for Christ, we study about Him and get to know Him and His Atonement more. As we get to know Him and have our love for Him strengthened, we realize how much He loves us. This is not only seeing His love for our own selves, but for those around us. This realization opens our eyes and helps us to love like Christ. We are able to see others as Christ sees them. Are attitude and actions towards others change and become softer and more understanding. When we learn to love like Christ, instead of getting upset with our husband that he came home and went straight to the TV rather than saying hello or helping with dinner, we think “he must have had a stressful day and needs to destress”. We could bring him a drink of water, sit with him, and ask him how his day went. We look for the strengths in our spouses rather than always digging and focusing on the weaknesses (which we all have might I add). I don’t like when my husband focuses on my weaknesses, so maybe I should stop worrying about his weaknesses.

Wendy Watson stated, “the best-kept secret in many marriages is the strengths spouses see in each other…An interesting fact about commending your spouse is that the more you do it, the more you see in him or her to commend.” In response to this quote, Brother Goddard states in his book Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage, “What a wise design! Rather than re-working our partners to our liking, we are invited to cover their weaknesses with our charity! God is serious about cultivating our charity”.

How often do we hear women (and sometimes men) say that they changed their husbands or trained their husbands? Men are not dogs to be trained. A healthy relationship is a communion between two people willing to set aside their own desires and differences. Marriage is consecration at its best. A marriage is not just between two, however. A healthy relationship includes a 3rd party. This 3rd party comes from above. The following diagram shows a visual of how the couple comes closer together in their marriage as each of them humble themselves and turn towards Christ. I love the Spanish word for marriage: Matrimoni. It says it right in the word that marriage is between three people: MaTRImoni.

Marriage is not simple or easy by any means, but the formula is simple. Have charity and look towards Christ. I know that as we each apply those principles in our marriages, any marriage can work.