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What does the culture care about?

jzhou's picture

This week, when I was talking to my friends, we were talking about how our feelings have changed about Bryn Mawr as we became sophomores . Do they feel belonging to the Bryn Mawr culture. I asked them, " Do you feel that you belong to Bryn Mawr?". One of them, X replied, " I think belonging is a very big and serious word for me. I haven't found any place where I belong to except my home because there are no people who love and care me like my parents do. I like this place, where I have some happy memories with friends that I want to hold on to. There are things in this culure that I don't agree with , so I'm not completely part of this community and accept everything about this culture. " From her answer, I can see her definition of belongingness, which seems to be a strong emotion connection like kinship. For her, belongingness means to embrace everything of this place and become part of the culture. Another girl, Y asked, " What do you mean by belonging to Bryn Mawr? Do you mean that we found a group and feel that we belong to that group, but not necessarily belong to this whole community? Or you mean that we feel that we belong to the Bryn Mawr culture?" " It's free interpretation." Her anser surprised me. She said she feel more the sense of belonging when she was with Americans than Chinese. She thought the Chinese people like to form different small groups, which are pretty exclusive. The friendship is more temporary rather than long-term.Actually, sometimes I felt the same way.

From the conversation, I see a different side of multicultural education. Culture doesn't only represent where we are from and which language we are speaking but also what kind of value we hold on to about the world. When we face with the problems that we don't fit into that culture, it is probably because we don't share the value of the culture. If we hold the same value towards the world, can we say somehow athat we share the same culture despite our races and nationalities?

Then we talked about the admission to transgender girls policy and racism on campus. They had a few opnions and appear " indifferent" to some extent to these two topics. The X girl said, " We don't really care about that, honestly. I found that a lot of issues widely dicussed on campus are very big and serious topics. Sometimes, I feel that they are not quite releavant to the problems in urgent need to be dealt with." Another girl, Y added that, " There are a lot of things that our American friends talk about don't releavant to what I really need. These topics are very national and broad. The racism is everywhere and a national issue. It's not a problem that we are able to deal with in a short time.Instead, I would rather talk about how to improve our community by suggesting the improvement of the dinining hall or health center serivice." They both noticed and mentioned that internationa student are more open-minded to controversial issues and more adapted to different situations and problems because they experience the transition from their own culture to the new culture and they accept and tolerate most of the controversy. 

From my perspective, because we are not born in American culture, some issues such racism are not part of our culture and we don't feel that intense motivation and feelings about solving the problem. Also,  we think our own experience as international students play a significant role impacting our attitude towards dispute. We are less likely and willing to pick a side. We are more likely to adjust to current situation rather than feel necessary to change it. We are more likely to understand the rationale behind different sides.