Culture is broad and encompasses a lot of aspects. Precisely, it is a way of life, and it defines the manner in which we live. Culture, therefore, according to Williams (2011) covers religion, tradition, values language and customs that a particular group subscribes to. Through culture, people develop a sense of belonging and enhance the relationship of the people in the group. In sum, culture, therefore, consists of the custom, social and the material traits of a particular group.
I spent most of my years growing up in the urban areas. I have therefore interacted with different people and impliedly, different cultures as well. The urban center is very vibrant, but I learned to subscribe to only what I believe is right. First, most of my family members are born in the United States, and I have therefore adopted most traits from them. Also, I come from a Christian family which means that I am also a Christian. The interaction with people from other religions has not affected my religion in any manner.
My most memorable interaction in regard to culture is one I had with family friends from a different religion. It was a summer holiday, and I had chosen to stay at my friend's place. Being Muslims, I found quite a lot of things different. First, they had to go to the mosque about three times a day, very early in the morning, at around 1 pm and in the evening. Being that the period was the holy month of Ramadhan, I also learned that Muslims are very generous. The best aspect of the experience was with the dishes; I was away from the traditional salads and soup that my family preferred. Most of the food prepared by my friend's family was the Swahili dishes which I also found to be delicious. Most of these encounters were new but not strange.
I barely had any challenge while staying at my friend's family house because almost all of them had been living in the United States except the grandmother who could barely speak English but was fluent in Arabic. At first, I had difficulties communicating with her, but later, my best friend helped me translate and taught me Arabic as well. I found the grandmother to be very knowledgeable about the religion and the Arab language and traditions. I learned, through her, the origin of the Islamic religion and how some of the Swahili and Arabic foods were prepared.
Before going to my friend place, I believed that the family could barely speak fluent English, but I was shocked to learn that only the grandmother could not speak fluent English. Surprisingly, most of the members could speak English as well as Spanish, which I was still learning. Also, I did not imagine that Muslims were very religious. To some extent, I think they are even more committed than most Christians when it comes to prayers, and I believe that this is one of the things that helps them shape their religion.
After the summer holiday at my friend's place, I learned quite a lot of things not only of the American Muslims but also about all the Muslims and the Arabs as well. First, I learned that Muslims only use the Quran which is mostly written in Arabic and that the Muslims have to memorize the entire Quran during their lifetime. This is unlike Christians who only make references to the Bible which comes in different versions. Besides, the Muslims are very committed to prayers. Lastly, Muslims believe that the Holy month of Ramadhan is one of the most critical periods of their lives and it helps them build on the five pillars of Islam.
The intercultural encounter was a learning period for me, and I believe that I learned quite a lot of things during this time. I also believe that it is essential for people of different cultures to interact so that they learn more about one another. Most people rely on what they are told about a particular group, and very few interact and learn about them. The summer holiday period was an excellent time for me to learn and appreciate my friend's culture. I learned that they could do some things better than people from my culture. The fact that people have different cultures does not imply that the other culture is not good. In fact, in most cases, the other culture might even be better.
In sum, I do not view Muslims the same way I used to before staying at my friend's house for the summer holiday. I also believe that I have not learned everything I need about Muslims and I am even intrigued to learn about other religions and cultures. I had developed an interest of learning about different cultures because I believe that although not all people subscribe to particular characteristics, it is essential to respect and appreciate one another and this can only be done when one learned about what the other people believe.
Williams, R. (2011). Culture is ordinary (1958). Cultural Theory: An Anthology, 53-59.
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