I love talking with children and getting their perspectives and this topic was perfect. I had the perfect opportunity to discuss diversity and culture with my young cousins that were visiting this weekend. The girls were eleven year old twins and a twelve year old, African American and from different families. When I asked the girls about the words culture and diversity at first they just giggled. Then the twins began to throw out words such as family, color and the way you look. The twelve-year-old shared that she taught that diversity meant that people were different. When asked more about the topics one of the girls said that our culture is how we live and that is a part of us.
I also spoke with my co-workers on this topic who are a very diverse group of women. One of the ladies is in her mid-fifties from Pakistan and she described culture as our way of life. She said that it is what defines us, how we relate to the world and how we adapt to it. She went on to tell how when she first moved to America her culture was very different from the one that she identifies with now because she has adapted. This was interesting because while she has made several changes and enjoys her life here her husband spends most of his time in Pakistan.
From both conversations it was plain to see that the people I spoke with had a basic understanding of culture. How does this relate to what I've learned so far? First of all, each person immediately identified their families as being a part of their culture as well as their ethnic makeup. Second, in my discussion with my co-worker she mentioned how our culture changes. This goes part to our studies on social identities and how we define ourselves. While we may have many different social identities we are constantly developing and refining them. As I talked with my co-worker I thought about what she was really saying just as I thought about my own cultural changes when working on the reflective journals. I enjoyed talking to the girls because they provided me with the opportunity to learn more about them. When they spoke of diversity they began to tell me about their schools. They are in the same grades but different schools, the twins are even in different classrooms so their interactions are different throughout the day. The twelve-year-old talked about how the people in school are different but they all have to work and play together no matter what their differences. I think that it is great when we have the opportunity to talk to people about their cultures because again you never know who they truly are. It's also a great way to learn how others relate to the world. For instance, some immigrants talk about their original cultures, the culture they left behind and wanting to preserve it, the teacher at my center took me by surprise in saying that while she loves her family that is still there she is very happy where she is. My own thinking on the topics have not changed but I think that it is interesting how early on we begin to understand what culture and diversity are. On the topic of diversity one of my mom's favorites stories about me being in school for the first time dealt with my lack of knowledge concerning diversity. As the story goes I rushed home really excited to tell my mom about my first boyfriend. I told her that he was really nice, sweet and looked just like me and my teacher. Of course my mom knew that I was African American and my teacher was Caucasian so curiosity got the best of her as she came to school the next day to meet him. To recap, me African American, teacher Caucasian, my boyfriend was Hispanic. She always teases me about this story but I think it's the perfect example of how naive I was on issues of diversity but children today are a part of a very, very diverse population.