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Intercultural Interview Essay

2356 words - 10 pages

Intercultural Interview


Through analysis and comparisons of our cultures, I hope to be able to determine what cause cultural conflicts and specifically, those Ernesto and his family encountered on arriving to the United States. I will use data from Hofstede and references from Adler’s text to take a retrospective look into our belief and value systems. By doing so, we will gain a better understand of how cultural heritage plays an important role in how we develop stereotypes and misconceptions. Interviewing Ernesto should give he and I a better understanding on how we view each others culture.

Since I do not have work colleagues, I chose to interview a friend of mine ...view middle of the document...

When I asked Ernesto about his father, he said that his father was absent from his life as far back as he can remember. I would almost have the same answer. My father was in and out of my life when I was a kid. He also left my mother to fend for her two kids. I know what it feels like to have one less breadwinner in the household. Life was understandably tough for Ernesto growing up in Panama. Even so, our mothers worked hard to keep food on the table. When everyone around you is poor, it is hard to compare who is the poorest. His mother wanted a better life for her and her children, and after a long struggle, they had finally saved enough money to come to the United States.

Ernesto still has extended family in Panama, and he often travels back to visit them and attend festivals. When I asked him why he goes back so often he said, “It gives him a sense of belonging by keeping in touch with his roots”. Ernesto’s extended family members are closer geographically, while mine are spread across country. This is not surprising. Panamanian families traditionally live in the same areas. Americans on the other had are less group oriented and their relationships are more mobile (Adler, 2008, p. 29).His extended family are pretty much in the same area. He says Panamanians are a lot nicer than Americans, and I told him most people who immigrate usually hear say that.

There are similarities in how we came to worship our particular faiths. We both practiced faithfully when we were younger, he the Catholic faith, and me Christian Baptist. When I asked him why Catholicism he replied, “It was the only religion his family has ever known”. This was not surprising considering that about 84% of Panamanians are Catholic, (Background Note: Panama, 2007).). Growing up I also attended church regularly and blacks from the South only went to Baptist churches. It seems that our religious beliefs are based more on our heritage more than choice. This would explain how our religious beliefs materialized. In the United States, they find it difficult to practice their faith regularly due to work schedules and life styles.

Ernesto came from a broken home, which isn’t the norm in Panama. The Panamanian culture is a group-oriented society that is defined by family unity and loyalty. So naturally, when they came to the United States, they were surprised at the number of unwed mothers and the lack of respect given to family elders. It was difficult for them to understand how the lack of family unity and cohesiveness could exist in American society. I told Ernesto that this was not always the case in our history, and made him aware of the various reasons why the family social structure has deteriorated, especially in black communities.

Social Stratification

Social stratification systems in Panama have made upward social and financial mobility difficult. The caste system ascribes to status where ethnicity, skin color and family background played a major role in how...

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