Culture is learned. It is passed down through groups of people. This assignment is designed to help you reflect on and identify your cultural background.
Because culture must come from somewhere, I would like you to think about the following questions by reflecting on the values and customs you were taught as you were growing up, either by your family of origin or cultural group. If you feel that you had other important cultural influences, please include those in your responses.
In addition to responding to the questions, you may add any other information that you feel is important to you and your cultural identity. Remember that this paper should be useful to you in understanding your cultural background, and so you must decide what is important to include and what you feel comfortable sharing.
I will grade this assignment on thorough answers and your demonstrated understanding of what culture is, where it comes from, and how your values and traditions are unique.
Please answer the following questions in paragraph form. You should have at least 1 paragraph for each numbered section. You do not have to answer each individual question, though the questions are designed to give insight into cultural practices representative of each area. Include specific examples that show both the how and why of your practices.
Who is in your family? Who lives together?
Is there a hierarchy of authority in your family and how does it work?
What are some of the strong values of your family?
What are the roles of the children in the family?
What are the values regarding discipline and how important is it? How is it enforced?
Who is responsible if someone misbehaves?
Who can disagree with whom in the family?
What is the importance of the individual family member vs. the family as a whole?
2. Life Cycle
Are there any attitudes, expectations or behaviors towards individuals in your family or community at different stages of life? For example: What are the expectations/ behaviors of how the elderly are treated? parents? children? anyone else? Is one stage of life more valued than another? Is any stage more difficult? How do you commemorate, if at all, the changing of one age or stage of life to the next? Are there any special commemorations?
What language(s) are used in your family? Is this the same language used in the community? Is the language a written language, and how important is it to know the written form?
Are there any characteristics of “speaking well”? Is this emphasized or not? How do people greet each other?
Does this differ depending on the age of the people?
4. Interpersonal Relationships
What is expected behavior for males and females? Are there behaviors that are considered unacceptable?
How do men/ women or girls/ boys interact? Does it change at different ages?
Is it acceptable for family members to express and share feelings? What are the beliefs and values involving the expression of feelings?
What is the religion of your family?
Is regular involvement in religious practices important to family members?
Is participation in religious rituals practiced in the family? Give examples.
Are there any dietary restrictions or health practices observed either on a regular basis or on particular occasions?
6. Health and Hygiene
Who or what is believed to cause death or illness?
Who cures illness?
How are illnesses treated? What kind of medical practices are used?
What beliefs or practices are there regarding bodily hygiene (i.e.: bathing frequency, cleanliness rituals)
What happens when someone dies? Are there practices and rituals associated with death?
What foods are eaten? Are there any foods that are not eaten or forbidden?
Are there any rules observed during meal times, i.e. where meals are eaten, order of serving,utensils used, appropriate verbal communication, manners, etc.?
What relation does food have to health? Are any foods used medicinally?
8. Dress and Personal Appearance
What is typical clothing? What is formal clothing?
Does the type of dress differ for age or sex?
What are the attitudes associated with modesty? Who can wear what? What is considered immodest?
How important is physical appearance? What physical characteristics are most valued? Is it different for males and females?
Are there certain colors of dress associated with symbolic meanings (i.e. black for mourning? white? red?)
9. History, Holidays and Traditions
What holidays and celebrations are observed? How are they observed? What special meaning do they have?
Are there events in history that are a source of pride for the family or group?
Do any ceremonies or traditions commemorate historical events? How are they celebrated?
Do any ceremonies or celebrations have special significance for children?
What beliefs or values are associated with concepts of time?
How important is punctuality? Is it considered acceptable or unacceptable when someone does not adhere to time restraints?
11. Natural Phenomena
What beliefs or values are associated with natural phenomena such as the sun, moon, stars, day and night, the heavens, etc.?
Who or what is responsible for natural disasters such as rains, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, etc.?
To what extent is there a belief in fate or luck?
12. Aspirations and Expectations
What is expected for a family member to be successful in their life?
What do they have to do or be to achieve this?
Are the expectations different for children than they were for their parents?
What role does education and learning play?
13. Optional: other information you want to share regarding your cultural background?
14. Summary: your thoughts after writing this paper? What have you discovered about what culture is through writing this?