Culture is mainly defined as the customs, beliefs, and behavior of a group of people. Indeed, cultures can be found in several countries. However, it is more common to find people of the same culture residing in the same areas and countries. One can argue that the essence of culture is embedded in the fact that the people subscribed to it truly believe that their way of life makes sense and, to some extent, is better than other ways of life.
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For example, in the early 1990s, during the Balkan wars, women were raped as a way of ethnically cleansing them after the war (I Came to Testify). The community truly believed that the war had changed the way women interacted with their society. Thus, they needed some form of cleansing to ensure they remained within the confines of their cultural expectations. The action broke the women and killed their dignity (I Came to Testify). In turn, they were silenced and it took approximately 16 years for witnesses to come out and speak of the incidents. This essay looks into how cultural awareness and how different cultures have come up with creative ways of justifying some of their actions.
The different films that have been provided in the course work go a long way in showing how different cultures view the world. Rwanda is well known for the human genocide of 1994. There have been various arguments on the role of the global community in the activities that led to, happened during and happened after the genocide. However, today, Rwandans have taken action into their own hands by ensuring that they control everything within their country. For instance, they are fully dedicated to do community work every month (Rwanda: Millennium Village). On the other hand, in Ecuador, rose farmers have been suffering from the use of dangerous pesticides, poor working conditions, and corrupt management (Ecuador: Flower Power).
One can argue that the suffering in Ecuador is enhanced by the fact that the people have not fully taken action against the corrupt regime. The man highlighted in the film is different as he has embraced the fair trade model, and is reaping good benefits from the model (Ecuador: Flower Power). Towards this end, culture is seen to have affected both the behaviors of the Rwandans and the Ecuador citizens.
On the same note, in Nigeria, culture has shaped the way the public interacts with the terror group, Boko Haram (Hunting Boko Haram). The military in the country has been accused of mistreating innocent civilians in an attempt to make them identify members of the group. This measure is encouraged by the government. The premise goes to show that the Nigerian culture, through the political system, is dictatorial in nature.
This can be compared with the changing culture in Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia Uncovered). Saudi Arabia is well known for gender inequalities and human rights violations. However, there are several individuals who have taken strides in making change in the community (Saudi Arabia Uncovered). The efforts of these individuals has ensured change in the community as more people are coming out to embrace gender equality in the country (Saudi Arabia Uncovered).
Personal Cultural Awareness Competency
The videos that were presented to the class during the semester increased my cultural awareness and made me more competent in the area. Cross cultural awareness in this sense refers to the ability to acknowledge and appreciation of differences in customs (Faucher 286; Pallotta 71). One way the videos have done this is through offering great insights into how the different countries and customs perceive the environment, people, and cultures around them (Mirsky 630).
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For instance, the idea that individuals involved in terrorist groups can be rehabilitated was very interesting (From Jihad to Rehab). The fact that the community involved is keen on rehabilitating its own people is fundamental in understanding the war against terrorism, especially for countries that have been accused of harboring the terrorists. Additionally, it is important to note that much of the cultural change is brought on by one person. For instance, in Tanzania, Bart Weetjens is using rats to sniff out land mines (Tanzania – Hero Rats). This is different, faster, and more cost effective than using dogs, which has been the norm. The culture has changed such that the same application is being used in Mozambique.
In conclusion, cultural awareness can be brought on by exposure to different customs. Whether this exposure is done digitally or physically, it is crucial for people to not only acknowledge the differences in culture but also appreciate them. Appreciating cultures means understanding why a certain community believes their actions are validated. However, it does not necessarily mean agreeing with the said actions. It is important to note, whereas respecting culture is crucial in ensuring cultural awareness, individuals still can hold opinions on how those customs affect them, or the people involved. It is this realization that makes me believe I have become competent in the area of cultural competency.
Ecuador: Flower Power. Narrated by Cortney Hamilton and Deb Tullmann, Frontline PBS, 2008.
Faucher, Carole, et al. “Practical Steps for Using Interdisciplinary Educational Research to Enhance Cultural Awareness.” International Journal of Research & Method in Education, vol. 40, no. 3, 2017, pp. 288–298.
From Jihad to Rehab. Focal Point, 2008.
Hunting Boko Haram. Produced by Evans Williams, Frontline PBS, 2014.
I Came to Testify. Narrated by Matt Damon, Frontline PBS, 2011.
Mirsky, Julia. “Getting to Know the Piece of Fluff in Our Ears: Expanding Practitioners’ Cultural Self-Awareness.” Social Work Education, vol. 32, no. 5, 2013, pp. 626–638.
Pallotta, Colonel Maria J. “Cross-Cultural Competency Education at the U.S. Naval Academy.” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 143, no. 7, 2017, pp. 70–73.
Rwanda: Millennium Village. Narrated by Janet Tobias, Frontline PBS, 2008.
Saudi Arabia Uncovered. Narrated by Rabih Moghrabi, Frontline PBS, 2016.
Tanzania – Hero Rats. Produced by Cassandra Herrman, Frontline PBS, 2007.