Cultural identity is the most significant thing that differentiates one person from another. Culture is of great significance for all people as far as it predetermines moral values, beliefs, the way of life, and the perception of the world. The term “heritage consistency” is used to describe the level of observance of native traditions in a foreign country. Heritage consistency comprises such processes as socialization, acculturation, and assimilation. Acculturation is the process of adaptation to the new culture. When the individual leaves the native country and migrates to the other, it can be rather a challenge to become a competent participant in the new society. Usually, adaptation takes many years. However, assimilation into the new culture is inevitable. Although first immigrates remain devoted to their traditions, they acquire many features of the new lifestyle. In the following paper, the heritage consistency and acculturation of the Russian immigrant are evaluated.
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Interviewee: Andrew Wood, 68 years old, born in Russia
Interviewer: Author’s name, age, born in Cuba
Acculturation is a challenging process for every individual. New countries, cultures, and people influence the way one perceives the world. According to Berry (2005), acculturation is a two-sided process that involves intercourse between the representatives of dissimilar cultures. A new environment changes people on the psychological level. It is a long-lasting process, and its intensity depends on the particular setting. In the following paper, the description of my cultural background will be presented as well as the evaluation of the acculturation process of the 68 years old immigrant from Russia.
Personal Cultural Background
I am Cuban, and I have a strong connection with my culture. There is a set of the most significant values for all Cuban families. Thus, all Cuban families emphasize the significance of family relations, the necessity to speak the native language, and follow traditions. Cuban people believe that man should be the breadwinner in the family. The mother tongue is of primary importance for all Cuban families, in particular for those who have migrated. First immigrants preserved their native language. However, it became much more difficult with the rise of “English-only” movements in American schools since the 1980s (Bernal & Shapiro, 2005). Cubans also value the power of humor. Thus, exaggeration and jokes are typical for the everyday talk between Cuban people. The connection with society is essential for all human families. It is not normal when families do not participate in social activities and prefer being unsociable.
The Analysis of Interviewee’ Heritage Consistency and Acculturation
I have interviewed Andrew Wood — an immigrant from Russia. He is 68 years old now. Andrew was born in the capital of Russia — Moscow. He left the country at the age of twenty. Andrew’s father was from Helena in Montana. He arrived in Moscow in 1945. At this time, it was difficult for foreigners to travel to the Soviet Union. However, Wood was a journalist who had to make a reportage about life in Russia immediately after the end of World War II. In 1945, he went to that country. While being in Russia, Andrew’s father met his mother. She was a girl who worked in a local canteen. They got married in a few months. Andrew was born two years later after their marriage. It was difficult for Andrew’s mother to leave the country, and they stayed in Moscow. They lived together with their grandparents. Andrew had a younger sister too. In Russia, the whole family lived in one house. Andrew got used to sharing everything with all members of the family. He spent most of his time with somebody. Consequently, family relations became of great significance for him. Andrew had many friends from kindergarten and school. When the family decided to immigrate, Andrew’s younger sister was already married. She preferred staying with her new family. Andrew was twenty years old when he had to leave everything so close to him. According to Padilla and Perez (2003), when a large group of people immigrates, they are less likely to face difficulties in the new environment and adapt to the new culture. Andrew and his mother were newcomers in a remarkably different world. Although American family members were kind to them, they did not understand each other.
Carteret (2013) defines “heritage consistency” as “a term used to describe how much or how little a person’s lifestyle reflects his or her traditional culture” (p. 1). Heritage consistency comprises such processes as socialization, acculturation, and assimilation. Socialization and acculturation are interconnected as far as the person becomes a member of a new society in the process of socialization. Andrew’s acculturation started almost immediately after he arrived in the U.S. His father got sick and passed away soon. Together with their mother, they were left alone in the extremely new society. Andrew had no financial support to enter school. Besides, he had to earn money for the family. He accepted all available jobs. He was a yard cleaner, shop assistant, and worker at the local plant. All his activities presupposed the interaction with Americans. Thus, he learned many things about the American culture and acquired some of them. For instance, playing golf is a purely American way of spending free time. Playing cards with friends was another habit that was acquired by Andrew in new settings. Andrew’s marriage was of extreme significance for his socialization. He had a son who visited the school and entered the college when he was an adult. His son was influenced by his father’s native culture to some extent. Thus, Andrew made his son interested in Russian literature.
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Assimilation, the last constituent of heritage consistency, should be investigated separately. According to the assimilation theory, there are three features of adaptation. First, the process of acquiring the dominant culture is inevitable. Second, assimilation presupposes the gradual disappearance of native traditions. Thi, complete assimilation is typical for the second or third generation of immigrants (Algan, Bisin, & Verdier, 2012). These stages can be observed in Andrew’s life. His assimilation is not complete. Andrew has a strong connection to his culture through religion. He only acquired some features of the American lifestyle. Although all his neighbors are of different religions and ethnicity, Andrew prefers being devoted to Christianity. Besides, he likes being called “Andrej” (the Russian variant of his name). Andrew’s son, in his turn, has lost many features of his father’s culture. He is fully assimilated into the American culture and faces no difficulties in being an active participant.
Andrew uses a variety of practices to maintain, protect, and restore his health. He always fasts. This practice is connected to his native culture. However, Andrew consulted a doctor to choose the most appropriate menu during fastening. It was done under the influence of American culture. Second, he has acquired the American features of a healthy lifestyle. Thus, he eats porridge, fruits, and vegetables. He likes to have a walk and play golf. However, Andrew adheres to the Russian traditions to maintain his spiritual health. He prays, attends Church, and wears the crucifix. Besides, he still uses Russian recipes of special treatment with the help of herbs. Andrew understands that it is important to monitor his health. Although he does not like medicines, he visits the doctor to check his health condition. Also, American doctors help Andrew to eliminate his suffering from heartburn. Andrew acknowledges that Russian people have a lifestyle that is often harmful to health. For instance, they like eating fried and salted food regardless of their health condition. In the U.S., Andrew’s acculturation mostly refers to the way of life and health care. The Russian cultural consistency is dominant in spiritual life.
Heritage Assessment Tool
- Where was your mother born? Moscow, Russia
- Where was your father born? Helena, Montana
- Where were your grandparents born?
- Your mother’s mother? Moscow, Russia
- Your mother’s father? Moscow, Russia
- Your father’s mother? Helena, Montana
- Your father’s father? Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
- How many brothers and sisters do you have? One sister.
- What setting did you grow up in? I grew up in urban settings in Moscow
- What country did your parents grow up in? My mother grew up in Russia and my father in the USA
- How old were you when you came to the United States? I was 20 years old.
- How old were your parents when they came to the United States? My mother was 50 and my father was 55.
- When you were growing up, who lived with you? I lived with my parents and grandparents.
- Have you maintained contact with aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and/or sisters? I have lost contact with all my relatives from Russia. I visit my father’s relatives from time to time.
- With your parents and own children? My parents are no longer with me. My only son is already an adult and has his own life. I meet him once or twice a year.
- Did most of your aunts, uncles, and cousins live near your home? No
- Approximately how often did you visit your family members who lived outside your home? Approximately once in three months.
- Was your original family name changed? No
- What is your religious preference? I am Orthodox.
- Is your spouse the same religion as you? Yes
- Is your spouse the same ethnic background as you? No
- What kind of school did you go to? Public
- As an adult, do you live in a neighborhood where the neighbors are of the same religion and ethnic background as yourself? My neighbors have different religions and ethnic backgrounds.
- Do you belong to a religious institution? Yes, I do.
- Would you describe yourself as an active member? Yes
- How often do you attend your religious institution? Every Sunday, and during all Christian holidays.
- Do you practice your religion in your home? Always. I prey, diet, and read Bible.
- Do you prepare foods of your ethnic background? Yes
- Do you participate in ethnic activities? Other. I read books in Russian and watch the news.
- Are your friends from the same religious background as you? Not all of them.
- Are your friends from the same ethnic background as you? I still have a penfriend from Russia. He is my only friend with the same ethnic background.
- What is your native language? Russian
- Do you speak this language? Rarely
- Do you read your native language? Yes
|Maintain HEALTH||Are there special clothes you must wear at certain times of the day, week, or year? |
I always wear special clothes on religious holidays.
Are there special foods you must eat at certain times?
Yes, I always fast during Lent and try to fast every Friday.
Do you have any dietary restrictions?
I have to restrict eating too salted and spicy food because of heartburn
Are there any foods that you cannot eat?
|What do you do for activities, such as reading, sports, and/or games? |
I like to go for a walk every morning. I always read books and like playing cards with my friends. I also play golf.
Do you have hobbies?I collect coins
Do you visit family often?
Do you visit friends often?
|Do you practice your religionand attend church or other communal activities?I am Christian and I always attend church. |
Do you pray or meditate?
Do you observe religious customs?
Do you belong to fraternal organizations?
|Protect HEALTH||Are there foods that you cannot eat together? |
I cannot eat too spicy and salted food.
Are there special foods that you must eat?Vegetables, fruits, and porridge
Are there any types of clothing that you are not allowed to wear?
|Are there people or situations that you have been taught to avoid? |
Yes, I always avoid quarreling in public places with unknown people.
Do you take extraordinary precautions under certain circumstances?
Do you take time for yourself?
I always have time for myself
|Do you observe religious customs? |
All of them.
Do you wear any amulets or hang them in your home?
Do you have any practices, such as always opening the window when you sleep?
|Restore HEALTH||Physical |
What kinds of medicines do you take before you see a doctor or nurse?
I do not take any medicines before seeing a doctor or nurse
Are there herbs that you take?
Are there special treatments that you use?Yes, mostly Russian traditional treatments
Do you know of any specific practices your mother or grandmother may use to relax?
My grandmother used to knit to relax.
Do you know how big problems can be cared for in your community?
I think we should expect our opinions and ways of life first of all.
Do you drink special teas to help you unwind or relax?
Camomile tea is a good way to relax for me
Do you know of any healers?No, I don’t
Do you know of any religious rituals that help to restore health?
Yes, fastening is a good way to clean my organism.
Do you meditate?
Did you ever go to a healing service?
Algan, Y., Bisin, A., & Verdier, T. (2012). Perspectives of Cultural Integration of Immigrants: Introduction. In Y. Algan, A. Bisin, A. Manning, & T. Verdier (Eds.), Cultural Integration of Immigrants in Europe (pp. 1-48). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Bernal, G., & Shapiro, E. (2005). Cuban Families. In M. McGoldrick, J. Giordano, & N. Garcia-Preto (Eds.), Ethnicity and Family Therapy (pp. 202- 214). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Berry, J. (2005). Acculturation: Living Successfully in Two Cultures. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29(1), 697-712.
Carteret, M. (2013). Dimensions of Culture. Web.
Padilla, A., & Perez, W. (2003). Acculturation, Social Identity, and Social Cognition: New Perspective. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 25(1), 35-55.