Сross cultural interview
1) Where is the interviewee from and what is her cultural background?
The subject is a Palestinian-American woman. She was born in Louisiana, in a Palestinian Arabic family. The subject presents an interesting view since she lives a cross-cultural life. The woman seems to live and thrive in both worlds. On one hand, the she was born in the country makes her as American as anyone else, but her cultural background marks a series of significant differences that make her an interesting subject. Like me, she is part of both cultures and tries to take part of her home culture’s traits and traditions actively as a way of upholding and remembering her background.
2) What has the person found most surprising and different about this culture?
The subject reported she finds American culture more “easy-going” than her home culture. She considers that Palestinians are stricter than Americans, and they have a series of more stringent rules they enforce, opposed to the American idea of free-will and “going with the flow” of things. For instance, a capital difference reported by the interviewee is dorming. For most Palestinian families, dorming can be a sensitive issue given the fact that young women are left to their own devices for the first time in their lives. According to the subject, most Arabic families would rather have their children living with them while in college, to avoid any kind of unpleasant experience and for safety reasons. This also speaks of the collectivistic behavior of Arabs, as they consider that family is one of the most important institutions, and the best way to take care of each other is by being closer.
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Furthermore, the woman considers that subconsciously, the American culture urges you to take part of it, and in some cases, she feels like trying to swim in two different waters.
Like her, I also come from a collectivistic culture. Mexicans place a considerable degree of importance on family, and sometimes we can see many families living together or at least speaking to each other often as a way to keep close ties.
3) What does s/he miss most from the home culture?
Our interviewee states that Palestinian culture is more collectivistic when compared to American. That means they put more emphasis on the social interactions and family support. In the same way, parties and family gatherings play a capital role in Palestinians’ lives. Our subject states that events such as weddings are great places to meet with the family and strengthen their bonds. In the same way, those events serve as public rites of passage that help the couples to become active parts of the Arabic community, and mark the start of true adulthood.
4) What has helped him/her most in adjusting to the new culture?
The subject reported that while growing up in Louisiana, she did not have many Arabic or Palestinian friends. Instead, most of her friends are of American and Hispanic descent. Strictly speaking, the fact that her friends are of a different culture made her adaptation process faster. Although she is American, her primary culture is the Arabic-Palestinian. That difference can be stressful, as both cultures are different and removed from each other in terms of tastes and activities.
Likewise, although she is Palestinian to her American friends, she is American to her Palestinian family. Her relatives consider she has a whole different mindset than theirs, despite the cultural traits they share. The subject shows as a person who is completely adjusted to the American way of life and speaks about her relatives in a detached tone as if they were in an entirely different situation. She does care about them, but they seem to live in entirely different worlds despite all the cultural likenesses. As noted before, it is possible the subject does not feel comfortable in any of the cultures she takes part of. However, as an interviewer, I can relate to her because of my cultural heritage as a Mexican-American woman. While I speak English, my mother tongue is Spanish. This causes people to perceive me differently than when I talk in English.
5) What role do your contacts’ socio-economic status play in his/her experience here?
Our female interviewee considers that life in Palestine is a lot harder than living in the United States. According to her words, Palestinians live in poverty when compared to the American standard of living. Nevertheless, most Palestinians are not starving, yet live in humble conditions. The interviewee stated that although her family have enough money and assets to cover their primary necessities, they do not have much disposable income, and when it comes to acquiring luxury items, they think twice before doing it.
Education is also an important subject to take into account when assessing the cultural differences between Palestinians and Americans. For instance, the subject said that most of Palestinians focus on working and earning money instead of studying because the living conditions are much harder than in the United States, that makes them worry less about the education level, focusing on how much money they can earn to support their families, or migrating to a country where the living conditions are better.
This situation is relatable to my experience as a Mexican-American. Most Mexican immigrants come to the country looking for better opportunities, or fleeing from violent environments, much like what happens to Palestinians, who are in the middle of a war zone.
6) How has your contact person been changed by the experience in this country?
The subject would rather live in the United States. However, she considers that being able to grow up surrounded by your relatives is an important experience in her culture, and although she prefers America, she considers she should visit her relatives more often if able. However, given the violence in Palestine, she understands it is hard to go as much as she would like. She reports that being born in the United States changed her way of perceiving life, yet she does not feel completely American. Her growing up in an Arabic environment have made her way of seeing life altogether. On one hand, she tries to keep her traditions alive by taking an active part in them; while on the other she lives an American life, according to the American lifestyle.
What I can see is that her Palestinian background is visible when she actively speaks about it, and when she discusses her background with others. The fact that she has been able to make American friends and grow and thrive in the American culture shows her degree of adaptation as an individual.
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