In my cultural awareness assignment, my focus is on the Hispanic culture. Another name for the Hispanics is Latino, and they comprise of people of various heritages. In the United States of America, the term Hispanic refers to an individual who traces his or her ancestry to Cuba, Mexico, and Central America, Puerto Rico or any other Spanish culture irrespective of their race (Kanellos, 1994). Despite their diversity, the Hispanics show particular cultural trends that make them have a sense of shared identity. They display their lifestyles through language, eating habits, music, dressing, value systems, family organization, communication and individual behavior (Kanellos, 1994). The complexity and diversity of this population make it very interesting to study their culture since it portrays how people of different origins have come to form a sense of cultural identity which exemplifies them from the rest of the American population.
To gain a critical understanding and firsthand information about the Hispanic culture, I have not only committed to a close interaction with individuals from that culture but has also delved into sociological studies on what makes them a community. Through actual visits to the Hispanic dominated areas such as Texas where they are estimated to account for around 95% of the population, I have gained real-time experience with the people. In restaurants, food outlets, inner-city libraries such as those located in Laredo, entertainment places such as dancehalls and live performance nightclubs, I have gained an insight into the Hispanic culture in practice. Throughout my period of collecting information about the Hispanic culture for completion of my cultural awareness assignment, I have been profoundly guided by the fact that the best way to experience and get a better understanding of a culture is there when it is practiced as it is (Byram & Morgan, 1994). Ideally, whenever having an actual interaction with people practicing the Hispanic cultures, I do not allow them to realize that I am interested in taking any notes. The underlying concept behind my non-disclosure is that the people are likely to change their cultural patterns to suit a particular perception thus ruing my ability to experience the cultural practice in situ.
Apart from actually meeting and trying to exchange pleasantries with the Hispanics, I have invested much of my time to observe how they interact in free environments such as the restaurants. Some of the issues that I concentrate in finding include the nature of the relationship between the old and young, their regard for titles and hierarchy, general demeanor, formality or casualty of interactions, eating habits, and dressing. For instance, in the case where most of the Hispanics whom I observed in eateries gathered around tables and conversed freely despite the fact that they apparently never knew each other before, I would conclude that the Hispanics share openly with one another even if they are strangers (Byram & Morgan, 1994). Jointly sharing with strangers can only better occur through formal interactions in which one person tells the other his or her name then other exchanges follow. Another indication of the cultural pattern which I closely observed is how parents interact with their children in public (Saukko, 2003). For instance, if the parents publicly reprimand their errant children then I concluded that discipline for children, especially in the presence of adults is paramount among the Hispanics.
I have also interviewed various anthropologists who provide their insights into the Hispanic culture. My reason for interviewing many anthropologists about the Hispanic culture is the fact that sociological studies are often more subjective than an objective that even a professional may bear perspectives that are based in one way or the other. Therefore, I perceive that the more the number of interviewed professional, the further I assess which responses are more likely to be true and which are not hence able to make reliable and informed conclusions (Saukko, 2003). Obtaining the experiences and knowledge that such anthropologists have about the community are likely to give a representative overview of their cultural practices. Nonetheless, for ethical reasons, I will have to preserve the confidentiality of each of these interviewees but use their relevant responses in completing a comprehensive writing of the Hispanic culture and the aspects that distinguish them from the other American populations (Miller, 2012).
I have noted the incredibility of children in the study of cultures since they are not likely to twist facts to suit a given ideology. Therefore, I have carefully interacted with and tactically asked primary school children various aspects of their culture such as how their meals are prepared, who takes them out during vacations, the role of their mother and father in the house, and how they call their teachers (Byram & Morgan, 1994). Ideally, based on their responses, it would be able to draw an impression about how their culture is structured. For instance, if a child refers to their teacher as Jones instead of Mr. Jones then it indicates how they are not nurtured to respect titles which is a pointer to the cultural values and practices. However, I am often very cognizant of the fact that ethics in research require subjects to give their consent and that children may not have the ability to do so hence I usually restrict my questions to those that are a generalist as in any ordinary conversation (Miller, 2012). Furthermore, the fact that my research is anthropological, I have the advantage of acting as an undercover investigator but within the scope of research ethics.
In addition to observation, informal and formal interviews, I have also delved into the sourcing of secondary materials that document the Hispanic culture. Using keywords such as nature of communication among Hispanics, Hispanic lifestyle, and Hispanic population, I have managed to locate various electronic databases where relevant articles, journals, and periodicals are found (Byram & Morgan, 1994). These materials provide a detailed, systematic and reliable impression of every aspect of the Hispanic culture. From such secondary information, I have been able to screen which of the primary data obtained through interviews are factual. My understanding is that secondary materials are often subjected to rigorous and continuous assessment to thresh out incorrect information hence the final product is a reliable set of data that reflect the reality (Saukko, 2003). However, in doing last writing, I will use my sense of intuition to identify which of the materials have some element of bias and supplement them with evidential facts obtained through observation or interviews.
In summary, I have used a variety of approaches to gain critical insight into the Hispanic culture. The methods used include observation, interview, actual interaction with members of the culture and review of secondary materials. Some of the aspects of the Hispanic culture that I have focused on include language, eating habits, music, dressing, value systems, family organization, communication and individual behavior. In the end, I intend to gain a comprehensive view and understand the Hispanic culture.
Byram, M., & Morgan, C. (1994). Teaching and learning, language and culture. Clevedon [u.a.: Multilingual Matters.Kanellos, N. (1994). Sociology. Houston, Tex: Arte Publico Press [u.a..
Miller, T. (2012). Ethics in qualitative research. London: SAGE.
Saukko, P. (2003). Doing research in cultural studies: An introduction to classical and new methodological approaches. London: SAGE.
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