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Exploring Hispanic/Latino Culture: A Key to Unlocking the World's Languages

6 pages
1435 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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The culture that I selected in my study was Hispanic/Latino culture. It is worthy for people to understand other people's language in addition to their languages. The selection of the Latino culture is pivotal in my research because Hispanics/Latinos account up to 17 per cent of the people in the nation, or about 53 million. Also, the language that most Hispanics/Latinos traditionally speak (Spanish) is number two on the list of, "Top 10 Non-English Languages Most Commonly Spoken in the World" (Potowski et al. 18). Before I began this process, while I don't feel like I held too many strong stereotypes or prejudices, I, of course, did have some general assumptions. I assumed that most Hispanics/Latinos spoke Spanish, most were Catholics, the working class was made up of talented football players.

During my research study, I interacted with Hispanics/Latinos who were not able to speak in English. Some of them were my friends; therefore, we usually use a third culture style and language to improve our relationships and performance. In other words, we adapted to one another, accordingly, creating a communication style that is different from either of our languages to make communication effective and prevent possible barriers that might have arisen from the event. Communication barriers usually occur due to a difference in culture and language (Potowski et al. 98). This research helped me to gain experiences in communication, therefore, improving my confidence. The skills I learned for the research boosted my communication behavior because I was able to go through various intercultural situations with an open mind and do not automatically make assumptions on other people's character and culture.

Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to create and encourage knowledge, respect, and understanding of the Hispanic/Latino culture, and to also provide communication strategies that can advance the use and describe the importance of the Ethical Imperative. Ethics are principles of conduct that determine the behaviors and interactions of people in their societies (Ortiz et al. 76). It is pivotal to respect and treat other people with dignity in society. Honesty and respect form the core of Ethical Imperative in all aspects of life. My primary research question is: What can I learn in terms of communication, culture, identity, etc. from the Hispanic/Latino community? The main section to be covered in this paper include my interaction with the Hispanic/Latino after I attended a church service in the Baptist church. Essential communication and cultural context provide a basis for evaluating my experience after interacting with people from new cultural beliefs. This experience was socially and culturally different because I do not communicate or understand the Spanish language, and none of my friends is Hispanic/Latino.

Description of the Field Research and Intercultural Communication

My research comprised of several events that I attended to interact with Hispanics. I participated at a Hispanic/Latino Baptist church service on a Sunday morning. The service was conducted entirely using the Spanish language. My mother escorted me because she was once a Spanish minor in college. The area where I went for the services was predominated by the Whites and English-speaking people, but their church services were conducted in the Spanish language each pastor would serve an approximate number of 75-100 people in the sermon. Most of the people in the ceremony were from Hispanic/Latino culture. We walked into the room and were immediately warmly greeted by many of the congregation, a few that my mother and I knew from my old high school. We were asked to introduce ourselves to the group. The believers thanked us for attending the church service. Afterwards, the pastor asked what people wanted to give thanks to God about/ if there were any prayer requests, and people voluntarily stood and gave their requests and thanksgiving to God.

The service then continued with an official greeting and some announcements, a prayer was said, and then the music worship section of the ceremony began. Keep in mind, that, this is all being done in Spanish. It took us a while to adjust to hearing only Spanish at first, but about 15-30 minutes into the service, my mother and I were following along pretty well. Words for the music were projected on a screen to help us sing along, which was helpful. The pastor then prayed after the praise and worship songs to end the music session. A verse was read from a bible to guide us on the thematic concept of the sermon. The verse was read by one of the believers. From the involvement of all people in the service, it was clear that the Hispanic/Latino culture and recognises the importance of inclusive participation in society. To my surprise, the pastor was a White man because his accent was not stable and he also spoke slowly. This pastor had once taught my mother in a Spanish private school. The speaker did take long to deliver the message. All in all, the event lasted for about two hours. After the divine hour, the preacher ended with a prayer and dismissed the congregation.

I then approached the White speaker to converse with him and ask some questions about the Hispanic/Latino culture. From the interaction with the pastor, I learned that tolerance and attitude determine my experience after the social research study. The speaker also identified the language barrier as a challenging factor towards learning the Hispanic language and familiarising with their culture. After the church service, I was able to interact with different people and learned a lot more about this culture from this experience.

Analysis of the Latino/Hispanic Culture

I think that the meaning of the event is to communicate to people their religious and spiritual beliefs through their native language. I feel that having a Spanish service like this helps people who maybe don't speak English as well to make better meaning out of the concept taught. Latinos must depend on their communication to fulfill the need for self-validation (Ortiz et al, 2013, p. 23). However, I also think that the real meaning of the service is to reach people for "God's cause" regardless of their native language or their race. My interaction with the pastor made me know more about the perception of people on the spread of Christianity in the world. The speaker mentioned that many people see the language barrier as a hindering factor towards the transmission of God's word. This is not the case according to him because he started his Christian missionary work in China. I think that this event affirms cultural identity because it lets Hispanic/Latino people gather with people who share ethnic, racial, social, religious, and linguistic similarities.

The people in the service seemed to take great pride in their religious beliefs and their culture and language. You could tell this just by observing how they acted in the church. The Hispanics/Latinos were not ashamed of their culture and language though they are among the minority ethnic groups in the country. I expected that the Hispanic/Latino people would shun me in the church, but they turned to be friendly people. The Hispanics/ Latinos appreciate the existence of diversity in the country because they welcomed me without any intimidation. This behavior gave a positive representation of the church and the Hispanic/Latino culture. The apparent character identified on the Hispanics/Latinos left me with several questions. The questions were: Who taught the Hispanics/Latinos to welcome strangers and be gracious hosts? Are they taught how to relate with other people with different cultures, even if you don't know them? Are the Hispanics/Latinos born with their good characters? The excellent treatment I received from the church made me want to follow their example and be more kind and welcoming to new or different people I interacted together.

Generally, my intercultural experience very positive. I learned that the negative impacts of the language barrier to communication could be prevented through the use of semi-bilingual and intercultural skills. The ability to recognise the diversity forms foundation for understanding the cultural beliefs of other people (Potowski et al, 2014, p. 64). From my field research on intercultural communication, I realised that the Hispanic/Latino culture instils ethical values like kindness, love and respect because these norms improve spirituality of people and their relationships with other people in the society.

Works Cited

Ortiz et al. How to Achieve the" American Dream"-Without Losing Your Latin Soul!: Bridging the Gap Between Two Worlds. AuthorHouse, 2013.

Potowski et al. "Spanish in the United States." Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States. Routledge, 2014. 104-114.

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