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Sense of cultural identity

1. How you maintained and expressed your sense of cultural identity

2. How your sense of cultural identity has changed, strengthened or weakened

3. How you have adapted to other cultures

Answers:

1) As a migrant from a very conservative North African society with mixed


background of Amazigh (Berber) and Arab culture, it is paramount for me to keep
myself tuned into my cultural identity in order somehow to safeguard my identity and
make sure my kids and future generation will still benefit from their Arabic-Amazigh
cultural background this is achieved through the daily use of the Algerian language,
the follow up of all religious rituals and celebration of cultural events

2) As an effect of the separation from the motherland the cultural identity can only
be weakened despite the spike in self-preservation feelings as we tend to stay aware of
any major concessions or changes to our behavior towards the loss of our original
cultural background and at best can be adapted specially nowadays with all media
manipulation and the stigmatization the Muslim world is going through, there is a
sense of self-censorship as not to display your cultural difference as Muslims look a
little bit like Jews under Nazi regime thanks god this doesnt apply much to the Irish
society compare to the French society.

3) The adaptation of cultural identity to the surrounding environment is a process


that is self-applied in order to blend with the local culture, we do tend to stretch our
limits to absorb the local culture to a certain limit which doesnt conflict with our
original background as an example a do socialize in pub as they are the social meeting
point in the Irish culture but I do not drink any alcohol which would be against my
cultural identity and believes.

1. How you maintained and expressed your sense of cultural identity


2. how your sense of cultural identity has changed, strengthened or weakened
3. How you have adapted to other cultures

1. I left my native country, France, twenty-five years ago, then I was very young and after some
two years of travelling I decided to move and live to Ireland. I married here with an Irish man and
had my children here. As my husband did not speak French I had to communicate all the time in
English with him, his family and his friends. My children unfortunately do not speak French. I was
very willing to integrate well in my new adopted country and life but in the same time I tried to
preserve some cultural traditions and customs and celebrate them in my family. Food and cooking
in the French style was a constant French tradition I have constantly preserved and also the way I
dress. Being in touch with my culture through listening to music, reading and being informed
about the political and cultural life are other ways of maintaining contact with my French origins.
2. A lot of things changed culturally speaking, mainly: lifestyle, way of socializing and spending
my free time (a lot of time indoors) because of the bad weather and little handy entertainment.
Curiously enough I feel like a rupture in my cultural identity: I do not feel Irish even if I have
lived in Ireland for more than 25 years now and I do not have any more a strong feeling of
belonging to my country either. My sense of belonging weakened a lot but in the same time if I
miss the French style life. Losing all my friends in France and a good part of my family I
developed new connections but still I miss my Frenchness. Paradoxically when in France I feel
proud of my Irishness

3. The first step that helped me to adapt to Ireland was without any doubt through language.
After mastering quite well the English even if spoken with a strong French accent in the first
years, I started to feel at ease in my new environment. Through marriage I have been immersed in
the local culture and have started to create my social network. I feel integrated, and I have adopted
a lot of Irish cultural elements but one thing that I really miss is food.

1. How you maintained and expressed your sense of cultural identity


2. How your sense of cultural identity has changed, strengthened or weakened
3. How you have adapted to other cultures

1. I am Italian and I came in Ireland five years ago looking for a professional
opportunity. There are a lot of significant cultural differences between my culture and
the Irish one and I found it difficult to adapt myself to the new environment mainly
because of the lack of Italian gastronomy. I feel that the culinary taste plays an
important part in my life and I maintained it unaltered. Even if I try to mix myself in
the Irish culture, I am strongly connected to the customs of my country, to the cultural
life, to socializing and spend my free time. Food, music, speaking Italian, dressing
style are only some of the aspects defining my sense of cultural identity.
2. Even if cultural or personal identity it is not once-and-for all, I believe that it is too
late now at my age to have it dramatically changed. Culturally I feel very conected to
my culture but in the same time I am quite aware that nolens volens my cultural
identity become richer with every different cultural exposure and interaction. One
thing that I believe weakened over time it was my ethnocentrism, fortunatelly.
3. I am finding myself in full process of adaptation, linguistically and culturally. I think
that language is a huge barrier and slows the process of adaptation. Once you can
communicate in the language of the host country at a very good level, I mean being
able to use fully your sense of humour and play with words, one can hope to become
closer and closer to another culture. Thus I try to adapt by socializing more often with
native people, to join them and spend more time in their company and to keep
focusing myself on finding similarities rather than differences.

4. 1. Report on your set task (no more than half a page).

My three interviewees are natives from Algeria, France and Italy and they are between the
ages of 40-47. The first two have also the Irish citizenship. Their answers at the three
questions have a lot of similarities and they contextualised their experiences and provide me
with a lot of examples that were not listed here. All of them express their cultural identity
mainly through language, traditions, rituals religious or not, food, dressing style.
How you maintained and expressed your sense of cultural identity

Strenght of the nostalgic value of food

5. 2. In one paragraph, describe your cultural identity, as you perceive it. Then, explain what

aspects of your culture (e.g. certain behaviours, religion, rituals, celebrations, food, language,

lifestyle etc) have the greatest influence on your sense of cultural identity, and why. (Write no more

than one page on this question)

Defining cultural identity that part of my self I share meaningfully with others in the middle of whom I

happened to get born and live for nearly theree decades of my life in the same geographically and culturally

territory, I could include, apart from the visible components, such as language, dress code, some general

physical features, religion, awareness of the same collective memory and historical past, ways of

celebrating, gastronomy and practices of interacting and socializing, natural landcape, the flavour of

different seasons, the social expectations, manners and some behavioural patterns, other more relevant

aspects that provides me a sense of belonging and identification with my reference group.

Among these I would emphasize some more ambiguous and elusive elements such as a certain sense of

predictability, of familiarity, of knowing how and why, of confidence in reading and interpreting signs,

symbols, gestures whose meanings seem to come like echoes from undentifiable sources. The feeling of

being sure about the genuine meaning people convey, the deep understanding of the puns, of the lexical

ambiguities, of the social emotions, along with a shared collective memory of some flavours, scent of

flowers we can not find elsewhere, laughing about apparently meaningless stupid things but because we

know why give me that unique and distinctive sense of belonging and sharing the same cultural identity.

The collective visual experiences of the topography of the cities, the sacred or profane buildings and their

architectural style, the church bells rinning, the typical food ingrediens and spices, the modern avenues or

the picturesques hidden gems, the hurly-burly of the cities, the confusing way people understand to walk on

the streets or to use the public transport, all of these tangible and intangile elements make up my cultural

identity map, are the compass indicating me I am home.


6. 3. Describe a cultural group that you have observed or heard about, but are not
involved with. List cultural traits that you associate with the group. (Do not do any

research into this). Briefly state how you identified the traits on your list (e.g. one

observation, repeated observations, from others, movies, etc). (Answer in point

form)

The Romani or Roma Group in Romania

Known also as Gypsies or Rroms in Romanian language is an ethnic group and in the same
time a diverse community living in Romania. They are divided in many subgroups whose
names usually derives from their occupation herited and practised by its members throughout
generations. Among the main groups I could mention: Aurari (Goldsmiths) and Argintari
(Silversmiths), Aramari (Tinkers), Aramari (Tinkers), Caramidari (Brick makers), Spoitori
(Tinsmiths), Ursari (Bear leaders), Maturari (Sweepers); Gunoieri (Scavangers/ Garbage
carriers), Florari (Florists), Ghicitori (Fortune tellers), Gaborii (Gypsies with hat).
As a result of a long process of observation and living in their proximity, the main visible
cultural traits I would highlight are:

Roma language combined with a mixed of Romanian words and expressions


Traditional dress code, very colourful, large skirts, and composed of unmistakable
clothing pieces (headscarf, apron, hat for men etc)
Ostentatious appearance : mainly gold jewelry in big quantity, headdresses decorated
with coins as a display of prosperity and opulance
They are engaged in traditional occupations such as : producing jewels or objects of
worship, unburnt clay bricks, cooper cookwares. The women are famous for being
fortune tellers;
Use to practice begging, even children in large proportion
Are gifted for playing instruments, for singing and usually they are invited to entertain
even in the Romanian events
Usually dedicate to collecting iron, recyclable things and sell them for a living
Do not mix with the dominat Romanian culture and adopt very few begaviours,
traditions and life style
Their houses are huge, very coloured, the gates/ doors are always open; they use to
live in tents around the house
Listen music very loudly, spend a lot of time outside on the streets, in groups being
very loudly, listening their tradition music outside
In some comunities, they thave their legal system, bulibasa being the head and the
gathering of judgement composed of elders of the community (Kris)

7. 4. Identify at three ways (verbal or non-verbal) that you communicate your identification with

your cultural group.


a. Apologies

Greetings, compliments, requests, complaints, excuses, justifications, and

apologies represent a few communication behaviors common to all people form

all cultures. Apologies, for example, are a part of daily life and as a a

communicative behavior reflects deep cultural structures.

As communication behaviors are influenced by cultural patterns, the way of

apologizing, both verbally and non verbally is a cultural phenomenon as well.

Individuals usually apologize when they do something wrong, on behalf of other

people or just apologize for an objective situation even if there was not their

fault. Apologizing is a social convention, a cultural phenomen and I feel a close

identification with my cultural group in the way of expressing excuses myself and

I recognize as fulfilling my expectations when people for my cultural group

present their excuses to me. The language used, the emotions and the way of

expressing it by gestures, facial expression is quite similar between me and

majority of people from my culture. I can easily discriminate within my cultural

group when someone apologize because feels deeply sorry or just as a

consequence of good manners, social constraints or for calming the pottential

aggressivity , embarrassement or the sense of guilt.

b. Hospitality

I would describe the people from my cultural group, namely the Romanian, as

very friendly, easy going and expressive when they talk. I feel they are, in

general, quite approchable, direct and feel at ease interacting with foreigners.

Are welcoming and one of the main trait I would like to highlight is that are

very hospitable. I feel very connected with the way I share this cultural trait

with people from my culture and I define myself culturally coherent with the
way of understanding welcome and treat other people I am in contact with.

Gestures like inviting for a drink and homemade food, offering small gifts,

making people feel at home are quite instinctual even if, personally I try to

have under control this instinctual effusiveness when in contact with people

from quite different cultural environments, as a way of avoiding

misunderstandings due cultural differences.

c. Interacting and expressing feelings

As Latins, Romanian are very warm people. We feel very comfortable with

hugs, shaking hands kisses on the cheek when greeeting or departing,. We

display our feeelings and emotions, use a lot of gestures when

communicating, touch, the physical distance is very close and direct eye

contact is very commun. Having an extrovert personality, I feel very

comfortable when interacting with people sharing similar cultural traits even if

I have no difficulty in adapting and adjusting my behaviour and way of

communicating when facing different ways of interaction and expectations.

More than that, I discovered throughout my professional experience that often

I prefer to be part of a team with dominant cultural traits different from mine

as per the opportunity of being exposed to a variety of ways of solving

problems, conveying messages, adapting behaviours, controlling emotions

etc.

8. 5. Discuss with others to identify three specific examples in which specific cultures have

adapted to another culture. Why do you think these adaptations occurred?


a. McDonald`s on Indian market

When a corporation first enters a new environment with diverse culture faces major cultural challenges

and conflictual pressures between standardization and adaptation. The sociocultural differences

between the American fastfood chain and India are very strong not only in culture, but also in religion
and the company has to build up strategies in order to respond to religious sensibilities (Indians do not

eat pork, beef, the cows are sacred , most of them are vegetarians). McDonald`s entered in a complex

cultural adaptation process of adjusting the American cultural patterns and behaviours in order to

become consistent with the local culture. After being the target of vandalism because of the use of beef

flavoring in the fries, the American corporation understood that the cultural adaptation is not only an

exotic requirement but a deadly serious matter as it is related not only to cultural tastes but to deep

religious taboos. Thus they had to customise its product offering specifically to India, to re-formulate

recipes, to use local spices and to organise internally the way restaurants are operating. For instance,

the menu have distinct boards green for vegetarian, purple for non vegetarian products; separate

restaurant kitchens for meat and non-meat were established with kitchen employees wearing different

uniforms to distinguish their roles etc.

Failure in adapting to the most deep cultural patterns is the failure of a corporate business project or of

an individual project. The failure of the giant McDonald`s in Bolivia is only one testimony to the

importance of cultural pattern. McDonald`s failed to live up to the basic culinary expectations of

Bolivian culture: a good meal must be prepared with love, dedication, certain hygiene standards and

proper cook time, and Bolivian people feel McDonalds is the polar opposite of these things

b. Adaptation to Quebec culture

Having lived for more 6 years in Canada, of which 5 in Quebec city, and having been in touch closely

with the Romanian community in Quebec, I would say that, from my direct personal experience, most

Romanian immigrants embrace quite easily the Quebec culture and lifestyle and the enculturation

process takes place without psychological dramas. Quebec is a multicultural society and has active

policies of immigration, welcoming every year thousands of newcomers. Immigration is part and

parcel of Canada's national and historical makeup and cultural diversity is at the heart of their policies.

Broadly speaking, Romanian community seems quite integrated in the culture quebecoise and easily

embraces its values and feel a sense of belonging and attachment to Quebec and Canada. The reasons

why this enculturation process usually is a success can be explaned, in my opinion, firstly because
immigrating to Canada, mainly in Quebec is a personal project and quite a difficult one. As it lasts

several years, people are more willing to embrace the change, the difficulties and to adapt to the new

country in order to succeed the immigration project. Secondly, Quebec society choose them among

thousands of other candidates to happiness and from the very beginning they know that they are

welcome. Thirdly, Quebec culture has been strongly influenced by French culture and is is very proud

of this heritage. Most Romanian have been exposed to French language and French culture historically

and before coming to the host province most of them have already a good level of French, thus

lingustically are ready to communicate and the new. The Canadian values are highly valued by

Romanian and there is no such an axiological discrepancy between our values and Canadian ones.

Despite all different variables between Romanian culture and Quebec culture, I would argue that

cultural differences might be reduced if mentally people are ready to focus on finding similarities, to

immersing in the new culture and that cultural shock might be significantly under control if open to

integrate. As a consequence, one can become easily bicultural, functioning comfortably in two cultures

if armed from the onset with the right state of mind.

9. 6. Find one example of an individual or group emphasising their cultural differences, and an

example of a person or group minimising their cultural differences. (You might find

examples in the news, in history, in your own group or among friends). What was/is the

benefit to the individual or group in each case, in your opinion?


1. Group emphasising their cultural differences

Gaijin is a Japanease word for foreigners and non-Japanese. Historically, Japan is known for its
isolationism politic and policy of seclusion (sakoku). Many authors argue that most Japanease retain a
sakoku mentality in their interaction with foreigners (outgroups) and that attitude is reflecting also
linguistically. Japanease refers to non Japanease as gaijin which means people from outside. And
allows no possibility of integration for non-Japanese. The term has been interpreted as derogatory,
having negative conotations and as a way of Japanease people to show their superiority against other
cultures.Gajin is considered also people born from one parent that it is not Japanese. It was famous the
case of Miss Universe 2015, Ariana Miyamoto, the daughter of a Japanese mother and an African-
American father that was categorized as hafu, a Japanease term for the English half mixed race. The
Japanease public has reacted very strongly - Even though shes Miss Universe Japan, her face is
foreign no matter how you look at it.

Although cases of racism are all over the world, Japan has a long tradition dating back to Tokugawa
shogunate of insularity and rejection of foreigners. Japan is one of the least ethnically diverse populations in
the world and people that are not 100 percent ethically Japanese are seen as foreign.

This case can be seen as an example of ethnocentrism and exaggeration of the in-group cultural
superiority. The ethnocentrism comes as a reaction of a group to preserve its identity and to survive,
providing a sense of belonging by focusing on differences. This way of protection engenders prejudice,
discrimination, intolerance and racism. This strong sense of belonging, of identification with eveything that
comes from your own country, of intense pride can be some of benefits one can highlight.

2. Group minimising their cultural differences

One example I shall discuss is the way some companies understand to design strategies of minimising the
cultural differences believing certain values are universal and applicable to all people irrespective of their
nationality, ethnicity, religion or culture. This approach is usually used as a way of ensuring the
homogenization of the cultures within a given multicultural group.

General values like Equity, Honesty, Adaptability, Empowerment, Initiative, Loyalty, Respect for self and for
the Other, etc shared by a large number of corporations are seen as universal or at least easily
undestandable but very often in the real life we notice that they way we understand to practice them is not
the same. Minimising for instance the full array of meanings people gave to Honesty can cause sometimes
big problems of communication, conflicts, frustration and misunderstanding.

Among the benefits of minimising the differences is the willigness to getting along with eveyone, creating
the conditions for a social harmony, building up bridges, simplyifing the complexity of the reality for a better
control, viewing the other in all his similarities, primarily as a human being.

The process of minimization of the differencies can prove to be one important step toward interacting with
Other but by the same token can be an obstacle to understand, to adapt and to integrate in a culturally
different environment. Striving to find similarities everywhere even where there are not is a way of avoiding
real interaction with different people and a failure to undestand the complexity of the world around you.

7. 7. Explain how each of the following influences has contributed to your sense of cultural identity

(or that of another person you know, in which case, discuss this question with that person). Be very

specific: family influence, economic influence, political or social influence, psychological influence.

(No more than half a page)

Family influence My family played an important role in shaping my cultural

identity above all by making me feel very proud and aware about the traditions

and customs of my country, the folklore, the way of celebrating and enjoying the

cultural heritage. My family helped me to develop a strong sense of curiosity

about my culture, to explore it, to become part of the history and to appreciate

the natural beauty, the particular architecture, the way people understand to life,

search happiness and the meaning of their life . Thanks to a constant exposure to

traditional songs, kid stories, cartoons, poems my grandmother used to recite I

have now a strong sense of belonging to my culture and the same curious spirit

to discover, undestand and compare.


Economic/ political influence Living my childhood and a part of my adolescence under a

communiste regime I have been exposed to its values, and experienced the restriction of

freedom, the burden of economic conditions, the precarity of the social environment.

Surviving culturally have been a constant concern in my family and everything focused on

making sure I will have access at a good education and be able to deal with the complexity of

social environment. Economically, I become aware about the scarcity of goods and learnt to

save, to share and to value; at the societal level, I become aware very early how to interact, to

socialize, what it was allowed or strictly prohibited. The political system had a direct

influence upon many aspects of my identity and the meaning of the freedom has changed

dramatically over the years. I believe that we are in many respects the product of our socio

economical and political systems and through socialization we can learn to shape our identity

even differently when living in a different context.

Psychological influence If I had to resume in some words the relatiosnhip between my cultural identity

and the psychological aspects, I would say that personally I am an extrovert individual coming from culture

centrered around affective values that played their role in my personal and social identity construct. On the

other side, I would describe my culture as being quite individualistic and people lacking in the sense of

community. There is a famous book, The psychology of Romanian People of C.R-Motru and, more

recently, Daniel David tried to highlight the main psychological traits of Romanian people. While we

have always take with a pinch of salt such sweeping generalizations, as Romanian people are at least

23 millions of different individuals, each of them with distinctive psychological traits, we can take as a

reference such studies as a first step of analysis. Very succinctly, the psychological identity of

Romanian people has been characterized by : consensus, femininity, cynicism, skepticism, egoistical

individualism, low level of social engagement, passivness, resignation, emotionality. Since the

Revolution in 1989, the cultural identity suffered a lot of alterations also and, in this perspective, the

psychological identity of Romanian people is not the same anymore a mixed between continuity and

rupture, cultural identity is not a fixed essence at all.