Culture Sharing Project
Summer II 2010
CSP Summary Paper
This project was one of the most involving things I have done in my college career. As I sit down to write this summary paper there are so many different things I would like to discuss. However, I’ll just try to focus on the basics such as: what I learned; the new friendship; and the significant similarities between our families.
Each time I sat down to talk to Trang, she always had a story to tell me about her family and what crazy thing happened to her that day. I admired the fact that she became so comfortable around me. Trang was constantly teaching me new things and ways to live life. Her spirit and determination stayed with me where ever I went.
I think the main thing I took from this project was that individuals may be from different backgrounds, but we are all universally connected. We all unknowingly hold a piece of one another’s culture and upbringing. That’s what Trang taught me.
Looking back on the last assignment, my optional question was “How important is family in your culture?” And as you could see her answer astounded me.
That had to have been the highest point throughout the course of this project. Her view on family is what I was raised on; the respect, the encouragement, and most of all the connectivity of every generation. It is very rare in today’s world, especially America, which you come across such tight knit families. She is really an intellectual when comes to things like that. So as you can see the major theme that existed
between us was family. Nothing was more important, and nothing was more insightful than for us to discuss our families.
The similarities in our culture were almost identical. The older generations are still very modest when it comes to dress. While our generation is extremely fashion forward. So therefore it was nice to have something in common during our meetings. The only difference would have been dress and celebration or ritual. In Trang’s culture, traditional dress is worn for weddings, funerals, and particular parties and festivals. It was nice to see the pictures so that I was able to get a better understanding.
Looking back over our meetings there weren’t any “low points” so to speak; just one awkward moment. When we met for the first time silence was our best friend. We sat there eating and only said hello upon sitting down. I could tell that we were both nervous about the assignment. However, the ice was broken when I knocked over my drink and she laughed about it; and so did I.
As mentioned earlier, Trang taught me a lot of new and exciting ways to view life. No matter what the situation the glass should always be looked at as half full and not half empty. Her advice for me when terrible situations occur was this: “Don’t dwell on those things. Simply seek guidance from God and your family. The rest will work itself out. Besides, there is no use in spending your time crying over things you can’t control.” I was floored. Never had I met someone so young, yet so wise.
This project was meant to open our minds to new ideas and ways of life. I really appreciate the assignment. It allowed me to come out of my comfort zone and actually learn about another culture as well as another person. Trang and I are still
good friends, and still learning about one another. This creates a perfect end to a
I met my Culture Sharing Project partner in my Com 181 class during this 8 week session. Her name is Trang Nguyen, and she is from Vietnam. When I first asked her to allow me to use her for this assignment she was a bit surprised and full of questions. Wanting to know what it was for and what she had to do. I just simply explained to her that all I would be doing was learning about her, her life and most importantly her culture.
Trang and I met right after class one day to start the first session. She brought along some photos for me as I had asked and so did I. I showed her pictures of my family, all the sports I played during high school. Trang showed me pictures of her as a child in Vietnam and from when she first arrived to the United States. During this transaction both of our expressions were strange and hilarious.
I think what surprised me the most was the similarities between our cultures. Her family looked like mine and the only difference was our skin color. Trang said she was most surprised from my cheerleading photos, mainly the short skirts and mid drift tops. Although there were several things similar to our photos, the things that stood out the most were the body language and poise of the people in the photos.
In my pictures we were all over the place, some were taken mid laugh and some everyone was crushed a top one another. You could really see the emotion and experience whatever was going on. Trang’s photos were very structured. Everyone
stood a decent distance apart, back straight, with a simple smile, and some barely showed teeth.
As far as the cultural ideals for men and women in Vietnam, she described it as very similar to American culture. They wear jean, sneakers and flip flops. Girls and guys do as they please with their hair. They are doing the same things we do every day. Trang did however also explain the traditional expectations of her culture.
Before her generation, women were meant to have long black hair and nothing else. They were expected to always be in formal or cultural clothing and be presentable at all times. Men had to have clean cut hair and clothing. No jeans or sneakers like they wear now. She explained that now they only wear traditional clothing for cultural festivities (weddings, birthdays, etc). That was very interesting to hear about.
The question I decided to ask was “What was it like transitioning from Vietnam to America?” She was very excited to answer this question. We discussed how she learned to speak English, adjusted to the different foods, and especially the transportation. Specifically with the food she explained that most Asian cultures are extremely lactose and that the American foods were too greasy and too full of dairy for them to eat at first.
She also described her parents and learning how to drive for the first time. In her country they walk, ride bikes or take the bus if their destination is too far. I truly enjoyed meeting with Trang and learning about a culture completely different from my own. I look forward to learning more and hopefully making a new friend.
Sorry the picture of the receipt is kind of blurry.
Trang and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s a Tuesday night tradition that me and my friends go to all the time. We had a really good time there. We were both able to learn more about each other and where we come from. Both found it funny how she was watching soccer and I was watching football, we laughed about that for a while.
The thing that made the biggest impression would be how easily she adapted to our surroundings. At first she couldn’t believe how loud us “Americans” were. However after a while, and after her hearing adjusted, she started to relax and enjoy herself. There wasn’t a lot that she noticed or asked about. Like I mentioned, she was just really concerned with the noise in the room.
After we discussed consumption patterns, I learned that both are similar. Vietnamese and American cultures both take pride in how they look and dress, especially the women and make up. She said that the older more traditional women in her culture kept fresh faces and maintained traditional wear at all times out of respect. The only thing different would be vehicle consumption. All the people there walk and ride bikes, or maybe take a bus if the destination is too far.
She really couldn’t say much about credit card use. Her family didn’t use them and many of her friends didn’t either. That may be why she mentioned that people were afraid to end up like Americans and be in debt. So when comparing the two Americans definitely hold the power of plastic to a high standard. I know my family has many credit cards including myself. From store cards to bank cards, I can’t remember the last time I used cash.
When discussing media images, she described how the younger generations are greatly influenced by American culture as far as dress. They like to take an idea and twist it just enough to be considered modern. However it fits in with their cultural style. Her family thinks
Americans let media and celebrities influence their lives from work to home. Sadly, I must agree with that sentiment. American culture is one that needs improvement when it comes to being positively influential in some cases.
The one question I really wanted to ask her was “How important is family in your
culture?” She became so excited that I asked her this question. She had this to say “Family in my culture is like a lifeline. Without it you would die. As we grow we learn to respect every individual around us, especially our elders. The prime goal of any Vietnamese family is to nurture, teach, and provide love and leadership. That’s what makes me who I am.” Those words made me think about my own family and why I love them so much. When it comes to both of our cultures we both take pride in our families, and they are the very core of our lives.
MAT 247-220 DUE DATE: August 3, 2010
Culture Sharing Project Summary Paper & Notebook
Your Name: Ja’Misha Robinson
Partner's name: Trang Nyugen
Partner's country: Vietnam
FORMAT: Your Summary Paper should be at least two typed pages, double spaced, and submitted on the due date in your CSP Notebook. Your notebook should be organized in the following way: 1) decorative cover (examples will be provided) with the information below; 2) your two page summary paper; the two reports you completed this semester (note: you do not have to correct or make any changes to these); 4) a copy of this sheet.
Cultural Sharing Project
Summary Paper: Your Summary Paper should be a synthesis of your experiences with your partner. You should look for themes that occurred throughout the semester and reflect on the meaning of your experiences. Consider these questions prior to preparing your summary paper (however, do not answer these questions one after the other in your summary paper): What was the high point of the project? What was the low point? What was the most surprising thing you learned from your partner? What were some of the similarities in your dress and your partner's dress? What were some of the differences? As you look back over the two reports, what theme(s) emerged? How do you plan to take the knowledge you gained from this experience and apply it to future experiences? What, in your opinion, was the main benefit of the project?
CRITERIA Possible Your Score
Summary Paper Content
An organized synthesis of your experience. 25
Thoughtful and reflective account of your
experience. DID NOT answer above questions
one after the other.