Intercultural Experience with an Indian Family
InterculturalExperience with an Indian Family
InterculturalExperience with an Indian Family
Interculturalexperiences create chance for an individual to experience variouscultural practices within the society. Various factors such as alanguage barrier, culture shocks and appreciation for differentcultures result in an interesting and impacting result. During thesummer holiday, I was invited to spend time with the family of myfriend Karan Pandya. Karan is a third generation American of Indiandescent whose great-grandparents had migrated from India and settledin the United States.
Receptionby family was in the form of a mini celebratory ceremony. The miniceremony is the norm for all Indian families to welcome a guest andinvolved the drinking of tea, ‘chai’as it is called, spiced and served in ornate tea cups or saucers. Thechaiis accompanied by chevda,a mix of puffed rice, deep-fried potato strips, baked lentilsdrizzled with fine sugar and lime juice. The Indian family set up wasa shock at the start. The differences between the two cultures arequite significant due to the basis of the family unit of the Hindureligion as a way of life. However, the culture shock quickly dieddown when I equated the presence of grandparents, uncles, and auntsliving in the same homestead, to my family`s Christmas gathering.
Thefamily is comprised three generations of family members with Karan’sgreat grandparents, two uncles and their wives and his fathers’nuclear unit. Karan’s grandmother is a disciplinarian whopractically runs the family domestic affairs. The matriarch ensuresthere is rapport among her family members while the grandfather istasked with running the family business with his sons. The childrenare accorded various duties and help around with house chores such assetting up the table, maintaining the aquarium and cleaning thefamily’s prayer room.
Asa friend to Karan, I was expected to take part in the dutiesassigned. Religion is quite dominant as was evident in the Pandyafamily, and I was supposed to participate in prayers during theprayer session. Since I was not familiar with the Hindu religion andculture, I followed what Karan did and recited prayers with thefamily. The family prayers are succeeded by the family dinner whereall family members and guests are expected to attend. The meals,prepared by the grandmother and other ladies of the family are servedin a circular manner from member to member while giving thanks for agood meal. During the dinner service, each member is expected to tellthe rest how their day was and also lighten the moods throughcracking jokes or teasing each other in a playful manner.
Despitethe lack of fluency in English language, Karan`s grandmother was ableto communicate partially to me using signs while using a mix of Hinduand English. A major barrier to my intercultural experience wasethnocentricity. This belief that all foreign cultures should adoptthe modern American culture based on the opinion that the Americanculture was superior is wrong. However, ability to accept thedifferences in culture and appreciate the Hindu culture and way oflife presented the fact that no culture is superior.
Prejudiceconcerning other people`s religion and culture is a barrier that waseffectively tackled. In comparison to the American culture, it isevident that religion does not shape much of the American culturevis-à-vis the Hindu religion that is a way of life. Values arisefrom the Hindu lifestyle evident in the Pandya family. The valuesmanifest themselves in form mutual respect for all communities andthe appreciation for every facet of life. During the visit, Iobserved that cultural competence is an important aspect that everyindividual is required to embrace. The presence of various culturebreeds diversity that creates a melting pot of growth due totolerance and acceptance of diverse cultures by all individuals inthe society.
Animportant aspect of the Hindu culture is the respect accorded to theelder in society. In a typical family unit, the eldest member, eithergrandparents or an uncle assumes the leadership of the family. Familymeetings are frequent to discuss the progress of every member of thefamily. Karan’s father offered insight into the financial familyfinancial system. The Indians cater for the finances of each familymember through a cyclic system where any member in need of support isassisted. The member is equally required to aid any other once theyhave the ability. The result is a significant family unit thatfollows high ethical, systems hence producing competitive andcompetent individuals in society.
Dissentin the family is not tolerated, and each member follows the norms oftheir culture. Despite an element of liberalism in the Pandya family,it is evident that the Hindu religion plays a significant role indefining the daily activities and path that any Indian followsthroughout his or her life.
Itis conclusive to note that the experience led to an improvement inthe level of cultural competence. Cultural competence andappreciation of various cultures vis-à-vis our culture leads to theformation of a close society.
Deardorff,D. K. (Ed.). (2009). TheSAGE handbook of intercultural competence.Sage.