Perspectives on Diversity and Culture

I asked three people from a variety of cultural backgrounds and age to give me their definition of culture and diversity.

My best friend, who lives in South Africa, she is a European female who is 32 years of age. Her definitions are:

Culture: Everything of your past that has moulded you to be who you are today, including physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.

Diversity: Being different

I also asked her boyfriend, who is an Indian male who is 40 years of age. His definitions are:

Culture: Way of life that has been mirrored by society through the ages.

Diversity: This word comes from the word ‘division’ and stems from pride.

My father, who is a European, male who is 65 years of age. His definitions are:

Culture: The term culture is very broad and it used to be very defined in my youth but has changed drastically 50 years with many changes from generation to generation in our family.

Diversity: Is exactly what it means, it means that we are all different and coming from South Africa I come into great diversity everyday and your diversity depends on which group and where you live as to how you will look and behave.

If I were to reflect on the above answers, it is very clear that culture and the word diversity are very broad topics that perhaps cannot always be defined into just a sentence. There is a resounding message that both words can mean ‘different’ and that who you are is influenced and moulded by many aspects of life.

I think certain aspects of culture and diversity have been omitted in the above definitions, namely:

  • that culture can be defined as surface culture and deep culture and how these two are very different
  • within each family there are different cultures that are diverse in their own unique way,
  • dominant culture is a big influence as to who we are and become.

Upon thinking about my friends and family’s definitions of culture and diversity I realised before entering this module I thought of culture and diversity in this way, however it has been broadened into a deeper and more meaningful manner. I am, however, interested about the view that culture stems from ‘pride’ as my best friends boyfriend commented. I am interested to know what my fellow colleagues think of this? It is certainly a different view that caught be by surprise.

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My Family Culture

If I were given the option of taking only three items to represent my family culture, it would be a photograph of my family. I would take a canvas with words that represent what my family is all about “In this house we do happiness, we do smiles, we do authentic, we do fun, we do dreams, we do heart to heart, we do forgiveness, we do thank you’s, we do honesty, we do healthy, we do grace.” and the third item I would take with me is a quilt my mother and father made for me.

The items mean the world to me and go with me wherever I work and travel too. The family photo shows just the three of us, as I am an only child, it is my graduation photo for my teachers degree, I am the first in my family and wider family with a degree.  The  words quoted in the canvas represent my family and culture which is happiness, smile, authentic, fun, fulfilling dreams, close, forgiving, manners, healthy and grace. The quilt represents both love, sweat and tears as my mother continues to recover from cancer and my father and her went above and beyond to make the quilt from scratch which is more than I could ever ask for.

I think I would be devastated to part with any of these items I take with me wherever I go, it will be terrible, inconsiderate and heart-wrenching to say the least. But if I had no choice I would personally sew the photo of my family in the quilt when no one can see.

Upon thinking about what items I would take, I am thankful I am not in this position to only take three items, that I am safe, my family are safe in South Africa and it made me think where my family comes from, how far we have come and what we represent. My family represents not only love, forgiveness and many other qualities, both my parents come from two different worlds, as my mother comes from a dutch background and my father comes from an English background and although it may not seem that these two cultures are different, the two cultures are and yet my parents made it work to create all that I have described.

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