Intercultural communication determines how people from diverse cultural backgrounds co-exist in a diverse society. Cultural beliefs and traditions affect intercultural communication because they dictate how people communicate within a given cultural environment.
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A cultural background under which children grow and develop has considerable influence on beliefs and traditions that they uphold in their adulthood. Migration has created an avenue through which people from diverse cultural backgrounds can interact and share their cultural beliefs and traditions. In this view, this essay examines the cultural experience of an immigrant, Sheik Omar, to the United States.
Sheik Omar is an immigrant to the United States and lives in the Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sheik Omar is a 40-year-old man who migrated to the United States when he was 29 years old. This means that Sheik Omar has lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey for a period of 11 years.
For 11 years, Sheik Omar has been working as a chef at a tourist resort where people from diverse cultural backgrounds visit. His job has made him gain significant skills that are essential in intercultural communication. To interview Sheik Omar, the writer met him at the tourist resort in Atlantic City and interacted for a period of three hours during the interviewing.
From the interview, the writer learned that Sheik Omar is an immigrant from Saudi Arabia where the dominant culture is the Arab culture. Sheik Omar speaks English in New Jersey because it is the official language, but his native language is Arabic. Moreover, Sheik Omar is a Muslim despite the fact that Islamic religion is not dominant in New Jersey.
Owing to his Islamic faith, Sheik Omar celebrates Islamic festivities such as fasting (Ramadan) and pilgrimage (Hajj). S. Omar (personal communication, August 19, 2013) asserts that, “although the dominant religion in New Jersey is Christianity, I will not leave the Islamic faith because I grew up in an Islamic environment.” Hence, the writer learned that Sheik Omar upholds Islamic beliefs and traditions because they shaped him during his childhood.
Since Sheik Omar is an immigrant to the United States, he has experienced great challenges in coping with the American culture. When Sheik Omar came to the United States, he had to adjust his language to English for him to communicate effectively with the Americans. In his home country, Omar Sheik used to speak the Arabic language as the official language.
Additionally, dressing code and social interaction in the United States surprised Sheik Omar. S. Omar (personal communication, August 19, 2013) argues that what is unique about American culture is that people dress and interact freely, unlike the Arab culture where men and women have a specific dressing code with gendered interactions. Although Sheik Omar likes the freedom that American culture bestows to people, he confesses that he misses Islamic festivities and cultural events that happen regularly.
The experience of Sheik Omar stretched the comfort zone of the writer in terms of intercultural communication. The writer thought that Sheik Omar has adopted American culture since he has lived in the United States for more than a decade. However, the assertions of Sheik Omar have surprised the writer because he still cherishes Islamic beliefs and traditions together with Arabic language despite the fact that he has interacted with Americans for more than a decade.
Basing on his experience, it is evident that Sheik Omar upholds the Arabic culture, although he lives in the United States where American culture predominates. In this view, for the study to be valuable, the writer needs to study cultural beliefs and traditions that shape childhood growth and development in relation to intercultural communication.
S. Omar. (Personal Communication, August 19, 2013). Atlantic City.