I hail from an underdeveloped country. So, there are not many openings (profession wise) for educated and ambitious people. As such, after completing my studies, I applied for jobs in various countries and was lucky enough to get a job in an American company. But I had to live and work in the United States and as such I was a little hesitant due to the difference in our cultures. But since I was badly in need of a good job, I could not afford to lose the opportunity. It was after settling down in America when I realized that all my fears about difference in cultures and ethnicity were baseless. Actually today, youngsters all over America are promoted and persuaded to work as a team with all people, not considering the ethnicity, caste & creed, culture, gender, financial & social status, and even individual attitude.
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It has been observed that normally, people form opinion about a person or a thing according to their own experiences. These experiences may be good or bad, correct or incorrect. But I was surprised to note that in America, the current situation was not at all similar to this. People, especially Americans were very polite and had no feelings of indifference or hatred. They had the patience to put aside their own feelings and/or beliefs and listen to what others had to say and respect their opinions.
Viewing such harmonious behavior reminded me of R. D. Butcher who has talked a lot about assimilation and pluralism. I could relate my personal experiences to the writings of Butcher. Various figures of speech (metaphors) have been used to depict the assimilation and pluralism prevalent in America. Some examples of such metaphors are; melting point, salad bowl, rainbow, quilt, and kaleidoscope (Butcher, 2004). In the following paragraphs, I shall explain my experience in relation to each metaphor.
What happens in a melting pot? Different ingredients are mixed together and heated until the mixture boils. By the time the mixture boils, all the ingredients have assimilated to form a single compound. Similarly, I could visualize how people from different ethnicities, cultures, countries, ages, and religions mixed with each other to form a uniform society. A society that could not be separated due to the strong bond created between the people (ingredients). In fact there was a play titled ‘melting point’ which portrayed America as a country where groups of different cultures disbanded to form a single hoard (Schaefer, 2005).
What does a salad bowl consist of? Different kinds of vegetables and fruits constitute to form a uniform purpose. But each ingredient has its own identity. I have noted that in America, people from different parts of the world contribute towards a better society in their own manner while maintaining their cultures and beliefs. No one is required to compromise on their ethnicity, caste and creed.
Just like a rainbow that has its identity by different colors put together, American society of today cannot be called a society if all the people from all over the world are not put together.
A quilt is sewn by a single thread using cloth pieces of different colors. Similarly, during my stay in America I have witnessed people from different walks of life coming together for a single cause of building a society that one can be proud of.
A kaleidoscope shows different colors and images when it is turned. Similarly, in American society, there are different groups but it is encouraging to note that they all come together to form the American society.
During my stay in America, I have witnessed people teaching their children to be overt in their behavior. The atmosphere at homes is also kept secular because children talk in their schools and with friends whatever they learn at home. This is a very good sign of keeping the society free from any unwanted incidents pertaining to difference in cultures.
I have learnt a lot from my experiences and interactions with people during my stay in America. I have learnt to be truthful while talking about people from different cultures, without any bias. Americans do the same thing. They appreciate the contributions of people whether they are from their culture or not. The children also form the same mindset. I have learnt that we should not degrade or humiliate anyone and positive and correct information should be passed across through various mediums such as internet, books, periodicals, newspapers, etc. even while conversing with people, the same dignity should be maintained.
I have seen that people are very keen to learn about different cultures. It’s not that they mean to demean or change their own culture. It’s only because they want to incorporate the good things from different cultures. People also attend cultural events of other cultures and also invite people from other cultures to join them during festivals in order to mix up.
It was very gladdening to note that people of different cultures in America were so keen to come forward and help each other despite them being from different cultures. I have returned back to my home country after successful completion of my tenure in America but I still cherish the beautiful memories.
Buscher, R. D. (2004). Diversity consciousness. Opening our minds to people, cultures, and opportunities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Schaefer, R. T. (2005). Race and ethnicity in the United States (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.