Saturday, January 23, 2010

Culturally Literate

As I reflect on my days and my knowledge and understanding of my culture, there are 3 prominent aspects that I believe have helped me become culturally literate. Involvement and participation within 3 separate communities: my family, my church, and my school have all collectively played a part in increasing my level of cultural literacy.
As family, my parents and grandparents have continually and faithfully taught me concerning the American culture. Most importantly, my family brought me up within the Church and a Christian environment. God used this community and the example my parents set before me to draw me unto Him. I made the most important decision you and I will ever make-I entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.My family also taught me the importance of family and education. They educated me concerning work and the value of money. My parents also taught me about different forms of the American culture--dance, music, gardening, and cooking. I took part in all of these activities outside of the classroom--I took dancing lessons for 10 years, took Piano lessons, watched and observed as my Dad gardened each summer, and took mental notes as I watched my mother cook. My parents also taught me the "rules" regarding formality, and how one should act/dress differently based on the situation (with strangers, at weddings, funerals, church, etc.)
As I reflect on our lecture videos, I remember cultural literacy being defined as "a network of information that all competent readers posses". This network of information can include any form or type of information including the Bible. Through my involvement in the Church community, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the "mythos" or stories within the Bible. Through my reading and learning of the Bible, I have also learned what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior for myself, as a Christian.
School has also played a roll in raising my level of cultural literacy. Throughout elementary school, junior high, high school and now college, I can say that I have a decent working-knowledge of famous people, scientific terms, and historical events.

In my visit to Kenya, Africa (the only time I've been out of the country), I depended upon our leader, who had lived there for over 20 years, for cultural literacy. Before embarking on our 2-week (wow!) journey, she shared with us important and helpful tips regarding the Kenyan culture. I remember specifically reviewing verbal and non-verbal gestures within the Kenyan culture.

As I look ahead, in anticipation, to my 5-month stay in Argentina this semester, I understand that I will be entering a completely new and unique culture; however, I am trusting that my involvement and participation within the same 3 communities: the Magnano Family (my family), the Christian community (my church), and Universidad Blas Pascal (my school), will all collectively play a part in increasing my level of cultural literacy of Argentina.