Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

My personal culture informs my communication choices



My story is one of an immigrant and I kindly ask you to look at it from that lens. For me communication is not only verbal but also how one meshes or embeds in another culture. It is a deliberate negotiation in relation to one’s ethnic identity. It is a move toward engaging in cultural allegiances. It is an ongoing education that allows one to break into newer patterns of life (Tywoniak, F. E., & García, M. T. 2000).   I have lived in USA for quite some time now. As someone who chose to emigrate to this country, my priority needs were to assimilate, survive and seek subsistence here. I learnt at an earlier time reading notices, brochures and information from the State Department and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (actually, I still look for any information on immigration and settlement in USA even today). This desire to  use existing literature to make informed decisions which A. L Kennedy calls “a tradition of fierce education and enlightenment” helped me figure out my requirements beyond proper documentation, e.g., Lawful Permanent Residency Visa (Green Card); proper immunizations; Social Security; Work Permits; and Identity Card. Without these it is hard to set foot out one’s house, or get proper employment and interact with other people. The needs for someone who has only lived here for say under a year, are different from those of one who has lived here beyond a year. They are also different from those of a person who is still undocumented and is always looking at their back for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers!  In my earlier years I had to find time to attend seminars and courses for refugees and immigrants. I wanted to immerse myself fully and hoped to achieve that through guidance of a do’s/dont’s list. I had my challenges too. These included: dressing down to casuals; figuring out the bus route and later on the train route; speaking even more slowly (because I was told I spoke a different kind of English); learning to go out; understanding the U.S. nuanced coffee culture as opposed to my own culture; and almost over indulging myself with Kentucky Fried Chicken, tasty burgers and sugary-drinks (something I later unlearnt). I would say, ensuring I lead a productive life in USA; where I am able to live peacefully at my place, pay rent/other dues; seek out and make friends; join community events; and participate in activities with others have become my belief, value and norm milieu. Indeed, I agree that intercultural communication can be seen as a negotiation of competing values, beliefs and norms (Week 1 Discussion). Sovereign countries have laws and codes that must be followed. But, those very countries also have cultures that are older than the sovereigns themselves. A.L Kennedy, in her essay, shows clearly the existence of Scots, Welsh, Irish and English cultures in Great Britain. In making the statement “I am Scot” now and not so many years ago shows how much the Scots wanted to  be part of and participate in a Great Britain owned by all who made it. I come from a country that was a former colony of Great Britain and I feel A.L. Kennedy is talking about an experience I knew so well from hearing fire side stories narrated by cultural elders. Now that I came across books and documents illuminating a reader on Britain’s divide and rule; subjugation of peoples (referred to as ‘uncultured’ in most correspondences. Meanwhile they were loading ships with gold, diamond, iron, copper, cotton and coffee and sending them back to UK in the name of Queen and Country); and raw material extraction policies in Colonial Africa, I can corroborate what she writes. I come from Buganda Kingdom which is part of Uganda. My tribe is part of 56 tribes that make up Uganda as a nation. We are both a matrilineal and patrilineal culture. As a first born boy, there things expected of me in form of responsibilities, duties and roles. But, now that I am in USA, all that changed. Right now, all that matters is to be a better participant in USA affairs. There in lies all the tasks that face me.



References:

A. L. Kennedy. 2012. “People will laugh at you if you sound like that.” Retrieved from: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2012/04/%E2%80%9Cpeople-will-laugh-you-if-you-sound-that%E2%80%9D. Retrieved on November 29th 2016. 

Tywoniak, F. E., & García, M. T. (2000). Migrant daughter: Coming of age as a Mexican American woman. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. Retrieved on November 29th 2016.


Week 1 Discussion. Discussion 1: A Fish Out of Water: Cultural Transmission and Worldview. Retrieved from: https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_16247427_1&content_id=_38983705_1. Retrieved on November 29th 2016.

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