From the time I was born I have always lived in the same area. Quebec City is not one of the most culturally diverse places in North America. As a result growing up in an non-culturally diverse region, I have never been exposed to other customs. There have always been a few people of different race in my schools, although most of them were 3rd or 4th generation immigrants, and therefore had long been since assimilated by the western ways. Then I had to move away from home in order to attend university. I was moving from one of the least culturally diverse places to one of the most culturally diverse. When I arrived in Montreal, I realized that I had many stereotypes about the various cultures. The main reason I took this class was to learn about the positive aspects of cultural diversity. The best way to understand something is to learn everything about it. Therefore I would have to say that my main goal is to learn about different cultures. There are several ways to go about doing this; consequently these ways will be my personal learning goals for this semester.
The first step to immersing yourself into a new culture is learning how to act. Not every culture has the same social standards. In your family it might be ok to show the soles of your feet to every member, although in some countries there is nothing ruder than to show the soles of your feet. Therefore it would be very important that I learnt how to better filter my dialogue and my actions when I am in a culturally new setting. Filtering my dialogue would imply that I do not speak everything that goes into my mind. There are two main problems that can arise from filtering. If I filter too much then I am preventing myself and the other person from getting to know each other, and if I filter too little then I can make things worse by saying the wrong thing and getting the other person upset. By interacting more and more with people from diverse cultures, I get to know how much of myself I can divulge and how much I should keep to myself.
Stereotypes can be very damaging. Most of the time, when you have a certain pre-determined idea about how people from a specific culture act, without ever meeting any of them, it is usually due to the fact that you have no idea what so ever about them. In order for me to better interact with people from different cultures I believe it is important that I ride my self of certain attitudes. Most of these attitudes are stereotypes which have been ingrained in my since I was a child. Coming from a city which is not culturally diverse, it is easy to develop these stereotypes due to the fact that I am not basing my opinions on facts, or what I have personally lived, I was and still am, basing my opinions on hearsay, other people’s opinions, and some popular culture. For example if the only place I have ever seen African Americans is on the television show called “COPS”, and they are always being arrested, then it is normal for me to start believing that African Americans are more prone to crime and violence. Although, if I grow up in a neighborhood which is inhabited by Caucasians and African Americans, and have several friends of that particular race, then I will know that they are equally prone to crime and violence as me. Stereotypes can be learnt and unlearnt through what is called the “Ladder of Inference”. On this ladder there are three major steps. The first step is to select data, the second is to interpret the data, and the third step is draw conclusions. All stereotypes start at the beginning of the ladder, in order to make an interpretation and draw conclusions you must be able to collect data. If the data you are collecting is very reliable, then your interpretations and conclusions will be far less biased or stereotyped.
If you are collecting your data from unreliable sources, consequently your interpretations and conclusions will be biased and possibly stereotyped. Therefore I have decided that the best way to rid myself of the stereotypes that I have is to attend one activity a week which is culturally diverse. I believe that the more time I will spend with people from other cultures than mine, the more it will enable me to gather the proper information about them.
Even though getting rid of my stereotypes is enough work for two semesters, more outcomes will appear from being in close proximity to other cultures. I also wish to learn to be more at ease with other cultures. I don’t really know what I want to do after university, although I know I love working with people and managing things. Therefore one can assume that there is a possibility that I will end up in management position in a company. The structure of the workforce over the past 50 years has changed immensely. Before Caucasian males have been accountable for most of the workforce, although today many different cultures make up the workforce. In almost any company, the aim is to find better ways to produce your product or service. Producing is not only meant as the physical production of the product, but as every step the product takes from conception to distribution. Therefore if you want your product or company to succeed, the population has to be more aware that your product exists. Since today’s workforce is a true representation of the population which includes a mix of genders, race, age, and religion, it is only normal that it will be easier to market your product. To better produce your product, the team you are assigned has to easily together. If I have no idea about cultures, how am I supposed to understand what my employees are going through. An employee can do something which seem offensive to a co-worker, although to another co-worker it may not be offensive. It is imperative to understand the facets of different cultures, in order to comprehend their point of view. The benefits of having a diverse workforce highly outnumber the cons. Being able to acquire such skills at my age would allow me to develop these competences, and have them mastered by the time I reach the workforce.
All of my goals have to do with getting better acquainted with people from other cultures. This is as far as I can go due to the fact that I have never been in a setting where there have been a lot of people from diverse cultures. Stereotypes will be the hardest to get through, because they have been “with me” for such a long time. It might be the hardest but I am sure that it will pay off in the future by strengthening my positive attitudes, skills and competences.