We're spending a decent amount of time studying cultures in my class right now. Our social studies department gives 8-10 examples of "ingredients" of culture. For instance, here are the ones I use:
- The Arts
- Standard of Living
There are more, of course. (Sports, history, architecture, etc...) And perhaps some don't belong - is government an ingredient/part of culture or is it something that influences/creates culture: like climate or weather?
Either way, it is perhaps important to note "odd man out." I feel like this is especially true in America.
When I went to China or when I lived in Haiti, it was evident early on that I was a minority ethnically. I remember times in Haiti where people would want to touch my hair because they'd never seen hair like mine before. (My brother got this even more than me because his hair wasn't just blond when he was a kid, it was white. Our Haitian friends called him, "Blanc Blanc.") In China people snuck pictures of us, and there were multiple occasions where people asked to take pictures with us, or especially with our daughter because they'd never seen a white person in the flesh before.
We weren't from those cultures, and it was evident. Our language, our mannerisms, our food preferences... Most everything screamed, "FOREIGNER!" even though we were trying to embrace the culture we were in.
That said, we can be a part of a culture, and still be the "odd man out." For instance, although the Han Chinese make up 92% of the Chinese population, there are other ethnic groups that are also Chinese. And those other ethnic groups are Chinese as well.
I'm pausing to note that there is a difference between culture and sub-culture. And I'm also acknowledging that within nations there are often multiple cultures. But lets not get distracted.
There are times you can be part of a culture - completely part of a culture - and still not embrace certain ingredients of that culture.
I believe this to be especially true in America. In fact, I believe one of America's cultural traits to be diversity. Even though the majority religion in America is Christianity, there are non-Christians who are part of America's culture. Even though American cultural food includes McDonalds, there are some who enjoy Pad Thai. America's ethnicity has always been diverse - more so now that ever.
I have a confession to make: I don't like baseball. I struggle to watch games when I'm with friends who understand the intricacies of the game. And I know that baseball is American culture. It's America's Pastime.
But I'm still American. And I still embrace American culture. But when it comes to baseball, I'm the "odd man out."
Students can earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult. In order to prove that they've read and discussed the blog, they need to write down one example (other than baseball) of how someone can be an American, but be the "odd man out" with certain cultural ingredients.