Acultural plunge is vital in a student`s life as this heightens andexpands self-awareness as well as their understanding and culturalawareness. Exposure to different groups or people that come fromdifferent societal identities than your own makes one have adifferent outlook to cultures. Cultural identities are not limited toand may include ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, ability,age, race, national origin, social, economic status, politicalaffiliation, gender and religion (Nieto, 2014). The aim of this paperis to describe my experiences when performing a cultural plunge thatgot me out of my comfort zone through exposure to different culturesin a bid to challenge my confidence and comfort levels.
Descriptionof the and How I Interacted
Imade a decision to make my cultural plunge be a prominent churchcalled Eagle Ridge Church. I stayed for the whole service, as thiswould allow me to have an experience of a lifetime (Krueger, 2011). Iinteracted with the members of the church by the singing of hymns,taking part in the offering, as well as reading the bible.
Reasonsfor choosing the Plunge Site (Eagle Ridge Church)
Oneof the prospects that attracted me to the plunge site was thatoutside the church, they had a poster which had different faces ofpeople from different races. Hence, it was clear that every livingsoul from any race was welcome. Another prospect is that itsenvironment was full of various races of people. For instance, I amAfrican American, and there were white people mostly.
Thechurch was different from Baptist churches which I was used tobecause Baptist churches have a wire. However, in Eagle Ridge Church,they had a band where they put the words on the screen from aprojector, whereby people sing along to the lyrics of the song.Additionally, I was African-American, thus I grew up differently incomparison to them. It also felt different because I felt out ofplace. It was because I am used to a church full of hype. However,this particular church felt like I was having a Bible study, as itdid not have so much soul in it.
Stereotypesof the Community
Thestereotypes of the community are that they feel superior with a senseof entitlement. What I learned growing up as an African-Americanbecause of experience and reading from books was that whites wereracist people, so I held the same views because I had seen this inpractice. I held these stereotypes to that is why when I chose toattend Eagle Ridge Church I would not have found it weird if theystared at me during the service since African Americans in the churchgathering were very few (Krueger, 2011). Most of the people in thechurch were from the white community with the minority making up theother races. My preconceived biases of this kind of church are thatit would have been boring compared to small churches where AfricanAmericans gather. I was not wrong on this because the church was notlively during praise and worship. Before attending this service atEagle Ridge, I often thought white people were rigid and would notdance in the church as African Americans do. I was wrong to someextent because a few select white people danced very well and wereeven hyped during the service. This assignment helped me look atthings differently my children loved the experience I too did becauseinstead of being looked upon like an outcast I was welcomed in thechurch. The following day the church called me to appreciate myattendance and encouraged me to attend the church.
BeliefSystems, values, structure, ritual, and language of the Culture
Religiousbeliefs are the central part of most cultures, and mostly give focusdirection, and comfort for the members of the family. Regarding thelanguage, most white people speak American Standard English. This ismy conclusion because I experienced this in the church where theyheld the sermons in English. In addition to this, I have noted thatin all the encounters I have had with white people, all of them useEnglish as their primary language.
Itis worth to note that to the culture, religion is a private affair.Nevertheless, most of the people in the culture are Protestant, thusChristians. According to research conducted by Krueger (2011) thewhite people can be described to have color-blind racism, whereby lipservice is given to color-blind equality and in the real world,whites are perceived to be better than blacks, and their lives mattermore than black people’s lives. This was different in the church,as they made me feel like I mattered to the church, judging from howwell they treated me.
WhatI learned from the cross -cultural plunge
WhatI gained from the cross-cultural plunge was that we should not judgeother races or other communities because of what we hear or from whatwas done during the olden days. Always have an open mind and an openheart and children especially treat other kids correctly they do notdiscriminate at all. The emotional response that I had afterattending Eagle Ridge church is I that the color of the skin does notreflect who a person is, and that should not be the reason todiscriminate people from other cultures. My family and I werewelcomed in that church, and my children felt at home as they fittedin the church perfectly well. The church gave me a sense of belongingbecause of the members of the church who even hugged me when greetingthis made me feel very special (Nieto, 2014).
Childrenoften grow up with racial identity misinformation, and I decided tobring my kids to a different church because I did not want mytoddlers to develop the same way I did with misconceptions about thewhite or other cultural groups. I wanted my toddlers to developdifferent attitudes, and this would help in their upbringing, as ateacher I would encourage parents to do this often with their kids.
Effectof the Plunge on my work with Children
Theundertaking will affect my job with children because I will have adifferent outlook on people altogether. The experience I had in thechurch gave me an exquisite experience, and it enabled me to have anopen mind and an open heart as well. Additional, I learned that beingjudgmental does not help and that it, in fact, causes divisions. Forinstance, if the people in the church would have been unwelcoming, Iwould still have held the stereotypes I had against them, thus Iwould have transferred that to the children either knowingly orunknowingly (Krueger, 2011). In essence, one shouldn`t be judgmental,as people, such as children may surprise you. I will do a lot ofthings differently because of what I learned after attending thechurch service at Eagle Ridge. I learned that one should treat eachand every person equally so I will incorporate this into my teachingpractice (Krueger, 2011). Children teach their peers the same, so Iwill try and incorporate exercises where children will be able tolearn from other young ones through story telling. I will be lettingeach child to narrate stories of their choice in class and let othersask the story-teller questions with this, I will be encouragingcritical thinking in the class.
Inessence, the church was a very active plunge, since I have learned tostop being judgmental, as the experience, which I gained enabled meto have an entirely new outlook on the culture of people. I thoughtthat the white people would stare at me and be unwelcoming, howeverthey proved me wrong because they did the complete opposite of this.They were so welcoming and even went to the extent of doing a followup with me because they gave me a phone call when I reached home. Theexperience will give me the ability to relate with the childrendifferently even in the classroom and to stop being judgmental aswell. Overall, the whole experience was an eye-opener.
Krueger,J. (2011). Personal beliefs and cultural stereotypes about racialcharacteristics.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(3),536.
Nieto,J. (2014). The cultural plunge: Cultural immersion as a means ofpromoting self-awareness and cultural sensitivity among studentteachers. TeacherEducation Quarterly, 33(1),75-84.