Monthly Archives: October 2015

American “Core Values”

Living in a home with both American and Cambodian values has put me in a position where I can draw experiences from both aspects. In Peeradina’s article, he mentions that for most Americans the home is a private sanctity whereas for foreigners it is more of a place for visitors. Growing up, my home was just that. I lived in a house with ten people and  my uncles also lived a few houses away; we pretty much had a whole neighborhood filled with people we knew. It was a very close knit community almost like the one Peeradina described.

However, as I got older, our families moved out of that neighborhood; we became private and only had guests over for specific occasions. When I visited my family in Cambodia, it was a lot of different. Guests came over constantly and if someone walked by, they would be invited in for dinner. If we had older guests come over, the children would have to properly greet them, for Cambodians this means the hands are in “prayer” form  and the words “Chum Reap Sou ” , the proper way to say hello, are spoken.

Even though our family doesn’t have guests over as often, we interact with our neighbors often, something our family members don’t do. Our families would host joint barbecues and invite each other over during football games or birthday parties. Although Peeradina talked about the American home being more private, for our family, it’s a bit half and half. Growing up with both values isn’t too bad.

Reflection Blog Post Althen and Peeradina

Peeradina offers us the examination of two unique and different cultures, and how they intertwine with each other at times. After reading Peeradina I came to the conclusion that I witness two cultures that mesh together in many everyday situations. When I finished the  Peeradina reading, my mother popped in my head, as she is a perfect example when two cultures are embodied together at the same given time. There is always relatives showing up at my house uninvited or at times unexpected by my mother. So every time a relative comes over, my mother will have a short panic attack, as she is worried about what the guest will drink, eat, or stay during their time of visit. According to the Peeradina reading that “panic attack” is a sign of American culture, and I could not agree more. Yet, my mother is also from a Middle Eastern heritage, thus when people come over to visit, she will treat them as if they were royal guests. My mother would start to make feast of food, as she comforts the guest in the living room that is prohibited for everyday use. This example can be seen at numerous times in my household, but it will never change, because both American culture and Middle Eastern culture have intertwined in the everyday actions of my mother.

Althen discussion about American “core values” was outrageously funny, because as an American I can either see these core values done by other Americans or see my self at times fall into these core values. There are three core values that I want to dress from the Althen reading, the first would be equality, then work ethic, and finally directness.

When Althen addressed the issue of equality as an American core value, I felt like Althen had done a superb job in giving a description of equality. When the issue of equality is brought up by Althen, is explained that it is a core value that is held high by Americans and their constitution. Furthermore Althen adds that equality is not what it seems to be and is violated in ways such as sex, income, race and many other factors. Althen description on equality is true, by the means of law all men and women are created equal, but in the current American society that we live in, it is hard to find to be true. Work ethic is something that is also talked about by Althen and is talked about with such ease. Althen describes Americans as time oriented, and in many ways as regulated machines when they work. Ultimately meaning that Americans value hard work ethic and at times work much more harder than they are supposed to. Althen evaluation on work ethic has a lot to do with not only completion in American work force, but also the free market principle in American economy. I feel like Americans need to work hard, because any position can be refilled easily, and thus Americans feel that they are always in a competition for their field of profession. Directness is a big American core value and in the current time it is applied in normal day conversations, over the phone, through social media, and even family households. Althen describes Americans as being direct when communicating with each other, but the value of directness is halted when talking about certain issues. Issues that can make one person feel uncomfortable or awkward when talking about, these issues include sex functioning, personal problems or simple things like “mouth odor.” Althen describes that Americans are scared about hurting other people’s feelings when talking about such issues and are better off not addressed. I find this to be true, as at times it is always best to not say anything even when its better that you are upfront with someone.

The American Culture and Me

Like I said in my last post, I feel that my values are a mix originating from both my Vietnamese heritage and from living here in America. Looking back upon my life I can see how some of my core values clash with that of both my family and friends. For instance, I believe in having a private space for myself, that space being my bedroom. There are several instances where my parents would come into my room without permission. In addition, my mother would occasionally come in and clean up my room, making assumptions on what is and is not trash, which has led to problems with something important being thrown out. On the flip side, my sister and I are close enough that when I am home I usually spend most of my time in her room (mainly due to the face that her desk is positioned in such a way that allows me to easily plug in an Ethernet cord for my computer) and she does not mind. As a result, I am also not bothered if she needs to go to or use my room for whatever reason. This opening of the private space also extends to my friends, if my close friends are visiting I have no issues with them having a look in my room.

This “switch” of my values I believe is heavily influenced on how close I am to someone. Like other Americans, my family believes that I am very informal when interacting with others. This is true on most occassions, but if I am instead speaking with someone I do not know and/or they have some sort  of control over me (such as an employer) I tend to change my speech to be more formal, often overly so. The lack of a middle ground has gotten me in a bit of trouble at my old job at a tutoring center. There were several times where my boss believed I was too friendly with the children I was helping and had to remind me several times to be more professional.

If I then examine my experience with hospitality, I believe it to be accurate that it has more American characteristics of hospitality. My parents always required me to inform them whenever I would plan to have my friends come over. The time was fairly lenient though, I recall instances where I would tell them that my friends would be over within the next couple hours and they had no trouble with that. Also, unless we planned to provide our own food, my parents would also make sure that we had something to eat, usually by ordering food for us or offering whatever we happen to have on hand. I have also witnessed similar tendencies when my friends and I visit someone else’s home. Occasionally we would visit on extremely short notice, and yet the parents would still offer us whatever they had on hand. There were several times when we would stay the night, despite not planning to at all, and in the morning my friend or their parents would make breakfast for us. The hospitality we were shown may be more due to the fact that my friends and our families are fairly close, there was definitely a sense of “our home is your home” and “help yourself” whenever we visited.

Overall, these aspects of American culture have mainly allowed me to enjoy life as I grew up. Granted there were times where my cultural ideas have clashed with others and led to some misunderstandings, they have not caused me serious issues here in America. Perhaps when I go abroad they will result in more issues, but for now this mix of American and Asian values is serving me just fine here.