Culture is hard to put into words. It’s so easy to say culture is a language, food, famous land marks and famous people who come from that certain culture. Culture can be embodied in clothing, music and art. But is that it? Can we grasp a culture just by tasting its food, by walking down a street in a foreign city, or even by becoming an expatriate and living there permanently as an adult? Well, I don’t think so.
In college we like to throw multi cultural days and celebrate culture the best we can, with food (that’s easy), with dance/music (that’s easy too), and with language (that’s a little bit harder but still do-able to a degree). But what about the hard stuff? Its religious, racial, national politics, its small lingual nuances, its economic and socioeconomic policies, its people? What about acknowledging our own Untied States Imperialistic lens through which we view other cultures? Culture is so much more than we can wrap our heads around which is why we like to sum it up in food and dress rather than dealing with real issues that are at hand.
It’s simple and quick for us to say that Brazil’s culture, for example, is just soccer and beaches and for some reason butts but that’s not all there is. People on culture days don’t want to think about the serious stuff because of course that stuff isn’t labeled as ‘fun.’ We should celebrate positive things in every culture and society but to leave out the negative aspects that play an even bigger role than just the stereotypical surface is just as important. How else will we fully understand another country’s culture if we don’t take the time to learn the hard stuff?
23 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.