Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings: Sixteen A

8 Jan

Based on the article “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari,” how do you think cross-cultural misunderstandings develop? Describe a time that you have experienced, or witnessed someone else experience, a cross-cultural misunderstanding. Explain the situation and how it has changed or shaped your thinking.

If you are unable to answer this question based on your own experience you will need to interview a classmate and record and reflect on his/her response.


21 Responses to “Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings: Sixteen A”

  1. sbm9297 January 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    The reasoning behind why cultural differences and misunderstandings occur is because morals, values, and what’s considered right or wrong are all different. For example, in America if Lee would have brought in the Ox, Americans would have looked up to him because we measure things buy how big and expensive they are. America is built on the foundation of who can have the most power. Then you have the Bushmen whose main goal is to keep everyone equal, if someone tries to show the tribe that they are the best they are laughed at until they feel worthless. This has changed our thinking because we have realized that in different cultures there are different social norms, so in order to really figure out what is going on in a culture you cannot go into their culture with your standards.

    Me: Describe a time you have experienced a cross-cultural misunderstanding?

    Tori: In Dim Sum I asked a woman where the bathroom was and she told me she didn’t speak English and pointed to a man and I had to walk over to the man who then ended up telling me where the bathrooms were. Majority of the women didn’t speak enough English to give a simple direction as to where the bathrooms were, but the men did.

    Tori: Describe a time you have experienced a cross-cultural misunderstanding?

    Me: When I was a little younger a class mate of min would wear a hijab and really long clothing through all 4 seasons. I couldn’t understand how that little girl could bare the heat in the summer. One day i asked her why she doesn’t wear less clothing because it’s so hot. She told me it was against her religion. And i asked her: “do the rules apply for during the summer too, i mean what if you faint of a heat stroke or something?” She felt really offended but as a young child you don’t realize what you say to others and really just state what’s on your mind.

  2. Nasyria Taylor January 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Cross-cultural misunderstandings develop when your own culture interferes with another culture that you are analyzing. This becomes a problem because you would not be able to fully understand the culture if you continue to look at it as an outsider. For example, when I went to a Catholic church for my Girl Scout badge I did not fully understand because me being a Baptist my church worships and prays to God differently. For me to understand the culture fully and not have the other people looking at me crazy I had to do the same but I was still confused about what I was doing and thought this was weird. I had to understand that everyone does things differently and I have to accept it, being judgmental is not the best thing to do.

  3. Sammy K-L January 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Cross-culture misunderstandings occur due to people thinking that their culture is “normal.” Because of this, people think that anything outside of their culture is weird. If people are used to one thing, and they are suddenly put outside their comfort zone, they are likely to judge what they don’t know. They might not think their own culture is superior, but they just don’t understand how anything else besides their beliefs can be “normal.”

    I remember a few years ago I went for Thanksgiving at my uncle’s house in suburban New Jersey. When it was time to eat, my uncle and his family said grace, and this was very new to me. Growing up in a non-religious, Jewish family, I did not have much experience with saying grace. I recall I looked over and saw my sister just sitting there awkwardly like I was. Catholic customs are very different to what I was used to, and it just felt awkward that my family was not a part of it. I can really feel the division in my family because my mother stayed with Judaism and her brother converted to Catholicism. Afterward, I learned that my family is very complicated, and religion really is not a big part of my life. I learned that religion has a place in my uncle’s family, but not in my family. We are different, but still family.

    –Love, Sami

  4. sfj4164 January 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Based on the article, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari”, I think cross-cultural misunderstandings are developed when someone compares their culture to another. In middle school, one of my friends was Arabic, and another one of my friends was Puerto Rican and Irish. My Puerto Rican friend always wondered why girls from my Arabic friend’s culture, had to wear a head scarf in public, all the time and why it would be bad to take it off. I’m not sure if it was a misunderstanding but my Arabic friend didn’t have much of an explanation and all she could say was that it was because of her religion.

  5. Chanel Mowatt January 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Cross-cultural misunderstandings occur usually due to a persons mentality. For example if a person thought that just because they did something other people should do it they would not be open minded to a persons customs and/or religion. In “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” they (the Bushmen) assumed that it was custom to not brag about ones accomplishments just like how he (Lee) thought it was a great thing that he bought the largest ox.

    In China you are aloud to have only one child and it is recommended that you have a boy because they are stronger than girls. This is why my friend has no siblings and is an only child, but I didn’t understand why this was because here in America your family size is not restricted. We are aloud to have any size family that we want, big or small. In China whose population is 4 times the size of ours this is a requirement to keep their population under control.

  6. Carina Mondesire January 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Cross-culture misunderstanding can accidently happen especially when you don’t know much about the culture you are surrounded by. All though you may try your hardest to avoid offending that culture, it is always possible. Sometimes it can be from accent, hand gestures, or the way you act inside a home that can really make someone feel bad or offended. When i went to Georgia, i had to go to church. but we stopped at a Mini-Mart on the way. So i bought a really manly energy drink for no apparent reason.We drove over to the church, then while the guy was preaching i popped the can open and drunk it, then i burped out loud. i forgot i was in a church. I also forgot the rules and basic manners that i needed. some thought it was funny and some thought that it was rude and offending. i don’t consider myself a religious person. I simply did not adjust to staying still and being silent in a place with more people.
    -Eric Gomez

  7. Kirk Pressley January 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    One time I experienced a cross-cultural mistunderstanding was when I was in the fifth grade. One of my friends did not celibrate Christmas because of his religion. His religion did not believe that on December 25 was the birth date of Jesus. We had an argument about this and he gave me a book to prove his religion did not celibrate certian things for different reasons. This was a cross-cultural misunderstanding because we both have different beliefs because of our religion.

  8. dylan zimmer January 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Cross-cultural misunderstandings develop because of how different cultures can be and how hard it could be to understand them, especially with little or no prior knowledge. I experienced a small cross-cultural misunderstanding the first time I went to Israel and was brought to the market because I didn’t realize that I was supposed haggle for what I was getting, and because of how different the money the money is I had no idea that I was overpaying. I was told after by the Israelis that I was with after that shopkeepers there don’t take you seriously if you don’t haggle with them. This wasn’t a big misunderstanding, but it was definitely embarrassing.

  9. Gianni S January 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Cross-cultural misunderstandings develop when one culture is comparing another culture, based on the standards of their own culture. Usually people are naturally biased with the standards of their own culture because it is how they live day to day so this happens a lot when cultures meet.

  10. Shuruq Moftah January 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    One time, I was invited to my friend’s house for dinner and her mom made Spanish food, pork fried rice with chicken. Her mom didn’t know that I didn’t eat pork so she though it would be okay to make for dinner. When we sat down for dinner, and she was putting the food in front of me, I ask what it was and she said it was pork fried rice and chicken and so I told her that I couldn’t eat it. She thought that I was vegetarian, or that I didn’t like the smell of the food, but she didn’t understand that it was cultural. Finally, when I got the chance to tell her she understood and made me something else to eat. It changed her way of thinking, now every time I or anyone else goes over and she’s making dinner, she asks if the person over, or I have dietary restrictions. It made me realize that you cannot just assume things about how people eat and so I always ask when I know someone is coming over to dinner too.

  11. ser5599 January 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    I think cross-cultural misunderstandings develop when people react to quickly to a situation. It was Halloween and i invited my friend to come along and go Trick or Treating. She told me no and that she planned on staying home all day on Halloween night. I tried convincing her again and she refused once more. She then told me it was against her religion to celebrate Halloween and I just stood quiet. It wasn’t until after she told me did i decide to join her at her home,watch scary movies and just hang out for Halloween.


  12. sdf2651 January 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Based on the article, I feel that cultural misunderstandings develop when two completely cultures come into contact, and neither has any experience with the other.
    I once had a cross-cultural misunderstanding when I was in 4th grade. I had a Muslim friend. As most people know, it against the Muslim faith to eat pork. It was lunch time, and we were all served pork. My Muslim friends were not eating. So, I proceeded to pester my friends, asking them why they weren’t eating. At this time, I wasn’t aware of the rules of their faith. Afterwards, after telling me the reason, I felt insensitive and ignorant due to my actions.

  13. katyakahl January 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    I think that a lot of cross-cultural misunderstandings come up from confusion. For example, once i was standing outside of school and these two french women came up to me and asked me where the Deli in soho was. i was extremely confused because there are many in NY. So i gave them directions to the nearest one. There women were obviously from france and it seemed like this was their first time in NY. THey were meeting their friend and needed help, but because they had no idea where to go and they didn’t know that there are 10 deli’s around here they had a cultural confusing. I’ve never been to france, but from what i hear, there are only a few deli’s and they are spread out.

  14. scn1829 January 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Cross-culture is being easily misunderstood to an other culture. In the story Lee was living with another culture that he fully didn’t know. For example Americans, usually at Christmas, buy presents for families and/or friends. How they celebrate Christmas is by buying and killing an ox and everyone in the tribe eat the fat and dance. A time that i have been in another culture is when i tried visiting a friend’s house and they follow the asian culture and i needed to take off my shoes before I enter the room and we all have to eat chinese food with chopsticks. The place they lived in was very chinese like: everything looked red and there were chinese ordainments hanging on walls.

  15. rachelvicioso January 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    I think that if you don’t think about the other culture that you would expect some things that don’t really happen in that culture. I remember in elementary school, I had a friend that didn’t celebrate any holiday or her own birthday. It was the day before Halloween and I decided to ask her if she would be going trick-or-treating this year. She seemed to get a little bad and said that she wouldn’t be going trick-or-treating. Me, being the little naïve child I was, kept asking why. Then she started to explain that she didn’t celebrate any holiday or birthdays. I was really surprised but said sorry anyway. After that I was really interested in other cultures.

  16. sep4149 January 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    I think cross- cultural misunderstandings develop from individual experience and preference. The way you react to certain things depends on your own opinion of the matter and the situation. In the article Richard is shocked by the bushmen’s reaction to his gift, the people used this as a way to teach him a lesson. We live in a society where everyone is busy following the most popular most people never have a mind of our own, we’re quick to praise those who are the most boastful. Once on the 4 train a girl came on and a group of rowdy teenage girls all dressed the same. some started to murmur and call her ‘weird’ and ‘ugly’ because of her appearance, she began chanting and reciting some prayer and when she left the train the whispers continued and dirty looks were shot her way. I won’t ever know what its like to be stared down and whispered because of something another person is not able to understand. It shaped my thoughts into thinking that if someone can’t accept you then don’t waste your time. life goes on, some people just can’t be open minded to something they can never understand.

  17. sag2169 January 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Ashley Guevara

    Based on the article, I believe cross-cultural misunderstandings develop when you’re not exactly aware of what the other person’s cultural beliefs consist of. People aren’t always exactly sure of another persons lifestyle, so what might seem “normal” to you, might not be “normal” to another person. A time where I once experienced a cross-cultural misunderstanding is last month. I was walking down the street and an Asian lady walked up to me, grabbed my arm tightly and started speaking a different language, while still holding my arm. The lady she was with told her to let go, and then said to me “she’s new here”. My friend & I walked away confused, living in the place we live, it’s not considered normal for a random stranger just to walk up to you, grab you, and try to start a conversation but understood that where ever she was from that’s most likely okay.

  18. Carina Mondesire January 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Cross-cultural misunderstanding is developed by a person’s inability to completely let go of their own culture, when around another culture.
    A time that I experienced cultural misunderstanding was when I was talking to a girl from Australia. I was telling her about different part of the city and how some were better then others, what made the better or worse were the people. I called the people in the more unfavorable parts ghetto, she was confused because in Australia Ghetto is consider a good thing. The situation changed the way I think because it made me realize that in different cultures words can mean different things.

  19. Axel Aquino January 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Based on the article, I think that cross-culture misunderstandings develop when someone makes an uneducated assumption on someone’s culture.

    In the 5th grade, I had a muslim friend who was really nice with me, I always hanged out with him. He was getting picked on and called a terrorist one day and I joined in and started laughing. I felt really bad afterwards and I apologized. I think that was caused by prejudice and a bad assumption on muslims.

  20. sfb8732 January 14, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Based on the article, I think a cross-cultural misunderstanding is when two or more people have a misunderstanding about their religion, language ability, or their cultural all together. For example with me, is when I was in elementary school, you can bring in snacks on your birthday and share them with others. One of the kids didn’t celebrate birthdays or any other holidays and I didn’t know that at first. It made me feel bad when I was pressuring him to have one.

  21. Jonah Zilberg January 14, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Cultural misunderstandings are very common when people find unusual factors to foreigners communities. They can be brought upon by stereotypes, and misjudgment but overall involve ethnocentrism. I think that when kids make fun of, or target a foreign person its because they have witnessed some type of stereotyping on the victim’s race before and they gain some form of inspiration, in a sense.

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