Essay Example of Our Cultural Lens



Bonnie Davis wrote, “Our culture is the lens through which we see the world” (6). I am a White female who was raised in a white nuclear two-parent home. We were in the middle class, and we were Catholics. Growing up I did not realize the struggles that others have because I did not have to worry much. This was my cultural lens because since I did not experience it, I just did not think it was true. I thought that everyone had almost the same experience I did. However, that did change, I fully opened my eyes to other cultures when I met my boyfriend. He was born and raised in the United States, but he has two Mexican parents. His mother even came here from Mexico and can speak both Spanish and English. How his parents raised him was completely different from mine. While my parents were not that strict with curfews, eating all your food, and who you are friends with, his parents seem to be very strict on those. I am a picky eater, but I had to learn to eat all the food on my plate because it is seen as disrespectful if I do not. I also had to introduce myself to everyone in his family, and they had to know a lot about me. My boyfriend would also tell me stories about how he was picked on in school just by the color of his skin. Sadly, I did not realize that those kinds of things actually happened. He was even put in a speech class just because of the color of his skin, the school thought that he needed to learn how to speak English. So, they put him in an ESOL class until they learned that he did not need it since he already knew English and does not speak any Spanish. Another thing that I have noticed since we have started dating is that we do get odd looks from people sometimes. To him it is normal, he just tells me that it just happens since it has always been the case for him when he has dated anyone White. His experiences saddened me and made me realize that I need to change how I saw the world.

I would love to learn another language, especially Spanish. I took a couple of classes in high school to try and learn, but the two teachers that spoke it were White females. My friends that spoke the language would tell me things that they are teaching wrong because they were mixing up different kinds of Spanish. I did not want to learn the wrong way, so now I am hoping I can learn from my boyfriend’s mother. My boyfriend’s grandmother also does not know a lot of English, so it is very difficult for us to understand and talk to each other. I think it would also be very helpful at jobs because when I worked at JCPenny I had a lot of Spanish speaking customers that unfortunately did not get a lot of help that they needed because there was only one Spanish speaking employee. When she was not there all we had was using phones as translators, but that almost always never worked. I believe that there are a lot of people who speak Spanish in the United States, so learning how to speak that language would not only help me help them, but I can talk to them like I do with any other person who speaks English.

I do not know a lot about my parent’s families’ stories of coming to the United States. I only know of one story that my mother has told me that was about her great-great-grandfather coming here from France. My mother told me that he was trying to escape his life there and he traveled here by boat. He worked hard to get everything he had. Eventually, he built his own house to raise his family. It took a long time, but he had a pretty good life when he came here to the United States. Unfortunately, I do not know more about the story, but I am glad that I know even some of it. I do not know any more stories about how other family members came here, but I do know that my dad has Irish and German ancestry. He has told me that we had family members in Germany at the time of World War II, but they fled when the country was getting taken over by Hitler. Our last name Holman is actually German as well. I identify as a White female who has German, Irish, and French. I do not speak about German, Irish, and French a lot though since I do not know a lot about it. 

What makes me prepared to work with diverse students is learning about other cultures. Since I am dating someone who grew up in a different one than me it has made me curious about other ones that I do now know much about. I do not want people to hide their cultures and be afraid that something bad will happen if they do fully embrace it. I want to help children know who they are but still have their culture. The article “Our Culture: The Way We View The World,” states that “[w]e cannot leave our cultures at the door, for our culture is the lens through which we see the world” (Davis, 9). Nobody should try and take away someone’s culture. Everyone should try and understand the different cultures, especially since the United States has so many. Seeing how other people view the world is not disowning your culture, it just means that you are learning more about other people. They do not have to change their culture, but at least they will better understand others. My only wish is that nobody will feel judged or discriminated against for their culture in my classroom.