Cross Cultural Interview
YOU HAVE AN OPTION ON SELECTION OF AN INTERVIEWEE
OPTION A) Identify someone from a culture different from yours. These individuals can be from any walk of life—students/ professionals such as teachers or businessmen or businesswomen or diplomats/a neighbor /a friend/a family member. The individual can be an immigrant to the U.S. or someone born in the U.S. who nevertheless identifies as someone from a different culture than yours such as Asian-American.
“I Came to America to earn a lot of money and then go back to India but now America is what defines me”, these are the words of our interviewee, Depak Patel, who we had the pleasure of meeting for our cross cultural interview project. Depak Patel came to the USA from India around 30 years ago. He is aged 55 years at the moment and works at the India A-1 Grocery Store as a Meager. Just like many other people who migrated to USA, Depak Patel also had the dream of getting access to a good life which was not available to him back in India. Depak Patel shared his life experience with us very honestly. If fact he was really happy to share his life story as he believes that this is one of an example of the American Dream coming true. From the interview we were convinced that Depak indeed is an example of a person who is able to adopt to the US culture for good. This is our own experience that American people are very welcoming. They have big hearts. We do realize that there might be some issues when many people come to America but the people coming here learn the culture and try to adjust to it for better results. We believe that America is a land of opportunities and has a rich culture that evolves and accommodates all who come here.
Depak Patel was born in India and belonged to a poor family. He said that he had a joint family. His father was not able to provide his children a good education due to limited resources. His father was a daily wager who would simply not earn enough even to feed his children enough that would fulfill their nutrition needs. Depak Patel just had some primary education at a government school and at an early age had to start working to support his family financially. In fact he was around 15 years old when he started to work. The time he was migrating to USA, he was working as a sales person for a small company in India. According to Depak Patel that he was always confused about why he is not able to explore his full potential. This fact played a great role in him making a decision in coming to the US.
As we mentioned earlier that Depak Patel wanted to have a good life and explore his full potentials. Back in India, he did not see a chance to improve his life in any way as he was not educated and did not belong to a financially strong family. A family who were Depak’s relatives were living in the US. They had a daughter (Depak’s present wife) for whom that wanted to get married with an Indian Person. Depak got married to the daughter and moved to US. Depak never went back to India to live there and is enjoying the American dream here since then.
According to Depak, US culture was open with people wearing different clothes than India. He felt that these clothes were too short. According to Depak Patel “It felt I was living a bad dream as cultural values were totally different”. Depak felt that he had come to a wrong place. Children did not respect their parent as they did in India. The family structure was totally different. In the USA had a nuclear family system while in India they had an extended family system. In all we can say that he went through a cultural shock.
Depak said that any Indians who were already in US at that time who had adopted to US culture seemed bad to him as he thought that Indian culture is superiors to US culture and they should not forget their culture. We believe that this is the case that also happened to us as foreigners in USA. The culture is different and we have been trying to preserve our cultural identity since we have come here. But this is also a fact that USA is not forcing anyone to adopt to the US cultural norms. Having said that, as foreigners, we should also not try to block ourselves of the goodness of the multicultural environment of USA, same is what Depak Patel did after spending some year in USA.
It was hard for Depak to culturally adopt to the US culture but he became open to it. He started to observe the culture of the USA and learned and compared it to his own cultural norms that he had in India. He said that it did not take him long to conclude that USA has developed a culture over time which believes in equal opportunities for everyone. This is something unlike India ha said. Also his wife was already an American born. The actual boost that he got in adopting to the US culture was when his kids got growing and were more American than Indian. America accepted Depak with an open heart and in return Depak started to feel more and more American.
Challenges in Life in USA
As Depak Patel was not an educated person, he had difficulties in learning English. He had a hard time in overcoming the language barriers. But he did learn English eventually. He said that his English speaking accent sometimes bothers him as he has observed some people making fun of it. But he has learned to ignore it.
Positive Side of Life in USA
Depak has a well-paid job here in the USA. He has all the life facilities that one can imagine. He has a beautiful family with two sons who are both engineers and enjoying their lives. Depak’s wife is a respected school teacher. He lives in a suburb with people from diverse culture and has great relations with them.
Cultural Learnings in USA
Depak has learned to live a life that is in constant interaction with people from diverse cultures. All the cultures have combined to make a new culture called American Culture according to him. He also said that when you come to USA to live here for the rest of your life, become a complete American and do not live a dual life. If you do not adopt to US culture, this will not be good for you as you will not be able to enjoy the freedom and opportunities US has for you.
Reflection on Interview
Depak Patel is an honest man who loved sharing his life story with us. We were able to identify ourselves with him. We have been experiencing the same situation as Depak being aliens to the USA and its culture. When we came to US, we had a great cultural shock. Women have a lot more independence than back in our home country. We think that we are a lot different than US people. They are very open about their views and we are not that open. But instead of getting in conflict with the US culture, we need to learn from Depak’s experience and adopt to it. Of course we can still stick to some of our cultural things as US does not mind anyone spending their life in any way.
We would like to conclude my discussion by stressing the importance of cross cultural harmony in the US society. Depak Patel thinks that there are doubts in the minds of different people about which way the US society would, especially in the current political scenario. But he believed that USA is still a land of opportunities and the current doubtful situation will dilute and the society will once again be harmonious in regards to the cross cultural relations. He thinks that USA has changed his life for good and has done the same for many more people. In his words “I was once an enthusiast Indian American, but now I consider myself an All American”. This statement sums up his state of loyalty and love for this great country. We hope that the US society can progress towards a state where the life of all Americans is equally valued and all of the different cultural segments find it easy to live in peace and help each other progress.