Cultural Immersion at Work

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Cultural Immersion at Work|
Patricia Miles|
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University of Southern Maine|
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Introduction
Cultural immersion is or can be a term that is open for subjective defining. I chose to take the project and apply it to my work life in hopes that the immersion would be more solidified in the working alongside a very different variety of cultures than what I was used to. I did this because I thought I would be able to get as much exposure on a daily basis as I could, and I wanted the experience to be natural and lead into a specific friendship or culture that way. The Transfer

I asked for the transfer as soon as I found out about the project. The transfer involved me moving from a restaurant that employed and served predominantly white upper class people in Falmouth, Maine to an inner city Portland, Maine restaurant that served and employed multicultural lower income people.

The beginning experience
I knew that the whole culture in this restaurant would be different, yet I wasn’t always prepared for all the challenges. The very first day I worked was as though I had entered a completely different world. Some people were friendly and some were a little apprehensive, I believe this was mostly because they knew where I came from. The biggest challenge I faced in the beginning with this community of people was the acceptance. I think that trust is an issue with people who share differences in cultural backgrounds. It was a work in progress in developing the trust of the community of coworkers. The backgrounds included in this community are Chinese, white, African-Congo, gay, lesbian, Iranian, Japanese, and Hispanic. The community is very diverse in appearance, yet each different culture tends to stay close to their own. The differences amongst them create daily confrontations and heated discussions amongst many of the people. The culture here is one of competition of sorts yet a strong sense of teamwork and community tends to rise above it all. A young woman from Congo

During my project I chose to really get to know a young woman from Congo. She came here from Congo when she was 14 in 2000. She explains that her parents were looking for a safer life for her and her family. She was well educated in Congo up to that point in her life, though she tells stories of her mom making her clothes by hand and being made fun of by her school mates. Kalanga, is also known as Bibi, because she, like many people who are from countries such as Congo has such long names they end up with nick names. In this case her brothers said no one could pronounce her name and so they nicknamed her Bibi, short for her middle name Bibisha, when she came here. Bibi talks about her father sleeping on the roof of their house in order to protect her family from militants and hate crimes back in Congo. She explains that her mother is half Portuguese and since Congo has gone to war with Portugal, her family is at risk of death because of the marriage alone. She said that it was after this that her family moved to Zambia, a more peaceful country, and eventually to the US. She says that it is a relief to be able to sleep at night and not worry, now that she is in the US. About Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country located in central Africa. Officially known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country has a 25-mile (40-km) coastline on the Atlantic Ocean but is otherwise landlocked. It is the third largest country on the continent; only Sudan and Algeria are larger. The capital, Kinshasa, is located on the Congo River about 320 miles (515 km) from its mouth. (CIA, 2011) The largest city in central Africa, it serves as the country’s official administrative, economic, and cultural center.(CIA, 2011) French is the most prominently spoken language of the country, however Lingala and Monokutoba are also languages used. The Republic of Congo is one of the most urbanized countries in Africa, with...
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