ANT101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Instructor: Wendell Johnson
Culture is what defines a person; it is the way in which he or she behaves, what he or she believes, and what sets one apart from the rest of the world. It is the beauty, difference, and intelligence that at times require study to understand, but is an acceptable way of life for those born into that particular society. Because the United States believes itself to be the epitome of normalcy and standard living, we come across as critical, when judgment is passed upon civilizations that act in ways that are uncommon or improper in our culture. Americans that take the time to respectfully explore cultures different from their own are rewarded to find that distinction encourages awareness and awareness leads to appreciation.
Life in Vietnam centers around the family and the village. Life in the village revolves around the growing of rice. Each family member’s role is clearly defined. The young men plow the fields at the beginning of the rainy season and young women plant the young rice shoots that have sprouted in the tiny seedbeds. As they plant, the women sing centuries-old rice-planting songs. (When labor was short during the war in the north, a slightly more efficient method of planting was developed-so new songs with a faster rhythm had to be written.) The children care for the buffalo and make sure they don't eat the rice plants. And often the children are sent to the irrigation ditches to catch a few fish for dinner. The grandparents take care of the babies. In the evening, the family gathers to preserve food and listen to the grandparents tell stories of when they were children.
The shared character of Vietnamese people is that of tremendous respect for their elders and humility. The family is the basic unit of society and everything a Vietnamese person does is seen in light of how it affects their family. Harmony in all...