Culture Shock

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Critically discuss the experience of “culture shock” as described in 1 Reading by Frances Henry, and the Lecture on “Culture Shock”. Plus 1 Additional assigned Reading or Video from the Course

Based on the accounts of many Caribbean immigrants, it is apparent that each individual experienced cultures shock in different ways. Regardless of their experiences, it still remains one of the most common issues they deal with as they arrive and attempt to settle in Canada. Most immigrants struggled with racism while others experienced discrimination. For many Caribbean youth as they arrive in Canada to reunite with their families, unfulfilled expectations of their parents and the host country (Canada) causes them to experience culture shock (Henry,1994). Furthermore, the experience of the harsh winters is one of many culture shocks as expressed by most Caribbean immigrants (Henry, 1994). Therefore, as a group we will critically discuss the experiences of culture shock that Caribbean immigrants face such as the differences in the school system, social interaction, unfulfilled expectations, racism and the weather. We will also explore the negative impact it had on immigrants and its implications to Canadian society. Finally, we will explore different ways in which Canada could have dealt with their culture shock. .

Caribbean immigrants also experience culture shock as a result of the racism that they face after moving to Canada. Racism is not as evident in the Caribbean since Caribbean immigrants are the majority there. The racism they experience in Canada usually involves the color of their skin, language barriers and gender issues. Skin color is a major factor in racism as experienced by Carol (James, 1989). Carol is from Trinidad and while living there, her skin color did not affect her self-esteem since the majority of people in Trinidad were black (James, 1989). After immigrating to Canada, she became more aware of her skin color because of the way people treated her (James, 1989). She had several experiences involving racism. She was met with racial prejudice while job hunting, searching for apartments and even had people yell racial slurs at her on the street (James, 1989). This was different from what Carol experienced back home (in Antigua) where her skin color didn’t (did not) matter and as a result, was a factor in the culture shock she experienced after arriving in Canada. (As a result, Carol experienced cultural shock once she arrived to Canada.) (James, 1989).

Culture shock for many Caribbean immigrants also stems from the difficulty they have with communication in Canada. The language barrier makes communication difficult in Canada and this can lead to racism. An example of this is the challenge Caribbean immigrants have when interacting with immigration officers. Immigration officers have been accused of being racist towards Black immigrants and this contributes to the culture shock experienced by Caribbean immigrants (Henry, 1994). Their interactions with immigration officers are often one of the first interactions they have in Canada. The differences in cultures and the language barriers between Caribbean immigrants and immigration officers often hinder communication and results in racism. The racism they experience contributes to their culture shock since this isn’t (is not) how they are treated back home.

The gender issues that Caribbean immigrants face in Canada, particularly the ways in which Caribbean women are sexualized, also contributes to culture shock. There have been instances in which Black women were propositioned by older white men while simply walking in the street or waiting for a bus which was something new to all these Caribbean women (Prince, 2001). Even prospective employers made inappropriate comments about liking “colored girls” and their nice smiles and thick lips (Prince, 2001). These kinds of remarks simply displayed their interest in Caribbean women as sexual...
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