The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Megan Hemstreet '23 RGLP Reflection: From Geocentrism to Heliocentrism, Broadening my Cultural Perspective

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Culture is a broad term that can be used to describe someone’s geographical and ethnic backgrounds, as well as lived and shared experiences. Most people view their culture as the center of their world experience, similarly to the way geocentrism was prominent in early scientific knowledge, before heliocentrism became widely accepted. Before people have many intercultural experiences, they view their own culture as the standard and assume everyone else will adapt to them. However, throughout this program we have learned to broaden our world perspective and acknowledge first that our cultures are not the first person narrative, but rather an experience beholden to us that is not necessarily shared by other parts of the world or widely understood. Culture shock can be a result of this ignorant view. The best way to adapt to this is to avoid bringing in stereotypes and enter this experience with an open mind. Generalizations can be helpful but it is important to filter these to make sure they are not harmful in any way. This also requires patience, because as we have learned some cultures prioritize different things when engaging in discussions with others. Patience allows us to push through the give and take process that allows two different cultures to blend and function smoothly in a workplace or any environment. Being adaptable just means being willing to give up your own preferences and comfort levels in order to gain a better understanding of someone else and what is important in their cultures. Through many lectures and a hands on experience, we got the opportunity to practice being adaptable in new situations, especially when coming into contact with a new culture that you are not familiar with in order to avoid harmful stereotyping and assumptions. This experience has helped me see the broader picture of intercultural relationships and remember that my experiences are not always similar to other people and I need to carry this with me as I go into the world and interact with new people on a daily basis.


 

 

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