Cultural Diversity Autobiography Essay

2030 words - 8 pages

I would like to consider my cultural heritage as diverse, but this is far from reality. Over the years as I matured through my teenage years, I was exposed to different cultures by life experiences and travel. I struggled to create both a personal and cultural identity while trying to adjust to my sight loss and with the support of my family I traveled overseas to experience other cultures for the first time. My family opened up their home to a foreign exchange program in turn allowing me the opportunity to travel over to Europe at the age of 16 years old. This opportunity started the slow progression of experiences that would open my mind to others who are unlike myself, especially traveling to a strange place and feeling different in a mainstream culture. It was not until the past 5 or 6 years until I fully accepted my disability that changed my view on being different, whether it’s race, class, gender or disability. Before this time period, my own fear of being different was so intense that I thought my weakness (disability) made me inferior of not only other cultures, but also my own family members.
I interviewed my grandmother, father and mother for this project. It was very interesting to uncover many of the stories and values that I was unaware of throughout my life. My father’s mother is currently 91 years old and offered a difficult interview by giving me too many stories to analyze for this project. She grew up in the Midwest and moved throughout several states as a child. Her parents separated when she was 8 years old leaving her mother to raise her independently. They settled in Missouri at a religious community called Unity Farm. Her mother taught school while raising my Grandmother. The value of education was strongly encouraged leading to the career of teaching for my grandmother. My paternal grandfather grew up in the Philadelphia area in Chester County. His skilled laboring values influenced my father to work with his hands as a hobby, not as a vocation. My father seems to possess both the values of education and skilled work. On the other hand, my mother’s parents did not encourage higher education. My mother stated, “In the 1950’s and 60’s, women were not expected to attend college”. Although this was a strong value for society at that time, my mother encouraged education on her children. My mother’s talent in sewing and entrepreneurship from the family-owned hardware store influenced her to start a wedding apparel business.
My paternal Irish heritage combined with my English/Native American maternal side generally includes small size families. The largest family size is 3 children on the paternal side and my immediate family comprises of a sister and myself. The general role of the family throughout the generations incorporate the male working outside of the home with the female working as the stay at home mother. My sister is married with 3 young children and changed her roles within the past 7...

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