Yesterday I asked the question, “have I become a multicultural person?”, so today I would like to ask what that means. It is a term that is usually found at the end of the intercultural learning process, so it must be hard to earn and difficult to achieve.
It also has a lot to do with cultural moments, because it is these moments – and what you learn about your own culture from their exploration -- that lead to cultural self-awareness, without which, achieving a multicultural perspective is not possible. It has to do with mastering the tools of cross-cultural communication to the point where you can then apply them to new and unknown cultures.
Most of us – even those that live abroad – are way back there in the learning process, still assuming that our way of perceiving the world is the “real” way, not just a cultural-based one. We, especially Americans, like to think that we are autonomous, independent and therefore not subject to the forces of our cultural heritage, but we are. We are imprisoned into thinking that time is a noun, linear and onward marching, that the individual is always at the end of the day the basic unit of survival, that “where there is a will, there is a way” and that rules should be applied equally and universally. But these are cultural imperatives, not the way things are. We have to take stock and do our best to examine our cultural moments day by day.
So am I a multicultural person? No way, just doing my best to understand a little more every day.