As my exploration into and my intrigue with Cultural Anthropology continues…and I entertain the pursuit of an advanced degree in this discipline – I’ve observed that many academic programs “encourage” (often require) students to journey beyond their own borders for extended periods of time…to explore and research remote corners of the universe – places such as Africa, Malaysia, even Indonesia to name a few.
Traveling and spending months in various parts of the world – Costa Rica, Greece, Scotland, etc. – over the years definitely provided incredible opportunities to gain exposure, knowledge and understanding – through self-immersion – into other cultural landscapes. These experiences and this exposure helped unfold and reveal who I am and how I see, understand, and fit into the world. So, while I strongly advocate global exploration and first-hand experiences (especially for youth)…it concerns me when our attempt to “better understand” other cultures often results in us missing, neglecting or overlooking important aspects and elements of our own culture – particularly individuals and events that helped shape and paint the rich landscape in which we currently function (or live).
As these thoughts tumbled around in my head, I reflect on my own country – the United States of America (U.S.A). I pause to ask myself…”Do I truly know (and intimately understand) my own history, and do I have a good grasp on the groundwork that went into defining my own cultural story? Had courageous individuals – who had a profound impact on the U.S. culture – been emphasized and included in school lectures and academic text books? Was I provided sufficient and adequate details that would reveal the “complete” picture of how my culture came about and offered a way to embrace what it truly means to be a U.S. citizen? Was I given sufficient details into the lives and times of those individuals who came before me that laid the foundation that would define who we are today? I also wondered how many U.S. citizens actually knew about the many unique individuals who ultimately influenced and provided the foundational mortar – and crafted the backdrop – for the culture we now spend time in?
With all of that in mind, I began to reflect on my own educational background and the academic training I’d received. I realized – after digging deeply – that many historically courageous and personally powerful individuals who attempted to lay that groundwork for our own U.S. culture…and made us who we are today…had not been included in my early education.
Much of our history and the events of those times offer an incredible window into our culture. Our own cultural landscape paints the tones and colors of the view we see as we glimpse through the window into the world. This backdrop helps establish perspectives, interpretations and so much more about who we are and how we interact within the world.
Take a look. See what you think. Were you exposed to or did you learn about any of these individuals during your early learning years? If so, did the part of the country where you lived or the schools you attended (and the text/lectures provided) offer information about these courageous individuals…and where they fit into the U.S. cultural puzzle?
- Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) – Ran for President in 1872
- Frances Perkins (1880-1965) – The Woman Behind the New Deal
Crafted, researched and written by: | LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2014 EM Carlock
Graphic credits: www.nuvvo.com