Week 15 – Polynesian Culture

This week we studied the Polynesian culture. I feel like I already knew quite a bit about the culture, but there was a lot of emphasis on different things that shed new insight. The article I read this week focused on many aspects of the Polynesian culture. Polynesia includes a huge geographical area that triangulates from the Hawaiian islands, New Zealand, and West and Easter Island. This includes islands such as Samoa, Tonga, Cook islands, Tahiti, etc. As of the start of the 21st century, about 70% of the Polynesian people reside in Hawaii. Festival activity in the Polynesian culture has always been a huge part of their culture as it gives them a way to express themselves in a contemporary way. It includes arts, music, and dance. The Festival of Pacific Arts started in 1972 and is held every 4 years in attempt to revive some of the lost Polynesian culture. One of the most basic and principal characteristics of the Polynesian culture is “effective adaptation to and mastery of the ocean environment.” Traditionally, the Polynesians were excellent voyagers, extending even as far as Chile. They also lived off of the ocean with food, recreation, housing, and even religion of the ocean. They often built/build houses over the top of the ocean and created villages called Hamlets. Otherwise, inland villages ranged from just a few houses to a much larger community. 

In our discussion, we talked a lot about Polynesian song and dance and how it is more of a ritual type thing in their culture that they perform at every ceremony or party-type occasion that you can think of. We also emphasized the family quite a bit and the role that they have within the Polynesian culture. The role of the family stretches beyond blood lines, however, as they encompass close friends as family as well. This week was great for me to learn more about, because it will help me understand and better treat those of the Polynesian culture within the nursing field. 

Week 13 – Asian culture.

This week, we talked about the Asian culture as a whole. It was interesting because the Asian culture is and should be broken up into much more specific subcategories. I chose to specify about the Chinese culture. Many people discussed differences between cultures – for example, “the Japanese culture highly values respect toward one another and a public quarrel or tension is not likely to be seen often. In Chinese culture they are more open about emotions and displays of affection.” I had no idea of this, as I have never traveled to either China or Japan, but this would be great information to know and understand when it comes to being a nurse in the near future. It is good to understand social customs to be a better nurse as I will be able to make them feel more comfortable.

The article that I read this week talked about Asian culture as a whole. There are more than 1 billion people that live in just china with more than 50 ethnic minority groups. The diversity among Asians has an exceptionally  wide range, but as a whole, there is a very specific and obvious culture. Regarding the official religion of China, the “Chinese Communist Party” has ruled it to be atheist, however, there are many more religions that have been tolerated over the years. There are only 5 officially recognized religions in China – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. Pretty much all other religions are considered to be illegal. Regarding language, there are 7 major dialects of Chinese, Mandarin been the overwhelming majority of 71.5%. Though the different dialects might sound the same to someone who does not understand or speak Chinese, they are extremely different from one another and for the most part cannot communicate with each other. In addition, the article talks about the Chinese culture regarding food. Chinese generally cook in the Cantonese style, meaning lots of stir-fried dishes, Szechuan (cooking with peanuts), sesame paste and ginger, as well as lots of rice. Lastly it mentions the Chinese arts and explains that they rely heavily on history to express themselves in the arts and pay tribute to their ancestors through music, sculptures, paintings, writing, etc.

Overall, it was a very productive and insightful week to learn about the Asian culture and the differences between different cultures. I’m grateful to understand more that can be applied into my nursing career, as well as my everyday life as I run into different cultures almost every day.

Week 12 – Judaism

This week, we studied the Jewish culture. This is one of those cultures that I felt that I understood the basics of their religion and culture and knew things like they couldn’t eat pork and that they smashed glass at weddings, etc., but  I Iearned so much more about this culture this week. In our discussion, someone clarified that Kosher does not just mean not eating pork, but that non kosher foods include pigs, shellfish, rabbits, and reptiles. It was also mentioned that it is not considered Kosher if you have dairy with meat – on a sandwich, for example. They are also prohibited from drinking any grape juice product (including wine) that is not produced by another Jew. 

The article that I read this week talked about the facts and stories of jewish traditions and customs. It would explain different traditions of the Jewish culture and would be followed by a story that has had a big impact on someone’s life. Some traditions explained that it is on the 8th day of life that boys are circumcised as part of a covenant. I thought this was interesting, as most boys that are to be circumcised do it within a few days of birth if stable. They also explain that the “dead are not to be left alone.” It is expected that the dead are frequently visited after death. Among other traditions, there are many many wedding traditions such as glass breaking, trumpets, singing, etc. This article was really cool because it had links to further explanation of the many traditions that exist in Judaism. 

We also viewed the movie, “Life is Beautiful.” Its an older movie produced in Italian about an Italian mother and her Jewish husband and son. The movie did a great job of depicting what the concentration camps were like and the hardships that the Jews had to face in the past due to unfortunate and unacceptable discrimination. However, the movie was not sad and depressing like most depictions of the holocaust. Instead, the father was a beyond optimistic man that simply wanted his family to be happy. He made a game out of the concentration camp to keep his son unsuspecting and happy. He took every chance to protect his son’s happiness and eventually gave his life for him – the whole time the son did not know the real truth behind the concentration camp and had a much happier and optimistic view of what had happened. The movie really left an impact on me to be happy – even in the dark times, so that I can be a good influence on myself and on those around me. 

Overall, this week was very informative and very uplifting. Now that I know much more about the Jewish culture, I will be better able to treat and care for them as a future nurse. For example, understanding their dietary needs and restrictions will help me to avoid any unnecessary conflict when it comes to nutrition. 

Week 11 – Native American Culture

This week, we learned about the Native American culture. The article I read this week talked about the different Native American healing traditions. It mentioned that most spiritual healing practices that are being used today originate from different Native American tribes. Concerning the history of the Native Americans, each tribe would have at least one elder member who was well versed and practiced in the healing arts. This includes herbs, healing, and spiritual communication. The article also talked about the different tools and traditions that would aid in these healing processes. Animal spirits or totems are considered to be messengers that offer spiritual guidance to the individual.  Sweat lodges help to cleans and heal the body, mind, and spirit. Dreamcatchers helped to protect children from nightmares. There were others, but one of my favorites is the talking stick. They would use this talking stick and pass it around and only speak if holding the stick. This tradition is a respectful way to communicate and prevent disagreements from getting out of hand. My husband is native american and he NEVER talks over anyone, and neither does his family. My family is the complete opposite, in that we all speak over each other and try to get our two cents into the conversation. Its been an interesting combination in our marriage, but I’ve gotten much better at listening and waiting in attempt to be more respectful, and he’s gotten much better at speaking up, even when there is no break in the conversation.

I remember the first time he came to my house for a Sunday dinner and everyone was laughing, speaking, and even shouting over each other and my now-husband just kind of sat there timidly. I thought that he was just shy, but then I went to his house. His mom is 100% Native American and his dad is simply American. The culture of their family, however, totally fit this description of respect within a conversation. Sitting at a dinner table, they each took turns talking and would all listen quietly while another person talked. At first, I hated it, but I have grown to love and appreciate the amount of respect that they seem to have for each other while someone is talking. 

In addition, we talked about how we can apply the knowledge of the Native American history in to a future health care career. I will be graduating in the spring and will need all the cultural help I can get to help me be a better nurse. We talked about how the history of the Native American culture was very dark when it came to confrontation with the new-comers. Violence and horror has branded the past and has had a devastating impact on American institutions. When people of this culture are hesitant to involve themselves in an American institution, it is very important that we, as a healthcare team are sensitive and welcoming to all cultures, especially the Native American culture to help build more trust.

Deaf Culture

This week, we focused on the deaf culture. I really enjoyed it because it was not a common culture that I would have thought of until after learning more about it. I’ve always known that language in and of itself is a type of cultural, but there is so much more to it. Many articles that were brought up in discussions this week talked a lot about cochlear implants and the strain that they have on the deaf community. I’ve always seen them as a positive and helpful intervention, but many from the deaf community discourage it because they have lived completely happy lives and even consider their lives to be more meaningful.

I found an article that addressed the “American Deaf Culture” in general. It started off by saying that “culture and language intertwine.” I think this statement is key to many cultures, especially the deaf culture. If one does not know ASL, it becomes increasingly difficult to communicate or understand the culture at all. It also talked about how they have their own set of values, behaviors, and traditions. In the classroom or home, for example, everything is aimed at vision being the primary sense of communication, rather than hearing and speaking. If parents have children with hearing deficits, they are extremely encouraged to learn ASL themselves quickly so that they can also envelop them into the cultural world of their child. I thought this was interesting, because you do not have to be deaf or hard of hearing to be included in the deaf culture. Another thing that I found cool about their communication is that it is absolutely expected that both members of a conversation hold consistent eye contact and that it is expected that the person talking is to not be interrupted at all while signing – until a visual cue such as a pause or facial expression allows the other person to begin signing and speaking. 

Overall, I loved learning about deaf culture and the pride that they have for something that others might say they don’t have. This will be so helpful to me as a future nurse when deaf patients come in to have a better idea of the wonderful lives that they live. I have a new found respect for this group and loved learning about them.

Week 9 – Latino culture

This week we focused on the Hispanic/Latino culture. I read an article that explained why many Latinos dread going to the doctor. Studies have shown that this ethnic group is the least likely to visit the doctor of all ethic groups. Surveys show that more than 25% of Latinos don’t have a usual healthcare provider and about 50% don’t visit the doctor during an entire year. Even when they do make appointments to go to a clinic, they tend to stop treatment once symptoms disappear, rather than follow through the whole treatment. Why? About 25% immigrants from South America do not have documents disqualifying them from Medicaid or other governmental benefits. Another obvious barrier is the lack of confidence in the english language. Seeing a healthcare provider who doesn’t speak spanish makes diagnoses difficult and makes the whole experience in clinics much more difficult. In addition, many of these immigrants do not further their education and therefore stay in lower paying jobs. As a result, it becomes much more difficult to afford proper health care.

Other things I learned from our discussions in class this week included end of life care, dancing and music, and fertility rates. In the hispanic culture, they would much prefer to care for their elderly than to send them to a nursing home. It is usually a woman that provides care, and they view it as an honor and an expectation to care for those that have cared for them. Surveys have shown that fertility among Hispanics are three times higher than non-hispanics. It seemed to be directly related to the devotion to religion. The more religious, the higher the fertility rate. Lastly, dancing and music are hugely important to the Latin culture – something I sometimes wish were more prominent in my own culture.

We also watched the movie, McFarland USA this week. It was about a high school in the middle of nowhere, California – McFarland. The town is primarily populated with Hispanics. An American coach moves there to teach and coach and ends up founding a cross country team with seven boys from the high school. The movie did a really great job of depicting the hard work that some of these families had to go through on the fields to provide for their every day food. The boys didn’t really have any hope of moving on to college, until they end up doing really well in cross country. It really gave me good insight to the extremely hard work that generally exists within the Hispanic culture. 

Overall, this was a great week and it will be very applicable to my future nursing career. As said above, fertility rates among hispanics in the US are three times higher than non-hispanics and are therefore not uncommon patients. Understanding their culture better from this week’s studies will really help me to understand where they come from and help me to better treat them to their specific needs.

Week 8 – Muslim Culture

This week, we focused on the Muslim culture. It was great, because I have always had a slight idea of what the Muslim culture is like, but it turns out, I didn’t really know too much that was valid. I read an article that focused on the origin of Islam, or the Muslim culture.The muslim culture is traced back to the 7th century in Saudi Arabia and therefore the “youngest of the great world religions.” It officially started when the prophet Muhammad claimed to have an angelic visitation. He then dictated the Qur’an through the angel Gabriel, which is considered the perfect and exact words of Allah, or God. One thing that I read about the Qur’an is that it supports the “previous scriptures” such as the Hebrew Torah, the Psalms of David, and the Gospels of Jesus Christ (Sura 4:163; 5:44-48). One thing I found interesting is that the Qur’an clearly and explicitly denies that Jesus Christ was crucified or resurrected, yet there are multiple accounts of his crucifixion and resurrection in all four of the Gospels. There are multiple interpretations of scriptures, and it is hard to say if things are literal or figurative. I’ve always found the strength of religions to be astounding – that people of all cultures and religions are truly convinced that their religion is the one true religion and that all others are flawed. However, it all seems to be a matter of perspective and personal experience that creates the conviction of testimonies of all different religions.

Other things that I had wrong was the role of a woman in the Islamic society. I thought that they had less opportunity and less rights than the men, but according to our discussions this week in class, women are encouraged to continue education and pursue desires. They have general roles, just like all cultures. More specifically, the women are expected to take care of the family’s home needs and to take care of the husband – provide meals and keep the home organized. They are also encouraged to vote and become involved in politics. We also talked about the significance of the facial coverings – that they used to indicate social and economic status. The more face covered would be on the lower end the economic class.

Needless to say, I learned a lot about the Muslim culture this week. It will be great, because when I become a nurse, I will be able to understand the Muslim culture and background and not think things are odd or different, rather, have a basic understanding of their beliefs and customs. 

Week 7: Catholics

This week, we learned about the Catholic religion. I thought it was very interesting to learn about the similarities and differences in what I believe myself. I love this class because it helps me to understand and learn that people really do believe from their hearts that their religion is true – I know I do. This understanding makes it easier for me to keep an open mind and be more fascinated with the way that people are living their lives. 

The Catholics believe that they are saved through the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. They also believe that Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost are all part of the trinity – meaning that they are all one being. I’ve always found this belief interesting. In the accounts of Christ’s life in the bible, he prays to this father in heaven. But if they are all one person, how does that work? Its funny to me that I question the logic of faith that they exist as once, as that is what faith is – the belief in something not proven or seen. 

Another belief and requirement of the Catholic church is to attend Mass every Sunday and other important holidays. They should also confess their sins at least once a year. I never really knew the specifics of the catholic religion in this way, so it was cool to read about them. I wonder what the consequences are for not meeting these requirements or how strict they are as a whole, as many do not attend Mass every Sunday for many reasons. 

This week was really good to open my eyes to the Catholic religion and views. I always think I know a lot about a religion until I do more studies and discussions for this class. Understanding the Catholic religion will be of great benefit to my nursing, as Catholicism is a very popular religion. It will help me to understand their culture and background when I give them care.

Week 6: Homeless

This week we focused on the culture of the homeless. It was so eye-opening to learn more about what it means to be homeless and the struggles that people go through just to eat every day and try and stay healthy. During my research of the homeless and through the discussions that we had as a class, I found that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of people living homeless have some sort of infectious disease – many of which are chronic. This is mainly due to the reality that most of these people do not have health insurance and cannot afford to go to hospitals, or are afraid of going. 

Another thing that we did this week that helped me to gain a better understanding of the homeless culture was watching the movie, Pursuit of Happyness. In this movie, Will Smith plays a character that is struggling for food every day and can’t quite seem to get ahead. Over the first few minutes, he loses everything. His wife leaves him and his son to go work in  New York. She was the only steady income providing for their family, so Chris eventually loses his house and they become homeless. Just when he gets ahead, unpaid taxes haunt him and take all of his money except $21. That is when it really hits him that he is broke and homeless. The whole movie is very frustrating and extremely stressful as he applies for an internship with no assurance that he will get a job. He is constantly struggling while still trying to help those around him. Finally at the end of the movie, he gets the job and things are a steady uphill for him. However, during the whole movie, maybe 5% of it was a happy and non stressful time. The rest of the 95%, the viewer was stressed for the character, Chris. He explains that happiness is not something that is granted to us, rather, something that we can and must pursue in order to enjoy. He worked so hard to get to the point where he ended up in the movie, all the while trying to be happy. 

Watching this movie really opened my eyes to the struggle that these people go through just to get ahead, all the while having enough food to make it through each day. It is even harder when they have families to provide for and take care of. This week was quite humbling and will help me in my future career as a nurse to understand the different backgrounds of the homeless people and how to better care for them. They do not require any less care or respect, but should be respected even just for the struggle that they go through each day.

Week 5, Jehovah’s Witness

This week, we focused on Jehovah’s Witness. I thought I knew a bit about them before this week, but I was very wrong. Not only did I know very little about them, but most of the things that I had heard were totally incorrect! I searched for articles, but I ended up deciding to get my information straight from the JW’s official website. Some of the things that I found interesting, were that unlike popular belief, they don’t seem to believe that only a certain thousand number of people will be saved while everyone else will be burnt in a fiery hell. On their website, they stated that “billions” will be saved – something that I found interesting was that they put a number even as specific as “billions.” The others that do not make it back to God, due to their unbelief and opposition to God’s will, will simply “pass out of existence.” 

Another thing I found out about the JW church, was that they heavily disagree with divorce. However, if one of the partners is sexually unlawful, this is the only time that divorce is allowed. I absolutely see the requirement of loyalty and fidelity, but what about physical or emotional abuse? I thought it interesting that those things would not be considered before adultery. 

Other parts of our discussions mentioned a few fun facts – JW members do not participate in politics at all. They do not vote or run for any political office, however, they hold themselves to the standards of the law. They also do not allow blood transfusions, even if life depends on it. I found this to be very useful information, as I am going to be a nurse. Knowing more about this culture and religion will really benefit me in my future career as a nurse. They do not permit anyone to participate in war. A girl in my class mentioned that in South Korea, men are required to serve two years in the military. If any refuse, they are to spend those two years in jail, and this is precisely what JW men do. The life of being JW may often be challenging, and I respect the effort that they go through to live what they believe.