Cultural Self-Assessment Essay
No two people are the same. Race, ethnicity, gender, and age are all factors that make individuals different and unique. Throughout this paper, I will be discussing my values, beliefs and traditions, how I identify myself, and my attitude on diversity.
Family Values, Beliefs, and Traditions
My family is very diverse and comes from many different places. My maternal grandmother came to the United States from England when she was 18 and met my biological grandfather. They lived in Montana on Flathead Indian Reservation. This is where my mother was born and raised. When my mother was in high school, she met my father who was a senior when she was a freshman. My father’s distant relatives came to the US from Ireland and started their family in Montana. Both of my parents have a little bit of German in them as well as Norwegian, but the majority of my heritage is Irish and Native American. My parents had my older brother and me when they were very young and they struggled to grow up while having small children. Eventually, they got divorced and moved apart from each other.
When I was 2 years old, my mother met and married my stepfather and we all moved to North Dakota. In this time I travelled back and forth between my mother in North Dakota and my father in Montana. I spent my school years in North Dakota and my summers and Christmas in Montana with my dad. This was hard on me when I was young because I had no sense of what home was. My mother and stepfather moved to Bismarck, North Dakota after having my little brother and remained there until I left for college. When I was a freshman at UND they got divorced. They were married for 17 years but decided it was the right decision to have separate lives. This was hard for me because my stepfather felt like he was not my father anymore, even though he was the one that raised me.
Because my family has been split up numerous times, it has been hard for me to define who my family is. Because my stepfather raised me since I was 2 years old, I consider him to be a big part of my family. My family was very spread out and separated which meant that my immediate family was the people I considered to be my family. This included my mom, dad, stepdad, grandma, and two brothers. My maternal grandma was on her own after my grandpa left and she lived with us for a couple years.
When I was growing up, my stepfather was the biggest decision maker. My mom was a stay at home mom and raised the kids while my dad worked. When it came to finances and discipline, my stepfather was in charge. As kids, we all knew my mother was the one that was easier on us kids and my stepfather was the one to be tough. When it came to looking for guidance, I would immediately go to my mother. She was not only my mother, but she’s my best friend. I could talk to her about anything.
When I was little, my maternal grandfather would tell us stories of his Indian tribe. He came from the Assiniboine Indian tribe and his great grandfather was the chief of the tribe at one point. The stories of our native ancestors always interested me. He would take us to burial sites in the mountains and tell us urban legends. This became a type of ritual for us to do. Traditions were important for us because our family is so small. Every chance we have to get together is important. Because my grandfather left when I was little, this tradition stopped.
Personal Identity and Values
When it comes to being addressed by strangers, I like to be called by my first name. As I get older, this may change and I would be called Mrs or Ms. I think that it is more proper to be called Mrs or Ms in professional settings and as I get older.
For gender roles, my view is pretty old fashioned. Growing up, it was always clear with my family that the women stay home and take care of the kids, while the dad works and supports the family financially. My parent’s views are the same, which is why my mother stayed at home and raised the kids. I know it is becoming mutual where the mother works just like the father, but I think; as I get older I will practice the same views and beliefs my parents did. This does not mean that I am against the views of feminism; I just believe it is important for children to be raised by family instead of daycare centers. My mother never trusted people to babysit her kids when we were little and her views have rubbed off on me.
I define myself as being independent, self-relying, and strong. I have gone through many hard things in my life and I think it has made me to be a strong person. What makes me unique is my independence. Ever since I was in high school, I have taken care of myself and always felt the need to do everything on my own. Because of this, I have always come off a little rough around the edges. I had trouble making friends because I did not trust many people and always thought people had alternative motives.
Eventually I have learned to give people the benefit of the doubt and to trust others. I consider myself to me a female, daughter, college student, Catholic, friend, sister, and a future nurse. From the list of identities above, I think being a student and a friend to be the most important in my life at this time. Every day I go to school and work hard to achieve my goal of being a nurse. Along with going to class, I spend a lot of time with my friends.
Being a nursing student is very important to me at this time and I am proud to be at UND. The UND nursing program is very competitive and I am proud to have gotten in. No one in my family works in the medical field and my parents are very proud of my accomplishments. I do not think I am sad or embarrassed about any of my cultural descriptors. I think the person I have become and the things I have accomplished have been exactly what I planned for.
Diversity to me means that every person is different and has his or her own story. Being diverse means to be unique and have qualities that are different from everyone else. Diversity does not just include race and ethnicity, but I think it also includes their background, education, and interests.
My earliest experience of becoming racially aware was in middle school. For my first 6 years in elementary school, there was no diversity in the students. My elementary school was very small in a remote area. When I got to middle school there were a couple African Americans and Native Americans. It was new to me, but it was never a problem. I had spent my summers on the reservation, but I had never spent much time with other kids my age. We live on a lake and the only people around were my family. My parents taught me to never judge a person by what is on the outside. I think North Dakota as a whole is not very culturally diverse and I had no experience outside of my family and the people I went to school with. This negatively affected behavior towards other ethnic groups because of how sheltered I was when I was younger.
After spending a lot of my time on an Indian reservation, I have felt uncomfortable in a few situations. Alcoholism is a big problem on the reservation that I lived on and my parents always made sure I never went anywhere alone. I think this experience has left me with a bias against this ethnic minority group. Alcoholism in Native Americans is not only prevalent on my reservation, but across many reservations in the Midwest. This stereotype has affected me as a adolescent, but as an adult studying to become a nurse it has taught me to not be judgmental.
The way people look on the outside should not be a determinant on how they should be treated. I could increase my understanding of a person of diversity by surrounding myself with a variety of people. This will make me more aware of the beliefs of other cultures. Being aware can help me as a nurse to As a nurse, I will always put bias aside and treat my patients with the care they need. I will also be respectful of different ethnicities and religions while caring for patients.
Overall, I think culture is something that brings people together. It not only makes people unique in their own way, but it makes them feel like they belong to something. I know that being surrounded by people that believe the same things I do is comforting. On the contrary, being around people that are different allows us to become aware of cultural diversity.