Diversity Interview Assignment Essay
Diversity Interview Assignment
The people in the world that we live in are extremely diverse, in terms of the nationalities, religions, gender classifications and physical abilities. Social workers must have a clear understanding of the consequences of diversity and difference and the mechanisms of oppression and discrimination as they relate to human development. The range of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds that social workers will practice in is huge. Because of this, social workers must have an understanding of the values and attitudes of a multitude of different cultures as well as an understanding of their own attitudes and values towards diversity. This assignment will explore the ethnic diversity of two individual students of Madonna University. Mr. Eric Munn, a student of Korean decent and Ms. Qi Mao, a student of Chinese decent.
I. General Description of the Interview and Setting (Mr. Eric Mun) The interview with Mr. Eric Mun took place on Wednesday February 13 at the international student help desk on the first floor of the main hallway at Madonna University at approximately 2:30 pm. Mr. Mun was extremely busy, as are all Madonna students, writing papers and answering questions for the other international students. I asked if it would be possible to have the interview in a setting where we could better hear each other but with his schedule and mines, that was not possible. The interview went forward with me standing at the desk and with Mr. Mun answering questions in-between helping the other students.
II. Information obtained.
Mr. Eric Mun describes himself ethnically as Asian because both of his parents are Asian and the cultural physical traits such as skin color, hair color and cultural behaviors have all been passed down to him. When asked what ethnic group that Eric identifies with, he replied that he identifies himself as Korean. Mr. Mun grew up in Seoul, South Korea and is 23 years old. He is a sophomore at Madonna with a G.P.A. of 3.80, currently majoring in business administration. Eric grew up in Korea and came to the United States when he was 15 years old and has been in the United States for 6 years. He states that he graduated from a prep school in Atlanta G.A and attended Michigan State University in 2008. After a semester at M.S.U. Eric says that he joined the Korean Marine Corps and served for two years as an artillery gunner, but was honorably discharged as a sergeant. When asked what he recalled when he first recognized his ethnicity, he replied that his parents had been working for the U.S. Army for over 30 years in the Department of Criminal Intelligence.
This is when he began to realize who he was. Eric says that he had several opportunities to meet with U. S. soldiers and their children and that he noticed the differences then. I asked Eric what he considered to be the positive and negative aspects of being Korean. Eric replied that he believes that Asian people are the best academically and are good at working with numbers and studying. In contrast, he believes that this makes up for a lack of physical athletic abilities. I asked Eric what he believes are some of the special characteristics of being Korean. Eric replied that the most special characteristic of being Korean is the emphasis on respect of elders. He states that he has seen a lack of respect for elders in most Western cultures that would never be tolerated in Korea. Eric stated that he has not experienced racism since he has been in the United States; however he believes that there is a bias against people of Asian descent in the business world.
III. General Description of the Interview and Setting ( Ms. Qi Mao) The next interview took place on February 19 and was with Ms. Qi Mao. Ms. Mao is a 31 year old student and describes herself as a member of China’s Han nationality, which is the largest nationality of the population of China. The interview took place in the lobby of the Madonna English Service Language Department at approximately 12:00 pm. English Service Language Director Ms. Hadeel Betti helped in selecting a candidate for the interview. I was shocked at her age of 31 years by her tiny frame as she approached for the interview. She was very pleasant, very polite and eager to smile at every appropriate moment.
IV. Information Obtained
Ms. Mao describes herself as Chinese of the Han nationality. The Han nationality dominates the ethnicity of the population of China. According to everyculture.com,” China is the most populous nation on earth; in 2000, the estimated population was 1,261,832,482 (over one-fifth of the world’s population). Of these people, 92 percent are Han Chinese; the remaining 8 percent are people of Zhuang, Uyhgur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi and Korean” (everyculture.com, 2013). According to Ms. Mao, Chinese people who live in the far south of China belong to what she describes as the South Asia race. Ms. Mao earned a degree in journalism in China and has worked as a journalist there for some time. She stated that she wanted to expand her knowledge and learn new things. Her major at Madonna University is business. She has no brothers or sisters and states that this is the result of China’s one child law.
According to the Journal of Politics and law, “The Birth Control Law of PRC restricts married, urban couples to having only one child, and rural couples to having 2 children if the first is female, while ethnic minorities are not restricted” (Chen, B., 2012). She currently lives with a host family and enjoys playing with the family’s children. She also states that the only family that she has in the U. S. are her uncle a few cousins that currently attend Madonna University. Ms. Mao states that most of East Asia populations are Mongolian, whom her people traditionally refer to as the yellow race. Later she says that she has been in the U. S. for 5 months. When asked what she recalled when she first recognized her ethnicity, she replied that most Chinese children know who and what they are at a very young age. She tells me that she learned English at 3 years old and that this is when her teachers and parents introduced her to the Han nationality.
Ms. Mao states that many people describe members of the Han nationality as having thin black hair, black eyes and yellow skin. She stated that Chinese people usually do not discuss cultural issues because unless you travel to the out most reaches of the country, there is only one culture, the Han. The most negative aspect of being Chinese for Ms. Mao is the difficulty in getting a passport for travel to the U. S. She believes that this is because of two reasons first a bias against the people of China, secondly the Chinese government’s strict policy to know absolutely everything you do and everywhere you go at all times.
One of the most positive aspects of being Chinese according to Ms. Mao is the closeness of the families. She states that the relationships of Chinese people are closer and deeper than of any other culture. She believes that this is a major strength of the Chinese culture and that it separates it from most. However, she also believes that sometimes these relationships can become smothering, because someone in the family or someone who knows the family is usually to be found in every aspect of Chinese life. Research has shown that the, “business world of the Asian American is strongly linked to family. The Asian family run business is a constant in many communities” (asianamericanalliance.com, 2013).
From school life to social life she says that the Chinese relationships are extremely tight. She tells me that she has not experienced direct racism and has been treated well by most that she has encountered since being in the U.S. Ms. Mao tells me that the Chinese do not have what westerners call religion because the majority feels as if they do not need it. According to her, most of her population would be classified as Buddhists but they would never refer to it as a religion. She says that generally, her people do not openly discuss their worship practices and that the society is far too conservative that.
V. New Learning’s Regarding Strengths/Limitations.
One of the similarities in the strengths of both individuals is the strong bond with family and the respect that they have for their elders. The opinions of both individuals vary in terms of how they view western family relationships. Ms. Mao believes that some women in western cultures are not as attentive to family needs. Mr. Munn believes that there is a lack of respect for family elders. New learnings regarding the strengths of their family relationships include the complex and intense bond between extended family members. Apparently in both Korean and Chinese cultures, children are introduced to the importance of close family relationships at an early age. Research has shown that the children of the Korean culture are exposed to family values and traditions when very young. A web article entitled everyculture.com states, “Obedience, cooperation, respect for the elders, and filial piety are the major values inculcated in a child’s early years, most children receive traditional gender role socialization from early childhood” (www.everyculture.com, 2013).
According to Ms. Mao, the family structure of the Chinese people is a strength as well as a weakness in terms of having personal space. New learning’s regarding this fact includes an appreciation of the Chinese family unit and the fact that the traditional relationships in the Chinese nuclear family unit extend far beyond the home. Research has shown that, “It is common for several generations to live together under one roof. After marriage, a woman traditionally leaves her parents’ home and becomes part of her husband’s family (www.everyculture.com, 2013). Although Ms. Mao never hinted that this was her particular plan to start a family, she did imply that she greatly respected Chinese family tradition. VI. New Learning’s Regarding the Effects of Racism & Gender inequality.
I found it very interesting that neither of the interviewees had experienced direct or extreme racism while in the United States. This is partially because of a generally expected bias against Asians by Americans and partially due to some of my own experiences with racism as an African American man. This prompted research into the history of racism against Asian Americans and revealed the tragic story of Former Metro Detroit resident Vincent Chin. According to asian-nation.org, in 1989 Vincent was beaten to death by two White men (Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz) who called him a “jap” (even though he was Chinese American) and blamed him and Japanese automakers for the current recession and the fact that they were about to lose their jobs. The judge in the case sentenced each man to 2 years’ probation and a $ 3700.00 fine.
From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which declared that an entire ethnic group would be singled out and forbidden to step foot on American soil, to the extreme difficulties expressed by Ms. Mao in acquiring a passport for travel to the United States, discrimination and racism has affected members of the Asian community. The teachings and philosophies of Confucius have a profound effect on the relative status of Chinese men and women.
What we westerners would refer to as ‘gender issues’, the Chinese refer to as simply a way of life. A study has shown that, “Confucian values place women as strictly subordinate to men, and this was reflected in traditional society. Women had no rights and were treated as possessions, first of their father’s and later of their husbands” (everyculture.com). I must admit to wondering on several occasions why it was that the Asian women that I have seen walking with their spouses in public seemed so docile and subservient. Research of the importance of tradition and adherence to strict family order has given me a basic understanding of the Asian family structure. VII. Implications for Practice.
A social worker entering into practice without the skills which would prepare him for working with ethnically diverse clients limits the range of assistance that he can provide. The implications of social work practice increase with such culturally diverse populations as Asian Americans. An effective social worker will have the knowledge of the different cultures, norms and values of the target populations that he will mostly like come into contact with. Based on the conceptual definition of eclectic which is, “one who uses a method or approach that is composed of elements drawn from various sources” (merriam-webster.com, 2013), research has shown that an effective social worker should incorporate different methods to meet the various needs of Asian American families. Understanding the communication patterns of Asian families and how they differ from those of western cultures can help bridge the gaps of difficulties in individual and group function.
Kam-fong (1994) wrote the following:
Psychodynamic, existential-humanistic, and cognitive-behavioral approaches are analyzed in terms of their appropriateness for social work with Asian Americans. It is concluded that various theoretical approaches may be needed to match the ever-changing needs of these culturally diverse populations. (p. 186) VII. Personal Reflection.
I have seen media portrayal of Asian Americans and all of the stereotypes that go along with them. In my lifetime I have heard everything from all Asians eat rice to all Asians know karate, kung Fu and can’t drive well. These are all just stereotypes and have absolutely no merit at all. However it has been somewhat difficult for me as a student and researcher until now to disprove these myths personally. Limited interactions with members of the Asian community due to a lack of opportunistic access have made in-depth research into behavioral patterns extremely difficult if not completely impossible. This assignment has allowed me to step into a world that has helped me to distinguish between two fascinatingly different cultures from my own. I look forward to working with members of the Chinese and Korean communities in the future as clients and professionals alike.
J Rank. (2012). Countries and their culture. Retrieved from http://www.everyculture.com/Bo-Co/China.html
Le, C. N. (2011, November 25). Asian-nation. Retrieved from http://www.asian-nation.org/racism.shtml
Asian American Alliance. (07 J). Retrieved from http://www.asianamericanalliance.com/index.html
Chen, B. (2012). China’s dilemma in human rights: Through the perspective of critiques abroad and china’s response. Journal of Politics and Law, 5(3), 25-32. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1038159875?accountid=27927
Kam-Fong, M. (1994). Book reviews — social work practice with Asian Americans edited by Sharlene Maeda Furuto, Renuka Biswas, Douglas K. Chung, Kenji Murase and Fariyal Ross-Sheriff. Families in Society, 75(3), 186-186. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/230155950?accountid=27927
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 May 2017