Why Study Culture?

Sameer and I both lived in apartments south of the university. We used to walk home together from the library.

"In my country," He loved to talk about Nepal, ". . . in my country, we never, never drop our parents to the old folk's home. They live in your house, you will treat them with respect. And when your father tells you what your career you will have, that is your career. That's how we do it. Family unity is more, more important than any desire of an egomaniac child."

And then it would be my turn. "In my country. . ." I'd try to explain how the American theme of Independence affects the way we live family life--but I couldn't do it without the sense of guilt for our inconsiderate and self-serving ways. I was enchanted by Sameer as he continued to offer me opportunities to question life as I knew it.

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I began to realize that what I had always thought to be human nature, wasn't. Culture is more than a set of holiday traditions, or a type of food. It's a web of philosophies, values, morals--it's the screen through which a group of people sees the world. The most genuine purpose of the study of culture is to learn how to remove your screen and try on someone else's.
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." (To Kill a Mockingbird).
The keystone, the real reason to study culture, is that as we begin to learn about one another with a willingness to question our prejudices and even our societal values, we embark on the journey toward Equality.

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