ChristopherMcCandless, the famous American hiker, once observed, “The verybasic core of a man`s living spirit is his passion for adventure. Thejoy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hencethere is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon,for each day to have a new and different sun” (McCandless). I havean Asian descent, specifically, South Korea. My parents migrated toToronto, Canada, when I was an infant, in search of greener pastures.Consequently, I struggle with impressionmanagement eachtime I attend family events since I am expected to observe givennorms.
Onseveral occasions, my parents and other older relatives have labeledme a rebel because I, allegedly, occasionally engage in tabooactions. Last month, for example, I invited an American girlfriend toa family party that we were hosting at our residence in SanFrancisco. Upon arrival, I met her at the entrance to the main house.As usual, we greeted each other by hugging and kissing. In my view,kissing is a symbolicinteractionthat indicates mutual respect. Nevertheless, in respect of SouthKorean culture, it lacks culturalsignificance whendone in public.
Inmy view, I consider environmentaldeterminism asthe leading cause for my challenges to associate perfectly with myrelatives, most of whom are diehards of our Korean civilization. Ihave spent a significant part of my life interacting with individualsfrom other racial, economic and religion backgrounds among othervarying agents. Subsequently, I have managed to pass into theAmerican society successfully. The majority of my relatives, whoeither migrated to the U.S as adults or still live in South Korea,practice Confucianism faith. On the contrary, Christianity influencesmost of my moral actions. Many of my friends are Christians, so Ihave gradually adapted the concepts of the religion.
Ibelieve that my friends have influenced my worldview significantly.According to the principles of social determinism, a person is likelyto take up new behaviors that align to his or her immediatecolleagues. I find it difficult to bow or communicate in my mothertongue. Instead, I prefer to speak in English and use polite wordssuch as ‘sorry’ and ‘my condolence’ when empathizing with themourning individuals.
Acouple of years ago, I decided to engage in a sympatheticintrospection mission to South Korea. My objective was to identifypossible reasons that have made me unable to fit into the communityafter living abroad for many years. I discovered that education is aprimary agent that has resulted in the corrosion of my traditions.The curriculum in Korea emphasizes on cultural and spiritual beliefsright from the kindergarten. I also interacted with the youths frommy home country and realized that they hold different stereotypebeliefs that influence them. For example, it is offensive to givesomeone a reward or anything in the multiples of four since itsymbolizes misfortune.
Bythe end of my one-month stay among the Koreans, I realized theforeign environment had helped me to develop an independentviewpoint. Although I like some of their practices, I am unable toadjust to some normsbecause I find them too vague to be true. For example, I realizedthat most of the elevators did not stop at the fourth floor becausethe number is considered hazardous. In contrast, American educationemphasizes little on stereotypebeliefs, therefore, the reason I have high reasoning independence.
Label – Attribution of an individual with certain bad conduct
Norms – something that is considered usual such as behavior.
Symbolic interaction – the process of understanding people’s behaviors when they are interacting with their immediate environment
Environmental determinism – the evaluation of the way people are affected by their environment
Cultural significance – Traditions that either affects an individual positively or negatively
Stereotype – A common and oversimplified fixed conviction
Impression management – either a conscious or a subconscious manipulation of behavior to hide the actual characters of an individual
McCandless,Christopher. Quotes. Goodreads.N.d. web. November 8, 2016.