Example of a Good Cultural Identity Essay

The Cultural Immersion Activity

I grew up in a homogenous ethnic area with most people having similar views. Although school and employment had created a base for my diversity understanding, traveling and moving from my native country to the USA has been an eye-opener in terms of cultural diversity. However, growing in a homogenous cultural background made me yearn to know and learn about other people’s cultural beliefs and values. I respect other people’s cultures and most of the time I conduct research so that to get a better understanding of them. Selecting the cultural immersion activity was a challenge by itself. I wanted it to be as different from my culture as possible.

 

Narcotics Anonymous Meeting

After thinking and checking the potential activities, I chose a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Narcotics addiction is a problem affecting all spheres of the community. As a leader, I chose this group because I was sure that I would face addicts in my profession. I have never had a problem with alcohol or any other substances. I have always wanted to understand what pushes a person into addiction. Additionally, I have always wanted to understand what makes the addicts act as they do when they are under the influence of taken drugs or when they want to find drugs.

I thought that attending an addicts meeting would be uncomfortable. I researched about addictions and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. I expected people who were struggling and recovering from addiction, and reformists to take stand at a time and share about their lives. I expected them to share about the addiction they had, and the reason why they decided to join or attend the Narcotics Anonymous meetings. I had read journals and researched on the Internet about such meetings. I had also watched numerous videos showing how such meetings take place. I was ready to attend the meeting. However, I did not know the reaction that I would get from the group. I contacted the group leader, a former alcohol addict, and shared with him about my interest to attend the group meeting as a class project. He accepted my request.

Overview of the Cultural Immersion Experience

The meeting took place in a community hall. When I arrived, at around 7.00 pm, there was a group of people smoking in the Smoking Zone. Inside the hall, there were about twenty people ranging between 18 and 60 years. There was diversity in the group as it comprised of different races, gender, age, and even people with disabilities. On one of the walls were names of people with sobriety dates and a section for comments. The group leader started the meeting with the Serenity prayer and shared his experience as an addict. I had not met him in person before. New people received a chance to introduce themselves and share their experience.

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When I said that I was not an addict, the people in the meeting expressed their gratitude. They expressed how much they liked having a “clean” person in the meeting. It made them stop feeling as outcasts. Anyone who wanted to share had a chance. Most of the people had spent some time in jail. Some of the women had lost custody of their children as a result of addiction. The older group members participated more than the young ones. I could tell that the elder people were there by choice and wanted to turn their lives around. However, some of the young people were there as a result of their parents’ intervention, and some of them were on probation.

After sharing, there was a short smoking and bathroom break. During the break, the people who remained in the hall introduced themselves to the new members. Many of them were willing to share about their experiences with me. They shared about some of their experiences and asked how I managed to live without the drugs. I came to realize that that was how they conducted a typical meeting. After the break, the leader discussed the necessary things to keep people out of trouble, and temptations of using drugs. He announced about future meetings, and finally, there was a questions session. There were several questions directed to some of the people who had shared earlier. As each person left, they picked an imprinted ribbon on the doorway that read “I am whom I want to be”.

Reflection of the Cultural Immersion Experience

When I arrived at the meeting, I kept promising myself not to judge the people, but I think I was unconsciously judging them. I feared that they would not welcome me in their group as I was not an addict. After the leader shared his story, and stated that he was sober for fifteen years, and he dedicated his life to assist others become sober, I felt guilty of judging the people. After several people had shared their stories, I realized that these people were not the criminals or addicts that I pictured them to be. They were ready to take control of their lives and had reformed it. The story of the woman who was trying to regain custody of her children created a new impression about the people in the meeting. They required acceptance in the society to assist them take control of their lives.

Although some of them attended the meeting because the court or their probation officers forced them to do this. Most of them had a dedication to living a sober life thus they were not immoral or weak. They struggled to remain sober and used all the support they could get. They shared their stories so that to help one another. Although I understood the cultural diversity, it became clear to me that understanding was different from practicing. It is easy to say, “I am open-minded”, than putting open-mindedness into practice. The meeting improved my cultural competency.

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