“A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviours, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next” (Thill, 2018). Culture reflects the total way of life a society. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), cultural competence is our willpower and ability to understand and respect the different cultures and communicate effectively with people from other cultures. Being culturally competent is important for nurses and midwives as it reduces the possible dangers due to the misinterpretation of the patient thereby contributing to their well-being. Besides briefly reflecting on my own culture and the different cultures of the world, this essay will also discuss the measures taken by nurses and midwives in order to be more culturally competent.
My culture and my values:
I come from Tamil Nadu, which is in the southern part of India. My parents are originally from a state called Kerala, but currently live in Tamil Nadu. I speak four languages including the regional languages of these two states. My Father is the only son of my grandparents and so we live as a nuclear family which consists of my grandmother, my parents and myself. I am emotionally every attached with my family and I cannot go even a day without talking to everybody at home. I come from a Christian family and even though I am a little confused about the concept of God, I believe and trust in the existence of God. We are generally superstitious about many things. One good example of this would be a case that came into notice (Drielsma,2013), where it was found that the parents of an Indian girl, who was born with four arms, refused a pro bono offer of a surgery, because they believed their child was the four-armed Hindu God (Laxmi) reborn. Respecting elders is a very important aspect of my culture and we do not question them or go against what they say or hurt them in any way. Even if I were to marry somebody, it would be decided by my parents and all the elders of my family, as that is a sign of respecting their life experiences. Religion and the society’s opinion are important parts of our lives. Indian parents prefer arranged marriage system as there is no unnecessary complication of their children falling in love with people of a different religion or caste or lower status. Friends and family are important in my life. I make friends very easily as I ca put people at ease. In India words like “thank you”, “welcome” or “please” among friends or family is considered as a violation of the closeness of the relationship and often considered sarcastic. We also avoid using the word “no”, instead we say something synonymous to “I will try my best”, so that we don’t sound rude or hurt people with words. Relatives and friends are considered family and we drop in on them when we feel like it, without any prior appointments, as they are considered “family” too. When it comes to food, we prefer it spicy and we use hands to eat food, as we see, smell, touch and taste the food we eat. Moreover, we consider it to be both a physical and spiritual contact with food, because as per our belief, each finger represents the five elements of nature (space, air, fire, water, earth). But we never use our left hand for eating, as, it is considered impure. This is because there are no tissue papers available in the toilets and people use water and their left hands! Also, footwear is considered unclean and we avoid wearing them inside our home or holy places. When greeting people, it is very rare that we shake hands, instead we acknowledge them with nods and smiles with a “hello”, as physical contact of the opposite sex is not encouraged in our society. Alcohol, smoking. Partying or clubbing are taboo subjects in in my family and, at a society level, it leads to negative stereotypes. I am a strong believer of “KARMA” (you get what you do to others) and this influences most of the decisions I make.
Compare and contrast:
There are so many different cultures in the world and every culture is different and unique in its own way. This is what makes the world a colourful place to live in.