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Alejandra Briones and Hailey Dixon

Minnesota State University, Mankato


Samantha Fox says, Its different cultures that make the world go round at the end of

the day (n.d.). In this paper we will be talking about two different backgrounds. Alejandras

cultural background is from the Mexican decent and Haileys is from the American decent. They

were both raised in America so they are going to have some similarities in their culture, but also

a lot of differences because of the way they were raised. Even though Mexican and American

cultures are very different, Alejandra and Hailey feel like they have some similarities. They want

to focus on the differences and the similarities of these two cultures when writing this paper.

In chapter one, Sorrells talks about shared meaning and defines it as a symbol that is

passed from generation to generation through symbols that allow human beings to communicate,

maintain, and develop an approach and understanding of life. It also states that not only men do

this, woman also do it (p. 4). An example that Alejandra has for her culture that is considered as

shared meaning is that in her family has a gold chain necklace, and the first born female receives

it on her fifteenth birthday. She also said that everyone wants this gold chain, but only one can

have it. In her family, if you are the first male born, you receive a huge piece of land and you

also have to take care of this land. This land is pretty much a field of oranges, and you also get

cows and a farm house. This is located in Mexico. So, if you were to live in the United States,

you would have to move down there and take care of it. This could be a blessing or it could also

be horrible if you would not want to move, but sometimes they have to. Haileys grandfather on

her mothers side is from Poland. The tradition that has been going on for many years is as each

woman in the family gets married receives Polish candlesticks that have been passed down

through generations. Another cultural tradition in Haileys family is the passing down of her

great grandmothers glass bowl. Her and her family escaped the holocaust and came to America.
When she passed away, there were certain belongings that were especially sentimental to her son

and granddaughters. After displaying the glass bowl in his kitchen for a couple of years, Haileys

grandfather then passed it down to his daughter after she and her new husband moved into their

first home. This may sound like a simple object to pass down to some people, but for Hailey and

her family it means they get to keep a piece of their great grandma forever. In both Alejandra and

Haileys cultures there is something that gets passed down, and they found that very interesting

because that is one of the similarities that both of their cultures can relate to. Culture of a site of

contestation is a cultural studies definition of culture that views culture as an apparatus of power

within a larger system of domination where meanings are constantly negotiated, as defined in the

book (p. 6).

Culture as a resource is more along the lines of the community, national, international,

and transnational economies and politics (p. 9). So, pretty much your surroundings and what you

are able to have and not have. In the book there are examples showing it can be symbolic such as

TV shows, movies, music, or tourism. If you had these things while growing up, it could impact

your culture in a way. Alejandras culture did have all of these things, but she also got them

taken away when she acted up. There were strict rules in her household, and these things were

privilege objects that she and her brothers could earn if they behaved. Haileys culture was very

similar to Alejandras. Haileys parents had her do chores around the house, feed their farm

animals, and help with her younger sister in order to earn time spent watching T.V. Haileys

household was also similar to Alejandras in a way that if she misbehaved, she would get these

privileges taken away. Alejandra and Hailey have realized that while growing up in America,

they have more similarities that they would ever realize. Culture to them is family. It does not

have to be a huge group of people to make a certain type of culture, but Alejandras culture has
Americanized in a way because she grew up here and they had to adjust to the American way. If

she would have lived in Mexico, it would be a totally different story.

In the chapter, positionality refers to ones social location or position within an

intersecting web of socially constructed hierarchal categories such as race, class, gender, sexual

orientation, religion, nationality, and physical abilities (p. 12). In Alejandras family it is very

different because she grew with her dad and two brothers, and in most cases the father is the

person that leaves and the mother is the person who stays and takes care of the children.

Alejandra grew up with a Dad telling her she could do anything a man could do. So, gender was

not a huge impact in her life. In most Mexican families the woman is the one who stays home

and does most of the house work, but in her family her brothers and she would switch jobs. For

example, one week she mowed the lawn and her brothers would have to do the dishes. She does

not feel that her family had much impact of positionality. Alejandra grew up in a small town and

most of the people that lived in this town were Caucasian people. Her family was the outcast in a

way because at that time there was not a lot of Mexican families living there. This had an impact

on her life because she did not grow up with people that looked like her. So, she learned to adapt.

Growing up with people that are not like you is hard because once you are around your race they

tend to say you act white. Some Caucasian people would call her the whitest Mexican they had

ever met, and Mexicans would say the same. Your surroundings have a lot to do with how you

are as a person.

In Haileys case she grew up with both a mother and a father in the house, along with a

younger sister. Her parents always told her that race, gender, sexual orientation, religion,

nationality, and physical abilities should never let her or her sister make judgements on others.

Both she and her sister were adopted from South Korea by Caucasian parents when they were
both babies so, they were always raised to be open-minded of others skin colors or nationalities.

Gender did not determine who was dominant in Haileys household. Her mother started and ran

her own business from home, and her father also worked as an electrician. Haileys extended

family consisted of many different religions with one grandmother being Catholic, one

grandfather being Jewish, and her fathers parents being both Lutheran. This taught Hailey and

her sister to be respectful of all of the different beliefs of people whom they would come across

in their lives. Haileys positionality is that she is a minority. She has been raised by white

parents, and has not been exposed to many other Asian individuals. She grew up in a small town

that was not very diverse so, all of her friends in elementary, middle, and high school were

mostly white. Now that Hailey is in college, she is exposed to more ethnicities and nationalities,

but her friends are still mostly Caucasian because that is how she grew up, and it is also what she

is used to.

Alejandra and Hailey can both relate to each other because they are both female

minorities, and people will always look at them differently even though they grew up knowing

the American culture. This can be disturbing to them because just because they look different

does not mean they are different on the insid. People tend to look at them and judge them just

because they look a certain way. Even though Hailey grew up in an American family, a lot of her

current friends have told her they were surprised to have heard her speak English. This is an

example of people judging how a person acts or how they talk based on their physical

appearance. Alejandra has also experienced this in a way just because of the way she looks.

Alejandra also grew up with Caucasian people around her. Alejandra and Hailey are both from a

small town, so they can relate in that way because they know how it feels to be in towns that are

not very diverse.

Culture is not just one thing, it can be identified in so many different aspects. In a way the

different types of culture work with positioning and positionality. They work together because

culture is not where you are born, but who raises you and who you are around. An example of

positioning for instance, is Hailey was born in South Korea, but raised in America. Despite this,

people still view her as Korean just because of the way she looks. People she meets expect her to

know how to speak the Korean language and know Korean traditions. Her Caucasian parents

have taken her to Korean celebrations when she was very young to try to help her to learn more

about where she came from. However, because of her positioning, she does not know much at

all. Since she has been raised in America her entire life, the American culture is all she knows

and all she has been exposed to. So in a lot of ways they work together.

When writing this paper, Alejandra first expected Hailey to be from a totally different

culture than what she talked about. So, writing this paper really caught her of guard because she

was not expecting Hailey to be adopted and raised by an American family. Hailey expected

something similar from Alejandra. Seeing Alejandras physical appearance on the first day of

class, Hailey expected her to maybe have a slight Mexican accent. This was not the case, and it

taught Hailey to not be as judgmental based on a persons looks. Starting the paper, she expected

Alejandras Mexican family traditions to be a lot more different than what she described them to

be. Hailey assumed that Alejandra had grown up in Mexico, when she actually grew up in

America and had a culture that seemed to be a mix of Mexican and American. Overall, they feel

like this world would be a very boring place if it was not for all the interesting cultures in this


Sorrells, K. (2013). Intercultural communication: Globalization and social justice. Thousand

Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.