What Americans Can Learn From Different Cultures

by | Aug 11, 2023 | Building Blocks

We can learn from cultures around the world about everything from community to honoring and protecting nature.

Culture in America

Here in America, there is often debate about whether or not we have our own “culture”. As a nation of immigrants, this melting pot can make it difficult to distinguish what’s “American” versus what was brought here from somewhere else. In a lot of ways, this is what makes us great; diversity and immigration are what made our country what it is today. But it also blurs the lines between what is positive about our American culture and what more we could learn from other cultures.

Differences between Cultures:

As a Yemeni American, I think American culture differs a lot from Yemeni culture. Especially in terms of how Yemeni culture places importance on hospitality, respect for elders, and the importance of family bonds.

  • Hospitality is deeply important in Yemeni culture. There are certain expectations of a good host, and it can seem highly disrespectful not to follow them. From a young age, Yemeni children are taught to be polite and respectful, to honor their elders, and to treat strangers with kindness and leniency. This hospitality is extended to all guests, whether they are Yemeni or not.
  • In Yemen, there is also a strong emphasis on respect for elders. Older people are highly respected and honored, and they are always consulted in all decisions that affect the family. This respect for older generations is mainly because they provide wisdom and experience that isn’t be found elsewhere. The advice of older people is very highly prized by us Yemenis.
  • Lastly, Yemeni culture places a great deal of value on familial bonds. Families are considered to be the building blocks of society, and there is an expectation that individuals must take on multiple roles within the family—including as the head of the household, providing financial support, and taking care of one another. This appreciation of family ties has resulted in strong support networks that often extend beyond blood relations and into the larger community, making it so everyone is comfortable and can survive.

What Americans Can Learn

Unfortunately, this emphasis on close-knit families is something that has been lost in the US in recent years. The focus on individualism and personal goals has created an atmosphere where community and family bonds are often neglected. This in my opinion can lead to more homelessness, violence, and despair.

As Americans, we are constantly learning from other cultures. For me, the strength of my family connections is a really important part of who I am and what makes me feel resilient, even when facing a lot of hardships and adversity. Part of what we talk about at BBG is relationships with our loved ones. We have to make them a priority and we can take the structure of the family and create our own with friends and partners. The main thing to remember is we all need someone, at least one person, to be there for us. It’s worth putting the time and effort into creating or supporting our family relationships. Whether they’re with the family you were born into or the one you’ve made.

In this video, Paloma travels to compare and contrast Ivorian culture with American culture. She observes the different food, language, music, clothing, and community relationships between the two countries. She discovers that even though there are many differences between the two cultures, the people of both cultures are very hospitable and willing to share their experiences of community with her.

What’s your thinking?

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About Nasser Albaqqal

Nasser Albaqqal is a 22 year old immigrant from Yemen who has been working with BBG since 2022. A graduate of San Jose State University, he is passionate about empowering individuals, families, and organizations to bounce back from the effects of toxic stress and trauma. His goal is to spread knowledge and understanding about the power of resilience and provide practical tools and resources to help people rid themselves of bad habits as a response to stress. Through the work he does, Nasser hopes to create content and blogs that not only meet the needs of the audience, but also helps them build and launch long-term successful recoveries.

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