My culture is defined by the people around me, my environment, society… I am constantly surrounded by it. Most of the time culture is passed on in a similar way. It’s usually the parents and a child’s education that contribute to the process of passing on culture. In my case, my culture has been passed on to me by several figures and factors that all form a small part of my culture. Firstly, my family, especially my parents, have been surrounding me ever since my birth. They thought me a lot of things. I am forever grateful for that. As a child, they told me stories of how things were when they were my age. Besides that, they learned me the values and standards that they also learned while growing up. I remember helping my mother and grandmother cook Belgian dishes, watching Flemish and French television. going to church and the cemetery to say goodbye to loved ones, celebrate weddings; birthdays; Christmas; Halloween and so many other festivities.
We always visit our family and often we eat pastries. I’m extremely lucky to be able to learn about both of my parents’ culture. Belgium may be a little country, but it has enriching cultures because it’s divided in the Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels. It is remarkable that our little country has such a varied population where different cultures come together. We also indirectly learn little things from other peoples’ culture. Then we see the difference in values and norms. There is also a difference in the person himself. Some are more closed, tolerate things that others don’t …
My mothers’ family is also different from my fathers. But these differences did not stop my parents from getting together and learn about each others’ culture. This resulted in the person I am today. At home, we talk about our feelings, are open towards other people, we are caring etc. Next, the schools I went to are also key factors. I went to schools where students had a different background and different cultures. I was lucky to discover was blessed enough to get to know those different cultures. You learn to see things in a way you would never understand unless you get in contact with the different cultures. Learning how to communicate with people with a different background is so interesting. The teachers are also important. They are able to learn thing that family or other people are not able to do.
Thirdly, after-school activities also transmit culture. I used to go to lots of associations. I did a lot of sports: swimming, gymnastics, tennis, dancing horse riding (still actual) … Strength (physically and mentally), determination, attitude, posture, creativity… are things I learned thanks to these activities and the people in the associations. During these after-school activities, I came in contact with all kinds of cultures. Over the years this taught me to work and respond in a manner that respects individuals’ culturally-based beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. This can also be defined as cultural competence.