Expectations>Module Two: Personal Cultural History

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“The portion we see of human beings is very small, but their form and faces, voices and words (but) beyond these, like an immense dark continent, lies all that has made them.”
Freya Stark (The Journey’s Echo)

This quote from Freya Stark suggests that culture has aspects that are both visible and invisible to others and perhaps, even to self. Culture shapes how people view themselves, others, and the world around them. Cultural characteristics such as food, dress, and music are associated with surface culture because they are readily visible. On the other hand, deep culture is invisible and exists in the realm of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and values. Even though a behavioral manifestation of beliefs and values may be visible, the belief that accounts for the behavior is not visible. For instance, in the United States, direct eye contact with a speaker is generally interpreted as a sign of respect and indicates that the listener is hearing what the speaker is saying. In some other cultures, direct eye contact between the speaker and listener may be considered rude behavior. The listener may avert their eyes from the speaker as a sign of respect.

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