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Rice University - cultural perspective essay

sleepycorndogs 3 / 5 5  
Dec 1, 2016   #1
The quality of Rice's academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspective would you contribute to life at Rice? (500 word limit)

Christmas dinners at my grandma's house have never consisted of just the traditional pecan pie and mashed potatoes. Even prior to my birth, my family had a split Christmas, with one side of the kitchen stockpiled with dishes of green bean casserole and corn and the other with traditional Filipino dishes like lumpia and chicken adobo. Food has always made me feel more connected to both my Filipino and American cultures. Every time I've sat at my grandma's scratched wooden table to dig into a plate of pancit while my cousin ate a slice of honey-glazed ham, I was reminded of my blended heritage. My childhood exposure to Filipino food also made me more open to the cultures of others. From day one I've had to accept that there's more than just one type of food or one type of language. Even before I started kindergarten, I had grown accustomed to hearing my grandmother yelling at one of her siblings in Tagalog over the phone. So while my four-year-old peers had stared at our pre-k teacher like she had grown a second head when she started our rudimentary Spanish unit, I picked up on it quick. I would bring home Spanish language coloring sheets and try to teach my parents Spanish. I was so excited I must have told my poor dad that "manzana" was Spanish for apple hundreds of times.

My curiosity regarding the different languages and cultures of the world didn't stop there. Over these past thirteen years of school, I've met a myriad of ethnically diverse students. Some of my best friends have been from Thailand, from Nepal, from Jordan. Although some of my friends have shied away from food from other countries, I'm always eager to try something new. For example, last year during my friend's graduation party, several of my friends turned their nose up at the Thai food offered to them. Even though my friend was polite in response to this, it was obvious that she was slightly offended. I made a point to grab extra of everything in front of her even though I had never tried any of it before. While I mostly did that to be supportive of my friend, I also did it just because I was excited to experience her culture through the likes of jook and other dishes. I'm a firm believer in the use of food as a bridge between cultures and people, something that's evident in the range of food I eat.

Food isn't just something consumed to gain energy, just as language isn't something Instead, these things are indicators of any one person's identity, culture, or upbringing. Someone who dines on Twinkies and Doritos is going to have a much different culture than someone who eats dried squid and seaweed for a snack. I believe I can impact the students of Rice by encouraging them to be open-minded about all aspects of culture and leading by example, fork and knife in hand.

Holt [Contributor] - / 8,562 2483  
Dec 1, 2016   #2
Allana, why are you discussing only food when you should be discussing how you have a unique cultural identity because of your being a Filipino - American? When you are asked to speak of cultural traditions, you must represent the side of your identity that is not well known to the reviewer. Granted that he will be more than familiar with the American culture, values, and traditions so you should focus on the Filipino side of your family culture and traditions. What you are relating is not really a representation of the culture and traditions of that side of your family.

Having some Filipino friends myself, I am fascinated by the respectful culture that the Filipinos seem to have. I never could understand why my friend always placed the back hand of his elders on his forehead when he saw them. I found it strange. Until he explained to me that this was a sign of respect and a request for blessings of the general kind in his life coming from his elders. Apparently Filipinos are big on respect for their elderly. Then there are those terms that he uses on his siblings to signify they were older than him. I can't remember the terms exactly but he said it meant elder brother / sister.

Those are parts of his culture that made him unique in my eyes and also, made him quite popular among our schoolmates and shared friends. It is my belief that these are the kinds of cultural traditions that the essay is asking you to represent. These are the qualities that you can share with the student community which can help it become not only inclusive, but more progressive and evolved as your extended family. These would be the unique contributions that you could make to Rice College.

If you can't think of any cultural traditions to write about, ask your grandmother. I bet she will have boatloads of stories to tell you. My friend told me that he got to know about his Filipino side because of his grandmother. Maybe the same thing will work for you?

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