This I Believe

Christine - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Entered on June 12, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe every experience is a cultural experience and that we will always be bound together by humanity. While I was born and raised in Florida, my parents were born and raised in Belgium and Lebanon before moving to Florida to settle and start their lives and careers. When I think about it, everything is a cultural experience to me because my upbringing was a mix of America meets Western Europe and the Middle East.

I currently live in Tennessee and am in graduate school. However, in the month of May, I traveled to visit friends and then went to Florida because of my uncle’s unexpected death and funeral. During that time I did not know what to expect but within a couple of days, Lebanese relatives from all over the world came to console and support my uncle’s wife and three children. Additionally, the Lebanese community in my hometown was there at every moment bringing food, taking care of the children and providing assistance wherever it was needed. I had never experienced any thing like it. While I could only stay in Florida for one week, every day I drove to my uncle’s house, there were at least 20 cars outside of his house with people helping out the family he left behind. The customs and rituals that the Lebanese brought from their homeland to Florida were deeply religious and filled with history and tradition based on community and family at the core.

After leaving Florida, I started a summer internship at a large manufacturing company in Northwest Georgia. So far, this internship has proved to be another type of cultural experience with different implications. Many of the people I meet working in the plant have been in the Northwest Georgia area for years and have always worked with this one company. One day I spoke to a lady who was in her 60’s and worked as a plant employee for several years. While she was hesitant to talk at first, I started talking to her about her family. She told me how her son’s wife had terminal cancer and how her husband died 20 years ago while I told her my uncle died recently of an unexpected heart attack. I don’t know why, but I thought how strange it was that we were able to share these experiences with each other.

As a student of Industrial/Organizational (or workplace) psychology, I am continually interested in two aspects of the field. One is the topic of work/life (family) balance and the other is the impact of globalization on today’s changing work environments. It seems no matter where you are, you are inevitably going to meet people different from you. However, it also seems we all have things in common, including a need for family and a need to understand those around us. In essence, we are all connected by our humanity and our diverse cultures, no matter how vast or how seemingly small our network may be.