What Time Does The Thanksgiving Football Game Come On Multicultural Chaos

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Multicultural Chaos

There we were, newly married, living thousands of miles from either of our homes, in Durham, NC where he was in medical school. My husband was from Texas and I was from the North Shore of Chicago. We ourselves came from two different cultures, and now we are together in a new one. It turned out to be culture shock on top of culture shock as we adjusted to each other, and to the cosmopolitan student body at Duke Medical School.

CULTURE IS LEARNED

Culture is something we learn. It’s not related to race or ethnicity, religion or anything else, but it draws from all those groups, and especially if we’ve only lived in one place, moved in only one social group, and/or haven’t been exposed to other cultures, we tend to to consider our culture as sacred. However, so does the other person!

As we move into an exciting new world of global interaction, there will be culture clashes. Let’s continue to look at this through my Thanksgiving story.

THE PLAYERS

The first Thanksgiving came and friends from New England invited us along with 6 other couples. Among the guests were a man from the Dominican Republic married to a woman from Spain; a couple from Missouri; a man from New York married to a woman from Brazil; two French Canadians from Quebec; and two Australians who were not medical students but neighborhood friends. The religions represented were Protestant, Catholic and Jewish. And, I must add, it included men and women.

Like friends, we all talked to each other before, during and after the event. A lot of it had to do with finding out what was going on with all these nationalities represented. We split into factions about what was “right” and what was “wrong,” often switching sides with different issues.

TIME AND COMMUNICATION

“Why noon?” my husband asked. “When do we eat?” My husband liked everything organized with no surprises. I was more flexible, but willing to dive in and explore, so I called the hostess. “It’s a buffet,” she said. I asked for more information, like when we were expected to leave, and if I could bring anything, hoping that he would reveal to me. Her answers were typically New England, short and to the point.

“You didn’t find out anything?” my husband asked, when I returned empty-handed.

“She didn’t volunteer anything,” I said. “I did the best I could.”

“Why didn’t you just ask her questions?” he said.

“Because it’s rude,” I said.

“You are too kind,” he replied.

“Then next time you call,” I said.

“That’s a woman’s job,” he replied.

We and the Missourians arrived at noon:11, which was our cultural dictate; delayed a few minutes to allow the host and hostess to make last-minute adjustments, but no more than 15 minutes. The French Canadians and Australians arrived about 30 minutes later. Couples that included a Latin American arrived an hour or two after noon.

“How rude,” said the New Yorker. “How could we plan? What do you do when you call the Gonzalez?”

“Relax,” said the Australians. “We all have kids. Things happen.”

French Canadians spoke to each other in French, clearly disliking delays, then smiled and told us, “Isn’t this a wonderful Thanksgiving,” avoiding disagreements.

The Latin Americans didn’t seem to notice that their wandering was anything out of the ordinary. They were busy hugging everyone and having a good time!

The way we treat time varies greatly between cultures. We got to the cocktail party by the time the Latinos arrived and were ready to eat, but they felt they should have time to drink and chat. It was an awkward moment. Somewhere there was also a football match involved, the timing of which was messed up.

“Don’t worry about the soccer game,” said the Dominican. “It’s Thanksgiving.”

“Thanksgiving IS a football game,” my husband told me, soto voce, angry about that and about not eating.

THE ATTIRE

Everyone from the medical school contingent was dressed up, in festive attire. The Australians were wearing blue jeans. The social group also has appeal.

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