Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Skating, dancing, learning about culture

It's been a while since I last wrote here, and my last post was different. I think I needed to take some distance from all the reflections about learning -this summer was pretty intense in terms of learning and thinking, and just enjoy another aspect of my life. I love dancing and music, and the Winter Olympics had just finished. I love to watch figure skating but I'm seldom able to -and, as if by fate, on the closing day of Vancouver 2010, I turned on the TV and caught the two wonderful performances you can see featured in my Glogster.

I've just finished watching a video about the Lakota way of life that one of the members of the Crosscultural ELT Ning Network  (which I help to manage) uploaded and found it very interesting and wondered why I hadn't heard of them before. I also wondered about my own culture, and the aboriginal cultures of what politically is now my country and why I know so little about them (basically names and where they settled originally). I'm sure my own culture must have its positive side -all things do, but I doubt it'll be as rich and simple at the same time as that of communities like the Lakotas.

Values and virtues like generosity, fortitude, generosity, bravery, wisdom, balance...does the culture I belong to value those as much as the Lakotas? Probably not -but why? And what values does my culture uphold really? I'm tempted to point towards an Argentina movie called "Nueve Reinas" (Nine Queens) and say that it embodies all the more salient features of my culture.

But wait!

The movie is about two conmen, and it certainly feels very Argentinian (there was an American version of it of which I only managed to watch the first 15 minutes) so there is some essence captured there. But surely we're not all conmen? Nicholas Cage's Matchstick men comes to mind -it's also about conmen but they are different.

Fine, then, so each culture perhaps has conmen with very particular styles -but how do the rest of the members feel about that kind of life? Do they accept it because they don't think there's anything they can do to change it? Do they reject it actively? Do they live and let live?

Cultural issues are never one-layered in my view. They have lots of angles and nooks and crannies and they're flexible and changing, they overlap with those of other cultures sometimes...and I find it difficult to step aside and be a non-judgemental observer; probably because culture is a part of me, of everyone. culture is beliefs and values but also how we live our everyday lives, all the little things we do each day, like washing the  dishes or greeting people or...

No comments: