Thursday, June 11, 2009

Harmony, Bereavement, Culture

Mariah Coxwell
Outbound to Alicante, Spain 2009-10
"What is Culture?"

Culture: behaviors, beliefs, qualities of a civilization, development, commonly transmitted from one generation to another (
I was born in Tallahassee, Florida; a city which is inhabited by mostly those college educated, who appreciate the rural and city elements of the area in harmony. This culture in the capital city of Florida is that of a college city, with many young adults and young families who pride themselves in having a good education and well-paying job. I lived here until I was 10. It is difficult to remember much of the culture there, as I was young.
I then moved to Saint Petersburg, Florida, a multi-cultural area to say the least. Many living there are first or second generation Floridians, coming from the North, or even first or second generation Americans. Where I lived, a block away from bars, restaurants, and bait shops, one could always hear sirens throughout the day and midnight car racing--never was there silence. My next-door neighbors were from Bosnia, who had fled the Bosnia and Herzegovina War in the mid 1990s. They would bring over baklava and other desserts, roast whole pigs outside, and play lots of loud music (they had many late-night parties with other Bosnians). Their 2 young boys helped them with their English. They personally changed their culture as I lived there; they bought a Ford Mustang to be more “American”, along with a big Ford truck a few years later. They enjoyed conversing with my mother, though they would rarely get anywhere with their minimal English speaking skills. Across the street was another family with 3 boys; they were from Jordan (Arab country in Southwest Asia). The parent’s names were Khaldea and Mohammad, but went by Americanized names Kelly and Mike. He owned some gas stations and she stayed home, constantly cleaning. Their house was gorgeous and spotless. They played lots of Arabic music, had family over often (a massive family), and followed the Muslim religion strictly--it took awhile to understand how Ramadan works. They too would share their language and food with us. These two families impacted me most while living in this larger port city of Florida. I appreciate the influence from other countries they provided and the relationships made with them.
At fifteen, my father had a job transfer to Jacksonville, Florida. We reside in Callahan today, a tiny town north of the grand city. Moving here, my family went through some culture shock, as the people are so friendly and treat everyone like close family. This was odd, since my family had come from a bigger city, and all the sudden we’re in a town that has only two stoplights, and no Target, everybody waving as you drive by or talking your ear off in Winn Dixie. I couldn’t help but wonder: Why would anyone want to live here?
Well, I have learned more of what culture is (and can be) after living here for the past 3 years. I have gained a respect for the people while still holding an open mind to moving on, out of this town. The community is precious, as whenever times are rough for someone, everybody helps out. It’s like a big family. Though there aren’t many college (or high school) graduates here, malls close by, or exciting events taking place (unless you include rodeos, bonfires, or high school football games), yet it is quite homey and comfortable. Rural culture at its finest. But, it is also a silent motivation to get out of my comfort zone.
Now I must touch on the upcoming culture change, my move to Alicante, Spain, in two short months. Though I have not yet been there, I have done some research and know the change is going to be life-altering. New language, school, family, food, EVERYTHING… And it will once again provide a new cultural perspective, the most significant yet.
So, again I must ask myself: “What is Culture?”
Culture is people, their attributes, their harmony with the world around them. Culture is growth, as well as tradition. It is such a valuable aspect of society because it transmits all products of humanity, from the celebration of birth to the bereavement of death.

1 comment:

  1. wow. good read. not many high school grads. haha. burnnnn.