Posted at 11.26.2018
Indian. Dravidian. Andhrite. Hyderabadi.
Hindu. Brahmin. Nandavareeka.
Citizen of an developing country. Midsection socio-economic strata.
Guntupalli. Kotike. Me.
If I were asked to spell it out myself using only a few conditions, these come to my brain. It really is undeniable that the aforementioned factors contribute to my personality. My culture, which is woven alongside one another by my nationality, geography, religion, social class and very importantly, my family, is a significant make in shaping my thoughts, feelings and actions. Regardless of its attribution to conditioning or internalization, the truth is that we am who I am because of my culture. My children has played a major role in preserving its cultural heritage and passing it right down to me.
There can be found a whole lot of practices which complement the culture that i have imbibed. Having come from a reasonably liberal, yet orthodox-in-some-aspects family, given that I think of it, a few of my thoughts, feelings and actions, for better or worse, can be tracked back again to my cultural root base. For example, in my own culture, it is not alright for our people to eat non-vegetarian food or drink or smoke cigarettes. While I accept that there exist a lot of people from my very own culture who indeed partake in such activities, the reason behind me being a vegetarian teetotaler, although admittedly by 'choice', it is clear to me that my culture has already established a significant effect. I have to confess that approaching to TISS was a culture-shock if you ask me, to see people smoking right beyond your campus gate and sometimes even inside it. EASILY have to be even more genuine, I had been flabbergasted at the ready availability of addictive chemicals and their voracious use. My culture and my upbringing stored pecking behind my head in order to why people are the way they may be. I must say that I noticed a tinge of self-righteousness at first. But, four weeks at TISS has begun to desensitize me to the rude awakening of the ethnical difference between my fellow students and me.
I realized that many attributes of mine - the way I dress, the way I speak etc. are heavily affected by my culture. While I am aware that over-sized t-shirts and loungewear are in no way near my culture, my discomfort with using sleeveless dresses, even when I was thin, or not putting on any makeup is something that is unquestionably based in my social upbringing, the latter, mostly anticipated to my mother's 'convenience', which I have inherited and internalized. My culture also impacts my communication, both verbal and non-verbal. Greeting people who have Namaste with my hands pressed along and touching your feet of elders is something that comes normally, most often with out a thought. Which is because of my culture that I speak three languages, sometimes even blending them up. My culture has inspired my flavour in music too. Thyagaraja Kritis and other Carnatic music I've observed growing up are what I find solace in. M. S. Subbulakshmi's Suprabhatam and Bhajagovindam tag the start and the finish of my day, respectively.
My culture is deeply rooted within me, and I take pride in that. It really is my belief that all cultures which exist on earth are beautiful in their own right. While it takes time to get accustomed to their confluence, I am of the solid opinion that all person ought to maintain and protect their own culture and pass on its merits onto their next generation while allowing the regressive aspects to fade away and also respecting the culture of another. In this type of facet of culture, I believe I lean into the ethno-pluralistic theory of multiculturalism, although I disagree with the perspective of ethnic differentialism which views civilizations as geographically bound entities. I am of the belief that geography is only a adding factor to culture, not it's determinant. With many cultures across the world and the dying of some owing to globalization and other factors, I believe it is up to each individual to preserve his/her culture and not lose their ethnical individuality in the speedily changing world; with that said, I am not blind to the actual negative undertones that culture has.
As with almost everything in this universe, my culture and its own impact on me has its flipside too. I've noticed myself to be narrow-minded sometimes, although I am able to quickly come out of my ethnic prejudices and objectively comprehend the situation. It is from similar encounters that I've learnt to let things be. Elucidating, in the situation mentioned above - pertaining to the culture-shock in Mumbai and especially TISS, following the overwhelming emotions experienced subsided, I was able to accept that every person has the right to reside their live as they see fit. As I wouldn't expect or tolerate being judged for living my entire life according to my culture, it is not very much different to allow them to expect the same.
Another very important aspect of my culture is my financial standing up. Having been brought up in a comfortable home with parents who educated me early on what things we're able to afford and everything we couldn't, and who, like the majority of middle-class individuals, presumed that securing the future of the youngster is very important, investing in property and insurance policies, I led a content life. This affects my lifestyle such as I'd rather spend money on buying something for the house - a fancy pie dish or some potted vegetation than spend it on clubbing.
Culture works in ways innumerable in my own day-to-day existence. Some are for the nice. Some, Let me change. But I'm aware of the actual fact that with all its shortcomings, my culture has been instrumental in shaping me. And I only hope that I'd be able to pass it on to my children, departing out its judgmental undertones and sometimes regressive ideologies, the same way my parents tried to - they've offered if you ask me the improvised version of the culture they realized, for me to ameliorate and filtering it further before passing on, reinstating the view of culture being vibrant.
Working with clients from different backgrounds, for me presently, is intimidating, partially because I've not, in practice, dealt with them. However, my relationships with a child who belonged to another culture, who I had been assigned to in fieldwork, helped quell my anxieties and panic. I observed that I could form a good rapport with her regardless of the fact that we belonged to completely different civilizations. Although this is attributed to a number of reasons given that it had not been primarily a counselling marriage, it reaffirmed my faith in myself.
I am aware that clients result from varied ethnical and socio-economic backgrounds and this a perfect counselor should be unprejudiced in providing their services. I am of the thoughts and opinions that giving home and everything I've known behind me, coming to a metropolitan city like Mumbai which is an amalgamation of several ethnicities has been an hugely educating experience. From my quick interactions in fieldwork with clients from another culture, I found myself to be enthusiastic to learn and understand the nuances to different cultures. Preparedness to understand and work with clients from different cultural backgrounds, I believe, is extremely important to my development as an individual studying to become a psychologist. Especially, in this time where in fact the world has shrunk into a worldwide village and a lot of cultural exchange occurring, one cannot expect to resist the influx of ethnical diversity.
Coming to me being more or less comfortable dealing with particular groups, I'd like to admit that we find myself being unpleasant when working with individuals who are from a completely different culture than I am or lead another lifestyle, for the sole reason of the fear of not having the ability to empathize with them. It scares me to no scope a situation would happen wherein I wouldn't have the ability to understand the gravity of the situation as a result of cultural gap that prevails between my client and me. For instance, if I were to work in a de-addiction centre, as much as I am alert to my prejudices and want to sincerely help them, the fear of not having the ability to do this and my ethnic values cropping up whilst working with them is very troubling to me.
I assume that all change comes with resistance of some magnitude. Thus, to improve my lifetime's price of conditioning would take an immense effort on my part. EASILY were to work with a group I used to be particularly uncomfortable with and do so just because I have to, I'd be doing great injustice to your client as well as my occupation. It would lack sincerity and genuine empathy. To prevent that from happening, I would have to expose myself to various situations I'd oftimes be uncomfortable with. I would need to be completely alert to my own prejudices and not just admit them and leave it at that, but focus on eliminating those to as a lot of an extent as you can. I need to constantly introspect so as to why I think in a particular way. I am aware that it's a quest that spans a lifetime, and this my prejudices may probably never completely be washed away, but that's not going to stop me from working on them.
I understand that unless I put my apprehensions aside and actually use those populations, I'd always have misconceptions about them. Hence, I plan to embrace with available hands the challenging situations I am likely to run into, especially in field training at TISS and improve myself. Due to that, I have to say that my academic program is exceedingly well structured to match the necessary requirements necessary for the effective guidance of diverse populations. First of all, a place like TISS, with its vast diversity and mixing of cultures is a learning experience in itself. I got eventually to meet a lot of men and women from cultures completely different than mine, interacting with who evolved my perception with their culture. It really is immensely humbling to be a part of this establishment and getting the possibility to listen to a number of different perspectives and getting together with people with radically different views has helped me in mitigating my prejudices and expanding tolerance. Subsequently, the lessons in the program are extremely socially relevant. Socio-cultural Context of Counseling exposed new avenues and ideas, and was thought-provoking about the affect culture is wearing a person and attended to the pressing need for experts well-versed in multi-cultural guidance.
Other lessons such as Personal and Interpersonal Development of the Counselor and Counselling Process and Micro-skills are also extremely helpful in getting us to introspect and become better professionals, and humans. In all, I've discovered that TISS has helped me are more aware of my thought and mental processes. Although it was difficult at first, due to the clash of cultures, I have been observing a change slowly occurring for the better. I'm starting to become less prejudiced and much more taking and tolerant of views polarly opposite of mine even though I admit that it's challenging, this constant process that will ultimately bring about constant betterment by my very own standards would enable me to be a good professional and an improved human being.