My career has resulted in many encounters with individuals whose traditions, beliefs, and interests vary radically from mine. These experiences have contributed significantly to my professional and social growth. Through them, my self-awareness, worldviews, understanding, and openness to others have grown immensely. One of the most significant cross-cultural experiences I have had is the opportunity to tutor and mentor young refugee/immigrant children between the ages of seven and ten. Most of these children in this program originated from Somalia. The other portion was made of a few Afghani children and one Vietnamese.
Among the first observations I made when I was introduced to this group was that each of the girls wore a hijab that covered the entire body apart from the face. Similarly, the children noticed that I was not wearing a hijab and shouted that my arms’ skin could be seen. In fact, one of the girls asked me why I did not wear the hijab and attempted to pull down my shirt sleeves. She told me that my arms’ skin should be covered. I realized that my dressing habits were unfamiliar to them since I was the only tutor from my racial background that they had encountered. I, therefore, felt that the appropriate response would be to discuss with her my traditions and beliefs and explain their variations from hers. This would make us comfortable with each other.
To achieve this, I introduced my origin as a Californian native. I explained the American culture…
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