December 1, 2009
Discovering a New Reality 10,000 Miles Away
My cousin, Chas Lutz, studied abroad in Japan in 2008 for a full year. He went to Brown University and had a 4.0 GPA average. He taught himself Japanese level one and advanced directly into Japanese level two and three at college. At family gatherings in my home state of Connecticut, it was interesting to learn about the culture of Japan and how it differs from my norm. While in Japan, he met Chika Yamamoto, who eventually became his girlfriend. They became so serious that they decided to continue dating long, very long distance when Chas had to leave to go back home to the states.
The first time I met her was Thanksgiving week of 2009, because she flew to the United States to visit with my cousin and our family on the long holiday break. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to conduct an interview. I was excited to receive a first hand account on understanding a different culture, focus on everyday life style in a country almost 10,000 miles away, and get a philosophical sense of what it means to be human, because we are all heirs of our own cultural practices and a different combination of all human experiences. Discovering a new culture will present a different way of thinking about others and one’s own culture; it will give me a new perspective. Culture is a set of behaviors, understandings, objects, how one interacts with another, and how people deal with problems of hunger, violence’s, and inequality. Each culture is unique, and to fully understand it one must immerse oneself in it and absorb as much as you can.
As I approached Chika on Thanksgiving, I remembered the reading for my ANT2410-02 midterm in the book “Culture Counts” by Serena Nanda and Richard L. Warms, that as an ethnographer you must be calm and patience when it comes to interviewing someone, especially outside one’s culture. I wrote down a few general...