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Ethnographic Essay

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Ethnographic Essay Rarely do we look our culture and how it affects the way we communicate and interact with each other. Culture is innate to us and we are usually unaware of it because it is an apart of us that we are unable to separate from and analyze. This is what I have learned from interacting and interviewing Luciana Cappuccino better known as “Lucky”. I was aware of her Spanish culture when I was first introduced to her just because of her first name. We sometimes forget how something as personal as our name is stamped by our cultural origin. I did further research into her name; I found out that Luciana is a typical Spanish name meaning light. The religious ties were very prevalent from the beginning even before I had started the interview.
Argentina like most of Latin America and my own culture, the Caribbean has a deep history of colonialization; which is even more crucial part to the history of Luciana Cappuciano since she is of European ancestry. The Europeans arrived in Argentina 1502 this is most likely when Lucky’s ancestors first entered Latin America. One of the issues Lucky faced is being ethnically a Caucasian but identifying herself as a Latina. This is her avowal identity, meaning that is the identity “that [she] choose[s] to associate with and portray” (Willis-Rivera 28). However most American ascribes a Caucasian identity to her because of her blonde hair and fair skin; which is features attributes as white in America. This issue was something we discussed with great importance during our interviews. Lucky identifying herself as a Latina despite being of European descent is not strange in Argentina. Actually the predominant ethnic group in Argentina is white; with 97% coming from Spanish and Italian descent (CIA World Factbook, Argentina). The confusion on whether Latina is describing a race or ethnicity it also describe in “The Essential Guide to Intercultural Communication”. People that are Hispanic or Latino can be of many different races and the term is better fit to describe “as [an] ethnic identi[ty] rather than a racial identi[ty]” (Willis-Rivera 26).
Lucky is of Italian descent which is apparent by her last name; this important because for the prominent part of Lucky’s life she has been a part of the “majority” group which cultivates a certain mindset. This is discussed in the majority identity development concept; through Lucky’s discussion of her life in Argentina I could tell that she was at the acceptance stage of majority identity development. I was able to draw this conclusion because she had “some awareness of the privileges [she had] over those in minority groups” (Willis-Rivera 30). I asked her about racial tensions in Argentina since the majority of the culture is of the same ancestry. The next largest ethnic group is the mestizo; which are people of white and Amerindian ancestry. Lucky told me how they are looked down by the majority group and she unknowingly participated in that prejudice. It was not until she was treated as minority not because of her skin color but because of her immigration status was she aware of her actions. Lucky had to switch from being a majority in her country and become an international student in America. In America international students are constantly reminded that you do not belong here repeatedly ticking the box “alien”. The word that international students are constantly labeled with; we are the other, we are aliens; something strange and of a unknown humanity. When Lucky brought up this idea I was quickly able to relate being an international student myself. I felt like was constantly begging and fighting to belong to a culture and country that wanted to reassure me that I did not belong. She stated that this was one of the reasons that she became involved in this paper. She felt that she had a unique outlook on intercultural communication because she has transcended between both groups. She also felt that I would able to understand and articulate the frustration and battle she faced (Lucky and I constantly talk about how were going to get our work visas). Lucky did not know it but she was talking about minority identity development. She had integrated with American students by participating in the culture by dressing and talking what is deemed to be “American”. Lucky is what a lot of people would say has become “Americanized” which is represented in the fourth stage of minority identity development. Lucky herself used this term to describe herself even though she still emphasized that she still keeps and loves the traditions of her culture.
When began to discuss her culture and what makes in distinctive you could see her pride about being a Latina. She brought up that in Argentina everyone was family and the focus was on people rather than monetary advantages. She described how she missed that family mentality when she first came to America. She said Argentines have such pride about their country and culture that she feels Americans lack. She found it difficult to describe but stated “it’s a feeling you get that’s like nothing else.” She went to talk about the music in Argentina; specifically the tango music. She said it was very important to her culture and one of the things she misses the most. When she told me that I thought that would be the perfect shared cultural experience. The more I researched about the tango and tango music I was more convince it was be the perfect opportunity to observed the Argentine culture. I saw tango as a perfect representation of the cultural mix of the different ethnic groups that formed Argentina. Tango is a style of ballroom dance that originated in Rio de Plata (between Argentina and Paraguay) with European and African influence. The tango is infused with sensuality and technical dance moves (Denniston, Couple Dancing and the Beginning of Tango). I realized that as began to further describe the tango I became to picture images of what the women and men at La Zona Tre would look like. I imagined red dresses, the stereotypical coke bottle shaped Latina, perfectly chiseled men and everyone uncontrollably perspiring. I began to partake in exoticism; something that I was more than familiar with being from the Caribbean. The fact that I did this intrigued me to how Lucky dealt with exoticism since one of the core aspects; tango is celebrated because of it sexuality and intimacy. She informed me that she didn’t see tango as being a sexual dance; it’s just dancing and having fun and she did see the sexuality in it. Lucky was right, tango was viewed with such sexuality because it was being seen through eurocentrism.
As I gathered with Lucky’s friends to head to La Zona Tre, the more I realized that if the tango was created by Argentines it had to be intimate! This is because the everyday actions and communication of Argentines express this same intimacy. As we waited I started to notice and watch the proxemics between Argentines. The greeting and farewell of kissing on both cheeks alone seems to be overly affectionate and intimate for both men and women. In actuality it was typical of Latin Americans who “interact at closer distance and frequently touch each other during interpersonal encounters” (Shutter 48). This allowed me to better understand what Lucky was referring when she said she missed the family mentality in Argentina; because in Argentina the intimacy and closeness that is used for greetings; is only reserved for romantic relationships in America. This lack of intimacy and great proxemics zones in the American culture is even more predominant to Lucky because “argentines …tend to kiss more than most Latin cultures” (Diego, How to Greet a Porteño). The intimacy and proxemics caused me to greater analyze my own culture. I always viewed Bahamian culture similar to how Lucky felt about Argentine culture. I felt that there was a closeness and bond within the country that did not exist in America. Similar to Argentina, the Bahamas is a very religious nation; repeatedly deeming itself as a “Christian Nation”. My culture also demonstrated the same proxemics relationship when it came to dancing. However the intimacy between both men and women would never would be acceptable in my country due to high homophobia. I was not able to understand what allowed the Latin American community to have such comfort with their sexuality which was nonexistence in my culture. I believe that this is very prevalent in non-white cultures because British colonial polices and ideology still ingrained in the mindset of the people. Also even though most Latin American identify themselves as Catholic many of them does not practice the religion; while in the Caribbean we still hold these religious ideologies with great importance.
When Lucky described herself as thoroughly assimilated and accepted in the American culture as well as identifying herself as Latina it seemed to contradict. I began to question how well she interacted with these two groups and what impact did it had on her. This is an impact that an abundance of individuals who move to new areas deal with; they are not American enough for one group and in this case not Argentine enough for home. This leaves a person to develop their own culture by mixing the two or finding people who always live in this limbo. This concept of mixing cultures is called integration. As stated by Rivera-Willis “integration is a blend of assimilation and separation. Immigrants who integrated adopt aspects of the host culture while retaining some aspects of their home cultures” (Willis-Rivera 43). I also struggled with assigning this label to her because when she discuss about how her interactions with her friends at home; I felt that she was also experienced marginalization. This “is characterized by an immigrant’s desire for integration that is rejected by the host culture. The host culture may reject the immigrant’s uses of the host language because of an accent or reject the immigrant because she or he doesn’t “look” like a native” (Willis-Rivera 43). Lucky has faced rejection from her home culture due to her wanting to live in America and being in a relationship with an American. In Latin America it is important to marry within the culture because family is very important to pass down family traditions and the negative feelings associated with “gringos”. Also Argentina ranks scores an 86 on Hostfede Uncertainty Avoidance making them difficult in accepting new and different things (Hostfede, Argentina). This is why I believe in many aspects she is marginalized because of her embrace of a new culture. The values of the Latin American culture seemed to look down upon integration to the American culture. This puzzled me in our interview; Lucky seemed to be very individualistic which was different from what I learn and have experienced from Latin Americans. Latin Americans tend to be collectivist societies very concern with the group and have a high degree of loyalty even in it interferes with self-happiness. I was wrong though Lucky choice to stay in America after graduation and become engaged to an American was completely “Argentine”. When I further analyze the Hostfede Individualism Dimension it stated that “at a score of 49 Argentina sits in the middle rankings of PDI … much higher values [than] all other Latin American countries (leaving aside Costa Rica)” (Hostfede, Argentina). My presumptions of an Latin American country as collectivism rather individualistic is historically correct though; the change in Argentina has been attributed to the last century because “high migration waves that have reached the Rio de la Plata(Hostfede, Argentina). In fact in 1900, 30% of Argentina’s inhabitants have been born abroad and most of these immigrants were Europeans. This perfectly explains Argentina’s high individualism in respect to other Latin American cultures because Europeans are predominately highly individualistic. Therefore the combination of these two cultures has produced a middle ranking IDV culture.

Figure 1: Argentina Hostefede IDV in Comparison to Spain and Itlay
One of the most important aspects that the Spanish and Italians brought to Argentina was their religion and beliefs this was Catholicism. This was not only crucial to the culture of Argentina but one of the most influential aspects to Lucky and her family. Prior to my first with Lucky I was aware of her strong religious beliefs and involvement. I was not surprised in our initial interview when Lucky state that she was Roman Catholic. In Argentina nearly 92% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholic. Although Roman Catholicism is thoroughly engraved in the Argentine culture the Catholic only 20% are practicing Catholics. Lucky is one of those practicing Catholics; she in actively involved in her church by not only attending mass regularly but by volunteering in the youth ministry as well. She is truly devoted to her faith and more than anything else she mostly identifies herself as a Catholic. This is important because Lucky’s identity as a Catholic affects how she communicates with others who values or beliefs are different from her. In this part of the interview Lucky and I did not interact in any cultural confusion since I am Roman Catholic as well. This better equipped me to understand her disbelief in the secularism of America. I was also confused because even though she seemed disgusted by this aspect of America she still wanted to make it her home. This is because she has created her own environment that limits her interaction with this aspect of American culture and she is engaged to an American who is religious as well.
Lucky young engagement and intercultural relationship made her an even more interested person to interview. I wondered why she would want to get married so early; but in Argentina the average age to get married for women is 23.3 and 25.5 for men (United Nations Married Patterns, Argentina). Therefore Lucky and her fiancé are not breaking any barriers in her culture in that aspect; but there are other issues they may face since she is in an intercultural relationship. Since Lucky identifies herself as a Latina from Argentina and her fiancé is a Caucasian American they are in a bounded intercultural relationship. Even though to society they seem to be of the same culture they will have numerous personal differences. I researched some of the cultural differences that existed between America and Argentina using the Hofstede Dimensions. This chart shows that they may have difficulties with; individualism, uncertainty avoidance and possible long term orientation since most Latin countries rank high in this dimension. I asked Lucky how she dealt with these cultural differences. She did admit that cultural differences do occur between them but that it is not a major issue in their relationship. I do believe that Lucky and her fiancé are able to overcome those differences because the identity they both identify with the most is being Catholic. This causes them to have similar values and beliefs in crucial issues couples face. I am able to understand this as well being in an intercultural relationship. The fact that I am religious while my boyfriend is not causes the biggest confrontations. Even though we have the same beliefs the way we practice and label those beliefs are important to both of our identities.

Figure 2: Hostefede Argentina v.s USA Through my interviews and interaction with Lucky I realized that there are many ways our culture can impact our life and the choice we make. An important concept that both me and Lucky took from this experience is we all have more similarities than differences and more importantly; if we try to understand and learn about those differences we can better communicate and co-exist. I learned many truths and misconceptions about the Argentine culture that would better equip me to successfully interact with Lucky and other Argentines but also anyone who differs from me in any cultural aspect. This research and experience also caused me to reevaluate my culture and the impact it has on me that causes me to poorly communicate with others.

Works Cited

CIA. "Argentina." CIA World Factbook. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <>.

Denniston, Christine. "Couple Dancing and the Beginning of Tango by Christine Denniston." Couple Dancing and the Beginning of Tango. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <>.

Diego. "Argentina Culture: How to Greet a Porteno." Argentina Culture: How to Greet a Porteño. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <>.

"History of Argentina." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

Hofstede, Geerth. "Argentina." Argentina. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://geert>.

"Spanish Names." Luciana. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <>.

Shuter, R. (1976), Proxemics and Tactility in Latin America. Journal of Communication, 26: 46–52. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1976.tb01902.x

Willis-Rivera, Jennifer. The Essential Guide to Intercultural Communication. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. Print.

"World Marriage." UN News Center. UN. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <>.

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...Below is a free essay on "The Rental Heart Analysis" from Anti Essays, your source for free research papers, essays, and term paper examples. The Rental Heart Often, when you break-up with a partner, you get your heart broken. It happens to everyone, but in this text, instead of experiencing sadness and sorrow, you can just take your rental heart out, and by a new one when you meet a new partner. I consider the main character a boy, because if it was a girl, there would be a lot of drama and a lot of details of heartbrokenness when they break-up. The main character is bisexual; his first love was a boy, Jacob, and at that time he was a teenager, which is shown in the text, when he says: “And our love was going to last forever, which at our age meant six months.” When we are teenagers, our body is filled with hormones. We fall in love easily and often, and just as quickly as we fall in love, we fall out of it again. When the main character is with a guy named Will, they go on a holiday, they went through security and the main character beeps, he shows the security people his heart and is waved on, but Will doesn’t beep. It makes the main character sick that he doesn’t have a metal heart and his gut is filled with blood and flesh. The short story’s title is “The Rental Heart”. Short story’s titles have often not much to do with the rest of the text and often it is a bit hidden in the text, but in this case it is very easy to see why the author called it that: it’s...

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...Essay Three Important dates First draft: Begin prewriting and writing first draft in class on March 22. The first draft must be handwritten. Continue writing draft on April 1. Draft due: Upload as a rich text file via joule by April 3 no later than 11:00 a.m. (10 pts. draft) Peer review: In-class peer review on April 3. Bring two copies of your typed essay. (10 pts./peer review) Revise/edit: In-class revise/edit on April 5. Final draft and self-evaluation: Due on April 8. (100 pts./essay and 10 pts./evaluation) Topic: Select one of the following topics. 1. Compare and contrast your culture to another culture. Select at least three points to c/c. Make sure you are not making random or biased judgments but are exploring similarities, differences, and their significance. 2. Compare and contrast your work ethic to another individual’s work ethic. Select at least three to c/c. Make sure you are not making random or biased judgments but are exploring similarities, differences, and their significance. 3. Compare and contrast two potential places of employment. Select at least three points to c/c. Make sure you are not making random or biased judgments but are exploring similarities, differences, and their significance. 4. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living in an individual or collective society. Select at least three points to c/c. Make sure you are not making random or biased judgments but are exploring similarities, differences, and their......

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