Culture sharing is an integral part of the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program. Johannes Malebana, a business major from South Africa studying at Whatcom Community College, shares his, and others, perspectives on how great of an experience sharing culture can be.
If there is something I would do time and time again, it would be telling people about where I come from and how we do things back home. One thing about us South Africans is that respect is rooted at the bottom of our bellies. It is considered the most important quality a person could ever have, and we learn that at an early age. It is not just a South African thing; I believe that we all have it and since I’ve never been to a lot of places, I’m just going to say all Africans are raised that way. Even though the first quarter of my program was challenging, it was filled with great moments. Now I believe I know why I am on the NWCCI program because in almost all the conversations I have, people always ask me where I come from, why I wanted to come to Washington, about my family, friends, and how we live. Between the class presentations and the culture events both in college and the community, I get go give people a part of me so that they can have an idea of what I call home.
Everyone in the program has an amazing story to tell about where they come from and who they are. For me it has to be writing and a tiny bit of talking. I speak seven of the 11 official South African languages and write as often as I can. I see myself swimming with the big sharks in the communication industry in the coming years and teaching poetry to young, talented South Africans in my community.
For 23 year old Laura Emilia Cruz Jimenez from La Fortuna de Bagaces, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, preserving the environment is the way to go. She studied International Affairs before coming to Washington state and she is majoring in Tourism and Hospitality Management. I had an interesting conversation with her and she told me a few things I didn’t know about Costa Rica. Costa Rica does not have an army; they make good coffee with only seven provinces.
The international country fair we held last autumn was another special day that gave my mates and me a platform to exhibit and share our culture with the outside world. This is what Nora Mensah had to say about culture sharing “I come from Accra, the capital of Ghana and I am studying Hospitality Management. To know about other cultures one must step out of their comfort zone. My view on cultural sharing is to share the intrinsic values and traditions with others and also learn from them. Ghana is a major exporter of cocoa and gold.”
We recently went to Bellingham High School for another cultural presentation and five countries were represented; South Africa, India, Indonesia, and Ghana. Seniors taking the contemporary World Problems class had the opportunity to ask us about where we come from and on issues like cultural differences, preserving the environment, and our everyday lives back at home.
Culture sharing is a big deal for me because I get to hear the views of others about the rest of the world, especially developing countries.