culture essay

Submitted By tmcquaid
Words: 2395
Pages: 10

Life History Interview
Interviewer: Taylor McQuaid
DAN 1010

For this interview I interviewed Sia Ah Kong. She is a third generation immigrant from Samoa. Her parents were both born in the United States however both sets of grandparents emigrated here from Samoa. The overall term many people use to refer to her culture is the Polynesian Culture, which isn’t inaccurate, just very broad. I learned that Samoan culture has three main aspects it revolving around, their family, their faith, and music. I grew up in Goodyear Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Before moving to Utah I had never been a Polynesian individual before. When I moved to Utah I quickly met many and became fascinated with their culture. Specifically I work with two Polynesians, one from Tonga, and the other Samoan. I loved hearing tidbits of their culture and though this was a tremendous opportunity to do some real in depth learning so I decided I wanted to interview one of them. I asked who would like to be interviewed and Sia said she would be happy for me to interview her. We see each other almost every day at work however I wanted some real one on one time so we met up after work and I conducted the two hour long interview. The whole time she was talking my entire attention was on her. I was so interested in everything she had to say. I always find other cultures fascinating but rarely do I get the chance to grill someone on the ins and outs of their culture. It was a very positive experience for me and Sia said she was happy to answer all my questions. I started off the interview by asking her how she defined culture and family. She said she defined culture as the traditions and behavior of someone, regardless of skin color, race, and ethnicity. She said family was anyone who cares for her and who she would care for back. She said specifically the Samoan culture is extremely family oriented, everything revolves around the family. I asked if there was a hierarchy in her culture, she said that the elders are held at the very highest respect in her culture, so her grandparents, being the oldest, would be held at the topmost level of the family hierarchy. She described how her grandparents are always served first, then any males and then the women and children. I asked if there were specific gender roles, she said the men where usually in charge of the household. They are responsible for doing all the labor, going to work and providing for the family. They are supposed to be extremely masculine. Women are the homemakers. They stay home with the children, they do the cooking, cleaning, and running of the household while the man is away. In one of my business classes we had a discussion about business that try to go global but fail because they don’t understand the customs and culture of the location they are trying to expand into. I asked Sia was in her culture is considered to be the most respectful thing for people in her culture. She said it’s all about the elders. They are the ones that run the family; you do what they tell you to do. Subsequently it is the most disrespectful thing to do not to listen to your elder. She said no one back talks their elder. She also told me that you don’t ever go by someone without saying “Tulou” or excuse me. She said here in the United States people don’t usually do that, but back on the island it would be extremely rude. So that brought me to asking if she lives with any of her elders. She said that she lives with her mom, her grandparents and a few of her siblings. I asked her to tell me what that is like. She used the word “sandwich” to describe her mom’s role. Apparently it’s commonly used among many immigrant families, not just Samoans; it basically refers to the second generation taking care of the first and third generation. So her mom is responsible for taking care of her grandparents and for her and her siblings. I asked her if that was hard for her and her mom. She said a little because…