What a true joy this assignment has been to me not only as a student but as a woman, Christian and citizen of this world. Learning about cultures and not just the proper names of the region, or country, no, this was a reality check in one’s awareness of others or the lack of awareness about others (Friske, 2006). I unfortunately was part of the lacking of information about others. I have been making bias opinions about specific cultures. I am guilty of being persuaded by the media, newspapers, gossip and forming an opinion; an unkind or more fear motivated opinions. Reading an article and interviewing my new wonderful friend Ellen; I understood this ideology of lacking more clearly today after the interview than in my life.
There are more men and women in our American culture than other cultures that note people’s behaviors and outcomes (rivals and the social positions) to characters( thoughtful and capable) as one sees as good and bad, thereby command which ethnic group will become the targets of racism. (Friske, 2006).
Today was my interview with Warung Tegalku; Ellen. This was truly a humbling experience. Ellen was candid, warm, willing to share her story about her life and her culture. I started at the beginning of the questions you suggested as a guideline and added a couple of my own. Starting with a. - down, one will gain insight on Warung Tegalku.
Ellen was born in Sumatra the second youngest out of eight children. Her father passed away when she was two years old. She said she remembers her father was religious, like a Priest. At six years old Ellen and some of her brothers and sisters were farmed out. Her mother could not feed all of the kids and Ellen earned money to go to school. In school in Indonesia everything costs money, nothing is free or through the government. During this time Ellen’s brother passed away, he was 11 and Ellen was not allowed to leave the home she was living in. She is sad to this day she did not get to see her brother. Ellen helped her mom at eight years of age go into the rice fields and pick rice for 10-12 hours; daily. After the rice was picked she was allowed to swim in the river for a while. She remembers those times vividly. Helen’s mom was her hero; she worked hard and raised her children without a husband. Ellen’s mother was definitely the authority in the home. When the family came back together Ellen’s mother worked thus Ellen helped with the laundry, cleaning cooking washing clothes and caring for her younger brother. Ellen is an independent young woman, she said she had a strong mind but was not rebellious, she just knew she could get through difficult times. She would wake up at 4:00am every morning and help her mother and older brother pick vegetables and fill the baskets and mother and brother would take the baskets to market to sell the product. Some of the values she learned was wearing a burqa protected you from men, that you do not have sex when you date, you only go to your home or his home and sit and visit. She also emphasized that arranged marriages were not in practice when she was old enough to get married. She also said she was religious and she believed one was only married one time. She mused about the fact that Americans marry six or seven times.
Ellen shared that when she was eight years old she was in school and she knew she was different than the Chinese boys and girls. She knew this from obvious reasons, the clothing was different, and they spoke different and dressed differently. When I asked her how important religion is to her, she was determined to clearly express her belief system. She was clear, articulate, kind, interesting in her explanation. She is Muslim, she is a committed Muslim. She believes Americans misunderstandings about Muslim are a direct result of the media, the stories in the media. Religion was her gauge of right and wrong. She also shared at