Chapter 3: I found the part of ethnocentrism and empathy in chapter 3 very interesting. Ethnocentrism is where we place our own group or culture as the “center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated in reference to it.” Having this mindset is dangerous and debilitating to our learning from other cultures and groups. I feel that this is something that everyone experiences whether we mean to or not. It is natural to base our understanding on what is familiar, however, what is familiar to me may seem strange to you. Unfamiliarity can be a vulnerable state, which makes us uncomfortable, but how boring to always stay in what is familiar. I enjoyed reading about empathy as well. Our book defined empathy as the ability to put yourself in someone else’s proverbial shoes and experience the thoughts and emotions from that person’s perspective. Brene Brown spoke about empathy and discussed how often times we “silver line” a person’s problem. An example of this would be if a friend told us that they had a miscarriage, and we would reply, “well at least you know you can get pregnant.” I have been thinking about empathy a lot lately and while reading chapter 3, I realized that ethnocentrism makes it even harder to empathize with people, especially if they have a different culture than our own.
Chapter 4: As I was reading about Distinctive Concept, I thought about an experience I had with one of my closest friends. She is from Argentina and her family came to America when she was about 10 years old. I remember the first time that I went over to her house, I was greeted by both of her parents with a kiss on both of my cheeks. Having more of a shy personality, I was totally caught off guard and embarrassed. It took me awhile to get used to this when I would see them and I would sometimes try to avoid seeing them at first just because it made me feel uncomfortable since I was hardly ever greeted that way. Now, after many years of knowing them and having a friendship with this family, it is something that is part of them and makes them distinct to me. I have thought about this for years and have never realized that there is actually a concept for it.
I loved watching the Ted Talk “The Danger of a Single Story.” Something that stood out to me was how Chimamanda Adichie discussed how a story can be so powerful that it can be definitive of a person. She said, “show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” This statement has been proven many times both positively and negatively. I have seen this fulfilled in my own life, with those around me who have been treated as what they are labeled or seen as from a single story, as opposed to those who have been treated with a story of their own.