One of the topics we covered this semester was cultural icebergs. Looking back, this is a topic that I have discussed with various family members and groups over the years but never in quite the way that we discussed it in one of the reflection sessions. A brief description of a cultural iceberg is just that there are certain traits and characteristics that make up part of who we are on the outside (i.e. the color of our skin, gender, etc.) but there are also things we can’t readily see (i.e. past experiences, status, beliefs etc.) that also play a huge part in making us who we are. In the reflection session we had the chance to reflect on our personal tendencies and see how we related to others. I really enjoyed seeing how our differences complemented one another and talking through our questions about why someone felt one way about a subject and another person felt a different way.
After the reflection session, I took the hand out that we received in class and shared it with some of my closest friends. The hand out had a scale about various preferences, like how much you value punctuality or whether you have a lot of respect for hierarchy vs the belief that everyone should be treated as equals. My initial thoughts when I shared the worksheet with them was that we would all be pretty similar. They seemed to come from the same background as me so I expected our preferences to match up as well. As we went through the worksheet I found myself more and more fascinated by their responses to questions that I was confident I knew their answer to. At the end we looked over the worksheet and discussed our differences and perhaps why they existed. This experience really cemented the concept of cultural icebergs for me and now I am more sensitive to the identities that I can’t see.