Part of my textured past includes the movement from one religious sector to another, which, many may think, is at the other end of the spectrum. I was raised as a Christian growing up on various military bases as my father pursued his military career. My younger childhood left me memories of going to church and eagerly awaiting the cookies and punch in the reception afterwards. I can remember playing Joseph in a church pageant. As I aged, my interest in religion was overshadowed by life as a teenager. Eventually, I met a girl from a rival high school and we began our "Romeo and Juliet"-type relationship. I came to find out she was Jewish, not by birth, but by conversion and not by her conversion, but by her mother's. We eventually fell in love and we decided to marry. Having a Jewish wedding was important to Merideth and my insatiable curiosity made it an easy decision to have a Jewish wedding.
We asked Merideth's rabbi if he would marry us to which he agreed under the stipulation that I first convert to Judaism. Since I was largely uninvolved in the religious sense, I thought adopting a new religion might be interesting, particularly since this religion fit my ideals at the time better than Christianity did. I took a twelve-week course studying Judaism. Rabbi Foster maintained that converting to Judaism was one of the most important ceremonies I would do. It was important in the sense that I had to prove that I wanted to be and could be a "good" Jew. I had many conversations with Rabbi Foster about Judaism, a religion rich with tradition and ceremony. He felt I had learned much and was ready to convert, if that was truly what I still wanted.
My first foreign ceremony was my conversion ceremony to the Jewish religion. It is among the shortest yet one of the most important ceremonies for a Reformed Jew. As is true with many religious ceremonies, it involved a lot of standing in front of the congregation with the Rabbi offering a sermon or discussion on what it means to be a Jew. There were a few prayers spoken by the Rabbi in English and in Hebrew. Then it was my turn. My participation in the ceremony was to declare my dedication to the Jewish faith (in English). I astonished the Rabbi when I first spoke the declaration in Hebrew and then again in English. He knew I was ready and he gladly accepted me into his congregation. We wed a week later in that synagogue under a brand new Chuppah, which was to be my second official foreign ceremony. Since then, I have participated in many Jewish ceremonies and for me it never gets boring.
Racial and Ethnic Identity
My ancestry is somewhat of a mystery. Nothing is known about my mother's background and very little about my father's except that his father came from Wales. It is fairly easy to see however, that the Welsh heritage does lend itself well to what has been called the "standard American culture" (Chavez & Guido-DiBrito, 1999). My family could easily be called the typical Caucasian middle-class family unit: that is a mother, father, and three children. Chavez and Guido-DiBrito (1999) explain that white Americans in particular tend to exhibit their identity in an unconscious way. We do not necessarily think about our ethnicity since it is so much like what our society has determined to be the norm.
Since our ancestral background is somewhat cloudy, much of my identity can be traced to where and how I was brought up. Throughout childhood, we moved around the country often as my father was transferred. The earliest years were in the Southeastern United States. Most of our family traditions and holiday celebrations can be traced to a Southern heritage. As we traveled around the country though, each new location added its own flavor to my identity. As time has gone forward, the input I have received through living is so many parts of the country have allowed me to develop diverse interests and an open-minded attitude.
How would you describe American Culture
Many would ponder the question of whether there truly is an American Culture given that our country openly welcomes diversity of cultures and nationalities. I believe that there is a very strong American Culture. I believe that there are certain values that born American citizens are given as their birth right. Despite the complexity of our diverse nation, the American Culture is very strong. Americans are proud of our country and the freedom that is inherent with being an American citizen. American's have a "can-do" attitude, which enables us to be optimistic about all problems and believing that through hard work and determination there is a solution. Individualism is encouraged and outward expression of opinions and socialization are common for our culture.
The American culture has influences from many other cultures including European, Native American, African American and immigrants. Previously America was known as a 'melting pot' however it is now being accepted as having cultural diversity. As a result of this diversity, there are several sub cultures with the American Culture. The size of the United States of American alone results in various cultural differences across regions. Much of the American Culture is captured in the Declaration of Independence where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are detailed. Across the regions, most "American's value the ideals of individual liberty, individualism, self-sufficiency, altruism, equality, Judeo-Christian morals, free markets, a republican form of government, democracy, populism, pluralism, feminism, and patriotism" (www.en.wikipedia.org).
I am what some might call a "girly girl" of sorts, who started life as a tomboy. If I woke up tomorrow and discovered that I had changed into the opposite sex, my life wouldn't be drastically different. Sure, there would be the obvious issues that could arise; buttoning my shirt on the opposite side, using the restroom standing up, and shopping for work pants in 30 seconds or less, however my personality would still be the same. I would still have the same drive for opportunities in the workplace and adreline rush for accomplishing major life goals.
In some instances, Women rival men in the however in these present days many men rival the average salary of women. For every dollar a man made in 2003, women made 75.5 cents, the Census Bureau said in its annual report on income. That was down from the record 76.6 cents that women earned vs. men's $1 in 2002. The median income for men working full time in 2003 was $40,668, not significantly different from the prior year, while the median income for women working full time was $30,724, down 0.6% from 2002. (usa.)
Salaries are not the only thing that may rival women's intellect and talent in an ever-increasing feministic market. Could it also be that men may be moving into the mindset of women, in the marketing world? It is a constant struggle over emotional appeal versus structural appeal. I feel that as a male in a women's body, I would develop a greater understanding of the emotional side of the average female, and hopefully learn a new side of the male species to develop a new found respect for the other side.
Socio-economics is defined as people having the same social or economic class or status (Webster's 1999). We see this being divided into upper class, middle class, and lower class. The average people are born into lower-middle class or upper-lower class, meaning that they have to work for what they have. I myself was born into the upper-lower class status. My family did not have all of the luxuries that others had such as designer clothes and summer vacations. Of course we did not really know any differently so we did not think of it as different. My parents worked hard for what they had and they did their best to provide for our family. They also were involved in the things that we did, participated in our extra curricular activities and supported the decisions that we made.
As I entered into adulthood and had a family of my own, I tried to instill some of the values that I acquired growing up. I want my children to appreciate what they have and work for what they want. I believe that if you have to earn something you appreciate it more than if it was just handed to you. I have also realized the importance of an education. Although my parents did their best in raising us, they were limited to what they could do because they did not have an education past high school.
I also have learned to appreciate people and the things that they can do and have to offer. I believe in giving people a chance and not judging people by the clothes they wear or the house they live in. I also believe in family values and being close with family members. I want my children to know that I support them are there for them no matter what.
Chavez, A.F., & Guido-DiBrito, F. (1999). Racial and ethnic identity and development. Retrieved July 26, 2006, from http://www.fsu.edu/~elps/ae/download/ade5385/
Wikipedia (July 2006). Cultures of the United States. Retrieved July 25, 2006 from the World Wide Web: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_culture.
V. Nichols. (1999): Webster's Dictionary Allied Publishing Group. U.S.A.