We have moved!
Come travel with us at OpenWideTheWorld.com

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Lingering Effects of Culture

5 generations of Armenians (public domain photo)
In my last post, you might remember I mentioned reader Jennifer's concerns about having lost some of her cultural heritage, and her interest in reintroducing her language of heritage to her young son. With my own family having immigrated to this country in a time when it was deemed beneficial to lose all traces of the Old World and just blend in, this topic is near and dear to my heart.

Given Jennifer's concern, and my own story, I was very excited to come across this little tidbit while reading some continuing ed for my Speech Pathology license:

According to linguistic anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath out of Stanford University, it takes FIVE generations to remove cultural influences from our values and beliefs, and that is without nurturing the culture in question.

That's great news for Jennifer, who only gave up about ½ a generation of nurturing her culture. It is even good news for me, a third generation American, whose culture has not been nurtured at all for 3 generations. It's still in there. It is still a part of who I am, a part of how I view things, a part of my life paradigm.

With a little careful planning and purposeful pursuits (like the ones you see here at Open Wide the World), and maybe a few more trips to Europe, my family can reclaim the missing half of our cultural heritage. And so can Jennifer's. And yours!


  1. Good news for our daughter who is the first generation American. We certainly need to make more of an effort teaching her about our own cultures in addition to every other culture we are talking about :)

    1. Yes, it certainly does take some effort, doesn't it? Fortunately, it is fun, too, and so very worth it!