It has been almost three months since I started the Masters of Fine Arts program. I still remember meeting my program mates for the first time. I was surprised that there were only seven people in the program, and that all but me were white Americans. Sometimes my ideas, because of my culture, are different than theirs. For example, when I wanted to do a project about gender, my classmates said I should respect individual ideas about gen
der, instead of generalizing. I am from Japan, where mass consciousness is more valued than individualism. However, for my white American classmates, individualism is more important. When I realized that our cultural differences might be causing communication problems. I felt isolated and a bit alienated.
However, the I
nternational Cultural Service Program (ICSP) that I am part of helps me feel less alone. The members of ICSP are from 21 different countries, and there is a huge variety of cultures represented. We enjoy our differences, and we are sensitive because we know that we come from cultures with diverse values. Because of this, we can have common ground, and therefore, we feel like we are a family of aliens living in the U.S. My ICSP family provides a supportive place for me. Also, ICSP encourages community in the U.S. and puts on cultural workshops and events to encourage interaction between Americans and the members of ICSP. I believe that these interactions give us strong mutual understanding, and help us deal with issues based on diversity.