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Gina’s Day At School

By Gina Gippner

recently I took the time to go back to college. The one thing age has provided me is the ability to understand the value of an education. Class just started yesterday and it’s amazing what I’ve learned.  I am taking Business Communication and probably one of the most valuable classes I have ever taken and I’m only on day one.

Within Chapter 1 reads the word: ethnocentrism.  

 The definition of ethnocentrism is the belief in the superiority of one’s own culture.
 As I was reminded of this word I remembered back to my youth. My grandparents were both first generation born in the United States. Their parents had come from European countries and my grandparents ended up marrying because of their cultural background.  While their parents were not immigrants from the same country, their languages were very similar and so were their customs; therefore, their parents gave each permission to marry the other.

 As a child my grandparents taught me everything about their culture.  They had a certain way of doing things, and it was always their way and no other way.  My grandparents are now deceased, and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think of them.  While I do not agree that their way was the only way― they taught me the value of appreciating different cultures and values.

As I was pondering why it was easy for me to be tolerant of their beliefs it dawned on me that it was my love for them that allowed me flexibility of their views and opinions. I remember not being able to contribute anything to their centuries of customs, but was allowed to partake in them.

My grandparents followed the teaching from the generation in which they were born into. They had their perceptions of other cultures and were very stereotypical. There were certain diversified groups of people that I was not allowed to play with as a child because they had been taught that “like attracts like” and I was not “like” them.

 However, when I had my three children I was able to educate each of them on the true meaning of being “one” of many “individuals” who breathe the same air, eat from the same soil, and are in search of the one thing North Americans want, and that is: freedom.

The hope that I have for my children is they will be able to look at the person, and not the color of the person. Listen to the person, and not judge the clothes the person is wearing. Trust that someone is trying to help them, and not harm them. Know that underneath the skin of “each” person we are all the same color, and… with just a smile, we all for one moment speaking the same language.

 Education and communication when combined, are two of the most essential gifts we can give our children, and when the two become one... there are no limits to what our children can become, and no limits to what they will be able to leave behind.

Onward by Faith...

Gina Gippner-Woods

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