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Jason Thompson 4-9-12 Interview Paper

When joining this Psychology class this year for some reason I could sense that there would be some sort of interview assignment, whether it was my girlfriends helpful advice, or my keen act of predicting course content, none the less, I need someone worthy of an interview. As soon as that yellow paper was passed out explaining all the details and guidelines I knew it was time to begin this long grueling process that is informal research and the writing that comes along with it. I began searching through my everyday life to see if I was associated with people of cultural differences without even realizing it, the people I worked with, went to school with in high school, or even my current classmates here at CGCC. It was in fact true that I was connected with somebody ethnically different, but it was someone Ive known almost my whole life and had just completely zoned out the fact that he was not born in America. Ive had the same best friend since I was about 6 years old, the age when children can actually start to comprehend the value of friend ship; having the same first name, moms that were best friends, and literally shared interests in every part of our young lives, we knew were meant to be buds. Growing up with Jason allowed me to connect and bond greatly with his family and relatives, even his Grandpa, codenamed Hanz, (mainly because thats the first name that pops into my head when thinking about German names). A man that has raised a family of good people and contributing citizens to society after being an immigrant, a story that intrigues

me just to think about, I had to find out more. He was born in a city called Strausberg, Germany located 30 km outside Berlin with Polish borders nearby, it was a city that saw plenty of traffic and was hit hard by the financial crisis of 1929. The product of a baker, his mother, and gas station manager, his father, he was born into middle class just like most of us in America, something I could relate to as well. Initially my friend Jason had told me he was an actual member of the Nazi party and had enlisted in the army at one point in his life but I soon learned that this was not in fact the case, me being the victim of his ability to over exaggerate. Being a huge war buff myself, and someone who is fascinated with World War II, Im not going to lie I was bummed to hear this but I wasnt going to let it discourage me from doing the research I needed to do, to find some key contrasts, and even similarities in the cultures we grew up with. After getting this assignment I was waiting for the right time to bring it up to Jasons mom about talking to her dad who is at this point in his life, 91 years old and still kicking you could say. I didnt know about his health and if he was even able to conduct an inte rview and answer some questions but my opportunity to see him and ask came sooner than I expected when I ran into him at Sunday family dinner at my friends house. I quick seized my opportunity of him sitting alone in the backyard relaxing, I approached him and the first thing he says, I could tell all night that you needed something from me, was I that obvious? Either way he was right, I did need something from him, he was my key to a good grade on this project. I told him I was assigned an interview of someone with a different cultural back ground then me and then to write a paper on significant points and things that stood out to me. We sat and talked for almost an hour about pretty much just the basics, like; his birthplace, childhood interests, his parents, and got into a little of his teenage years. When I did my oral presentation I had only

been able to talk to him for that brief hour that felt like 5 minutes, so I went into that knowing minimal details and vague descriptions. It was the Friday later in the week when I had my chance to meet with him in private and ask some more serious questions that could get the answers I was looking for. It was a typical Friday morning in beautiful Sun Lakes Retirement Homes where the golf courses were packed, and the Buicks were driving extra slow. I arrived at his house at around ten oclock, that being my choice, he would have rather us met at around 8 but I quickly opposed and he settled for ten. Showing a huge culture difference immediately, when he has been forced to wake up early his entire life, making his body so used to it, that it knows nothing different, on the other hand most people my age would take the chance to sleep in everyday it was possible. I immediately ask him what a usual day is for him, wondering what a 91 year old widowed man could possibly do for fun, but he quickly responds stating that staying active everyday of his entire life is something that hes been committed to ever since it was drilled in his head by his mom and dad. When he said this I couldnt help but to think about how even cultures separated by thousands of miles have some of the same family values, having 2 parents that are both marathon runners, physical activity has been a must since I was able to walk. . He likes to start the day out by walking his Beagle, maybe take a swim, read, eat, and yes, more reading, but none the less he is happy with his routine. We sit down in his living room or fresh brewed cup of joe, and I start by asking him about his most fond memories as a child, thinking that because of his different cultural back ground it has affected or restricted him from certain things, but I was proven wrong. He responded calmly, I can barely remember my childhood; I remember loving soccer from a very young age, and being fascinated with the

big cities of America, like Chicago, LA, and New York. He was able to see the occasional picture of the massive metropolises and would marvel over the possible life that someone could live there. Hearing this made me think about how as Americans, most of us take for granted the fact that as a country we have the ability to live in safe places like this, something a lot of other ethnicities cannot relate too. I wanted to know about his traditions that he had in his small family of 3, him being a single child, but instead of the interesting answer of traditions Id have no idea about, he states that he had to be in church every Sunday without fail, eating dinner at the table as family every night, practicing the usual holidays with friends and family; Christmas, Easter, New Years, Good Friday, and of course Birthday Parties. Now at this point in our talk its blatantly obvious that I myself come from a thick German and Norwegian ancestry and its playing a huge role in this interview because this man and I are living evidence of how cultures can be passed on for centuries and into other countries. Seeing how we both are products of Eastern European culture Im eager to learn more, so reluctantly asked a question on his personal opinion of the new Nazi party that was coming to power in his teens. Right away I could tell his whole demeanor had changed and it was no longer just an easy answer for him, by reading his body language I could almost predict his answer before it was uttered from his mouth, the most memorable quote of the interview, My whole life Ive considered myself to be a free thinker, the thought of someone trying to control what I can and cant do makes me feel like Im not being myself, this statement made a huge impact on me as a person mainly because this is what I live for everyday, the fact that I am an individual, but of course we cant forget that all of us live in a place that allows us to be free and to do what we want, a luxury that not everyone gets the chance to experience. As soon as he and his family accepted the fact

that this was going to be the new form of govt. in their home country they all agreed that it was time for Hanz to get a chance to see the outside world, and receive a chance to grow without the helping hand of the newly discovered Nazi party. At seventeen years old he had matured before any of his friends and had settled down with his soon to be wife and when I say settled down, I mean engaged. A huge culture shock in itself, you just dont see people getting engaged at 17-18 years old in todays time, its just something that has stayed in the past along with many other things. Hanz and his parents at this point in 1939 have been saving for their entire lives waiting for the moment for him to turn eighteen and be ready to venture out and fulfill his dream. I asked him about the process of getting to America and certain details he can remember about this occasion, this particular question excited him a little I could notice and he quickly started explaining. He and his fiance traveled from Berlin to London using various trains and boats (at this time free travel across borders still being allowed), when in London they stayed overnight at a hotel awaiting their cruise ship style trip across the Atlantic to the thriving New York City. He remembers studying the English language for two years straight every day, by reading books and listening to records, because at his school they didnt have any English type of learning opportunity. I begin to wonder about the process needed for him to actually be allowed in the United States so I ask him and he replies, I applied for my work visa, was accepted and just had to last 5 years without committing a felony and leaving the country, something that was no problem. His studio apartment wasnt going to pay for itself so he set out to find work in the land of opportunities, admitting that he was extremely scared to be out on his own without his parents. This is something that I think his cultural back ground had a very large role in; the fact that he was able to travel across the country and successful make it

an America is proof that growing up the way he has, has psychologically prepared him to be this mentally strong. Having strict rules and guidelines growing up has prevented him from the ability to be anything but a descent person, values that will never leave, and will be passed on from generation to generation. I wanted to know his first thoughts when arriving in America and what his first impression was. He responded, The city smelt like a farm back home, but had the power the physically intimidate me, and how everyone he was more concentrated on themselves and their personal wealths, rather than the overall well-being of your neighbors, something he said was completely opposite from his home. After being in America for a few years now, working construction and getting by like any other mid class citizen he was starting to pickup America customs and attitudes, stating that, America sure can influence anyone. So that sparked a thought for me, was Hanz saying that his newly discovered American values were what he preferred over his previous culture? He immediately shot down that notion saying that where he is from is everything to him, and made him completely who he is today, the values and his back ground experiences molded his personality, making it so easy for him to adapt to a different situation, something I believe is vital in todays societies. Going into this interview process I was nervous that I wasnt going to find any significance in what I find out from this interesting man, that everything he says will make no impact on my life, but I was clearly mistaken. This man has shown me that where we come from can mean everything, and that our cultural back ground shapes us into the human beings that we become. Instead of hearing outrageous, spontaneous answers that I would have never heard before, I heard responses that showed extreme similarities in the lifestyles that our parents showed us, making me realize that aspects of our lives come from where we originate

and what was passed on from family to family. This entire interview process has expanded not only my knowledge of another culture but completely opened my eyes to realize Ive taken for granted everything Ive been fortunate enough to have here in the United States and everything that his culture brings to us, it has enlightened me to think more carefully about how I plan to place culture upon my children and the people I surround myself with for the rest of my life.