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When thinking about the different artifacts that represent my cultural background, I think about my past, present, and

future. Certain objects remind me of my childhood, while others represent life in college, and also demonstrate my future in education. They all form a general collection of what I see in myself as a person. It is important to reflect on myself as a cultural being in order to better understand the diverse backgrounds of the students in my future classrooms and how my perspectives may differ from theirs. When I think of my childhood, I think of my bunny blanket. When I was first born, my mother made me a blanket using a little brown bunny pattern. I always brought the blanket with me around the houseduring reading time, while watching movies, or coloring on the floor. It came with me to my first sleepover and accompanied me with every nap that I ever took before the age of eight. This blanket is a part of my culture because it represents the close ties between my mother and myself. y mother!s dedication to make me a blanket "instead of buying one#

symboli$es our close relationship and demonstrates how much love she showed towards me as a young child. The fact that I hold the blanket in high regard, even as an adult, demonstrates the importance of family and love in my cultural values. The first time that I went on a trip without my immediate family and outside of the %nited &tates was when I went to 'aris, (rance and )erlin, *ermany with a trip for my high school during sophomore year. I was ama$ed at how radically different the cultures of (rance and *ermany were when compared to my own. I never reali$ed the difficulties of ordering food in a foreign language, finding a free public bathroom, using foreign transportation, interacting with large amounts of homeless people, avoiding gypsies, or even dealing with foreign police. It was one of the most ama$ing e+periences of my life because of both the difficult and e+citing incidents that I had with my group of friends.

y little model of the ,iffel Tower that I bought from a street vendor reminds me of how young and impressionable I was in such a large and sometimes frightening city. The trip showed me how ignorant I was towards the way other people lived outside of the %nited &tates. It also made me more aware of %nited &tates culture. It was interesting to learn that almost nothing is open on &undays in ,urope, the views on -mericans in foreign nations are mostly negative, and the different definitions of .adulthood/ in these countries. I think that being a foreigner was a good e+perience for me to have during this time period because it helped me to get a broader perspective of the world and people who are different from myself. This was a turning point for my understanding of different cultural values because it was the first time that I was introduced to a culture that was radically different from my own. 0n my seventeenth birthday, my parents gave me a beautiful opal ring. The ring has a round stone, with small gems around the outside and a gold band. I love the gift, which represents my birthstone, and wear it every day. I believe that the gift symboli$es my growth into adulthood. It was the first and most e+pensive piece of jewelry that I have ever received, and I think it demonstrates the trust that my parents saw in me when I turned seventeen. While I think that the ring shows my parents! love for me and clearly demonstrates their appreciation of me on my 12th birthday, I feel that the ring also symboli$es some consumerism traits in my family, where e+pensive gifts have often been considered .more special./ In -merican culture, love is commonly shown through an e+pensive present, and I notice myself considering this trend more and more as I grow older. I think that it is neither good, nor bad 3 but simply a representation of the culture that we live in. I have a photo of my three roommates and myself that hangs in my room. This photo is a part of my culture because I have spent more time with these three people in the last two years

than anyone else. I value this photograph because it represents the friendships that I have made and developed throughout my years as a college student. I think that these relationships were influential in my growth as an adult because they helped me to accept differences between the way people live and develop patience for things that are out of my control. This is an important part of my culture because I have learned to live with people outside of my immediate family, which has pushed me into another stage of adulthood and changed my way of living. y

roommates have contributed so much to this stage in my life through their friendships and camaraderie, and I wouldn!t be the person that I am today without them. I received a *olden -pple pin at my initiation ceremony after my sophomore year of college. The pin represents my dedication to teaching, children, and the continual pursuit of knowledge. The *olden -pple scholarship program is an important part of my culture. 4ot only am I completely dedicated to becoming the best teacher that I can be, but the program also represents my respect for cultural diversity, the ability to collaborate, and the desire to always be improving. -fter ten weeks of dedication to this program during my summers, and countless other hours throughout school years, the *olden -pple program has positively influenced my teaching style and radically changed the way that I see the field of education. The pin helps to remind me of my ultimate goals in teaching and why I am willing to dedicate so much of my time to this future career. I shared my small model of the ,iffel Tower with case study student. I talked to her about where I went in ,urope and all the things that I learned about ,uropean culture while I was there. &he was interested in my stories because she has never been out of the country and did not know how different society was in other places. I also shared my *olden -pple pin and e+plained to her what the scholarship was for, why I was selected, and how it has impacted my development

of becoming a teacher. I asked her to bring in a few items that she felt represented her interests and culture, similar to the ones that I had selected to share with her. I sat down with her the ne+t day and she shared with me her artifacts. We discussed why she brought in these items and what they meant to her as part of her culture. 5er first object was her viola. &he e+plained that a viola is a lot like a violin, but the pitch is lower and that it makes a deeper sound. &he has been playing the viola in the school band since fourth grade. &he told me that she has to practice every day, both inside and outside of school, but that she likes playing because it gives her something to do other than homework. 4o one in her immediate family plays an instrument, but her cousin plays the violin and they sometimes practice together. 5er cousin has been playing for a longer period of time than her and often helps her when she is struggling with learning something new. &imply by looking at this student and seeing her interactions with her classmates, I would have never e+pected that she played a musical instrument. &he is not an above6average student, shows little motivation in most classes, and yet she has a talent and interest in playing the viola. )y talking with this student, I learned that she has deeper and more meaningful purpose at school than just sociali$ing with her friends. )y learning this about her, I reali$ed that these seventh grade students are not all that they appear to be and that as their teacher, I need to look deeper in order to find what really motivates and interests them. &ince this student really struggles in reading, I thought about ways that I could include her interest in music to help her relate more to reading assignments. I learned even more about the student from the second artifact that she had brought in to share with me. &he shared Out of My Mind by &haron 7raper as her favorite book. I had read the book for one of my classes in college and was pleasantly surprised by her selection. The book is

about a high school student who cannot walk or talk, but is smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom. The student told me that the book is very sad because the main character!s classmates dismiss her as mentally challenged because it is difficult for her to show them what she knows. The student likes this book because she has a childhood friend who also has a mental disability. &he is still friends with this girl and often sees her outside of school for sleepovers, mall outings, and to go see movies. &he feels bad for her friend because she was held back a grade due to her disability. &he loves this book because it helps her to relate to her friend and understand her condition. I had no idea that this student had a friend with a disability or that she was interested in reading about characters with disabilities. -s her teacher, I think that this information is especially important because it tells a lot about her character as a friend, something that relates to her own e+periences, and a possible future career interest of hers. I reali$ed that I should introduce her to more books with characters similar to the one in &haron 7raper!s book and talk to her about attending an event at her school where students with and without disabilities meet, play games and interact with one another. )y talking with this student and listening to the reasons why she brought in certain artifacts, I think that I would like to conduct an interest survey at the beginning of the school year so that I can get to know students better and try to focus assignments more towards their individual interests, rather than having a standard project for all students. I!ve reali$ed that this information can vastly affect student interest and success in school.