Tristan Biesinger

Project # 1

COMM 2150-042

OVERVIEW

For my cultural function, I chose to visit a Mexican/Latin dancing club located in Sugarhouse. I

wanted to learn more about the Latin/Mexican people and their culture. I know many people who

lived in Mexico for an extended period of time, and they always talked about what a great group

of people Latinos are. The Latin dancing club I went to, along with the attendees, offered a very

warm and inviting feeling to me and others that were not familiar with the culture there. My

experience there gave me a hands-on look at some of the materials that have been reviewed in

this course. In particular, it illustrated well Hofstede’s Cultural Environment Theory specifically

the cultural relations with Power Distance and Long-term/Short-term Orientation. I learned so

many other things, not only from attending this cultural function, but also experiencing

something new altogether.

CULTURE

I chose the Mexican/Latin culture for two reasons. My very close friend has just recently

returned from an LDS mission that he had served for two years in the city of Puebla, Mexico. He

has told me many stories and experiences that he had with the Mexican people and speaks very

fondly of the times he had and the people of Mexico. In addition, there has been a lot of talk

about immigration lately in the political spectrum. There are many Latin people in the United

States today but I did not have much of a chance to really experience the culture first-hand, so I

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wanted to know more about the Latin people and what they were all about. I must admit, it was a

little intimidating going in to this club only because I was in the minority. There were only three

other European Americans in the club with my friend and myself. Because we stood out due to

physical traits in this large group of people many people could easily tell we were not familiar

with this setting or culture. I was delightfully surprised at how warm and welcoming the crowd

was to my friend and myself. Many people wanted to talk to and joke with us and we both

received many offers from others to teach us the basics of traditional dancing. My experience at

this Latin dance club demonstrated how the Latin/Mexican people enjoyed having a fun time and

being very friendly to others.

VALUE THEORY

The value theory I that I felt was most applicable to my cultural function out of the ones that

were listed was Hofstede’s Cultural Environment Theory. “Hofstede and colleagues examined

values differences among national societies. Hofstede identified five areas of common problems.

One problem type. Indivisibles versus collectivism, papered in the Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck

framework. Although the problems were shared by different cultural groups, solutions varied

from culture to culture. Problem types are identified as follows:

 Power distance: social inequality including the relationship with authority
 Femininity versus masculinity, controlling aggression, and experiencing emotions
 Ways of dealing with uncertainty, controlling aggression, and expressing emotions
 Long-term versus short-term orientation to life “

(Martin & Nakayama, 2012, pp. 107-111)

ANALYSIS

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Out of the four problem types listed above, only two really pertained to my experience at the

club. “Femininity versus Masculinity” and “Long-term/Short-term Orientation”

For the Femininity versus Masculinity, I observed more of a masculinity dominance in my

cultural visit. I noticed that the men were often the ones approaching the women to dance or buy

them a cocktail. The men there also acted very confident and, in observing interactions between

men and women, it was clear that the men were the initiators of the conversations. This does not

mean the women had no interest in the men there, but rather that the cultural norm was for the

men to approach the women and ‘take charge’ so to speak.

For the “Long-term/Short-term Orientation, I felt that the setting was more Short-term

Orientation. One thing that I felt was interesting about the cultural function was that although,

my experience was quite the opposite of going to a church meeting, there were still a lot of

religious items there. Many of the people there were wearing religious symbols that were

significant to Christianity, mainly Catholicism. I also noticed candles burning on the wall with

figures on them which I interpreted to be saints, although I am not certain. The main religion in

Mexico is Catholicism which is a religion that is described by the book to have “universal

guidelines for good and evil” (Martin & Nakayama, 2012, pp. 108)

REFLECTION

Before going to the club my feelings were optimism. I was intrigued with the idea of getting out

of my comfort zone and experiencing something very new for me. It was not until we were inline

waiting to have our IDs examined and pay the entrance fee that I started realizing how out of my

element I felt. I heard many people speaking Spanish which is a language I speak on a beginning

to intermediate level at best. Though I was a little intimidated, I learned how friendly and

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inviting this culture was. I learned many other things like how to dance and the values of those

around me. I was also a great reminder that it is always important to be inviting and friendly with

other individuals who may be in a new or unfamiliar setting that I may be very familiar with

including people that have moved from another country or state, a new hire at work, etc. I feel it

is an important lesson for all of us to not judge others no matter how different they or their

traditions, viewpoints, etc. appear to us.

REFERENCES

Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2013). Intercultural Communication in Contexts, Sixth
Edition, New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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