Culture

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We travel to my grandma’s every few months, and I am never ceased to be amazed every time we make a visit. The last trip we made down there, to Herington, KS, was for my cousin’s wedding. Here, in Olathe, we have wedding coordinators and people spend thousands of dollars on the perfect dress, venue, flowers, and etcetera. I could tell that my cousin’s dream wedding did not include any of that. What she wanted was for her family to be there and just enjoy the day. The wedding was in her mom’s back yard, not really any decorations just chairs, not even everybody sat down. There wasn’t necessarily a groom’s side and a bride’s side. The people with babies or the elderly people tended to sit underneath the big tree for shade and everyone else just did what they felt comfortable. The focus for everybody was just to honor the bride and groom on their special day. I am not saying that the main goals for weddings where I live aren’t to have their family there and enjoy the day; their society is just so much less materialistic.

In Herington something that they do go all out on is graduation. We celebrate graduations but it is very traditional for them to celebrate to the extreme and I think that is another great part of their culture. There are usually around thirty people in a graduating class and they are always very close, tightly bound friends that celebrate graduation together. Something else that is very different from where I live is that no matter what time of day or night every street walked down always has people outside in the yard or sitting on their front porch. The community is so friendly and always happy to see each other. I am not even allowed to go on a run after dark and when I see someone else walking behind me, I don’t always feel comfortable. Where I live it would be weird to see a stranger give a friendly wave, not in Herington. When walking in a grocery store in Herington the cashiers act like they have know you for years and are always happy to see everyone. I feel like people in their culture feel more comfortable and safe, where in mine so many people look at others in a negative light.

They do not have a McDonalds, Sonic, or Burger King in their town. They don’t just go and go all day long without ever seeing their family. Every meal is a home cooked meal sat down at the kitchen table and eaten with the family. The average family eats at a set time for every meal, every single day. My grandma is who cooks for all of my family in Herington. It is expected for them to all show up for lunch and dinner. It is a lot of work and it seems like my grandma is always cooking, but she loves it so much. She loves having that time where everyone is eating together and spending quality time together. She says that will always be worth the work no matter how old she gets. I wish that was the norm for our society, it sure would be a lot healthier. There is a fast food place on every corner and they are always busy. I know my family doesn’t eat many meals together because it just seems like grabbing something while out doing things is faster and easier. I really admire what their culture is like for meal times.
We may speak the same language and wear some of the same clothes as someone else, but after experiencing a place like Herington I have learned different beliefs, values, and traditions aren’t just found thousands of miles away. There are different cultures all around us. When people think of cultures different from our own, we often think of foreign countries, places we have never been before, or somewhere with an opposite climate from the place we live. Culture is much more than the physical things, the financial status of a place, whether it’s a farm, or a city. A places culture is based from the people’s behaviors, beliefs, and traditions. What many of us forget is we don’t have to travel the world to experience different cultures. I got my taste of a culture change just three hours away.





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