Culture could be simply be defined as a way of life. It is the general customs, concepts, beliefs, ideas and social behavior of a specific individual or society. “Culture is the way we give logic to the world begins at birth with the gestures, words, tone of voice, noises, colors, smells, and body contact we experience.
. . . Our culture is what is familiar, recognizable, and habitual. It is what goes without saying.” (Ghoshal and Westney, 1993). There are different cultures all around the world; each society’s culture represents its identity and the characteristics of its individuals. Throughout history, there has been clash between different cultures, which involved different types of contact, and interactions between individuals from different backgrounds.
Those interactions have been peaceful at times and violent at others. These interactions are known as cultural encounters, and they are often a result of war, colonialism, tourism or mass migration. Cultural encounters have a great impact on societies and its individuals, often bringing up issues just like the connection between the individual and the specific new society that they become a part of.
They affect a person’s language, behavior and attitude. Different cultures clashing can have multiple negative consequences on the individual such as lack of trust, polarization of viewpoints and general understanding of the environment surrounding them. However, individuals learn to adapt to the specific characteristics of the new culture and they reduce the influence of their cultural background on their behavior. This leads to an increased awareness of individuals’ cultural differences. Societies also adapt to the new groups by including them in the community and making them a part of it, some societies could even go as far as making law exemptions for certain groups to preserve their cultural identity. Cultural encounters could be witnessed in various things in life, most prominently, in past historical events, arts and literature.
This essay will discuss cultural encounters in short stories, specifically in “Bella makes life” by Lorna Goodison, and also “In Cuba, I was a German Shepherd” by Ana Menendez .