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The building blocks of culture

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Being In the Army, I had the opportunity to experience another type of culture apart from mine. My first deployment took place in Afghanistan, where I had the privilege to encounter the building blocks of their culture. They consisted of different symbols, language, values and norms. Their building blocks did not compare at all with the ones of my daily culture in the United States Army. I had many reactions towards their culture. I felt fear, nervousness, excitement, and some sort of interest towards learning their culture. There are four key elements that make up the national symbols of Afghanistan. The oldest national symbol of Afghanistan is the National Emblem. Moreover, the flag is also a national symbol of Afghanistan. In addition, the shahada, or Islamic creed is a very important symbol since it is all one needs to say to become Muslim and to be Afghan means to be Muslim.

Lastly, the national anthem is very important to them, because it’s their prayer to God, or Allah as they call it. In my daily culture in the Army, we have symbols as well. In comparison to Afghanistan, we have the American national emblem, American and Army flag, American national anthem, and we have the soldier’s creed, which we say every morning. Pashtu and Dari are the official languages of Afghanistan. Pashtu is the national language of the country, however, Dari has always been used for business and government transactions. Approximately half of the Afghan population speaks Pashtu, and the other half speaks Dari. There are also numerous other languages spoken in the country, and bilingualism is very common. Comparing Afghanistan to my daily culture in the Army, the official language is English. There are also numerous other languages spoken by people with different ethnicities that join the Army. In the other hand, the cultural values of Afghanistan give order and promise to an afghan’s life.

The key cultural values of Afghanistan are faith, family unity, service, effort, morals, and honor. In comparison to my daily culture, the cultural values we follow in the United States Army are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, integrity and personal courage. In conclusion, Afghani people also live by norms in their society. For example, cultural norms prohibit the photographing of women in Afghanistan. In comparison to my daily culture in the Army, there are norms stablished as well. For instance, it is prohibited to take advantage of someone when they don’t consent or when they can’t consent, due to the influence of alcohol or any other substance. Lastly, I had many reaction towards the experience of the Afghani culture.

My reactions ranged from feeling fear, nervousness, excitement, and some sort of interest towards learning their culture. I saw it as once in a lifetime experience to be able to spend some time with Afghani people and be able to learn some of their culture as well as them learning some of mine. As far as adapting, I had to alter myself in many ways. For instance, when I had the opportunity to eat at an Afghan’s home, I was told to sit on the floor. Furthermore, I had to learn not sit with my legs outstretched or my feet facing people. This was very awkward at first, but I had to understand that other cultures do things differently.

ARMY.MIL Features. (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2014, from http://www.army.mil/values/ Borade, G. (n.d.). Afghanistan – Culture, Traditions and Customs. Retrieved September 9, 2014, from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/afghanistan-culture-traditions-and-customs.html Countries and Their Cultures (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2014, from http://www.everyculture.com/A-Bo/Afghanistan.html Welcome to Afghanistan Culture! (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2014, from http://www.afghanistan-culture.com/

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