The Kingsley Association

Different Than Me Workshop Series: A Talk on Culture (Recap)


Over 20 people gathered at the Kingsley Association in the evening of Wednesday April 16 for the first of the “Different Than Me Workshop Series” for a talk on culture. The purpose of this gathering was to facilitate interactions amongst people of different cultural backgrounds. We started out by defining what ideas or feelings the word “culture” evoked in us. Many different aspects such food, music, art, religion helped define what culture was, but we all tended to agree that culture was how we are raised in a community and how we experience the world around us. Up to a point the group seemed to express the positive aspects of culture, but then the darker side of culture started to emerge. Words such as separation, isolation, expectations, and conformity were used. Cultures can have such a strong influence on us that it can dictate what is expected of us thereby limiting our choices and experiences. Furthermore, culture can cause division between groups or individuals because we hold our ideals dear to us. So how can we hold on to the good parts of our individual cultures, as well as learning to co-exist and appreciate other cultures? We all need to be willing to step outside our comfort zone and experience new ideas and things. We need to be open to hearing about other people’s experiences and be willing to share ours. We each need to take responsibility for what happens in our community and be willing to dispel the stereotypes. None of these are easy solutions. They all require a conscious decision to be open. Being vulnerable with others will require a great effort from each person, but ultimately it will be the only way we are able to live in a peaceful world.

Author: Polly Mattila

Polly has a PhD in cellular immunology from the University of Minnesota. She is also currently a Research Instructor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Medicine, in the Renal Division.

In Her Own Words…

Last fall my family and I joined the Kingsley Association because of the Yoga classes and our girls like to swim. I guess I would say that Ms. Felicia’s passion about bringing people of all colors, ages, and backgrounds together was extremely refreshing. I felt so comfortable with her that little by little we started talking longer and longer after class about all sorts of topics. Then one day she told me about wanting to do a workshop that would cover a variety of topics that make us different. Next thing you know Ms. Felicia and Tiffany solidified some ideas and I was invited to help. I personally feel that I want to be more involved in our community and that I want to part of making the community more connected. I hate injustice and I think our attitude as a community and nation needs to change to one that values all people.

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