A group of participants discuss culture with a couple from Syria who volunteered to attend the event as a cultural representative. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Put yourself into another’s shoes

Cultural Workshop held prior to first refugee family arriving in Sylvan Lake

Just about six weeks before the first refugee family is expected to arrive, around 55 Sylvan Lake residents took part in a cultural workshop.

The workshop brought together a number of curious members of the community with refugees from Syria and the Middle East living in nearby communities to talk and find out more about each other.

Sadia Khan, public awareness coordinator with Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E) who partnered with the Sylvan Lake Refugee Project for the workshop, said the best way to find out more is to ask questions.

“Don’t be afraid. If you don’t know it is best to ask a question in a respectful way,” Khan said. “No one will take offence to being asked a question.”

The workshop, which was held at the Gospel Chapel on Jan. 21, delved into what culture is and how and where one can find out more about a culture that is different from your own.

The presenters at the workshop used the metaphor of an iceberg when discussing culture. There is a small portion of culture that can be seen, like clothing, food or accents while below the surface there is much more.

According to Khan, the pieces of culture that are found below the surface, the “deep culture”, is where you will find similarities across almost every culture.

“You will be surprised about how much different cultures have in common,” Khan said. “It isn’t all about what you can see, there is so much more to culture than seeing or hearing.”

For instance, Khan says respect is a key piece to culture that can be found across the board. The issue is how it is observed in each culture.

For some, like in Canadian culture, looking people in the eye while speaking is a sign of respect, while in other cultures it is a sign of respect to not look people, especially authority figures, in the eye while speaking.

Doing research about other cultures, like those of the four families coming to Sylvan Lake who are Syrian and Kurdish, can help from assuming about cultures, which Khan says is where problems start.

“When we assume about other people and their cultures we are not helping anyone at all,” she said.

Khan does caution that research online is only a starting point when learning about another culture.

The best method is to ask someone from that culture about what has been discovered online as “you can’t trust everything you see on the internet.”

Khan also warned that it is not fair or possible to expect a family from another culture to immediately become fully a part of Canadian culture, as it takes time to learn about that which is unfamiliar.

“It will take time and it won’t be weeks or months, it may not even be a couple years before they learn the intricacies of this culture. But they want to learn and they will just be patient,” said Khan adding it will help them adjust as you learn about their culture.

According to June Rivers, a member of the Sylvan Lake Refugee Project, the first family is expected to arrive in about six weeks.

This family, has five boys ranging is ages between about five and 22, along with the two parents. The family has respectfully asked to to be pictured in the paper at this time.

With the family’s arrival coming closer, the Sylvan Lake Refugee Project is looking for donations of electronics so the family may utilize translations from Arabic to English for better communication.

“The purpose is for them and us to be able to communicate, which is key,” Rivers said in an email.

The project is also taking names for anyone interested in volunteering in some way. Those interested in providing their name are asked to contact Kathy Inglis at 403-396-5811.



megan.roth@sylvanlakenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

A participant in the cultural workshop held at the Gospel Chapel, looks over a few of the examples the groups had come up with regarding culture on Jan. 21. Each table was tasked with finding ways culture could be seen, what was subjective culture and if there is a right or wrong way of doing something. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Just Posted

Military Vehicle Display and Swap Meet will bring over 40 military vehicle displays

People from across Alberta will head to Red Deer for 2nd annual event

Beach Buddy Program brings reading lakeside

Beach Buddy Program is run through the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library during the summer months

Sylvan Lake swimmer heading to Pan Pacific Championships

Elizabeth Moore will be competing at the games in Fiji Aug. 23-26.

Eckville Elementary teacher advocates positive mental health for young children

Jaleesa Grzech has written a series of books to help children deal with anxiety and stress

Harvest safety reminders from Lacombe County

Lacombe County reminds producers, residents and visitors to be safe during fall harvest operations.

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

Ponoka’s Ronnie Racing wins Hot August Night

About 15,000 people filled the Castrol Raceway stands at the motorsports complex

Vintage vehicle subject of RCMP search

Two Hills RCMP seek to identify owner of recovered 1940’s vehicle

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Publication ban lifted on details about Fredericton shooting that killed 4

Judge lifts publication ban on court documents related to the Fredericton shooting

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Most Read