Thursday, August 9, 2007

Assimilation versus acculturation

In the news there is a lot of talk about immigrants assimilating into American culture, but few people actually understand the definition of assimilation. A word that better describes the process that is happening now is acculturation. Assimilation is when a person replaces their original home culture with their new culture. It was this form that many early immigrants experienced when they migrated to the United States, but the trend you are seeing with a higher percentage of immigrants is acculturation.

Acculturation is when a person keeps their original home culture but also adapts and accepts the new culture. In effect, this person is bi-cultural. While maintaining original customs, history and values they also add custom’s of their new culture environment. As the United States becomes more diverse this person will actually have an advantage over others that only know and understand one culture. It is very important for a person to adopt and accept their new environment, but this does not have to be at the expense of throwing away their original culture. I have experienced this from living in other countries. I still maintained who I was but at the same time adopted parts of the new culture. This was a tremendous advantage as I could relate and interact with a wider range of people from all cultures and backgrounds.

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