Educ 1100 Human Diversity & PEA 299 Intercultural Understanding and Competence: Spring 2004 - Vaxjo University: Kajsa Higgins & Helen Mongan-Rallis

1100 Syllabus|Schedule|Assignments|Resources

Questions to Guide You in Learning About a Person's Culture

[Adapted from E. Lynch & M. Hanson (1998) Developing Cross-Cultural Competence.]


  1. What is your history? What is your home of origin? Why did you/your family settle in _____?
  2. What is your work?
  3. What are some of your family customs and roles of members within your family? What is your role in your family?
  4. How closely do you identify with and affiliate with your culture? How assimilated into the mainstream culture are members of your family and how well is that accepted by the rest of the family?
  5. What are the gender roles in your culture? And in you family?
  6. What religious or spiritual beliefs are influential in your culture and for your family?
  7. What are your family beliefs about around child rearing and discipline?
  8. What would be the characteristics and practices of people who are considered to be excellent parents in your culture?
  9. What are the power structure in your family? Is age a factor in who has power? How are decisions made at the family and community level?
  10. Who holds positions of formal power in your culture? Who are the most powerful informal leaders in your community? Who held positions of power in the past?
  11. What is your concept of health? What are customary health practices and beliefs? Who is responsible for and influences health care? Do you use home or folk remedies, a healer, shaman or some other traditional or spiritual healer?
  12. What is your concept of time? Is this the same as others in your culture?
  13. What is your concept of personal space? What is considered appropriate touch between people of various relationships? (Consider how people greet each other when they are first introduced, when they greet friends, when they greet relatives)
  14. How can you communicate effectively in your culture? Consider the meaning of tone of voice, gestures, eye-contact, overall body language, terminology used to describe health, face-saving behaviors.
  15. Identify and verify customs, beliefs, and practices that might be misinterpreted by established institutions within your community e.g. schools, law enforcement, social services, health care providers (this includes such beliefs around certain body parts such as the head, male and female circumcision, cutting or puncturing the skin, transfusions, autopsies)

1100 Syllabus|Schedule|Assignments|Resources