Individualism as an American Cultural Value: Summary
In the short essay ‘The Young, the Rich, and the Famous: Individualism as an American Cultural Value’ by Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel compares her experiences in America with that of her Thai culture. She talks about many differences that the American’s and Thai’s have, such as the way they eat, their family life, and even the way they greet one another. The biggest differences she notices about Americans and Thais is that Americans tend to be much more independent in everything they do. Sponsel notices that from birth Americans are taught to be independent. For example, when American children are born they are given their own private room. This is to help the child grow up comfortably with the idea of independences and privacy. In Thailand a newborn baby stays in the parent’s room for the first few years of his or her life. Then, the child shares a bedroom with a sibling of the same gender. Thai children are taught from birth to not have as much privacy and to have a very close bond with all members of the family. Sponsel believes that the individualism that American’s value so much has both advantages and disadvantages.
Although I do not know much about the Thai culture, I do agree that most American children are taught to be independent from a very young age. I grew up with three older brothers, and while most people might think that would make me the spoiled baby, that was not exactly the case. My family always loved me and made sure I was never in any serious danger. However, when it came to pushing me around and toughening me up, they were not afraid to teach me how to fight for myself. The sentence I remember hearing so much as a child was, “It’s good for you.” My brothers would say this anytime I got a bruise from wrestling around with them or whenever they made me work harder for something I wanted. To some people my brothers might have seemed too aggressive or tough on me, but...
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