Carrying out an interview may be a challenging task especially if it involves an encounter with an individual from a different culture.
The different cultures will influence the kind of communication and the approach that is to be used by the interviewer. However, regardless of the culture, the interview process should be carried out with a lot of confidence. The interviewer should approach the respondent in a mature manner and create some rapport before administering the questions. A brief introduction that includes the interviewer’s identity should be performed to enable the respondent build confidence in the process to be carried out. There is a need for the respondent to be told the purpose of the interview (Banting, 46) and be assured that the information that is to be obtained shall be secured and not used for any other purpose.
The interviewer should have developed a set of questions in form of a questionnaire that is to be used to gather information from the respondents. These questions need to be clearly designed so that they do not give the respondent a hard time in providing an answer. While administering the questions, the interviewer should be focused and stick to the order in which the questions are arranged. The respondent may overlap and provide an answer to a question that is to be asked later. This question should be asked a fresh when the right time comes. Besides, during the design of the questionnaires and in the interview process, the interviewer should not ask leading questions that might influence the response towards some direction. In stead, the interviewer needs to be objective and stick to the answers as provided by the respondent (Banting, 46).
The interview was performed by a Chinese on an African living in the Diaspora.
Interviewer: Can you please tell me something about your childhood and how you grew up? What were your parent’s attitudes about people who are African? Respondent: I was brought up in a family that had my father, mother, grandmother, two brothers, a sister, and two cousins. My grandmother and mother were always at home to provide the necessary guidance and counseling and taught as our native language and culture. Our parents loved both Africans and non-Africans and taught us to adopt the same. They taught us principles of hard work and condemned illegal acquisition of property through theft or any unjustifiable means. Interviewer: What do you think are some stereotypes and mistaken popular images of people who are African? Please explain. Respondent: Africans are wrongly associated with superstitions, laziness, and ignorance and taken to be primitive.
Various shows have been developed that portray Africans as having these features. Interviewer: How has being a person who is African affected your self-perception or identity? Respondent: I take pride in being African as it defines my identity. Interviewer: Do you know of anyone who had negative experiences because of being a person who is African? Please describe what happened. Respondent: Yes, my uncle was a victim. He died due to the poor working conditions at the gold mines. The Africans were subjected to tedious less mechanized mining methods as opposed to the Whites. Interviewer: Have you ever been treated differently for being a person who is African? Please describe what happened and how you felt.
Respondent: Yes, I felt pretty bad. I almost missed college entrance due to factors that I considered racial discrimination as little preference was given to Blacks in this institution. Interviewer: If I see a person, who is being treated with disrespect or unfairly, what should I do? Respondent: report the case to the relevant authority. Interviewer: what do I need to know to help me relate to people who are African? Respondent: Africans take pride in their culture and need respect for this cultural identity. They strongly object racial discrimination. Interviewer: what are some hot-button words that I should be careful with when communicating with a person who is African? Respondent: the words that are linked to discrimination like race, ethnicity and language groups, and those describing stereotypic African like superstitions Interviewer: what are some ways that I can further my understanding and become closer with persons who are African? Respondent: More research on the cultural values and beliefs of African from historical materials and from old individuals with such information. Interviewer: what are your career goals, hopes, and dreams? Respondent: I want to be a medical practitioner and looks forward of changing the lives of the members of our family.
I am influenced by some gynecologist who hails from the society.
Observations from the interview
It was learned that the respondent was brought up in a family that was made up of not only the nuclear family but also other relatives that formed an extended family. The respondent had two brothers and a sister.
The father, who was a casual laborer in some sugarcane plantation, also took the responsibility of bringing up two of his nephews whose parents had died. He was also supporting his old mother who was now unable to earn a living on her own. The mother was mostly at home attending to the domestic chores.
The children were treated indifferently as though they were from one nuclear family and it took years before the respondent and his siblings realized that the other two were actually orphans. The parents had love for the Blacks and Non-Blacks. They encouraged and taught their children against racial discrimination. The children were reared in their Zulu, a South African peculiar language (Grout, 187). Such a culture is common to the Chinese.
The Chinese in the country and those in the Diaspora are glued to their native language. The black color of the Africans led to poor images developed by other races in the US concerning Africans. Various artists developed shows that portrayed Africans as being superstitious, ignorant, lazy, and uncivilized. The respondent termed this as poor image because he recalls how the parents instilled in them the spirit of hard work through a practical example. Throughout his life, he had never seen his parents visit witchdoctors and neither had he seen one in the neighborhood. It is a concept that could be practiced by everyone not necessarily African.
The respondent expressed the pride that he has in being an African. His parents and grandmother had taught them how the cultivation of their culture could help uphold their identity and this is what he practiced. Similar pride in culture is also evident among the Chinese. It was learned from the respondent that there were those who had been humiliated due to their origin.
The respondent revealed that his uncle and other workers had died due to the poor working conditions that they were subjected to while working in some gold mines. The Blacks were often taken to the deep mines whose roofs often collapsed burying them alive. The White workers in the mines had some expertise and used a mechanized open cast system that had little health challenges. The respondent noted that, despite the legal provisions that have been put, such discriminations were still common and had been faced with problem in college entrance. The respondent suggested that if one comes across another person being mistreated, he should notify the authority.
The fight against this kind of discriminations should be a collective responsibility of the pubic and the authority. Accepting the cultural diversity was suggested as the best approach towards relating to Africans. There is need to respect the African culture and respect their identity. Avoiding racial or ethnic discrimination is essential to relating to Africans.
In fact, concepts like race, ethnicity, and language group raise the Africans’ emotions. The other terms that raise emotions are those linked to the African stereotypes like superstition and laziness. The respondent suggested that obtaining more information regarding the cultural values and beliefs could help in better understanding of the Africans.
These pieces of information could be obtained from available literatures or from some traditional African who is conversant with the practices. The respondent has an aim of becoming a medical practitioner. He has always had passion for helping people with difficulties to restore back their normal physical bodily status. His father has been behind this drive. He hopes to transform the family standards and help his siblings realize their dreams.
There is a gynecologist in the neighborhood that has been his role model. This man hailed from very humble background and managed to pursue this challenging course.
The culture of a community is their way of life including their values and beliefs. It reveals the state of minds of individuals in the society (Jenks, 8). The African culture was revealed in the interview.
The respondent’s family is observed to contain members of the extended family all of whom are treated alike. This shows the family ties that were prevalent among the Africans. This is different from the Chinese culture where one is only concerned with the nuclear family. The Africans have a belief in collective responsibility (Mkabela, 185). This is seen when the respondent’s father takes the responsibility of two orphaned sons of his brother’s. The Africans are portrayed as having pride in the cultural beliefs and practices.
The parents teach their children the Zulu language of South Africa, the home country. It is thus their belief, that even though they are experiencing hardship in the foreign country due to their fore fathers who were taken captives in the region, they have to maintain their language as one time they will move back to their motherland. The western culture is believed to have had a negative impact on the African culture (Lassiter, 4).
The issue of racial discrimination is not only a hot button issue among the Africans in the foreign countries but also among the Africans back in the Black continent (Conway-Smith, para.7). These countries were colonized by foreigners some of whose traces are still visible, South Africa being an example.
The interview provided a good insight on the better ways of relating with individuals from various cultures.
It is important to acknowledge the cultural diversity that exist among different people and respect the different cultural values and beliefs of these individuals.
Banting, Sandra. The Interviewer’s Handbook: Successful Interviewing Techniques for the Workplace. London: Kogan Page Publishers, 2007. Conway-Smith, Eric. South Africa’s new race controversy: What place do mixed race South Africans have in the new non-racial society? March 13, 2011. 20 May 2011. http://eish-serious.
blogspot.com/2011/03/south-africas-new-race-controversy.html. Grout, Lewis. Zulu-land: or, Life among the Zulu-Kafirs of Natal and Zulu-land, South Africa. With map, and illustrations, largely from original photographs. New York: Presbyterian publication committee, 1864 Jenks, Chris. Culture: critical concepts in sociology, Volume 1 London: Routledge, 2002 Lassiter, James E.
“African Culture and Personality: Bad Social Science, Effective Social Activism, or a Call to Reinvent Ethnology?” African Studies Quarterly, 3(3), 2000 20 May 2011. http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v3/v3i3a1.pdf Mkabela, Queeneth.
“Using the Afrocentric Method in Researching Indigenous African Culture.” The Qualitative Report, 10(1), March 2005 178-189. 20 May 2011. http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR10-1/mkabela.pdf