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Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER

Cultural Immersion Plunger


Nasra Mirreh
Georgia State University

Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


Karen Community
Prior to the Activity
Culture is the beliefs, traditions, arts, customs, and morals including
religion by a group of individuals within a particular society (Rogers, 2013).
As a cultural plunge experience and an opportunity for exposure to a group
that is different in culture; I have chosen the Karen community in Clarkston,
GA (pronounced Kah- Ren). To gain insights into circumstances and
characteristics of the focal community, a friend and a classmate Moo
Hser(SW3300) from the community was gracious enough to take me to her
Church/ community center. The Church/community center is located at 3895
Church St, Clarkston, GA. We met on Sunday, October 16 at 12 pm- 3 pm.
Daniel Falcone By Daniel Falcone January 18, 2016
Why You Choose to Study this Group and Your Cultural Immersion
Experience
Since Animism(belief that everything is spiritual in nature) is not an
organized religion and does not have a specific location to practice such as a
Church, a Mosque, a Synagogue, religious doctrine or instructions; I was
skeptical of this particular groups religious practice. As a young Muslim and
raised in monotheistic religious belief system; I was introduced to condemn
those who are not practicing Christianity, Islam or Judaism. In Islam to
believe in supernatural power is one of the ways to go to Hell, so I was
scared which Islam calls it ( Shaytaan belief system.
Before this cultural immersion experience, I had no exposure or interaction
with the Karen community. However, I once watched on the CNN by (Daniel
Falco, January 18, 2016) Myanmar and the Karen conflict; the longest civil
war you have never heard of which I found it an informative program. The
media currently impact my viewpoint of this group which is the media is not
reporting enough of their struggles of racial, ethnic and religious
oppressions.
Brief Summary of an Area of Interest about this Group
Religion
The Karen people are a Burmese ethnic group in Southeast Asia, they
have a distinct language and culture, and according to Moo, the Karen
people are very diverse. Within different ethnic subgroups, there are many
different languages and cultures. The central religious practices are Buddhist
and Animism; so to understand groups identity and interconnection, we
discussed culture including language, values, social rules, hierarchies, and
belief system

Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


As a political refugee myself, I am sympathetic to the Karen community
and share the experience of not being able to speak English and trying to
feel safe and secure here in the United States. Through, my cultural
immersion experience and gaining some insightful information from the
Karen community, it would be easy for me to work with someone from this
community. For example, its very common to smile a lot not losing your
temper and take your shoes off before going inside a Karen home.
As an upcoming social worker, its important to develop an inclusive
worldview and cultural competency, which is one of the reasons that I chose
to study this group as my cultural immersion experience. To develop
multicultural perspective will help me face the challenges of becoming a
competent social worker also; the Karen community is culturally,
linguistically and racially far different than my cultural identity.

After the Activity


This cultural immersion experience affected me personally, mentally and
spiritually. Because I was imparted to be respectful and open-minded, I
thought that attending a meeting where I would be surrounded by Karen
people where some of them were baptizing that day; would make me feel
uncomfortable. Because I was born in a place where everyone is Muslim, it is
an off-limits to ask another person about religious things which you believe
might be wrong. A lady was standing at the podium addressing the
community. Crying and talking at some time, Moo explained that she is
moving to another state and saying goodbyes to the community; I felt a
personal connection with her Words cannot even describe what it is like to
connect with someone you cant even properly communicate with.
This experience has changed my previous view of being Animists, and I
find the Karen people to be hospitable, friendly and have a sense of
community and community engagement strategies. For example, a man
invited community collectively to his daughters wedding; here in the U.S.,
we send invites individually.
The Karen people of Burma have been fighting a sixty-year civil war
against the Burmese military regime for autonomy and cultural rights, and
many of them are in refugee camps in Thailand. According to the Office of
Refugee Resettlement (ORR)-Administration for Children and Families, more
than 7, 000 refugees are resettled in Georgia since 2005, including Moo and
her family. Karen community has many social issues, including high
unemployment, language, economic and cultural barriers. Stereotypes
include mostly came from rural areas, and all are short and small people.
In many ways, this experience impacts my future career objectives as a
social worker, and I would say my desire to help others in need is my

Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


motivation to enter the social work profession. As a former refugee, I identify
with Karen community and understand their social needs. I hope my efforts
will make a lasting impact in the community and create positive outcomes.

Continued Culture
Karen are strong, resilient people who have survived life in war zones
and refugee camps. To increase my cultural competency and recognition of
previous misconceptions about this group, I will be involved in their
community activities in Clarkston, where I would like to apply my social work
practices.

Cambodia
As a cultural plunge experience and an opportunity for exposure to a
group that is different in culture; I have chosen the Cambodian community in
Clarkston, GA (pronounced Caambodia). To gain insights into circumstances
and characteristics of the focal community, I went to talk to the elders of the
local Temple Truc Lam located on 860 N .Indian Creek, Clarkston GA. I visited
the Truc Lam Temple On Saturday, October 8th, 2016.
Prior to the Activity
I have worked as a domestic violence case manager for refugee serving
agency. I provided advocacy services and support to survivors of domestic
violence, stalking, and sexual assault or abuse, and their children, including
sex trafficking victims. Many trafficking victims were from Cambodia; my
perception was that Cambodian community is hostile to women. Although,
Cambodians are very dark skin people, they did not identify as blacks,
because of the injustices being inflicted on black members of their country.
Through work experience and as an adult, I have formed my current
viewpoint of the Cambodian community; and have not had any exposure to
this community prior to the experience on community setting.
The only portrayal that I see in the media is the movie the Killing Fields
(Warner Brothers, 1984). The movie left me with the impression that
genocide took place in Cambodia, many dead in the hands of American
military and the media has forgotten about reporting the Cambodian
genocide. . However, I am sympathetic and identified with them, over last
two decades Somalia, my country of origin struggles with clan warfare and
political radicalism; many dead including my brother.

Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


To work with someone from a different culture, it requires building
relationships based on understanding, trust, common interests and goals.
The high priest of Truc Lam Temple said Cambodian cultural status is
obtained with age and education than wealth, unlike the Western cultures.
He also mentioned that the word Thua (meaning please) is added as title to
show a respect to elders and educators. Both our cultures domestic violence
is considered to be private family matter and discussing with outside of the
family will bring embarrassment and shame to the entire family, not just a
given individual. It will be easy for me work with someone from this
community.

Why You Choose to Study this Group and Your Cultural Immersion
Experience
I reside city of Clarkston, GA and the city is known for its ethnic
diversity; the local high school have students from 61 countries (Census,
2010). However, I have not noticed that there are a good number of
Cambodian refugees in Clarkston. Its a community that no one notices in the
refugee community and I want to find out their cultural values.

Brief Summary of an Area of Interest about this Group


Culture
Cambodia is a Southeast Asian country and the official religion
is Theravada Buddhism, practiced by most of Cambodians and the official
language is Khmer. I was explained by the high priest of Temple Truc Lam
that Theravada Buddhism is more conservative of the two major traditions of
Buddhism Mahayana and Hinayana. He also said actual meaning of
Theravada Buddhism is "Doctrine of the Elders.
After the Activity
The high priest of Temple Truc Lam renounced his worldly possessions,
including family and friends. It was uplifting mentally, spiritually and what
an incredible human being to be met as a person. The traditional daily rituals
of Theravada Buddhism include chanting and meditation and asking God to
forgive/bless others; I stereotyped them as lazy people. As a practicing
Muslim Sheikh cannot forgive sins, bless people, so naturally, I was skeptical.
This experience has changed my previous viewpoint stereotypes and enables
me to realize my cultural-religious egocentric beliefs. The current pressing

Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


issue is that there are no culturally, linguistically appropriate programs in the
community to serve them, particularly, for elderly.
In many ways, this experience impacts my future career objectives as a
social worker, and I would say my desire to help others in need is my
motivation to enter the social work profession. As a former refugee, I identify
with Cambodian community and understand their social needs. I hope my
efforts will make a lasting impact in the community and create positive
outcomes.
Continued Cultural Work
Growing up in a traditional Somali family with full siblings or from the
same mother and half sibling from another mother, we have been thought to
be fair to all and help someone no matter how you felt about them.
According to the NASWD the primary mission of the social work profession is
to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all
people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of
individuals who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. The reason
that I decided to become a social worker is because I want to improve the
lives of others, particularly refugees. Since there are gaps in services to meet
their needs such as school advocacy; information and referral to local
resources.

Miameen Muqbill
To a group that is different in culture; I have interviewed Muqbill who is
an Iraqi community leader. I met Mrs.Muqbill at her home in Decatur, GA. on
October 8th, 2016. As a cultural plunge experience and an opportunity for
exposure
Prior to the Activity
Prior the interview, I have conducted background research on my
subjects culture, religious beliefs and womens perspective on the war in
Iraq and who are Iraqi people Mainly, they are people who speak Arabic and

Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


reside in the Middle East, the majority are Muslims and have minority
Christians. However, I stereotyped Miameen and assumed that she was not
college educated, and find out that she was practicing midwife prior to
coming to America in 1998.
I formed this perspective of on her education achievement the first time I
met her three years ago. Although, we are both Muslim, Miamian is Shia
Muslim, and I am Sunni Muslim. According to the Quran Shias consider
Muhammad's descendants as the true source of guidance in Islam and
Muslim community acted according to his Sunnah in electing his father-in-law
Abu Bakr as the first caliph. Prior to this cultural immersion experience, I
have not had exposure to this group. The war on terror that the United
States is waging in Iraq, the media views this group as terrorists when they
are victims of terrorism as well.
My interviewee had made an impact on me, showing compassion towards
other racial and religious groups and for that, I am sympathetic to her. She
has told me that she lost her husband and two brothers in the sectarian
violence in Iraq; she forgave those who murder her family. As an upcoming
social worker, this cultural immersion process has affected my prior view of
this group and enables me to put into practice the culturally competent skills
that I learned this semester.
Briefly describe why you choose to study this group and your
cultural immersion experience
Those who manage to maintain his/her culture and tradition always
fascinated me. Despite living in the United States where there is an ethnic,
educational and cultural diversity is prevalent.
Research and provide a brief summary of an area of interest about
this group
Miameen Muqbill is an Iraqi community leader and single mother of 4 kids.
Miameen is a political, social reform and empowers and teaches Iraqi girls
cultural practices, traditions and expectations related to gender.
After the Activity
This cultural immersion experience has affected me. Personally, I realized
I have a lot in common with Muiameen, and I too lost a brother to the clan
warfare that is waging in Somalia for the last twenty-six years. However,
unlike Miameen, Its a challenge for me when it comes to letting go of my
brothers death. This experience changed my previous viewpoint about
Miameen and came to understand that I had an unconscious bias on
Miameens educational background.

Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


As a single mother raising four children, Miameen faces oppression based
on myths, stereotypes, and prejudices all single mother face in the U.S.
Miameen also has language and cultural barriers. Advocating for increasing
knowledge development about culturally competent practice with a diverse
client is an essential to social work practice, and this experience has
reinforced as a future career objective as a social worker.
Continued Cultural Work
Miameen is a political, social reform and empowers and teaches Iraqi
girls cultural practices, traditions and expectations related to gender. To
engage activities in increasing my cultural competency and recognized
previous misconceptions about Miameen; I will support her developmental
leadership skills for Iraq girls program by providing referrals to the local
community resources.

Patel Brothers Place


As a cultural plunge experience and an opportunity for exposure to a
group that is different in culture; I have visited the Patel Brothers plaza at
Decatur, GA on October 3, 2016.
Prior to the Activity
All Indians have the same culture, for example, they all live in huge
extended families with their parents, is my current view and stereotype of
this group. As a youngster in Somalia, Indian movies were popular, and I
used to watch them, and that is when I begin having this point of view from
the Indian people. Prior to this cultural immersion, I had no exposure other
than watching Indian movies.
The portrayals that I see in the media of this group are poverty and
crimes like the film Slumdog Millionnaire unfortunately, not the beautiful
country its rich culture and history. The media impacts my view; India is too
big a country, and it has more diversity than any other country in languages,
religious beliefs, and cultural practices. I am always sympathetic to Indian
people, and they are hardworking people and business minded people.
As an upcoming social worker, its important to develop an inclusive
worldview and cultural competency, which is one of the reasons that I chose
to study this group as my cultural immersion experience. To develop
multicultural perspective will help me face the challenges of becoming a
competent social worker and also, Indian community is cultural, linguistically
and racially far different than my cultural identity. It will be easy for me to
work with someone from this community.

Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


Why you choose to study this group and your cultural immersion
experience
India is a famous country all over the world for its culture and tradition. It
is the land of various culture and tradition. It is the country of oldest
civilizations in the world.
A brief summary of an area of interest about this group
Culture
The Indian culture often labeled as a merger of several cultures, spans
across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced by a history that is
several millennia old. Many elements of India's diverse cultures, such as
Indian religions, Indian philosophy and Indian cuisine, have had a profound
impact on the world.
After the Activity
This cultural immersion experience affected me personally. I discovered
that I have similar cultural traditions, and use same spices for cooking. For
instance, we use cardamom to spice tea and henna for the beatification of
women. This experienced has reinforced my belief that Indian people are
hardworking and is hierarchical society. For instance, the caste system is
based on the groups karma (work) and dharma the groups religious duty. I
observed that there is discrimination within the community based on upper
and lower casts and always lived in segregated communities. One could
marry only within one's caste. This experience impacts my future career
objective as a social worker and to work with people of different cultures,
taking responsibility for learning about their differences, recognizing the
multiple identities that are essential in understanding people and their
cultural context.
Continued Cultural Work
To engage in increasing my cultural competency and recognized previous
misconceptions about this group as a social worker, I will identify services
delivery systems that are appropriate to the community and to combating
the isms; such as the caste system. ==

References
1. Adams, Bluemenfeld, et al. Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (3rd
Ed) New York, NY: Routledge.
2. Georgia Department of Public Health. Refugee arrivals by country of
origin, FY 2004-2015. WRAPS Database

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Running Head: CULTURAL IMMERSION PLUNGER


3. The Karen community center is located at 3895 Church St, Clarkston,
GA.
4. Lum, D. (2011). Culturally Competent Practice. In D. Lum, Culturally
Competent Practice. Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning
5. Ms. Muqbill at her home in Decatur, GA
6. Patel Brothers plaza at Decatur, GA
7. Temple Truc Lam located on 860 N .Indian Creek, Clarkston GA.