Understanding Our Culture

Exploring our personal cultural background can be both exciting and scary. Pick the questions that speak to you right now. You can return the questions and go deeper at a later time. Watch the video below. Make note of other areas that occur to you as you watched.


  • How would you describe your cultural identity or ethnicity?
  • What was it like growing up in your family? How has that affected your own style of being a family?
  • Have you ever been treated poorly because of your beliefs/ethnicity/race, etc. and what are some of the ways you have been treated poorly?
  • How do you define family?
  • Who holds the most status in your family? Why?
  • Are the roles of men and women specifically defined in your family? If so, what are they? Do you know why?
  • What is considered disrespectful in your family? Respectful?
  • How important is education in your family? Does it differ for different people? Why? How was/is this funded?
  • When there are troubles and needs in your family, what do you do and who do you turn to for help? How does your family interact about issues?
  • What forms of music were important to your family? What about now?
  • What personal activities are seen as public? What activities are seen as private?
  • What are the criteria for individual success? Do you consider your parents to be successful? How do you define success?
  • What are the cultural attitudes toward aging and the elderly?
  • Did you ever live with your grandparents or extended family?
  • Do you speak more than one language? How did you learn it? Does anyone else in your family speak more than one language?

Society and Attitudes

  • What do people do for recreation?
  • How is public space used? For example, do people tend to “hang out” on the street, or are they in public because they are going from one place to the next?
  • How is space used (e.g., how close should two people who are social acquaintances stand next to one another when they are having a conversation?)
  • How important is the individual in the culture? How important is the group?
  • Is change considered positive or negative?
  • What is the role of luck in people’s lives?
  • How important is hierarchy?
  • What is considered humorous?
  • What is the relationship between humans and nature? (e.g., do humans dominate nature? does nature dominate humans? do the two live in harmony?)
  • Are people encouraged to be more action-oriented or to be more contemplative?
  • How do people view obligations toward one another?
  • What is the attitude towards work versus recreation and the arts.

Religion and Spirituality

  • How important is religion in your family?
  • Do you actively participate in organized religion?
  • Do you intend to pass this on to your children if you do/plan to have any?
  • How is divine power viewed in relation to human effort?
  • How do individuals “know” things? (e.g., are people encouraged to question things? are they encouraged to master accepted wisdom?)
  • Do you belong to a group of people that you consider to be different than others where you are from?
  • How is time understood and measured? (e.g., how late can you be to a business appointment before you are considered rude?)
  • How do people greet one another?

Food and Special Occasions

  • Were there celebrations and rituals in your family? How did they originate?
  • What is the most important meal of the day?
  • Do you eat foods that are indigenous to your culture?  Why? Why not?
  • Define and describe the most important or most celebrated holiday of your family? Why?
  • Do you have any eating habits/rituals that are specific to your culture?
  • Are there particular ways to dress that are the norms for regular or special occasions?
  • How would a visitor be welcomed to someone’s home?
  • What are the norms around weddings? births? deaths?