Navigating Cultural Differences

After putting a substantial amount of writing on paper this week, it finally feels like the ball has started rolling for my project. The interviews that I conducted this week and last week are insightful. I’m greatly appreciative of the people I talked to this week, and I hope to do their stories justice. For those of you who are not familiar with my project, I am writing a series of creative nonfiction essays on the experiences of people in end-of-life care. These people range from medical professionals to people who have taken care of loved ones at the end of their lives.

There were a few things from the interviews that that surprised me, the main one being the consistency of the stories that I heard. From the few interviews that I did arose the common theme of taking care of someone at home. Both people were about to have the person at home, partly because the loved one was well enough to keep them at home and not in a hospital or nursing home and partly because of their cultural background. In the countries these people are from, nursing homes aren’t very common. Instead, members of the extended family tend to live together, and grandparents are often taken care of by many people living in the house.

This cultural difference was enlightening, and the conversations about it allowed me to show the cultural variation of end-of-life care that can even be found here in the United States. However, this has made me want to be more cautious about the next people I have interviews with. By the end, I would like to have talked to about six people. I hope that by doing so, there will be a variation of experiences to share. With my interviews, I don’t want to fish for specific information. At the same time, I don’t all of the stories to be too similar. Not everyone who will come across this project will have the means to take care of a loved one at home and may want to hear from someone who was in a situation more similar to theirs. How else can I navigate cultural differences as I write these stories? Are there any other differences or assumptions I should be aware of?

Katrina Soyangco

Katrina is a BCN and writing minor student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She hopes to someday become a physician, although not quite sure what kind yet. She’s not as cool as her older brother but strives to be.

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