Culture is an integral part of human life. Therefore, through culture, individuals refer to themselves as people from a particular group. Through culture, we all get a sense of belonging by guiding our ways of relation and carrying out our daily lives. As a result, culture is defined as the cumulative knowledge and characteristics attained by a group of people, including language, social beliefs, religion, music, arts, and cuisine (Pappas & McKelvie, 2022). Hence, relations and beliefs within one culture could be different because of their origin. Therefore, the likelihood of having numerous differences between Syrian and American cultures is prevalent. The possible differences will be discussed throughout the paper.
Numerous factors and characters are used to define the ways of different cultures across the globe. Such aspects include; communication, relations, dressing, delicacies, marriage, burial ceremony, and life ceremony, among others. Syria and America have integrated numerous cultures because of their diversity (University of Arizona’s CESL, 2023). Also, it is crucial to understand that since people come from different countries, particularly in the U.S., a unified culture or norm could exist that most of them follow, and it does not necessarily mean that is what they practice.
Religion is often the most general aspect that a group identifies with. However, in Syria, religion must set guidelines for how they are governed because Syrians come from different religions, including Islam and Christianity (Dr. Alexandrowicz, 2023). People are free to practice what they wish for and are not controlled despite the country being a Muslim country. On the other hand, in the States, religion does not define an individual. In a gathering, it is an off-topic, rarely discussed, as it is a personal affair (University of Arizona’s CESL, 2023). It is, therefore, clear that religion in American culture does not take center stage.
Men and women alike should be respected in any social congregation. Therefore, establishing the question of equality between men and women. In American culture, for example, men and women are represented with equal opportunities (University of Arizona’s CESL, 2023). However, it has yet to attain its entirety, and it is still a work in progress, with women still demanding similar pay to their male counterparts working in similar positions. Syrian culture, nevertheless, diminishes women in society based on the initial cultural roles assigned in early cultural lives. They do not fully enjoy political rights and decision-making nor participate in society (Dr. Alexandrowicz, 2023). For both cultures, there is still a long way to go regarding equality for men and women.
Communication is also a primary identifier of cultures from which people come. For that reason, in Syrian culture, most of its people communicate indirectly, and it is usually louder (Dr. Alexandrowicz, 2023). On the other hand, Americans believe in talking moderately, and when one is loud, they are angry and considered disrespectful (University of Arizona’s CESL, 2023). For Syrians, however, being loud represents being expressive and not necessarily anger.
Another aspect is touch which can be uncomfortable for most people. However, this also depends on an individual and how they perceive touch. Therefore, in Syrian culture, physical touch is uncommon, especially for men and women who are strangers, and shaking hands suffices. While in an instance where they are friends kissing on the cheek is practiced by both women and men (Dr. Alexandrowicz, 2023). In American culture, touch is also only among friends, and when an individual is meeting a stranger, they can shake hands to avoid showing disrespect (University of Arizona’s CESL, 2023). Moreover, even in situations where people are familiar, touch is still not welcomed as it makes people feel uncomfortable. Thus infringing on their personal space, which can be interpreted as disrespect. For Syrians, that is the opposite as people stand close to each other and clasps hands and hug. Also, in other circumstances, they walk while holding hands, particularly women. Touching on the shoulder, in American culture and most especially for men, could sometimes mean homosexuality; however, for Syrians, it does not mean homosexual behavior (Dr. Alexandrowicz, 2023). Evidently, for Syrians, given that they believe in family and communal values, personal space is not an issue compared to their American counterparts who believe in self-independence and extreme personal space.
A community often entails several families with a similar or closer objective. As a result, for Syrians, family is everything; therefore, family comes before business relations, among others (Dr. Alexandrowicz, 2023). Hence, an individual’s reputation is solely based on family and social status. This means that each household has to behave to their best to safeguard their family title and reputation. However, this is the opposite in Western culture, whereby an individual is not a representative of their family but of their self-independence. They are not the representatives of their families or social class (University of Arizona’s CESL, 2023). As a result, each individual in the U.S. strives for personal success and therefore focuses on bettering themselves first before their family members. Therefore, in the American culture, self-reliance is dominant; through that, they each enjoy their own accomplishments (Boston University, n.d). The American culture allows an individual to identify as a single entity before identifying with their family or group (University of California San Francisco). This, however, may only be the case for some Americans, but the majority consider individualism.
As discussed, family is essential, as are children, especially in the Syrian culture (U.S. Library of Congress, n.d). Therefore, children are raised to respect their elders, and in other cases, even strangers can say hello to your child by kissing them on the cheek. Furthermore, they are valued and considered a generational wealth. Furthermore, they are considered as a community’s responsibility. In America, nevertheless, children are solely their parents’ responsibility. As a result, most Americans shy from having many children because they pause financial burden to their parents (University of Arizona’s CESL, 2023). Furthermore, in American culture, only the parent has the right to punish their child in case of misbehaving.
In conclusion, culture is a guiding factor in our relations with others. Also, allowing different individuals to extend grace after getting acquainted with different cultures. Clearly, from the above distinctions, both cultures are superior in their way as they lead to co-existence between parties in an environment. It is, therefore, important for individuals to be equipped on what is acceptable or not acceptable to ensure no lines are crossed in cases of intermingling.
Boston University (n.d). Values in American Culture. https://www.bu.edu/isso/files/pdf/AmericanValues.pdf
Dr. Alexandrowicz’s (2023). Syrian: ESL and Cultures Resources. University of San Diego. https://sites.sandiego.edu/esl/syrian/
Pappas, S. &McKelvie, C. (2022, October 17). What is Culture? LiveScience. https://www.livescience.com/21478-what-is-culture-definition-of-culture.html
U.S. Library of Congress (n.d). The Family. https://countrystudies.us/syria/29.htm
University of Arizona’s CESL (2023).American Culture: The Basics. https://www.mvcc.edu/international/pdf/american-culture-guide.pdf
University of California San Francisco (2023). U.S. Culture. https://isso.ucsf.edu/us-culture