Cultural Events

Documentary: Plastic Paradise

Movie: Gandhi

Restaurant: Bombay House

Restaurant: Spitz

Cultural Event: Polynesian Cultural Center

Starting from the top, everything I seem to do that is out of my comfort zone is because of my wife! She was trying to get me to watch Plastic Paradise forever so I could understand how what we do in America is affecting the rest of the world negatively. There are full islands made of garbage- plastic never goes away. Animals are dying, reefs are dying- it is shocking.


Gandhi was amazing. If you haven’t seen it, go get it for $2 on amazon or apple tv! Seeing the racism there was in South Africa at the time, and Gandhi’s return to India- I had no idea he was a lawyer turned activist who helped change the world. 

My wife has been trying to get me to go to Bombay House for four years- anytime I want curry, I want Thai curry! Bombay House was shockingly good. Garlic nan and tiki masala was amazing.

Sptiz is in Salt Lake.. it was pretty good. Mediterranean. I had lamb cut off the skewer (or what ever) it was called a “doner” I thought it was pretty good I’m a sandwich guy- so wraps with hummus and peppers is up my alley.

I happened to be in Hawaii in February for my buddy’s wedding! My wife booked us tickets to go to the polynesian cultural center, planned what we were going to do.. it was fun. Seeing Hawaiians in their environment, hearing the language, seeing them dance, climb palm trees in 2 seconds, and ending the day with a big presentation was a good time.

Last Blog

One thing has stuck out… it affects my life weekly. 

During the semester we talked a lot about stereotypes and racism- I’m the white guy that always thought “I grew up with a lot of black friends in a racially mixed school- I am the farthest thing from racist.” I’ve caught myself SEVERAL times since we originally talked about this thinking judgmental, racist things. I always think, oh they’re doing that because they are what ever race. Or, they probably wouldn’t qualify, they’re this race. Or, naturally thinking about how I am smarter than someone because of where they were raised or what the look like. I have been shocked several times at what the first thought that pops in my head is.  So now when I have prejudice thoughts, I recognize them and I correct them in my head.

This semester has been a really good learning opportunity for me because It has made me dig deep down and be humble and say, what do you really think about racism and sexism and different cultures. What are your first thoughts? Why are you judgmental? Why do I think one way- like I don’t see color, but If every word I thought came out of my mouth I would be labeled a racist for sure. Doesn’t that, then make me racist? I’m beginning to control my thoughts, that’s step one. Step two is changing my paradigm about certain things by exposing myself to them more. 

I think this realization will help in interacting with other cultures because I will interact out of love without preconceived notions and without negative thoughts and feelings. I want to connect out of pure love as a fellow brother or sister of the human race. We are all the same, just trying to survive day to day living alone or in families in different states, countries and continents. 

Pop Culture

Popular media affects all Americans every day! We can’t get away from it, it is on our phones, our TVs, and our radios. It is on our street corners and is nearly always “on.” Popular media could include A LOT of sources, a  few are:

Social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube and Tumblr. Written media would include, newpapers, magazines and books. On screen media, of course, regular TV (with commercials), Netflix, Amazon and Hulu where you get TV without commercials, and of course, movies in all shapes and sizes. If it isn’t on our small screen or the big screen, it is atleast playing out of our speakers via the radio, Spotify, pandora, etc. 

Now that we’ve got a small list, how do these outlets influence our culture? I think a shorter list would be, where do these outlets not  reach? Who in America do they not affect? My phone, my TV, my Spotify, my apps completely run my life. That’s not to say I don’t have a life, but I wake up to my phone to check my Instagram, I use apps throughout the day to track calories, listen to music or order food, I watch a show or a movie at lest five days a week with my wife, I use a handful of other social media outlets like FB or Youtube a couple of times a week. These outlets have connected the world. There is a whole new world opened up for dating, for Ecommerce, connecting in anyway and so much more. 30 years ago no one knew every thing about your life by watching your Snap or Insta stories. 30 years ago no one dated anyone they hadn’t met face to face. 30 years ago you couldn’t be jealous of that one guy or that one girl for their new car, new dog, new ring, great abs, cute hair, their money, their house, their life, how often they travel, etc. etc. etc. It has shaped our world because it has connected our world. And now that we are connected, it opens up a whole new can of worms for the best and for the worst. I think people have a hard time feeling accomplished, feeling like they have a enough or they are good looking enough because it is so easy to compare- easier than ever. Humans are already naturally jealous creatures, but when you add Instagram to the mix, we’ve got about 1000 more things to compare and to worry about. 

Media has influenced our culture because it is every where. It has changed the way we communicate and the way we live all together. 

Interracial Relationships

Hey guys-

Akza your parents grew up in Mexico and you grew up in Texas. correct?


Derek your parents grew up in the US and you grew up specifically in Colorado?

That’s right. 

thanks for sitting down with me to talk about your interracial relationship!

(I didn’t even ask a question- I just brought up the obvious fact that they are in an interracial relationship and this was what I got)

Akza- do you want to know the most annoying part about marrying a white kid from the US? People have brought up the fact of me getting married for US citizenship…little do the know (of course I told them) that I was born and raised here!!! My friends criticize me for marrying into a white family telling me how different it will be and how hard it will be and have even asked if I did it so my kids will be white or for “money.” I know girls who have done all of the above so…stereotypes can be true, but it is annoying that it comes back on me.  

I also feel like i have to pick a side (for our kids) for family traditions considering doing both will be a little overkill. I’ve seen girls who abandon their Mexican traditions completely and i think it is sad and would never do that. 

Some awesome things are that our kids will be bilingual. They also will have an opportunity to be cultured in a way they wouldn’t have if they grew up in an all Mexican or all American home. I love Mexican culture with our big families, our parties, our closeness and my families selflessness and I want our kids to have the opportunity to incorporate all of this! I also love American culture- being in the land of opportunity and freedom- our kids will  the best of both worlds. 

Derek- I love the fact that we will have beautiful brown babies! I don’t get much crap for marrying a girl from Mexico- a lot of my buddies have married girls with first generation American parents so it wasn’t unfamiliar for me. I went on my mission to southern Texas where I served my LDS mission with Akza’s dad (he was on a senior mission) so that’s how I was introduced to Akza- I worked with the Mexican culture for two years and grew to love it so I love the fact that It’ll be a major part of my life. 

(I asked about negatives or stereotypes)

The only thing is that Akza’s family gets after me for not living in Texas with the family because their whole family all live within a couple mile radius- as they are really family oriented. Cultural differences aren’t the hard part- it’s more the personality types that come along with a feisty Mexican girl- i called him out for stereotyping (because we are good friends) and he laughed and said, “well it’s true.”

There was a lot of stereotyping that this couple goes through. There was talk of privilege.  A little racism, a splash of sexism- a lot more relatable to our discussions than I thought. 

TED Talk Assignment


You’re on the streets of New York…

A Japanese guy turns to you and says – what is the name of this block?

You say, blocks don’t have names, streets have names, blocks are just the unnamed spaces between streets.

You’re on the streets of Tokyo…

You ask, what is the name of this street?

Someone responds with, streets don’t have names, blocks have names. Streets are just the unnamed spaces between blocks.

(Sivers, 2010)

Derek Siver’s TED talk was amazing. It was just under three minutes long but he drove home the point that cultures have differences, and that it is OKAY. The proposed question here is: Is this weird or is this just different? If you are culturally competent you would say this is just different. Different suggests you can accept this other point of view as valid, just different. “Weird” would suggest someone’s ignorance to diversity. From my experience in school from k-12 and all during my journey in receiving my bachelor’s, the first intercultural class I ever took was…this one. I started elementary school in 1993, and the first exposure I’ve gotten to formal cultural competence training has been in the spring semester of 2017. There is a problem with that. How are we supposed to be contributing members in a society that is becoming more diverse every day if it has never been apart of our curriculum in the public school system?

So to enable the new generations to be fluent in “different” also known as, international/cultural competence, I’ve come up with some suggestions to put to rest this “weird or different” theme. The first is, we need to come up with a definition that the UN or the United States department of Arts and Culture or even the Utah Valley University Multicultural Student Council can decide on. Once we have an international, national or even school-wide definition then we can begin our journey toward graduating “more” culturally competent students. Second, we need to have more formal education regarding cultural competence. Third: We need to apply what we’ve learned by traveling more during and after university studies. For example, many Australians save up and travel the world for one year after they graduate high school. There is no better way to learn and apply cultural competence than being in a foreign country.


Current goal: Graduate (post high school education) students who are culturally competent.

Distant goal: Graduate high schoolers who are culturally competent.

“One meaningful outcome of internationalization efforts is the development of interculturally competent students. Yet, few universities address the development of interculturally competent students as an anticipated outcome of internationalization in which the concept of “intercultural competence” is specifically defined. This lack of specificity in defining intercultural competence is due presumably to the difficulty of identifying the specific components of this complex concept. Even fewer institutions have designated methods for documenting and measuring intercultural competence.. Intercultural competence…involves the development of one’s skills and attitudes in successfully interacting with persons of diverse backgrounds” (Deardorff, 2006).

            Dr. Deardorff explains how identifying what being culturally competent can be complex. In a world of diversity, prejudice, sexism, racism, etc. It is hard to come up with an exact answer, it is even harder to get universities throughout the United States and the world to accept the definition and then to teach a curriculum based on it. Dr. Deardorff ends up with a complicated study that helps define cultural competence and then helps rate student’s cultural competency based on a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures, qualitative measures, case studies, analysis of narrative diaries, self-report instruments, critical incidents, quantitative measures, critical essays, judgment by self and others, triangulation, interviews, and more.

            Traveling is a great way to apply what one has learned about other cultures and how to accept everyone for who they are. Yet in traveling there is a big difference between a tourist and a sojourner. A tourist is someone who comes to see and a sojourner is someone who comes to stay. The sojourner provides significantly more value to the culture they are “visiting” because lifting up a culture and making it better can only happen by people coming together to enrich each other and the community. The problem is, a lot of people in the world are able to travel, but few get the real experience of moving into a totally new culture enabling themselves to bring their value of diversity and experience to that community (Byram, 1997).

            I’ve traveled more than most Americans but still haven’t scratched the surface of international travel. I’ve spent a lot of time in Canada, I’ve been to Mexico fifteen times, Central America, Australia and a lot of the U.S. including the top five most populated U.S. cities, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix. I grew up in Portland, Oregon and I’ve lived for more than four months in Indiana, Idaho, Utah, California and two years in central Canada. Over four months I consider to be more than simple tourism. I had a job and integrated into the culture and hopefully added value. I learned a great deal from the people of Canada. I mingled with the wealthy and the poorest of the poor, I lived with several different roommates from different states and countries. This “real life education” gave me my early exposure into “cultural competency.” Even with these amazing experiences and opportunities, I’ve learned how judgmental and closed minded I still am after taking this course! It takes dedicated practice to be converted to this way of thinking.

           “The nature of the processes is a function of the skills which a person brings to the interaction…These can be divided into two broad and related categories: first, skills of interpretation and establishing relationships between aspects of the two cultures; second, skills of discovery and interaction…These four aspects on interaction across frontiers of different countries- knowledge, attitudes, skills of interpreting and relating, and skills of discovery and interaction… can in principle be acquired through experience and reflection, without intervention of teachers and educational institutions (Byram, 1997).

             According to Byram, If we don’t nail down formal education on cultural competence we’ll be okay and potentially learn even more if we take the time to travel (sojourn) and gain experiences.



Sivers, D. (2010, January). Weird, or Just Different? [Video file]. Retrieved from:

       Deardorff, D. K. (2006). Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education,10(3), 241-266. doi:10.1177/1028315306287002


Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence.

Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Entitlement Cont’d

I feel like privilege is something I’ve always been aware of. As an adult I never felt like my life was totally normal. I have always felt like I don’t deserve what I have and have always felt for people who were struggling. The problem is, I’m rarely exposed to people who have significantly less than me so when I get a reminder it is a bit of a shock as to what people consider “normal.” This semester and since we’ve talked about privilege it hasn’t changed my opinion on how privileged I am or most students at UVU are, but it has given me a constant reminder of the differences and often the struggles of our world. 

Division of “Class”

Anytime you divide a class or group into classes of their own, a division between classes and a unity within classes naturally occurs. It was interesting to watch what someone will do to reach the next level! We all agreed as the bottom two classes to each get to “50” points exactly and I was shocked how people didn’t care or sneakily became unequal by cheating and going against the group to get them to the upperclass! It’s wild to see how these examples relate to real life and how social classes interact and treat each other.

When Ty from the lowest class group made his way to the top group, I could hear him trying to sway the top group to keep the rules fair. We had a representative in the “inner circle” at the top to represent us, which swayed the top group from changing the rules too much, especially at first. 

My takeaway was- I’m always surprised when I meet people who don’t care about wealth and early retirement. I’ve also done some really aggressive things in business to get to the position I’m in now. When the people in the groups screwed us to get to the next level I was shocked because I had zero desire to be at the top of the totem pole. BUT they obviously wanted to be at the top- and they figured, well we aren’t hurting anybody. Some very interesting parallels.  


On your blog, write about how privilege affects you:

Well, I was born into an upper middle class home with no worry of shelter, of food, clean water or a hot shower. All I worried about was my next basketball game and chasing girls. Being born into privilege affected every second of my life and my mindset because it made me carefree. I knew, one day, I’d have to get a job and provide, but for now- it was normal in my friend group to just be a “kid.”

Being born into privilege allowed me to think that going to college was the norm. My dad paid for my first year. Because of my example of my dad and successful, older friends, I thought the “norm” was for 19 year olds to make 50,000 a year and for 23 year olds to make six figures. With all these resources, I did both of those things which jump started me into the entrepreneurial direction I’m currently traveling. 

I feel so lucky that I was born into the family I was, for my mentors, for my friends who push me, and for America providing such a great way of life. 


I’ve had some major self reflection thus far this semester.  I’ve always considered myself against being sexist or predigest, but after taking surveys, really paying attention to how I feel about certain topics and listening to my initial reactions to a lot of questions and discussions during class I’ve come to the realization that I am way more judgmental than I thought- and stereotype WAY too much. This bothers me, so now I pay closer attention to my initial reaction about people and try to fix my brain and retrain myself!

I thought Mr. Ostraff was really interesting. He had an awesome perspective on culture and art. I liked how seriously he takes perspective in general. Two things can be happening simultaneously though we can only see one of those things. This is culture and society wrapped up into one tiny explanation. He told us this concept (shown to us by the spinning toy (can’t remember what it’s called)) changed the way he views people because we all see things differently! AND that doesn’t mean either of us is wrong.