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Understanding other people's worldview and different culture was hard for me. I used to be a narrow-minded Korean who only appreciated Korean culture. But throughout the two years of American life, I gradually gained an understanding of the American culture and learned to appreciate the diversity.
"We have good news for you. We found you a host family in America." After going to a unique Christian dormitory school in Korea, I came to America as a diligent exchange student hoping to achieve a dream. I was placed in Chattanooga, a small southern town in Tennessee, with a conservative southern white family. Since I've never been to America, I was not aware of American culture. With much culture shock, I began to encounter American culture.
The family would tell me their views on many different issues: Anti-gay rights, Pro-life, Small government and de-regulation. They even brought me to a gun range and let me shoot different kinds of guns. As a person coming from a country where possession of firearm is prohibited, I was anxious to live in a country where people are allowed to have guns. I asked them "Is the right to bear arms more important than preventing possible murder?" They replied adamantly "If government takes gun away from people, we couldn't defend ourselves when a dictatorial government takes over America." I was surprised to hear such reply from Americans whose democratic government was so profoundly established.
Next year, I moved in to a southern African-American family. I attended a 100% African American church where people sung without any musical instruments. Even though I lived in America for a year, I realized that there are much more to discover.
However, I discovered differences in mindset between myself and the family. I was an overly motivated perfectionist, and they were laid-back southern people. On one weekend, the father of the family asked me to mow the lawn. Since I have never mowed the lawn, I went outside thinking it would be a quick job. I not only learned how to mow the grass, but spent over two hours cutting the grass. I knew it was important to do family chores, but I was upset because mowing the lawn took away my studying time for test next week.
After watching my perfectionist characteristics, the father of the family told me that I will have a breakdown and become depressed because nobody is perfect. He also told me to enjoy the life and not be upset by making a poor grade on an English test. Although I did not completely agree with his worldview, I realized that I might become very depressed when I fail to achieve something important. I've also seen myself always in hurry and too serious, so I have been rarely happy. After living with this laid-back family, I have learned to balance my seriousness with happiness.
After living with different American families, I've learned to respect diversity. As a citizen of a world that encompasses countless different cultures, I have to be open-minded towards people with different perspectives, different ethnicity and different social backgrounds. I want to bring my unique perspectives and experiences to college and learn and accept diversity other students bring in order to become a well-rounded person who can work with different people in different environment.