The essay aims to present findings from an observation exercise where the observation took place at a shopping mall. One of the observed was from Southeast Asia, particularly from the Philippines and the other was from the United States. The observation report would be based on the key elements in observation such as: setting or location, environment, appearance (physical and clothing, etc.) body movements during the interaction, use of personal space, verbal language, including tone of voice, sound, and eye contact. From the documented sources concerning cultural norms for the culture observed, one is hereby required to draw specific implications for health care. Specifically, the following question would be addressed: how would this multicultural information and understanding of the interaction be used in one’s own health care practice?
As one was seated in a cozy lounging area in a shopping mall, one got the chance to observe two people from different cultural backgrounds chatting about diverse topics. These two people, both female, in their early 20s, are apparently university students who seemed to be very close friends. They were likewise seated within the lounging area in a shopping mall, briefly resting after some time of shopping. They both carried shopping bags of items from branded stores. One student has long blond hair and blue eyes; the other had black straight hair, fair skinned and dark brown eyes. The girl with blond hair was obviously from the United States and the other girl was of Asian descent, presumably from the Philippines (because the eyes were not chinky or slanted). The American girl was wearing a light jacket over a pink T-shirt and tucked in faded designer jeans. She was wearing boots. The Filipino girl was wearing a cashmere sweater over a cardigan shirt with neck warmer over denim pants. She was wearing snickers with thick socks.
Their discussion was animated and lively. They seemed to be talking about the bargain items they bought and the discussion intermittently mentioned other friend’s names. Their topic also mentioned academic requirements and noted professors’ names. As they conversed, they both looked into each other’s eyes confirming that they have been friends for a long time. The manner by which the Filipino girl had the ease to communicate fluently in English indicated that she had been living in the United States for a long time. The space between them was about two feet away but they were seated side by side. The tone of voice was full voice since the speakers were both lively, in good mood and their topic was not in any way personal or directed at any particular controversial person. No form of touching was observed. This information is consistent with the proxemics discussion noted by O’Neil (2009) in his article on Hidden Aspects of Communication; where it was stated that: “ similar culturally defined patterns of physical contact avoidance are found in most of the cultures of Asia and Northern Europe” (par. 10).
Implications in Health Care
As one observed, I realized that despite diversity in cultural orientations and from the results of observation alone, there are other factors that need to be incorporated in a health care practitioners’ assessment of the patient. The most important factor is language. In a paper entitled “ Culture and Health Among Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in Central Los Angeles” by Semics, LLC (2007), it was revealed that “ there is a direct connection drawn between language facility and health. Familiaritywith English does not automatically translate into a trusting, robust communicationwith providers. But where providers do speak Tagalog at least, patients generallymanifest a rapid and willing trust that can create new possibilities for understanding, and wellness” (p. 6).
Also, since the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, prayers take a significant and crucial role in the health and well-being of Filipino patients [Sem07]. As disclosed, “ more broadly, regardless of how religious each agegroup is, there is a consistent belief that God is present and, perhaps, at work in timesof illness – and that prayer can somehow also contribute to healing or wellness” [Sem07].
Finally, as seen from the observation, the bond established between friends, despite cultural diversity indicate that there is a strong familial bond that provides guiding strength for both Americans and Filipinos. For Filipinos, in particular, “ traditionally, Filipino/Filipino American families are expected to care for their elderly as the statement below demonstrates:
Strong family ties specifically in the aspect of taking care of the elderly; the family will
always want to keep them; Filipinos don’t want to send them to nursing homes” (Focus Group, PWC, 18 May 2007; cited in Semics, LLC, 2007. p. 46). In this regard, health care practitioners for this particular type of people from the Philippines should take note of culture underpinnings in their deliver of health care, as needed.
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Hidden aspects of communication