Taking a Cultural Plunge

The bisexual pride flag.
The bisexual pride flag. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For my final assignment in my Cultural Diversity class, I had to take a cultural plunge. This required me to learn about a culture that is very different than mine. The cultural plunge is designed to help you learn about a group of people you know little about and to help lessen anxiety. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to be around people you are not familiar with. This can happen with whole groups of people. For example, growing up in a homogeneous environment can make you feel uncomfortable when you have to move into a diverse environment. You may not know how to act or you may have misconceptions about other cultures. A cultural plunge forces you to adjust to a new environment and confront prejudices you may have. It’s a great way to learn about people.

My choice for the assignment was to explore bisexuality. I’m including the link to download the power point presentation:

Cultural Plunge Presentation

It was fascinating to learn about bisexuality and pan-sexuality. I really enjoyed my Cultural Diversity class as it is a reminder that we cannot trust our assumptions of a culture based on one or two people. Meaning that culture is diverse even within one group of people. We tend to make generalizations about people based on our experiences in the past. The example I use in the presentation is assuming that feminists hate men based on dealings with women claiming to be feminists. It’s not fair to paint a group of people as all the same based on meeting a few people who claim to belong to that group. This happens sometimes when tourists travel oversees. When you travel over sees, you tend to be an ambassador for your country, even though you don’t represent everyone in your country!

I really feel that the categorization and classification that our brains use to remember information does not work with people. Racism and prejudice is built on these processes. I think it’s important for us to try and resist the judgments and assumptions that we have when we meet new people. We are bound to make them, but if we question them each time we make them, we begin to train our brains to put less credibility on these judgement. Plus, this allows us to change our perspective if we find that we have made a wrong assumption.

 

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Writing About An Elf

FotoFlexer_Photo (desaturated)

Let me get this sales pitch out of the way. The Lost Elf: Reptilian Encounter is the second book in my short story series and it has just gone live on Amazon.com. Click here to buy it now. In case you have been waiting to read it, ever since book 1 Awakening, now you finally have the chance to get your copy for 99 cents in the kindle format. Also, for those of you who may have purchased the paperback version of Awakening, you will now be able to download the kindle book for free. That is a new feature that Amazon had offered to authors and I think it’s a great idea. Basically, you can decide how much of a discount you can give customers who purchase the paperback version. I plan to use that feature for future books that I publish through createspace.com.

Now let me talk a little bit about the experience of writing this series so far. It really started with an idea about separating a full length novel into “episodes” similar to a television show. Part of the idea was to allow me to publish stories faster. I also thought that I could do a better job editing the stories and produce a better product. The original idea was to publish one story every two months or so, but that plan fell through. You can blame my laziness, but I also have been quite busy. A few of my classes were quite challenging and I was struggling to edit Reptilian Encounter. I am finding that I get tired of reading my words on the page over and over again. I think I did about 5 drafts of book 2 and this time I had some help from Steve Barnes, the actor who I’ve hired to produce the audio-book version of The Lost Elf. You can check it out at: The Lost Elf: Awakening. My personal favorite thing about the audio-book is the theme song Steve wrote for it!

I feel more relaxed now and I think the series is improving. Book 2 was very fun to write and is quite different from the harsh desert that the elf wakes up to. The grassland is certainly a cooler climate and the elf gets to relax a little bit. I also made it a light-heated tale. The story has humor and doesn’t feel so rushed. There isn’t the time sensitivity that book 1 had. One of the main themes of the story deals with racism and prejudice. That wasn’t something that I was intending to do, but it came about naturally as the story progresses. The topic of racism is not the main theme of Reptilian Encounter, but I really think it adds a certain depth. It’s included in a teachable moment in the story.

Another addition to this story is the increase in characters that the elf encounters. Of course, there’s Benjamin, the quite little desert fox. There are plenty of human characters and we learn more about the relationship between the human and elf races. The lizardmen is my first non-human like race in the series and I’m very happy with how they turned out. I’m planning to add more interesting races within the world of The Lost Elf. The challenge right now is to add humanoids races that are not common in sci-fi. Elves, gnomes, humans, and dwarfs are common in this genre. I want The Lost Elf to stand out from other fantasy stories, but I also want to use some traditional elements too.