Why Every College Student Should Take a Cultural Anthropology Class

As you go through your journey in college, you’ll have the option to take many courses. All of them will more or less enhance your life. However, Anthropology was the one course in college that took me by surprise. When I moved to San Antonio all by myself, further immersing myself into a culture completely different from my own, you best believe I had some questions. I was curious to know how people perceived me, but more than that I wanted to know why they perceived me the way they did.

Cultural Anthropology was the first Anthro class I had ever taken in college. Honestly, I had no expectations going in, but within the first few minutes of our discussion I knew I was in love. For that entire semester, that 9 a.m. class served as my refuge. We discussed different cultures and analyzed their values and beliefs. We discussed ethnographies in which Anthropologists wrote about their unimaginable experiences of immersing themselves in cultures completely different from theirs in order to gain a better understanding of why they were so different. But the best part was that they spoke candidly of the battles they faced in the process of their understanding. It wasn’t easy. It was never meant to be. Not only did this course make me realize how complex humans are as individuals, but it made me respect the process every individual weathers in order to establish what they value in life, or in fact, what they don’t. The course encouraged me to obtain a culturally relative perspective in life which essentially means we should at least try to understand all that is different from us based on the perspective of the people who are different from us. If we were to judge them, we should do so based on their understanding of the world before judging them based on our understanding due to our own culture. Because if you really think about it, how is it fair to criticize what you don’t understand?

In the world that we live in today, with everything that we have working against us, I believe it is crucial we learn to respect and appreciate our diversity and differences. There is a tremendous sense of solidarity in knowing that individuals who are entirely different from you respect you for your story. Not only is it more important now than ever before to question the world around us, the values, and the opinions we have as individuals, but it’s most important to question and further understand why we have the values/opinions we do. Who would you be without your culture? Think about that the next time you expect someone to let go of their culture with ease in order to fit into yours. 

As a conclusion, I leave you with this quote, We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are. Cultural Anthropology has served as my ticket around the world. It has taught me how to be a better human. If you would like to travel the world without paying a single dime, I encourage you to try an Anthropology course at UTSA. If your answer is “YES!” I highly recommend any and all classes taught by Prof. Deborah Moon-Wagner because her wisdom and passion towards the subject has never failed to make me appreciate the world around me. <3