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VALUES AND BELIEFS

1. Present six traditional American values with specific examples.

Six traditional American values are:


Individualism: everybody can act as they please as long as they dont harm
anyone.
Ex: Most young American leave home early (around 18 years old) and want to be
self-dependent.
Equality: everybody has the same rights and opportunity and no one should be
treated as inferior.
Ex: Women has the same rights as men; people could express their opinion
regardless of their gender, ethnic, age, etc.
Time and its control: Most American like things to begin on time.
Ex: Business meetings usually begin and end on time.
Materialism: most Americans like to own nice things.
Ex: It is normal in American household to have more than two cars, more than 3
TVs, and they change it in about 3-4 years.
Competition: many Americans are competitive.
Ex: The winner takes all is a motto that apply in every aspects of American.
They have to be first in anything since second is the first loser.
Informality: Americans are generally informal.
Ex: Students in American rarely wear uniform. Most of schools/univerisities let
their students wear casual clothes, such as shorts and T-shirts.
2. Bellah believes that individualism has a bad effect on American society. Do
you agree or disagree with Bellah? Describe examples that support your
opinion.
I am not totally agree with Bellahs view. He described that individualism keep
American from showing their concern for others or what is best for others and
only a few could be a winner and having most of the money, power and freedom.
His statement is true. However, he disregarded the fact that individualism
together with others American values make Americans different from each others
and create their identity. For example, every members in your family is a doctor,
so obviously they want you to become a doctor. However, it is wrong if you just
learning stuff in order to become a future doctor to please them, while you have
a passion for music, and what you really want to do is become a musician. You
need to show your individualism by telling them the truth, and just do it whether
your family support or not.

3. Many Americans believe that citizens have the right to own a gun. Do you
think this is an important right? Why?
To own a gun is an important right in USA. It has even been written in US
constitution. This right expresses the culture and value of America as no one can
protect you better than yourself and getting a hold of power is essential.
However, there has been many regrettable events due to the misusage of gun
which questioned the right to own guns among Americans. Still, owing weapon
prevailed in USA as this is one of the foundation of American culture inheritated
from the first colonizers when they set their feet on American.
4. For you personally, which American value is the most difficult to
understand or accept? Why? Support your opinion with specific examples.
Personally, I try to grasp the American value of informality. Firstly, most of
schools in American do not have uniform allowing its students to wear anything
they like. In Vietnam, uniform is the way to prevent differences between social
classes. Living in a city, having a wealthy family or living in a suburb, having a
low social class means nothing under the school uniform. Secondly, in Asian
countries, students have a strict custom when talking, greeting or refering theirs
teachers which is more ease in America. For example, students have to bow their
head and use honorific whenever seeing a teacher. However, this does not mean
informality is bad, it helps reduce the tense in having a conversation with your
lecture, not wearing uniform may much more comfortable for students. All in all,
informality still makes me surprise from time to time.
LANGUAGES AND IDIOMS
1. Do you think Americans should make English the official language of the
United States? Why or why not?
American is a country of multi-culture, and the diversity in language makes U.S.
different from others. If the American goverment decided to make English the
official languages of the United States, people who dont speak English would
face difficulties in the United States. It is wrong to force them to learn English
and to abandon their mother tongue. It is similar to give up their origin and it is
opposite to the individual right, which is a spotlight in American value. Besides,
even if Americans do make English the official language, other people will still
speak their native language at home, and there is nothing can stop them from
doing that. So, it is true that English is a world-wide language, that s not the
reason why English should be the official languages of the United States.

2. What is AAVE? Should African Americans be discouraged from speaking


AAVE?
Linguists use the term African American Vernacular English (AAVE) to describe
the kind of English spoken in some African American communities. This kind of
dialect have differences in pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary with American
ones. However, AAVE is not standard English with mistakes. It is a regional
variety of African Americans. AAVE takes a place in the diversity of language in
United States, makes America a great country. Besides, every citizens of America
have the right to speak their own language, their own dialect to show the respect
of their origin, to be who they are, due to two famous values in American, which
are Equality and Individualism. Those are the reason why African Americans
should not be discouraged from speaking AAVE.
IMMIGRATION
1. Although all these groups of immigrants faced hardships, some of them
experienced much more serious hardships than others. Discuss which
group of people faced the most serious hardships. Why?
During the wave of immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and England after the
Civil War (1870-1900), there is a group of immigrants faced the most serious
hardships, Chinese. By 1880, about 75,000 Chinese lived in California and
represented about 9% of the states population. However, these Chinese
immigrants faced a lot of hardship just because they looked different from
German and Irish immigrants. They had to do jobs that no men would like to do
or dangerous jobs with low wages, such as workers in the goldfields, railroads
builders, cooks, laundrymen, or servants. Chinese immigrants had also faced
violence. Not only did nothing is made to protect them but the government at
that time also established a new federal law stopped most Chinese from coming
into the country in 1882. The Chinese Exclusion Act remained in effect for nearly
sixty years.
2. Present some of the contributions that immigrants have made to the
United States with specific examples.
Immigrants have made some contributions to American when they arrived into
the country. For example, a Jewish tailor from Germany named Levi Strauss
migrated to the United States in 1847, designed sturdy overalls out of heavy
cloth, which nowsaday, is a famous brand known as Levis jeans. Immigrants also
affected on the American government and polictics. Such as Arnold
Schwarzenegger, the 38th governor of California, he is not American-born.

Arnorld was born in 1947 in Austria. U.S economy is strengthen by immigrants.


According to the Census Bureau, despite making up only 16 percent of the
resident population holding a bachelors degree or higher, immigrants represent
33 percent of engineers, 27 percent of mathematicians, statisticians, and
computer scientist, and 24 percent of physical scientists.
3. What problems or challenges do Generation 1.5 immigrants face? Give a
specific example of each problem or challenge. How does the American
government partially solve these problems?
The term Generation 1.5 is used to describe immigrants from 13 to 19 years
old who started their education in their homeland, but finished it in the country
they are migrated to. Researches show that they often have many difficulties.
Immigrants at this age often feel upset or depressed by leave behing their
familiar homeland, family, and friends. Generation 1.5 immigrants generally
have more family responsibilites. They must take care of themselves, sometimes
they also have to act as parents for younger siblings, because their parents work
long hours in multiple jobs in order to make enough money to support their
family in U.S. Another responsibility if Generation 1.5 is language brokering.
These young immigrants have to be the language broker translators for their
family members who do not speak English without any formal training. This may
causes the misunderstanding, stressful for them. Perhaps the greatest difficulty
facing immigrants of Generation 1.5 is the conflict of values. For example,
young immigrants who dress and act like American may seem disrespectful.
(wearing shorts outside, call the older by name, they want to leave the house
when they finish high school..). The American government established a program
called newcomer school which is a special school for young immigrant,
especially Generation 1.5 learn how to adjust to the United States, helps
newcomers build confidence and self-esteem.
GEOGRAPHY
1. What do you know about the car-oriented culture in the United States?
America is a grand country, from cultural to geographical aspect. Thus car
become a main vehicle and a culture feature of USA. The American thinks that
style, brand, colour of their cars symbolizing who they are. With car, they can go
everywhere they want, back and forth between city and suburb. There is a
famous route in America called Route 66 which is connect many states of
America, and you have to spend days to finish that route. What can be more
suitable than a car? United States is always rushing, they want to control the
time, so everything should be fast and convenience. Thats the reason why there

are so many drive-in places in America such as drive-in cinema, drive-in


restaurant, drive-in ferris wheels, etc. where you can stay in car and enjoy. Last
but not least, most of cars in America are sold in reasonable price.
2. The mythic version of the American West has been popular around the
world. In your opinion, why do people outside the United States enjoy
Western stories so much?
Individualism is the spotlight in American value, and it was described a lot in
Western stories and movies. It is easily to find independent, trustworthy image of
a cowboy riding his horse go to the sunset as a clich scene in Western stories.
Those are just artistic reasons for the famous of mythic version of American
West. As for historical reasons, the image of cowboy riding their horse widely
speaded from the Westward Expansion. Two well-known period of the cowboy are
the Wagon trails and Oklahoma Land Rush (1889). There was a time everybody
rushed to the West because the rumor of gold and the fastest and most
convenience transport was horses. Thus everyman with cowboy hat, cowboy
clothes rode on their horse and went to the West. Lastly, the image of 50,000
people lined up for their piece of the available two million acres in 1889 for the
Oklahoma Land Rush was so famous that a lot of movies had been made based
on this historical event.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
1. What are the responsibilities of each branch in the federal government?
How do three branches control and check one another? What are the
advantages of the system of checks and balances?
The US federal government consists of 3 branches: the legislative propose
and pass laws, the executive enforce laws and the judicial explain and
interpret laws and make decision in lawsuits.
Each branch has powers over the other two branches in the system of checks
and balances. The legislative branch or Congress can refuse to approve
Presidential appointments and can override a Presidential veto (reject). The
President, from the executive branch, has the power to veto any bill (law) of
Congress and appoints all Supreme Court Justices. The judicial branch can
declare laws and actions of the other two branches unconstitutional.
This system of checks and balances could limit the powers of the others. This
way, no one branch becomes too powerful. Each branch checks the power of
the other branches to make sure that the power is balanced between them.
2. Summarize the process of electing a United States president.

The Presidential election process follows a typical cycle:

Spring of the year before an election Candidates announce their


intentions to run.
Summer of the year before an election through spring of the election year
Primary and caucus debates take place.
January to June of election year States and parties hold primaries and
caucuses.
July to early September Parties hold nominating conventions to choose
their candidates.
September and October Candidates participate in Presidential debates.
The first Tuesday after the first Monday of November Election Day
December Electors cast their votes in the Electoral College.
Early January of the next calendar year Congress counts the electoral
votes.
January 20 Inauguration Day

EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
1. What are the advantages of American educational system?
The advantages of American educational system are as follow:
a) Educating the individual
b) Quality of Education
c) Great Career Opportunities
d) Great Career Choices
e) Flexibility
f) Multi-Cultural Experience
g) The taste of the good life

2. What do you think the real value of American college education is? Is it
monetary? Is it intellectual? Is it social?
In my opinion, the real value of American college education is more than just
monetary, intellectual or social. It is the combination of the three plus the values
of American culture. Together they create a diverse but distinct educational
system that benefits both individuals and society. For example, a college, in
general, will provide the same opportunity to learn and to achieve success to all

students equally. In addition, this school will also provide competent applicants
that satisfy its neighborhoods demand.
3. Choose one American value from Chapter 1, and explain how American
educational system expresses that value.
Individualism, one of the American value, has a significant impact on American
educational system. American education system has created an equal oriented
environment where opportunities and changes are the same for all students.
Thus, to be success, students have to try their best and rely on their own efforts.
For example, to get into the famous colleges, students have to have good GPA
and adequate knowledge about the major he/she would like to enroll. Since
everyone, generally speaking, is in the same educational system, it comes down
to his/her own hard working and efforts to get what they want.
MUSIC
1. Robert Santelli says that American music connects us despite our cultural
diversities. It sidesteps class and other social barriers. Do you think music
in the United States has a unifying effect, as Santelli says, or do different
kinds of music divide people by culture and class? Support your opinion
with examples from what you have read about American music.
Personally, the statement by Robert Santelli is unsufficient. Music does have a
unifying effect as it bring American people together, shaping their style, their
ideal and connecting them. However, United States is known as a multiculture
country. Multiculture leads to multi-music. And multi-music creats division. Social
class, for example, upper class people usually go to the Opera/Classical concert
where the audience wearing formal clothes and silently listening to music, while
a pop concert gathers audiences mostly from middle and low-class who are
hardly listening silently performance but singing-a-long, or dancing and maybe
even screaming. Moreover, it is hard to believe a country singer performs while
wearing a baggy pants or extra-sized T-Shirt like a hip hop artist or vice versa.
Therefore, music unites people but at the same time dividing them into groups
with similar taste.
2. Choose two American values from Chapter 1, and explain how American
music expresses those values.
Music plays an important role in American identity. Through music, American
values could express clearly and openly, individualism, for example. American
singers have, for long, brought themselves into their song. From thoughts, ideas
to personality or even a memory, all could be put into their works. To the artists,
this is the way to show who they are, what their identity is and how their feelings

is. Thus, each American singers has their own artistic feature that separates
them from others. In addition to individualism, equality is also a recurrent theme
in many aspects. Hand in hand with others in the fight for rights, countless artists
have conveyed their equality message in their music such as Black or White by
Michael Jackson for race, Born This Way by Lady Gaga for LGBT, If I Were A
Boy by Beyonc for feminism, and so on.

3. Describe three examples of how hip-hop has influenced the mainstream


U.S. culture.
Hip-hop first appeared in United States during the 1970s and attained fame and
worldwide popularity during the 1980s and 1990s. Nowsday, hip-hop has
influenced the mainstream U.S. culture. Firstly, hip-hop represents young
generations and gives them a voice to express their view poinst about the
society. Moreover, hip-hop can be seen as a direct response to the racial
discrimination and social unjust. Jay-Z is a typical example for an artist who uses
hip-hop/rap to stand for equality. Lastly, hip-hop became a way of life or a cool
image from fashion, language to behavior. The image of a group of young people
wearing long, metal assesories, baggy pants, loose pants, extra-sized T-shirt was
no longer unfamiliar. They walked like jaggers, waving their hands, saying Yo
instead of Hi and usually unpatient, hot-temper people. Despite heavy debate
over the specific extent of Hip Hops ability to influence a society, hip-hop still
takes a great affection in the American culture.
HOLIDAYS
1. What are the origin and the meaning of Thanksgiving Day/ Independence
Day in the U.S.? What do Americans do to celebrate this holiday?
Following the Mayflowers arrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the
Pilgrims suffered the lost of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91
Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and yielded a bountiful
harvest in 1621. In celebration, a traditional English harvest festival, lasting three
days brought the Pilgrims and natives to unite in a thanksgiving observance. In
October of 1777, all 13 colonies participated in a one-time thanksgiving
celebration which commemorated the patriotic victory over the British. Finally,
Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress
sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941. The meaning of Thanksgiving is different
for each family, however, there are three main meanings: Expressions of
Gratitude, praise to God, and to gather in unity. Now every year on the fouth
Thurday of November, American families and friends gather, have a feast, which

has turkey, pumpkin pie and yams, and give thanks. There are also other
activities such as parade (in big cities), playing and watching American football,
the three-hour event features floats, costumes and huge helium balloons in the
shape of cartoon characters.